The Chargers and Rechargers Hiking Club is an informal loose-knit group of hikers in the High Country.
Each week, the club organizes Monday, Wednesday and Friday trail hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Appalachian Trail and the Linville Gorge. Though most of the hikes are near Boone and Blowing Rock, they hike in Virginia and South Carolina, as well.
All throughout the year, the group plans hikes. Curly Perzel, one of several hike leaders in the club, loves winter hiking because of the cold weather, the clear views and the lack of bugs and snakes.
"I like the views that we have because all the leaves are down," she said. "You see the contours of the land quite nicely, and there are no people. You have it all to yourself, more or less. Nature is beautiful at this time of year."
There are three hikes in the following week. On Saturday, Feb. 26, and Monday, Feb. 28, the club hikes from Trout Lake to Rich Mountain. The 6.6-mile round trip hike follows the carriage trails of the Moses Cone Manor Estate. It is a moderate hike with elevation rising 610 feet.
On March 2, Perzel leads the Basin Creek Hike, which is a part of Doughton Park.
The 10-mile round trip hike crosses many streams and leads to the Caudill Cabin. This area used to be a settlement more than 100 years ago. In 1916, torrential rains caused mudslides and a flood that killed a number of people and cattle.
Along the Basin Creek Hike, chimneys of remnant houses are visible, and at the very end of the hike is the lone homestead, the Caudill Cabin. This is Perzel's favorite hike in the High Country.
"It is so much fun crossing the 30 plus streams," she said. "You see chimneys and the remains of the settlement. You can see daffodils in the spring time. The whole atmosphere there, flowers, streams and waterfalls are so beautiful."
Perzel has been a member of the Chargers and Rechargers club for 10 years or so. She estimated that the club is 25 years old, though she wasn't sure. The club has more than 200 members, but only 25 are currently active, she said. In the summertime, there are more active members because seasonal residents and visitors from Florida come back to the High Country.
Perzel hikes for several reasons. She likes to hike with the Chargers and Rechargers because of the company and camaraderie of the group. Also, she hikes because of the positive way it affects her mentally and physically.
She compared hiking to meditating for strength and energy. When she walks into the forest, she walks into a mantra.
"When you walk peacefully into the woods and turn yourself off to all the stresses of society, it gives you a wonderful outlook on life," she said. "It rejuvenates. There are also intangible values of physical fitness you see in circulation, agility and balance."
There is a $7 annual fee per household to join the Chargers and Rechargers Hiking Club. The fee funds a newsletter sent out to all members. Members also receive a 10-percent discount at the Boone Mast General Store and the Boone Footsloggers. Nonmembers are allowed to hike with the group.
For more information, check the It's A Date event section of The Mountain Times or click to http://www.boonenc.org/hiking.
For the Trout Lake to Rich Mountain hike, contact Mike Kebelbeck at (828) 295-6385. For the Basin Creek hike, contact Curly Perzel at (336) 982-8591.