What is the nature of this excursion?
A: This is a community-oriented yoga and hiking wellness immersion in the Great Smoky Mountains. The hiking is designed to be accessible to a variety of fitness levels and is intended for anyone who loves moving through the outdoors. Our Yoga and meditation practice will enhance our opportunity to receive the nourishment that our external environment offers, and allow us to connect deeper within.
Q: How difficult are the hikes?
A: The hikes are easy to moderate with gradual elevation gains. One day-hike will be longer than the others and ascend 1,200 feet and descend 1,500 over 6-8 miles.
Q: How many days are we hiking?
A: There will be guided hikes offered all 4 days.
Q: How long are most of the hikes?
A: Three days the hikes will be 3.5-5.5 miles, with one 6-8 mile day.
Q: What are the hiking trails like?
A: Most of the trails will be packed dirt with roots and some old logging trails that may have gravel.
Q: What will the weather be like? Should we expect rain?
A: The weather can range from low 80’s during the day and mid 40’s at night. The Smoky Mountains are a temperate rain forest, so rain at some point during the trip is likely. Be prepared with layers and a rain jacket at minimum. Keep in mind, t’s the rain that brings so much life, and adds to the beauty of the forests.
Q: What is the highest altitude on the trek?
A: The highest potential altitude for this excursion is around 6,000 feet.
Q: When should we arrive and depart? Where does the excursion begin and end?
A: The excursion will begin and end at the Sugarlands visitor center in Gatlinburg, TN. Plan to arrive by 10am on May 3rd, 2020 for orientation. Plan to depart no earlier than 12pm on May 6th, 2020.
Q: How do I reach the Sugarlands visitor center? What about parking?
A: The Sugarlands visitor center is located at 1420 Fighting Creek Gap Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. It’s approximately 1 hour from McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, TN, 2 hours from Asheville International Airport, or within a 5 hour drive of Charlotte, NC, Nashville, TN, Atlanta, GA, Birmingham, Alabama, Lexington, KY, and many other metropolitan areas.
Q: How can I prepare for this hiking excursion?
A: Physical fitness and overall good health are important elements for an excursion like this. If you haven’t already, we suggest that you begin a regular practice for conditioning your body. Aerobic exercise is especially helpful to prepare for these hikes. One method is fast-walking, building up to a steady pace on inclines, hilly terrain, or stairs, and increasing distance. We highly recommend walking regularly with your day pack (filled) and pushing yourself on some longer hikes whenever possible. Also, the yogic breathing technique (pranayama) of nadi shodhanam (alternate nostril breathing) and 61 point relaxation will help cultivate internal awareness and turn your mind away from external distractions, while the practice of agni sara will support vitality and reduce stress as it activates the parasympathetic nervous system. These practices are best done regularly, starting with a few repetitions and progressing gradually according to your capacity. If you don’t know these techniques, we recommend that you take a pranayama or hatha yoga class with a qualified instructor. The Himalayan Institute’s Wisdom Library provides instructional articles and videos on these techniques, including contraindications, as do the books Path of Fire and Light, Vol. 1, by Swami Rama, and Science of Breath, by Swami Rama, Rudolph Ballentine, MD, and Alan Hymes, MD. These can be ordered through the Himalayan Institute Press at 800-822-4547, press 4, or online.