Hello to all! We are first time backpackers currently preparing for 12 days of hiking in Southern Utah (Zion Narrows overnight) and Arizona (Havasupai). In addition to training, I have been spending a fair amount of time reading up on books suggested in other beginning members posts so I'm not the first time backpacker asking the same questions all first timers ask.
With that being said, I know no experience/reading/training will truly prepare us better than being on the trail. In a few weeks we will be spending some time near Gatlinburg. We plan to take advantage of our time and get a good test run in with our weighted packs. We have never hiked in this area, so we are looking for suggestion for good day hikes that will offer a fair amount of elevation change to test our endurance. I understand the terrain and atmosphere will be completely different than our hikes in the desert, but we might as well test our limits while we have the opportunity. Suggestions and advice are welcomed and appreciated!