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Michael Mitchell of Nashville uses his drone to video a waterfall. The drone is mounted with a camera and is operated using a hand held controller. M

While winter temperatures can make this time of year challenging for some hikers, others find it more enjoyable.

The lack of humidity and foliage, the crisp, clear air -- plus the extra pounds gained over the holidays -- prompt many to take to the trails.

There are numerous other reasons also.

"Exercising socializing," Cumberland Trail Conference member Don Deakins said as to why his friends hike.

Carrying a GPS in hand, Deakins has spent weeks hiking the CTC trails to map and mark them so as to provide a clear path to follow.

With the Civil War being such a prominent part of this area's history, many roam the woods in search of artifacts.

Chattanooga Hiking Club member Margaret Reisman admitted that some trails do not "ring my bell." She responds to "a carrot."

"The carrot is the beautiful overlooks and the wonderful waterfalls," she said. "Other than that, it's just a stroll in the park."

Reisman said she enjoys hiking this time of year because she can see so much more and does not have to cope with gnats and other flying insects. Nor does she have to be on the lookout for snakes.

Now 76 and a volunteer with the U.S. Forest Service, Gary Smith said he likes to take his time while hiking.

"I like to go by myself because I don't want to race anybody. It is my way of relaxing," the retired surveyor said.

Smith sees another aspect of being in a forest.

"I think there is something spiritual about it," he said. "I enjoy the woods now more than I ever did, and I was raised in the woods."

Looking for the undiscovered can be more than just seeing what's in the midst of the leaves, rocks and stumps, Smith added.

"Sometimes, a guy goes out looking for a mate. What we all desire is relationships," the single senior citizen said.

U.S. National Park Service volunteer Bruce Antman said he hikes "to get away from it all."

"It just makes me feel good, especially if I have been indoors a lot. It's refreshing," the retired software engineer elaborated.

Michael Mitchell of Nashville likes to hike with his wife, Greta, and 2-year-old son, Wilson, but he has an additional motive. Mitchell hikes to use his drone to video waterfalls, overlooks and other special areas in Tennessee.

Using a DJI Phantom 2, along with his GoPro Hero 3 + Black, Mitchell has equipment that provides remarkable outdoors video, but he still has to hike to the locations. Even getting there and back is only a small part of the work needed to post his videos.

"I can sometimes shoot an hour or two worth of hiking footage to edit down to a five- to 10-minute video. I will put two to 10 hours into editing my videos," Mitchell said.

"(The drone) can fly anywhere between 12 to 20 minutes on one battery. I use multiple batteries on hikes to get a lot of footage."

The drone with the camera and gimbal (which holds the camera) altogether cost him around $1,200, Mitchell said.

He works for VCE, a legal videography company in Nashville.

"We love to visit some of the beautiful spots of Tennessee, including Laurel Falls Pocket Wilderness in Dayton," he noted.

"I've always had a love for taking outdoor photography and videography.The drone quad copter has really allowed me to take that hobby to a completely new level. I'm a Christian and believe that God has created a beautiful world, and it's wonderful that such amazing technology like this exists to get better shots of it."

Mitchell's videos can been viewed on YouTube under the name Mikeisi.

Contact Gary Petty at sports@timesfreepress.com.

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