2015 – Looking back at my year

In Ireland
In Ireland

Is it egotistical to spend some time looking back at my year?

Yes, I hiked, went to a lot of meetings, and visited national parks in the Southeast.  I’m not much of a reflective person, and always want to look forward but here goes the highlights.


1. First, my day job.

I scouted and led many hikes for Friends of the Smokies, Carolina Mountain Club and the Great Smoky Mountains Association.

View from Mt. Le Conte
View from Mt. Le Conte

If I get to choose a favorite, it has to be the overnight hike to LeConte Lodge in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

2. For the first time (and probably last), I was a hike leader for Family Nature Summits. This past year, the one-week nature camp was based at Lake Junaluska in Waynesville.

I led four hikes in five days. Both granddaughters came. Isa, only five at the time, was a great trooper. With Lenny and Hannah’s help, I was able to get out early, some days as early as 7 am, as required.

3. After three interim superintendents in the Smokies, Cassius Cash became the permanent superintendent. I am lucky to be able to know him and most of the staff. OK, folks, we all have our own rock stars.

Superintendent Cash, trail crew leaders and FOTS leaders
Superintendent Cash, trail crew leaders and FOTS leaders

4. Chimney Tops Trail in the Smokies, was completely, refurbished. Friends of the Smokies, who funded this project through their Trails Forever program, had an official opening. We all climbed to the top, accompanied by Tobias Miller, another star of mine.

5. I finished visiting all the national parks in the Southeast, for my forthcoming book, Forests, Alligators, Battlefields: My Journey through the National Parks of the South. It included six new parks and many that I went back to for fun and extra research. The book will come out March 15, 2016.

6. I laughed at the silliness of A Walk in the Woods and almost teared up at the Everest movie.

Marcia giving me an award
Marcia giving me an award

7. I received the Distinguished Service Award from Carolina Mountain Club. Oh my gosh! I was gobsmacked-astonished, astounded, totally amazed. Me? Really?

8. I went to Italy in May with Lenny and Ireland in August with Beth R. See the picture above. Both destinations were on my bucket list. And again a big thanks to Beth for putting up with me for almost a month.

9. I finished my six years on the board of the Great Smoky Mountains Association. All good things must come to an end.

10.  I’m looking forward to an awesome 2016. Stay with me.

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