By Meghan Stipe
Bartow County Public Library System in Cartersville, Georgia has introduced a hiking club, There & Back Again Hiking Society, designed to encourage patrons to get outside and hike to stay healthy and appreciate the beauty of Georgia’s state parks and public lands. The club was originally dreamed up by Adult Services Library Assistant and avid hiker, Meghan Stipe, who wanted to share her love of the natural world with patrons. Since last year happened to be the 10 year anniversary of a partnership between Georgia’s State Parks and Historic Sites and Georgia Public Library Service, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something new. After gauging interest in the community and finding a large group of excited hikers, it became a monthly staple for the Cartersville Library, and the club has met rain or shine since September of 2018.
Thanks to a clever suggestion, the hiking club is called There & Back Again Hiking Society, to give a little nod to literature and Tolkien’s well-loved tale of walking through the enchanted lands of Middle Earth to find adventure and friendship. Just like Bilbo’s grand adventure, the hiking club offers a chance to explore new places, get out of the daily routine, and meet new friends.
The hiking club directly supports Bartow County Library System’s mission of meeting “the educational, cultural, and recreational needs of the community” by offering patrons a unique opportunity to learn about local history and regional ecology and geology in their own backyard with special tours of local sites and visits to beautiful locations that are off the beaten path. In addition, as a single female hiker, Stipe was sympathetic to a very specific community need: some people would love to get out and hike, but they just don’t feel safe doing so alone. Stipe hoped that, by creating a hiking club, people from the community would feel more comfortable going on hikes and exploring Bartow County in a group environment!
Members ranging in age from less than 2 years old to over 70 have found a home with There & Back Again Hiking Society, and each monthly meetup brings together retirees, parents with young children, couples, single men and women, and those with partners who work during the day. Since Bartow County is home to many beautiful trails, historical sites, and parks, there is an abundance of opportunity to explore. The hikes have become a place to learn, share, and be excited about the simplicity of nature together.
If you are interested in learning more about our hiking club or seeing photos from our hikes, visit There & Back Again Hiking Society’s Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/BCLSHikingSociety/. For more information about Bartow County Library System, visit our website at www.bartowlibraryonline.org/ or our Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/BartowLibraryGA/.
Photo by Randy Parker, Daily Tribune News.