Great Smoky Mountains Hiker Records Fastest Hike Time Ever

by Madison Miller

America has some of the greatest hikes known.

This can include the over 700-mile hikes through Glacier National Park, Yosemite’s world-renowned trails like Half Dome, the sandstone cliffs of Zion National Park, and the vast, green mountains of the Smoky Mountains.

Many hikers savor and enjoy their time on a trail. Whether this is planned out backpacking in intervals or setting up a campground, nature can be admired for the longest time possible.

However, for others, a part of exploring is learning to conquer the outdoors and reach new limits.

Record-Breaking Hike in the Smokies

For Nancy East (known as Seal Mom) and Christ Ford (known as Pacer), October 3 marked a legendary moment in both their lives and history.

The duo finished hiking all the trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in a new record-breaking time. According to National Parks Traveler, they finished in 29 days, 10 hours, and 12 minutes.

To put into perspective the scale to which they hiked, the Smokies have more than 800 miles of winding, uphill trails. The two had to walk 947.9 miles or almost 32 miles a day.

Another way to put it into perspective is by comparing it to perhaps the adventurer’s most profound hike. The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,650-mile trail that extends from Mexico to Canada, passing through California, Oregon, and Washington.

The duo hiked about a third of that length but did it in only 29 days. The PCT normally takes 5 months to complete for the average person.

The duo is East, a 48-year-old retired veterinarian, and Ford, a retired Air-Force veteran.

The companions previously did Le Tour de LeConte which they accomplished in 16 hours, raising $6,300 for the Trails Forever program. This is a program that funds a full-time trail crew to reconstruct and rehabilitate the park’s impacted trails.

Record-Breaker on the Appalachian Trail

Another adventurer, Karel Sabbe, claimed the fastest known time (FKT) on the Appalachian Trail. He completed 2,190 miles in only 41 days, 7 hours, and 39 minutes.

According to REI, Sabbe even ran for 32 hours for 100 miles to reach the trail’s end. He hiked about 53 miles a day but was also accompanied by a small crew that provided food and other aid.

A great part of a trek like this is mental and the dentist-athlete knew how to take risks while earning rewards.

Whether it’s breaking records or slowing down, the national parks in America have a lot to offer depending on what someone really needs.