Katherine Donnelly | 07.31.2018

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than a video is worth a million, which is exactly why we asked our Contributor community to hit the trails and tell us why they hike using these short and raw video clips from their favorite hiking adventures. 

This is Johnny Osborne's submission. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do, and we hope that you find yourself inspired to lace up those hiking shoes and start hiking. Read on to learn more about why Johnny hikes, how he got into it, and so much more.

OP: Why do you hike? 

Johnny Osborne: I hike mostly in the Great Smoky Mountains. However, I do also hike other locations as well. I also hike in Virginia and Georgia.

OP: How has hiking affected the way you approach the outdoors in general?

Johnny Osborne: I feel that it has inspired me to teach Leave No Trace. In many of my videos I try to talk about LNT. I love the outdoors, and I love slowing down to see it and enjoy it. It's great to unplug from society and to step away from technology.

OP: What hiking goals are on your bucket list?

Johnny Osborne: Right now my goal is to complete the Smoky Mountain all-trails map, meaning that I will have hiked every single hiking trail in the Smokies. It’s called the “900 miler club.” There are way more than 900 miles of trails, and there are many more miles that need to be to hiked complete this goal. I should complete this goal sometime October or November of this year. After that I’m thinking of section hiking the AT. I would also like to reach all of the 6,000 foot summits in the South (SB6K).

OP: When did you start to become interested in the outdoors? Did you spend a lot of time outside as a child, or did your interest develop later?

Johnny Osborne: My parents hiked and camped and my younger sister and I went along for many of those adventures. When I was younger I didn’t understand what hiking was or what the Smoky Mountains meant. It was later in life that I really discovered what it meant to appreciate what we have here in our backyard, and I also learned to Leave No Trace in our Smokies or any park.

OP: Who introduced you?

Johnny Osborne: My parents introduced me to the outdoors. I grew up on a small farm, so playing outside was a huge part of my life. While in college, my buddies and I were discussing hiking, and we planned a trip that rekindled the flame of hiking.

OP: Are there causes and/or organizations that you feel are particularly effective in protecting your access to these places?

Johnny Osborne: Friends of the Smokies is an organization which helps fund the Smokies, since there isn’t a fee to enter our park.

OP: Aside from the 10 essentials, what are three things that you always take with you when you hike?

Johnny Osborne: Snickers bar, that’s a small reward for the day of hiking. If I’m backpacking, I usually bring a bottle of iced coffee for the morning. Third would be my camera; I enjoy making videos of the hike or taking that one special photo.

OP: Day hikes or overnight backpacks?

Johnny Osborne: I do both. It seems like lately I’ve done more backpacking trips versus day hikes. Both are rewarding to me.

OP: If you could hike only one trail in your lifetime, which would it be and why?

Johnny Osborne: This is easy. My “only one trail in my lifetime” would be the Appalachian Trail.  I would choose the AT because there’s such a vast difference in terrain and elevation, and the planning part would be fun. Meeting and talking with other hikers would be such a delight. I think the experience that one gets from hiking the AT is a lifelong lesson. It's a humbling trail to be appreciated and respected.

OP: From your experience, which state/region has the best hiking diversity? Why?

Johnny Osborne: This is an interesting question. I’m partial to the Smokies. It is the most visited park in the country.  I’m on both sides of the mountains, meaning Tennessee and North Carolina, and I see and love both of these states. There are hikers in North Carolina that only hike the North Carolina side, and same for the Tennessee side. But we can all agree that we love these mountains and the history and heritage behind them.

OP: Solo hiking or with someone?

Johnny Osborne: Wow, this is a good one. I really like hiking with others, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a group or just one or two people.  In my videos, I tend to make whomever I’m hiking with the star of the show (along with the trail we are hiking). I do also really love some quiet solo hiking time. I can usually hike my own personal pace (which is faster than that of many other hikers).  It gives me time to reflect, think, and just let things go.

OP: What's the most ambitious hike you've ever done?

Johnny Osborne: Well, hiking to McAfee Knob was one of those bucket list hikes that took a bit of planning and time to accomplish. I do have a hike that stares me in the face every time that I’m in the Smokies. I want to reach the summit of Mount Guyot, which is the highest peak solely in the state of Tennessee. It sits at 6,621 feet in elevation, and the only way to reach the true summit is to bushwhack. Maybe this winter…

OP: Boots or sneakers?

Johnny Osborne: I used to wear boots, but several years ago I gave them up for trail runners mainly because they don’t weigh as much as boots. I also tend to be faster in trail runners.

OP: GPS or compass?

Johnny Osborne: I use both. I enjoy studying topo maps, so often times out on the trail you’ll see me with my compass in hand. I always hike with a compass. I would encourage anyone that hikes to learn to use a compass and be familiar with it and not just carry one with you. Knowledge is important.


#WhyIHike Photo Contest with Eddie Bauer

You can get involved by taking photos and videos from the trail all summer long and posting them to Instagram or Twitter and tag @eddiebauer #contest #whyihike through September 30, 2018.

Each month, Eddie Bauer's panel of judges will select 25 semifinalists who will receive a $100 Eddie Bauer gift card and be entered into the competition to win the grand prize.

At the end of the contest period, one grand prize winner will choose between a trip to Kauai, Yosemite or Whistler, BC, for an all-expenses paid hiking adventure of a lifetime. Read the full details and rules here.


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