Hiking, camping and backpacking are all part of the course in a class underway now at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Beginning Hiking and Backpacking is a new Health and Human Performance class debuting in the spring 2023 semester and taught by Dr. Sarah Canatsey, an instructional developer for the Gary W. Rollins College of Business.
When Canatsey first came to UTC in 2019, she reached out to Dr. Andrew Bailey of the Sport, Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management program (SORT) to inquire about adjunct teaching in HHP. First, Canatsey taught the Wilderness First-Aid course and then branched out to help teach the Beginning Hiking and Backpacking course.
Canatsey, who has a master’s degree in outdoor education, was an Outward Bound instructor for three years. Outward Bound is a non-profit organization focusing on environmental education that also instructs people in canoeing, sailing and backpacking. Prior to joining UTC, Canatsey ran the outdoor adventure program at Florida Atlantic University from 2012 to 2016. She also is a certified American Red Cross first-aid instructor.
Beginning Hiking and Backpacking is a one-hour, for-credit course offering students a chance to get into a regular fitness routine and understand the importance of frequent exercise. UTC offers several one-hour HHP classes, such as Walking for Fitness, Mountain Biking, Beginning Kayaking, Beginning Boxing Aerobics, Swimming for Fitness, Body Pump, Tai Chi, Rock Climbing and Rappelling, Beginning Scuba Diving, Beginning Ballet, Beginning Running for Fitness and Beginning Canoeing.
Beginning Hiking and Backpacking covers low-impact hiking and camping, basics of equipment, map reading and trip planning. Students will be taught four different kinds of knots/hitches: the bowline, a knot used to make a fixed loop at the end of a rope; the taut-line hitch, an adjustable loop knot for use on lines under tension; the truckers hitch, a compound knot used for securing loads on trucks or trailers; and the clove hitch, which is made of two single hitches tied around an object.
Students are expected to complete a crash-course handbook where they will be taught a collection of information in a short period of time. The handbook will focus on basic gear knowledge, weather, first aid and food.
“Students will be expected to complete a budget activity to show how far, or not, $1,000 would go when preparing for a safe trip into the backcountry,” said Canatsey.
According to Outside magazine, Chattanooga is renowned for its perfect scenery and stress-free lifestyle. The activities range from walking or cycling the Riverwalk, a 16.1-mile trail along the Tennessee River; to taking the Chattanooga Duck Tour, an hour-long boat ride in a renovated World War II duck boat; to stand-up paddleboarding on the Tennessee River.
Chattanooga has more than 18 hiking trails, ranging from easier and shorter trails to more difficult and longer routes.
Canatsey said the Beginning Hiking and Backpacking course also incorporates basic survival skills, regular exercise and team-building instruction. Students will learn to safely navigate hiking trails and prepare for backpacking trips.
The class will take three two-hour hikes over the semester. The hikes will take place at Stringers Ridge, the Harrison Bay Loop and Chickamauga Battlefield. Students also will participate in an overnight hike at South Cumberland State Park.
“The Beginning Hiking and Backpacking course is aimed at those who want to venture out into the world of 2- to 3-day overnight hikes but don’t know where to start,” said Canatsey.