The inaugural Dirty Dozen Wilderness Hiking Challenge wrapped up this fall. Co-sponsored by Blue Ridge Outdoors and The Wilderness Society, the challenge attracted over 565 hikers from 11 states who explored 66 different wilderness areas across the Southeast.

Wilderness areas are the wildest, most pristine pockets of pure nature. No roads, vehicles, machines, or permanent structures are permitted in wilderness. They are places where the human imprint is minimized and ecosystems function naturally. The Southeast has an astonishing number and variety of wilderness areas, from Shining Rock to the Okefenokee Swamp.

38 hikers became the first Dirty Dozen hikers: they hiked 10+ miles in 12 different wilderness areas across the Southeast. Timo Holmquist was the very first Dirty Dozen hiker, completing the challenge on April 13. A selection from Middle Prong Wilderness hike report appears below. Jeff Monroe hiked the most wilderness areas (17) and also logged the most miles (341.6).

Hikers were honored at an awards ceremony in Asheville last month, where prizes were awarded in various categories.

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DIRTY DOZEN AWARDS

Finished First

1. Timo Holmquist (4/13/2015)

2. Diana Otero (4/23/2015)

3. Jeff Monroe (4/24/2015)

Hiked the Most Miles

1.Jeff Monroe (341.6)

2.Heidi Triantafillou (231.33)

3.Steve Boone (182.8)

Hiked the Most Wilderness Areas

1. Jeff Monroe (17)

2. Heidi Triantafillou (16)

3. Bill Witherspoon (14)

Hiked in the Most States

1. Steve Boone (7)

2. Bill Witherspoon, Maryan Noack, and Heidi Triantafillou tied for 2nd place (6)

Best Hike Photos

1. Summer McCreless (Sipsey)

2. Bill Witherspoon (Lewis Fork)

3. Heidi Triantafillou (Raven Cliff)

Most Creative Hike Experience Descriptions

1. Olga Pader (Middle Prong)

2. Timo Holmquist (Middle Prong)

3. Felicia Mitchell (Congaree)

Special Thanks

A big thanks to the sponsors of the inaugural Dirty Dozen Wilderness Hike Challenge: Blackrock Outdoor Company (Sylva, NC), City Lights Bookstore (Sylva, NC), ENO (Asheville, NC), GoWorx (Asheville, NC), Harmony House Foods (Franklin, NC), Lawson Hammock (Raleigh, NC), Mast General Store (Asheville, NC), Nantahala Outdoor Center (Bryson City, NC), Patagonia, RuffWear (Bend, OR), Second Gear (Asheville, NC), Southeastern Expeditions (Clayton, GA)