Saturday, July 18, 2009

Smokies trip, part II

Natural wonders
Originally uploaded by TheTurducken
On the second day of our trip we dawdled over breakfast, trying to figure out what to do. I was advocating for something under 10 miles, but there was some enthusiasm for a harder hike, so we decided to hike up to Mount LeConte and back. We were going to head up the Boundary Trail and back down the Alum Cave trail, which meant setting up a car shuttle.

We didn't get started until practically lunchtime. The trail starts at Newfound Gap and follows the Appalachian Trail for a ways. Most of that is uphill. From there you get on the Boundary Trail, and my hiking book mentioned a short descent followed by a "gentle ascent."

The short descent lost us half of the elevation we'd gained, and the "gentle" ascent was not at all gentle. We were in a hurry, too, worried about getting done before dark. Finally we all got to the top, and I have to admit I was looking at the Lodge at the top with some degree of jealousy. Hot dinner, warm beds, and wine? Yes, thank you!

But we had to hike down. Uncle Minion and I ran ahead so we could get down and shuttle the cars back. This photo is taken near the beginning of the descent. The Alum Cave Trail is direct, with no up-and-down fooling around, although it does descent to a lower point. We did the 5 miles down in one hour and 50 minutes.

The final day of the trip we had planned to go tubing, although my car opted out and just drove back to Nashville.

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