About the AuthorHaving twice set the Fastest Know Time for hiking all 900+ trail miles in the Great Smoky National Park, Benny “Plug-It In” Hikes has become nothing short of an East Tennessee legend. While his lore is strong in the Southeast, his hiking exploits extend well beyond the Appalachian Mountains. Having completed the Long Trail, the JMT, the BMT, TGO Challenge, the Uinta Highline Trail and more, Benny’s experience has solidified him a trusted source within the hiking community.
There’s something special about getting out in nature and getting away from our busy and hectic everyday lives. Whether it’s for a few months, weeks, or days. Getting out in nature helps us to clear the clutter in our minds and allows us be renewed mentally.
Now, I do a lot of backpacking. I typically take off of work about 3 months out of the year and get some much needed “nature time”. Most of those trips are solo backpacking trips. But what I REALLY enjoy are my backpacking trips with my close friends. Let me tell you why.
Getting to share trail time with my closest friends is extra special. We all live in different parts of the States and don’t get to see each other that much. By hiking together we not only get to see one another, but also get to strengthen the bonds we have. Let’s be honest here, these are my closest friends and in many cases my best friends.
By sharing time on the trail together we not only get see these incredible locations and views together, but it also allows us to invest in our friendship. We laugh and make jokes like any good friends do. We also encourage one another on those days where we’re struggling. For instance, on the recent TGO Challenge in Scotland I ended up getting shin splints in my left leg during the last 8 miles of the last day of our hike, as you can imagine I was in a lot of pain and had slowed way down from my normal pace.
My good friend Matt aka “Details” stuck by my side and hiked with me those last tough miles. This was an epic hike. We were finishing up this journey we made across the beautiful Scottish countryside and he refused to allow me to finish by myself. We began together and he was determined to finish together. That simple gesture honestly made that hike a hundred times more special. But Details wasn’t the only one who stayed with me till the end. My friends Darwin and Bigfoot did the same. I can’t even begin to tell you what this meant to me.
Details and myself have hiked well over 700 miles together in the last few years. We’ve always been there to encourage each other along on those tough days. Sometimes you simply need to know someone has confidence in you and know they have your back. We’ve also had some incredible conversation. Honestly these conversations have been a great benefit to me.
As “iron sharpens iron”, so do the conversations and the time I spend with my friends. There’s no question I’m a better person from having these friendships, but I’m also a better hiker. I’m more patient and listen to my body better. So next time you plan a backpacking trip, invite a friend or two along. It may make that trip a hike that you’ll always remember and make you a better friend and hiker.