On June 12, author Ben Anderson will be signing his recently published book, “Smokies Chronicle: A Year of Hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.” The event is scheduled for 6:00pm at Ashevllle’s Pack Memorial Library. It is open to the public.
As the national park system celebrated its centennial in 2016, Ben Anderson decided to explore and closely observe, across the seasons, as much of the nation’s most popular national park as practicable during the year. On the three or four hikes he took each month, he revisited a number of trails he was familiar with from previous hiking and backpacking excursions, often through his role as a Smokies backcountry volunteer for more than 20 years. Even on familiar trails, he sought a greater perspective and deeper insight into the park.
In the author’s words,
“ After living for thirty years within striking distance of dozens of Smokies trails on the North Carolina side of the park, I began 2016 not having hiked many Tennessee trails. Yes, I had hiked some of the more compelling paths on the Tennessee side such as The Boulevard, Chimney Tops, and Alum Cave- trails that seemed too inviting not to hike, despite the longer drive time. But primarily because the trailheads were not as accessible for me, I was largely unfamiliar with Smokies trails in Tennessee at the beginning of the year. Then again, there were a number of trails on the North Carolina side that I either hadn’t hiked in many years or had not hiked at all. As the year progressed and the miles began to pile up, I set a goal of hiking four hundred miles on all or part of at least sixty different trails. In surpassing that goal by year’s end, I walked more than one million steps, as it takes about twenty-five hundred steps to cover one mile. My year of hiking took me to many parts of the second largest national park in the East. Without exception, each area was engaging in its own way. I hope this account of my travels across much of the Great Smoky Mountains fully reflects that.”
In Smokies Chronicle, Anderson offers observations on natural and human history, mountain culture, geography, geology, flora, and fauna. The book also deftly blends the personal with the universal in a compelling mix of entries from the backcountry. Although this book can be used as a helpful trail guide, it also provides a fresh look and an engaging narrative about our most heavily visited national park, through the eyes and ears of a writer who has an extensive history with the park. The publisher of Smokies Chronicle is John F. Blair Publisher, located in Winston Salem, NC.