Actually, I don't think it's a contest. You simply learn to love the areas you can get to. In my case, I don't hike out west because I can't block out 10 days or 2 weeks to hike (competing needs of work, family, etc.)

I've seen some of the western mountains, not as a backpacker, but as a business visitor. They are incredibly beautiful. So are the Applachians and Smokies and Whites. But they're all beautiful differently - and that's the wonderful part: there's always something to wow everyone. As Harry Roberts once wrote: "backpacking exists everywhere, and it's good everywhere... There are places in this world that let you look out far, and others that help you look in deep. My Michigan is one of the others..."

Couldn't have said it better myself.