Miles for Mountains: Max Patch and Mount Sterling

Miles for Mountains


Whether it’s photographers going to capture great landscapes or families spending time in the outdoors together, the National Parks are receiving more foot traffic than ever before. As an outdoorsman growing up in this great country I’ve spent more time than most at the pristine environments that the National Parks Service preserves but unfortunately the political climate surrounding this part of government has become volatile. In response to the growing need of preservation of our lands I’ve chosen to join Miles for Mountains a collaboration of creatives and concerned citizens to give back to the National Parks Conservation Association. How it works is for every mile you hike to get the “shot” you assign twenty dollars to the photograph. After the hike, you pick the best photograph and it’s put up for sale on the Miles for Mountains site. Then, when the print is sold 75% of the proceeds go to the NPCA and the rest goes to covering printing and travel costs.

“National parks and reserves are an integral aspect of intelligent use of natural resources. It is the course of wisdom to set aside an ample portion of our natural resources as national parks and reserves, thus ensuring that future generations may know the majesty of the earth as we know it today.”

- John F. Kennedy
President of the United States

Please help support the NPCA by purchasing the high-quality prints off the Miles for Mountains website starting April 22nd ( and please spread the word to your friends and family who would support the cause. A huge thanks to Andrew Shepherd (@LostFoxPersonal) for organizing, creating, and inviting me to be a part of this awesome collaboration. Lastly, thank you to Topo Designs for providing gear and a helping share the cause through their great platform. We can all make a difference and help preserve what makes this country great together!


Max Patch and Baxter Creek to Mount Sterling


Our first stop of the trip was catching sunrise at Max Patch on the Appalachian Trail and after driving overnight with no sleep it was completely worth it!

After the sun came out we head back down the trail and jumped back in “Guac” then headed to our trail head at Baxter Creek in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

As soon as we arrived, we were greeted with the rushing waters of Big Creek which was a nice place to enjoy our breakfast and filter water before we started the 6.7 hike to the top of Mount Sterling.

Throughout the day, we got to enjoy the true beauty of the Smokies through old growth forests, deciduous trees, and in the last 2 miles of the hike snow and spruce. It was one of the most physically demanding hikes I’ve been on with 4000 feet of elevation gain over the course of the ascent.

After four hours of intense hiking we summited Mt.Sterling and were immediately greeted by the watch tower located on the top. Super excited to see the views and enjoy a well-deserved cup of coffee we setup camp and quickly scrambled up the tower. The vantage from the top provided me with views I had never seen on the east coast.

It’s so often I find myself in the mountains being humbled by the pure majesty of the place we get to call our home. As humans, we have primal connection to these places and I’m no different.

As the sun fell below the horizon we enjoyed our warm dinner and promptly laid down for the night we both hadn’t sleep in over 24 hours and were completely exhausted.

I woke up and climbed the tower one last time before the long hike back to the car. The sun was peaking over the mountaintops and gave the best light of the entire trip.  The hike back to the car was bittersweet as our knees were tested the entire way and I was leaving the mountains to head back to the 9-5 back in Charleston. This was one of my favorite hikes on the east coast.

- Chris Ramsey Jr. (@chris.ramsey.jr)

Exploring Congaree National Park

After living in South Carolina for nearing half a decade, I finally made the time to visit the "Most unknown" National park in the country, Congaree. I've always been a mountain person myself but how could I possibly leave the state in the next year without at least going once, so I rounded up my good friend Shawn, packed my camera gear, grabbed a coat, and we were off. 


As we arrive we were about two hours from sunset. We greeted the local ranger in the park HQ and got much needed directions to navigate quickly to the iconic Boardwalk. We did a 3 mile loop covering the Boardwalk and the Bluff trail which was a portion of land that was elevated about 10 feet higher than the rest of the park (this is park is FLAT, but hey it's a swamp haha). While we saw some interesting landscapes but overall I was underwhelmed in comparison to the Appalachia that is only an extra two hours away. We still had a great time and I managed to get some solid pictures. 

For the causal outdoors enthusiast this park would be a blast especially with young ones who can't handle the rigors of mountain trails, just make sure you go in the winter when the mosquitoes are gone!