5 Things to Know About Raising $ for Search & Rescue in the Smokies

Footpath in the forest

1. Two hikers are raising money this fall by hiking all 900 miles of trails in the GSMNP.

Nancy East and Chris Ford are hiking the 900 miles of trails this fall and trying to raise $60,000 for Friends of the Smokies to support the GSMNP’s Preventive Search and Rescue program.

2. They know what they’re in for.

East has completed two 900 Miler maps, and Ford has completed three 900 Miler maps. That means they hiked all the trails twice and three times, respectively.

3. Seriously, they’re pros.

Ford completed the Appalachian Trail in 2015 and the Pacific Crest Trail in 2019. East has completed several thru hikes, and is a volunteer for the Haywood County (NC) Search and Rescue Team.

4. Here’s how the idea hatched.

East said for a Friends of the Smokies blog, “When I discovered that Friends of the Smokies had a specific line item in their budget to raise funds for preventive search and rescue programs in the park, I came up with the idea to try to hike the park’s trails in record time, in an effort to raise money for this cause.”

5. The money will fund two rangers.

The rangers will oversee volunteers who will be in hiking locations in the park to “help visitors make good choices about their hiking.” To contribute to the cause, follow this link.

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