Thinking about Jenny Bennett

I’ve never met Jenny Bennett but I can’t get her out of mind. So I’m going to write about it.

Jenny Bennett, thanks to GoSmokies
Jenny Bennett, thanks to GoSmokies

Jenny Bennett was a 62-year old hiker who was found dead in Great Smoky Mountains National Park earlier this week. Jenny loved to hike off-trail and was known to be a great adventurer. Though she was a member of Smoky Mountain Hiking Club,  she also loved to hike by herself. Holly Kays, the outdoor editor of the Smoky Mountain News, wrote a particularly touching story based on several people who knew her.

She was found a half-mile from Campsite 31, on Porter Creek Trail, not a particularly difficult trail. According to the park, neither foul play or an animal attack is suspected. The death is still under investigation. I hope that there’s as much publicity about the case when the officials determined how she died.

Jenny made a big impact in the Smokies community and was much loved, based on the tribute wall that was created by GoSmokies. I took the liberty of using one of their pictures for this blog entry.

She was a writer and avid blogger. So I went to her blog, Endless streams and forests to read her last couple of blogs. Her blog posts are long, involving lots pictures. I was fixated by this section in her blog.

In the past couple of weeks, as I have been preparing for my move to Northern Vermont, I have been fixated on getting in one last expedition—despite the bum knee, despite the fact that I’ve allowed myself to get somewhat out of shape. I hope this doesn’t sound too personal: I absolutely believe it is the right thing to do to move to New England, mainly because I can be of assistance to my sister. At the same time, I have struggled with my loss of the Smokies. I have been dealing with depression, and have not kept up my regular exercise routine as well as I could. Not that I’ve turned into a total couch potato, but I find myself weighing five pounds more than I should, and I seem to be hiking more slowly on the exercise hikes that I still manage to do.

She was dealing with depression, she says, and was going to lose the Smokies when she moved to Vermont. I can understand this. I used to hike in the Northeast. The terrain is difficult, rocky, and much steeper than in the Smokies. The trails in the national forests up there are not as well maintained as in a national park. I’ve gotten to say “Old hikers don’t die; they just move to the South”.

I’m older than Jenny but I, too, hike solo in the park, but only on trails. I feel very confident that I know my way around the trails. Life is always telling you to be careful, to know your limitations, to check with your doctor ….

But that obviously wasn’t Jenny Bennett. May she rest in peace.

One thought on “Thinking about Jenny Bennett

  1. I also hike alone and this case as well as the young man who was attacked by a bear in his hammock have given me pause. I also hammock. It’s a momentary thing that I will get past because life is too short to stop doing the things you love because of the what ifs. It is just a sad case. Both a death on the trail and an attack are very rare.

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