Thursday, October 27, 2011


Terry and I @ Cliff Tops

This hike has been on my bucket list for a long, long time.  A few months ago I decided it was time. I'm going to hike Mt. Leconte this year. For me, it was a symbolization that I had finally made it. I had made it through the valley and to the very top of my mountain!  I knew it would be a challenge...and it was!

We begun our hike at 7:30 a.m. via Alum Cave Trail.  We hiked at a gentle slop for about an hour. There was a nice rolling stream which is typical of The Smokey Mountains.
Then the upward climb begun. We reached Arch Rock which was an amazing huge rock that we hiked up stairs to get through.  Up and up we went. Next we reached Alum Cave. We knew this was the half way point of the trail.( Many people don't proceed past this point.) For us, it was a nice resting spot. There was no turning back now! We proceeded onward or upward should I say.  The views on up the mountain were amazing.  We hiked slowly so as not to miss anything. Ha. Many hikers passed us along the way;  I didn't care. I just wanted to make it to the top.  The last hour seemed the longest. Are we there yet? We talked with hikers coming down the mountain; one guy shared this was his 17th hike to Mt. Leconte. He had taken every trail up except one; this particular trail was his favorite, he said.

When we finally reached the top (12 noon) and it really wasn't at all what I expected.  We walked down a path to some rustic cottages, found a restroom, and the "dining room".  To get a really awesome view,  we had to sit on the porch of the Lodge or Office. It was cold and windy! However, I was prepared. We had gloves, hats, and warmer coats.  We shared a sack lunch of bagel, applesauce, oreo cookies.....and a chocolate oatmeal cookie square. Yum, yum. Oh, and hot chocolate!

The lamas were there; this was their day to bring supplies up the mountain. They come Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays via Trillium Trail. When we saw them they had been unpacked and  enjoying a nice lunch of some sort of grain.

Then we found another small trail 0.2 mile that would take us further up the mountain. (Most people don't hike past the Lodge)  This is where we were told we could get that awesome view.  It was called Cliff Top's.  It was amazing. We sat here for awhile just taking in the serenity of the place and letting the peace of these beautiful mountains soak in.

There is still another trail called Myrtles Point but its another 0.8 mile eastward.  We decided this would wait for our NEXT trip.  I had already decided next time would be an overnight trip.  The cottages are booked up about a year in advance. They are primitive with no electricity or running water.

We visited the office before beginning our descent down the mountain. I wanted to leave by 2 p.m. as to give us plenty of time before dark. I purchased a purple long sleeve tee and I was ready! Or so I thought.

The trip down was almost as hard as trek up the mountain. However, it only took us 3 1/2 hours to descend. I was totally exhausted and wondering if either of us would be able to move tomorrow!  My legs felt weak and wobbly; I stumbled more than once which made me just a little bit nervous.  There were several areas that are treacherous with only a metal cable to hold onto. Hold on I did!

When we finally made it back to Alum Cave;  I knew I would be o.k. The mountain becomes more forgiving from here on out.   We had plenty of time before dusk so I wasn't worried about running out of daylight.

5:30 p.m. we reached the trail head. WOOHOO! Big fist bump! It was both exhausting and exhilarating. It signified to me that I "was back".  I had conquered that mountain. If I could hike Mt. Leconte, then well, I've finally made it up that Mountain!

Now on to some refreshments and nourishment. Smokey Mountain Brewery.......HERE WE COME!

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