Over the past year or so, I have immersed myself into the local hiking scene here in East Tennessee, home of the Great Smoky Mountains (it's rather hard not to if you spend much time living here). And perhaps unlike most hikers here on the East Coast, I prefer hiking in the colder months of the year and the challenges that it brings. There is something indescribable about the cold air and the way it makes lungs burn and eyes water.
And the views, man, the views
The views in the winter are so damn incredible.
This past weekend was no different at Chimney Tops, one of the most prolific and popular hikes here in the Smoky Mountains. My friend Corey had never been on the hike and insisted on getting out into the mountains as soon as possible. Corey recently moved back to Knoxville from his time in Lynchburg, VA at Liberty University (my alma mater) and although we had never met before, it seemed as if we had known each other for years. Conversation accompanied us the entire time up the mountain, and my God how refreshing it was.
I don't generally bring along my DSLR on hikes anymore (not worth the weight or time) as I've opted to only shoot with my iPhone and film camera, but this time I went for it.
I'm so grateful that I did.
So with camera in hand and temperatures dropping into the teens, we trekked up all 4,800 feet and 2.5 miles of almost purely vertical trailhead. Our journey lead us to the peak where we watched sunset with about 15 strangers who soon became friends. We waited as long as we could before the skyline faded into a slow burning ember of hues and we headed back down into the dark.
So 2015, here's to you and all the mountaintops, sunsets, and conversations still to be had.