Loading Events

« All Events

Chasing 948 Miles in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

February 12 @ 5:00 pm

Nancy East

In September 2018, Susan Clements, an Ohio resident, visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park with her daughter. They were hiking on one of the most popular trails in the park, less than a mile from the trailhead when they separated. It was the last time anyone saw Susan alive. Nancy’s Western North Carolina-based search and rescue team helped search for Susan, and the incident had a profound impact on her.

In 2020, Nancy and her best friend, Chris Ford, earned a fastest known time (FKT) of the Smokies 900 Challenge while raising $30,000 for a preventative search and rescue program for the national park.

Nancy will share what it was like to hike all 801 miles of trail in the Smokies in record speed while facing multiple challenges, including one of the most rare human-bear tragedies in the park’s history. She will also interweave actionable tips during her presentation that keep hikers “safe and found” in the Smokies and beyond.

Nancy East, an avid hiker and backpacker, is a firm believer that you’re never too old to be what you might have been. After a 23-year career as a small animal veterinarian, she retired to pursue her passion as a writer, hiking guide, and speaker.

She is a member of a North Carolina Search and Rescue Team, a founding board member of the WNC Wilderness Safety Fund, a Gossamer Gear Ambassador, and a Southern Appalachian Naturalist. Nothing brings her more joy professionally than educating her fellow hikers about how to stay “safe and found.”

In 2019, she and her good friend, Chris Ford, set the fastest known time (FKT) for a mixed-gender team on the Tour de LeConte Challenge. In 2020, they set the overall FKT for the Smokies 900 Challenge. Nancy has hiked all the trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park four times, and she continues going back for more.

In fall 2021, Nancy published “Chasing the Smokies Moon: An audacious 948-mile hike, fueled by love, loss, laughter and lunacy,” a hiking memoir about her record setting hike and the events that led her to pursue it.



February 12
5:00 pm
Event Category:


Apollo A
Wright State Student Union