FKT: Nancy East, Chris Ford - Great Smoky Mountains National Park 900 (NC, TN) - 2020-10-03

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Mixed-gender team
Start date
Finish date
Total time
29d 10h 12m 0s

Our FKT attempt was done in conjunction with a nonprofit organization that supports Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Friends Of The Smokies). We were attempting to raise $60,000 for the park’s new preventative search and rescue program. Nancy is a search and rescue team member on the North Carolina side of the park. To date, we have raised nearly $30,000 and we hope to Increase the total since we successfully completed the FKT!

We primarily day hiked but we had one overnight in the backcountry. Our night in the backcountry took an interesting plot twist when a man’s body was found in the backcountry site we were supposed to stay in, being scavenged on by a bear.

We were not able to hike our intended route that day, and the trail was closed for several weeks. It re-opened a day before our finish, adding another day to our attempt since we had to go and hike a route that incorporated that trail (the logistics for that area Of the park are a challenge to make it happen quickly).

Otherwise, all of our routes were executed with great success, and Chris and I both agree that we probably had more fun than anyone ever has during an FKT attempt. Suffering is always better with a friend. :-)

We took daily pictures, holding up our fingers to reflect the number of the day into our attempt. From posing like teenagers on day 13, to emulating famous works of art (American Gothic), to representing where our lives took us into adulthood at the age of 18,it provided lots of laughs and sentimental moments for both of us.

We also made videos at the end of most days, recapping our high and low moments on trail, to keep the audience engaged and hopefully the funds coming in towards our fundraiser. I linked one of those videos that I upload it to YouTube, but the bulk of them can be found on my Facebook page, which I’ve linked. There are also trip reports for each day of our attempt on my Facebook page.

I have plans to capture the memories of our attempt in book form, with a portion of the proceeds going toward search and rescue.

It was unequivocally one of the most meaningful experiences of my life, and we both thank you for all that you do to keep this site up and running! We are certainly going to make a donation in conjunction with this submission!

P.S. Our final time was 29 days, 10 hours, and 12 minutes. I’m not sure about the seconds, and it was difficult to add the time above in the correct format without knowing that, so I just left the seconds as “00.”