Route: Great Smoky Mountains National Park 900 (NC, TN)

Location
North Carolina, US
Tennessee, US
Description

The idea here is to hike/run all 900 miles of trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Benny "Plug-It" Braden completed the GSMNP 900 in 78 days:

"I began my #fastestgsmnp900miler on Dec. 31, 2016 and completed it on Mar. 18, 2017. My FKT is currently 2 months and 19 days or 78 days. I will be doing this hike again in the fall and looking to take this time under 1.5 months or 45 days. To my understanding the 900 Miler Club only recognizes hiking the trails and not trail running. You can check my Facebook page "Plug-it In on the Appalachian Trail" to see the trip reports and pics from this hike."

Braden completed the 900 *again* later the same year in 43 days:

"Thank you jwoo for clearing that up and congratulations on your completed maps. To update my last post, I did complete my 2nd map (gsmnp900miler) in the fall of 2017. I started 10/14/17 and finished 11/25/17. This FKT thru-hike of the GSMNP was 100% hiked with no trail running. As of right now and to the best of my knowledge I hold the fastest known time of 43 days and the lowest miles of 924.3. Also to the best of my knowledge I know of only one other person (Sharon Spezia) who has completed 2 maps in a single year. I was supported with shuttles when needed.

Jwoo, do you know of anyone else who has started and finished 2 maps in a single year?"

 

35.6117644, -83.4895449

Comments

Any idea on how many miles were repeat miles? Looks like it would be tough just figuring out how not to backtrack. 

The current trail mileage listed at http://900miler.smhclub.org/ is just over 800. Benny claimed 924.3 total miles for his 43-day hike. My approach (no vehicle support) is a bit over 1,000 total miles.

It is my goal to develop tools that will allow people to plan hikes with varying levels of support. From my experience, backtracking is the least of the concerns. It is more crucial to figure out how to resupply on a regular basis, and how to stay at a legal campsite/shelter each night.

I am currently on a partial loop/circuit hike:

https://us0-share.inreach.garmin.com/ewest

To my knowledge, no one has ever completed the trail network in a continuous journey. That is, if you leave the network to resupply or stay at a hotel, you return to the exact same place and continue on.

Benny's "map completions" are definitely inspiring, but they are piecewise and not continuous. He shuttles around the park, much as an AT or PCT thru-hiker might slackpack, to carry a lighter pack and (to a certain extent) minimize elevation gain.

I will post a trip report next week when I complete this summer's journey. My goal is not to set an FKT, just to prove that this approach is possible. A self-supported hike would have to be done this way, as getting in a vehicle immediately makes it supported. My hike has been self-supported with a few exceptions, but it would certainly be possible to do it entirely self-supported.