6 Reasons to Hike

Just last week I treated myself to a Friday hike with two guys that work in my office, one of whom isn’t exactly your outdoorsy type. In fact, this was his first hike, ever. So I decided to both take it easy on him and bust his chops all at once by taking him on the famous Chimney Tops Trail. I took it easy on him because it’s only a two mile trek to the top. I busted his chops, though, because it’s a tough little climb, for in that two miles, you gain 1,700 feet.

Anyone who’s reading in the Knoxville area is likely familiar with the Chimneys. Many of you have probably hiked it. Of the countless trails which wind through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, it’s perhaps the most popular of them all.

And I know why. It’s close to Gatlinburg. It’s relatively short, yet also long on beauty. So people figure it’s a quick fix. A simple little deal.

But they’re wrong. Because what’s funny about this trail is that by its end, it’s actually pretty technical. To get to the very top you’re forced to scramble up the rocky face that rises above the canopy of trees. For those willing to do so (it’s a bit sketchy), astonishing beauty awaits.

For those not willing? No worries. It’s still one heck of a hike with many other payoffs along the way.

Anyway, my oldest child is getting to the age where hiking and backpacking are becoming legitimate options for us, so as I hiked the Chimney Tops trail, I thought often of Alli and what she’d think of the whole adventure. There’s no question that she’d love it. Not sure if she’d be up for the last little bit (and not sure I’d be up for her trying it just yet), but hiking the Chimney Tops is the exact type of thing she and I should (and will) be doing together.

Have you ever hiked with one of your children? Or are you one of those folks who simply aren’t into it? If you fall into the latter category, here are six reasons for you to reconsider:

1. Serenity Now

I know. I did. I went all Seinfeld on you. But I did it for a reason. No one is immune to the serenity brought to them courtesy of water rushing down a mountain through the very valley it carves.

2. Push Yourself

See that picture? It’s the rocky culmination of the Chimneys. Goodtimes. But not for all, as many aren’t super-stoked to scramble up the final couple hundred feet. And I get that. But that’s the beauty of hiking. Find the trails that push you, but not beyond your comfort level. If you do, you’ll come out a winner. Because let’s face it. It’s hard to lose when you push yourselves to the limit.

3. Fellowship

If you give me the choice to (a) meet this guy out at a bar, or (b) talk to him about whatever comes to mind during a hike, I’m going with (b) all day long. Everything’s better in the woods. Including fellowship.

4. Embrace Your Insignificance

Because in the grand scheme of things, we’re all just that.

5. Build Confidence

You’ll feel fantastic about yourself when you reach the top. As well you should. For it means that on that given day, you accomplished exactly what you set out to accomplish. And that, my friends, is a confidence builder.

6. Perspective

See that road down there? It’s the one we took to get to the trailhead. It was cool to see it from the top of the Chimneys because it made us better understand exactly how we got there. That’s what a good hike will give you. Perspective.

And speaking of perspective, here’s the view of the Chimney Tops from the road, a picture taken on the way back. You’ll notice some clouds had moved in by then. We hit the summit at the perfect time.

Which is exactly what we had. The perfect time.

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About john cave osborne

John Cave Osborne is a writer whose work has appeared on such sites as DisneyBaby, Babble, YahooShine, TLC and the Huffington Post. He was also referenced by Jezebel one time, but he’s pretty sure they were making fun of him. He and his wife, Caroline, live with their five children and spastic dog in Knoxville, TN. Nothing annoys him more than joke-heavy bios written in the third person, with the possible exception of Corey Feldman.

  • BeccaV

    Love it! We did Abrams Falls about a month ago with our almost 3.5 year old. He hiked all of it, except for 20 minutes, in his rain boots. He loved it! We haven’t done Chimney Tops yet, but it’s on the list. And we felt great after it was done, you’re right, you don’t know what you can do and learn on a hike until yo do it. 

    • http://johncaveosborne.com John Cave Osborne

      @BeccaV — i think you just inspired me to take the triplets to do Abrams Falls! it’s such a beautiful hike. very aweseome re: your 3.5yo. kids are wired to love stuff like that. i’m convinced that if every child were exposed to the mountains, every kid would like it. (just like the beach, know what i mean?) thanks for your comment. (and for nudging me towards Abrams Falls…)

  • http://fathermuskrat.com/ muskrat

    You forgot one:  “Distance from the Nasty” — Neyland Stadium is a long way from where you are when high atop a mountain peak. 

    Just kidding.  I like this post.  Makes me wish I did more hiking (instead of 1-2 times a year). 

    • http://johncaveosborne.com John Cave Osborne

      oooh. good point. (jerk) easy to talk smack when you’re on top of the mountain, i suppose. re: hiking, y’all don’t have much in your neck of the woods to hike, do you? except for mountains made of stone? that’s one of the great things about Ktown — its proximity to GSMNP. it’s a gem!

  • http://suburbanscrawl.com Melisa Wells

    Sigh. The Chimneys are awesome. I go there every other visit to Tennessee or so. So pretty!

    • http://johncaveosborne.com John Cave Osborne

      do you go up the rocky scramble?

      • http://suburbanscrawl.com Melisa Wells

         No. I typically take lots of family pictures on the rocks and enjoy a picnic, ground floor level. :)