We picked one of my favorite low-elevation trails in the Park--West Prong. This trail begins near Tremont Institute and rises gently along the flanks of Fodderstack Mountain through peaceful hardwood forest. An elevation change of approximately 500 feet over the course of a little over a mile makes for a nice workout, but not an uncomfortable climb. Conversation was rich as Gina and I got to know one another, this being our first time hiking together. We had been "friends" on Twitter for several years, but today was the beginning of a new "real-time" friendship. Even on the climbs of this hike, our paces were similar, making it seem as if we'd hiked together for many years. Gina told me that she tries to hike on New Year's Day because her grandmother told her to always do the things you love on New Year's Day because those are the things you will spend much of the year doing. I look forward to more hikes with Gina in our beloved Great Smoky Mountains as a result of this First Day Hike.
We made it out in time to snap a quick selfie to memorialize this first hike together, then hurried home. We were rewarded for that effort, too, with an Outback Bowl that was dominated by our Tennessee Volunteers! Nice way to spend a New Year's Day, don't you think? #GoBigOrange