TEHCC’s Actions due to COVID-19

Aligning with guidance from our partner organizations and employer, the following actions are being taken in response to the current situation for the coronavirus.  If the principles of social distancing are being properly employed, the risk of contracting COVID-19 is still considered to be low. However, further adjustments will be made as the club leadership learns more about the developing impact.

  • No hikes will be scheduled until Eastman Chemical employees are no longer working from home.  Present hope is that the 2020 hiking program can commence in May.  Check the Events calendar for outings once this restriction has been lifted.
  • Spring Dinner meeting was pushed out from its original April 17th evening to May 8th with confirmation by our speaker.  The decision regarding the May date will be reviewed again at the April 16th Steering Committee meeting. If the dinner cannot be held in May, it will be cancelled moving the awards and recognition to our Fall Dinner.
  • Club rental backpacking and camping equipment may be checked out from Eastman Recreation Building 310 but only to current employees with their company pass. Their open hours have been reduced. Note that most places to use this equipment have been closed or are limiting access.
  • Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is requesting that thru and section hikers suspend their plans in case of exposure while on the trail.  Many shuttle services have temporarily halted operation thus do not count on finding a ride.
  • As of 3/28, Cherokee (TN) and Pisgah (NC) National Forests have temporarily shut down trail heads at these locations on the TEHCC section: Hampton blue blaze and Dennis Cove accessing Laurel Fall, Osborne Farm/Cross Mountain, and Roan Mountain/Carvers Gap.
  • Tent camping away from shelters is recommended.
  • Present understanding is that day hikers are allowed on area trails but keeping group size to a minimum with less carpooling.  Take hand sanitizer to use liberally.
    • Bays Mountain Park (Kingsport) has closed all buildings, but park is open for use. 
    • Appalachian Trail Conservancy is now stating to stay off the A.T. The issue is avoiding congested parking areas such as Carvers Gap/Roan Mountain or Hampton blue blaze/Laurel Falls.  
    • Trails in Cherokee National Forest are open for use, but ranger stations are closed. (Exception noted above for A.T. access.)
    • Warriors Path State Park trails are open for use, but park-hosted events in March are cancelled.
  • In all cases, maintain social distancing of at least six feet. If parking area is full, head somewhere else. There are much lesser used access points and trails in the region.
  • 2020 Konnarock Crew has been cancelled.  (June dates for TEHCC.)
  • Regular Thursday maintenance crew and Third Saturday Hiking with Tools have been suspended until guidance changes from the ATC.
  • All section maintainers are to suspend trail-related activities. (Clean your equipment and sharpen your tools – at home!)
  • As of 3/27, NC National Forests have suspended volunteer engagement until at least May 15th when this decision will be reevaluated.
  • Tuesday Evenings: Johnson City Roll Practice are suspended as Freedom Hall Pool is closed.
  • Thursday Evenings: Kayak Sessions are not being held as Kingsport Aquatic Center is also closed until further notice.

Reference Resources (links may not function from Eastman network)

ATC’s Guidance to Hikers

ATC’s Letter to Long-Distance Hikers 

ATC’s Current guidance to Volunteers 

ATC’s Notice on decisions related to Visitor Centers and Ridgerunners