I grew up going camping in the Smoky Mountain National Park every fall. Some years we would camp in Elkmont, some years at Smokemont, and a couple of times we actually got to camp at Cades Cove. You see, Cades Coves seemed like the holy grail of camp sites – we loved their scenic loop and the chance to see wild animals, but the campground was always full in the fall. These annual visits to the park ingrained the Smoky Mountains in me.
In late 2015 I moved to Speedwell, TN. I wanted so badly, when we did finally relocate, to be close to the Smoky Mountains. We’re now approximately 2 hours away. With the National Park Service celebrating it’s 100th anniversary in 2016, and with their Find Your Park campaign, I knew that I would find myself visiting the park on a regular basis.
In early 2016, the Smoky Mountain National Park announced the Smokies Centennial Challenge – Hike 100, a challenge to hike 100 miles on any trail in the park – and if successful, I could earn a unique pin commemorating the achievement. Just what I needed, an excuse to get motivated.
I announced my goal to my friends on Facebook and got the family’s commitment to allow me a once-per-month visit to the park to put in some miles.
Stay tuned for updates on this exciting journey.