Ambassador - Nancy "Seal Mom" East
Basecamp: The Mountains of Western North Carolina
Trail Name: Seal Mom
- FKT of Tour de LeConte for mixed-gender team
- Women's FKT of Tour de LeConte (previous record)
- FKT of Smokies 900-Miler Challenge
- South Beyond 6000 Challenge
- Thru-hikes of the Wonderland Trail, Tahoe Rim Trail, Bartram Trail, Foothills Trail, Tour du Mont Blanc, and West Highland Way
- Search and Rescue team member in western North Carolina
What It Means to Me to #takelessdomore: For me, taking less and doing more equates to less stress and more energy in my everyday life. I’m a mom to an active family with three teenagers, and my time in the backcountry allows me to shed that stress and take less of it home with me. As a result, I am able to accomplish more with a happy heart as a mom and wife. Because we all know that if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
Taking less in a literal sense has also empowered me to tackle ambitious hiking goals, such as attempting and accomplishing local FKTs (fastest known times). As I approach my 50th revolution around the sun, every ounce in my pack counts when walking on aging joints. Taking enough in my pack to stay safe, but not too much to slow me down, has been a game changer with my endurance.
How I Got Into Ultralight Hiking: I was introduced to hiking and backpacking in college by a friend. On my first hike in the mountains of north Georgia, I felt as if I had entered the wardrobe in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia and an entirely new world unfolded before my eyes. I haven’t looked back since!
Favorite Gossamer Gear Product: My Kumo is the pack I grab the most these days, and I love how it balances a light weight design with robust features. I also use it for search and rescue operations and it holds up great in rugged off-trail terrain that we’re often covering. My Liteflex Umbrella, however, gets my MVP reward nearly every single hike. Whether I’m using it for rain or sun protection, it’s my secret weapon for saving my sanity. It also works great for deterring insects from dive bombing my face!
Favorite Trail (so far!): Great Smoky Mountains National Park is sacred ground to me and my favorite place on Earth to hike. The biodiversity is unparalleled and after spending several years taking courses to become a certified naturalist, I have a deep and abiding love for its flora and fauna. But really, I've hardly ever met a trail I didn't like. Some of my favorite regions to hike in beyond Southern Appalachia are the Pacific Northwest, the desert Southwest, and the Sierras.
Dream Trip: In a few years when my husband and I become empty nesters, thru-hikes of the U.S. long trails are on our agenda. For now, "microadventures" feed my soul as well as hiking all the trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Organizations I Support: Friends of the Smokies is a nonprofit that provides funding for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the United States. I have the honor or working with them through hiking-based fundraisers I've created for trail restoration projects and preventative search and rescue programs.