Pair sets new hiking record with Tour de Smokies

Nancy East and Chris Ford were greeted by an entourage of fans and supporters when they emerged from the woods in the Big Creek section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, setting a new record for a unique long-distance hiking challenge.

The pair hiked all 900 miles of trails in the park in just 30 days. East, from North Carolina, said she is still getting used to the idea of being a record holder.

“While I’ve hiked thousands of miles, I’ve never hiked this many miles at once. It was immensely rewarding to achieve what I once thought was an insurmountable goal,” East said. “I dreamt and planned on attempting it for so long, and I’m still processing what it feels like to have achieved that goal. But in short, I’m elated and grateful.”

East undertook the extraordinary journey starting on Labor Day weekend with hiking buddy Chris Ford from Tennessee.

Their mission wasn’t just to hike all 900 miles of trail in the Smokies — they’d done that five times between them already. Nor was it to set a new record — although it was a nice capstone.

Their goal was to raise $60,000 in donations for Friends of the Smokies to support the park’s newly launched Preventative Search and Rescue program.

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