A few folks were starting to feel a bit car sick as we pulled around the last of the many sharp turns on the dirt roads leading to the Cataloochee Valley. The air was brisk and misty, thankfully not rainy, when we stepped foot on our campground. Both busses were jammed packed with gear, packs, and food. With the threat of potential rain on the horizon, we got to work immediately setting up camp. Having a number of outdoor trips under their belts, the students were able to put camp together in no time all working together seamlessly. As faculty, having classes in the field is one of our favorite times because we get to see the students demonstrate their competency in many outdoor skills that were introductory in the beginning of the semester. This is also the week that the students take the community to a deeper level and step up into leadership. To signify our support as a faculty, Michael crafted a signal we will give to students when they ask us questions which they are able to answer on their own. We make a heart with our hands in order to say, “We love you too much to get in the way of you having the opportunity to figure out a solution to the problem or answer the question on your own.”
One of the highlights of the week was the day hike to “Little Cataloochee” where we walked the old roads of the settlement in that valley. Along the way we stopped at the cabin that belonged to the Hannah family and learned about cabin architecture. A little farther down the road we did some exploring to discover ruins of the “downtown” where the post office was located. At the top of the hill we spent some time at the Baptist church walking through the cemetery, reading poetry, and listening to a beautiful hymn, “What Wondrous Love Is This?” sung using shape note singing. I enjoyed getting to walk alongside students that I do not get to see often since they are not in my math class. What a great trip! We were blessed with wonderful weather, safety, and an all around good time.