Tuesday, December 21, 2010

1 Year Anniversary

It was almost a year ago that I made the decision to try to hike all 800 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  I've always been an avid hiker and backpacker, and have long dreamed of through-hiking the Appalachian Trail, but living just 20 minutes from the Smokies it made sense to set my sights on something a little more local and doable within my current time constraints...

Since last December I have:
  • spent 19 days on the trails in the Smokies
  • taken 3 overnight backpacking trips in the Smokies
  • completed 80.8 miles of new trails
  • hiked a total of 137.6 miles of trails
Making the decision to do this has changed the way I think about hiking, mostly for the good I think.

For example, I'm less likely to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon slugging on the couch or mindlessly playing games on Facebook, and I'm much more likely to get my butt out of the house and out on to the trails.  I'm also much more likely to go someplace new.  In the past I've often gone back to the same trails over and over again because they're easy to get to, or have a neat waterfall or view.  But now I'll look at my map and try to find someplace I've never been and it's made me explore parts of the park that I probably wouldn't have gone otherwise.

The downside is that I'm starting to exhaust the trails that are relatively close to my house.  With the exception of a few trails in the Cades Cove area I've done most of the trails in the northwestern part of the park.  This means I'm going to have to be more deliberate about planning and will have to range further from home to complete new areas.

My goal for the upcoming year is to complete at least 100 miles of trails.  The biggest change I'll have to make to accomplish this is to do at least a couple of long-distance backpacking trips.  The majority of my hikes over the last year have been day hikes that checked off less than 10 miles of trails.  I can get a lot more bang for the buck by doing some multi-day backpacking trips that cover 20 or 30 miles of trail.  This makes sense anyway because I'll be doing more trails that are farther away from my home.  If I'm going to take the time to drive over to the eastern or southern part of the park I might as well stay for a couple of days and do some major mileage.

Til next time, happy hiking and happy winter solstice!


  1. Just wait until you've exhausted all of the one night loops and easy "in and out" trips. Then planning becomes a lot harder. Hopefully, with you living nearby, you can easily arrange a shuttle for point to point hikes. I live in GA, so logistics are a huge limitation on me. I'm at 189.2 miles, and have been working (albeit not very hard) on my 900 miles since 2002. I've got an ambitious spring and summer planned this year with some longer trips. Perhaps we'll run into each other on the trail this year. Good luck!


  2. Happy anniversary! I'll trade you a weekend of honey-do-list for a weekend of hiking! ;-)