I have immense respect for anyone who hikes a long distance trail. Having hiked the entirety of the Pacific Crest Trail myself I have no illusions of the hardships, pain and suffering that go hand in hand with months of trail life. But with those hardships come worthwhile moments of accomplishment, joys and rewarding euphoric highs.
Jeff and Nancy of the Hike Inn offered to let us leave the car with them. Upon arriving at the Hike Inn located seven miles from the start of our hike at Fontana Dam near the Southern end of the park, Jeff sat us down explaining that even though we were with Backpacker Magazine we would get the same treatment as everyone else. He then in detail made us aware of the potential dangers as well as beauty of hiking in the rugged backcountry of the Smoky Mountains. People like Jeff and Nancy are true caretakers of the land they live in and love. They are a rarity in todays world and truly enrich everyones life they come in contact with.