This weekend we did not hike a section of the AT, but instead, we hiked Alum Cave trail up to the Mt. LeConte Lodge, where we stayed the night at the highest lodge in the Smoky Mountains. Five miles up. Five miles down. 6594 foot elevation.
It was my third time hiking up to LeConte and staying in the lodge, but this particular trek was my younger cousin's first time. We were rather lucky that the weather cooperated, yet again. The hike wasn't particularly long, so we headed to the mountains at 1:00 in the afternoon, which set a relaxed tone for the trip. The Alumn Cave trail is a relatively popular trial in the mountains, and consequently, we passed numerous other hikers.
As I hiked the familiar trail, I thought back to hiking it as a child. Certain views became grander and particular corners in the pathway recalled memories. This time, however, the view from the trail was unimpeded, and I was able to see for miles. Whereas the last time I hiked Alum Cave, it was rainy and foggy. What is great about Alum Cave trail is that you can see the top of Mt. LeConte at various points along the trail, which is helpful in gauging how far there is left to climb.
At the very top of the climb, there is a turn in the trail, and the scenery shifts from rocky mountainside and panoramic views to a contained mountain top forest with trees lining the pathway. From the turn in the trail, it is only ten more minutes to the lodge. We made it to the dining hall just in time for dinner.
Staying at the lodge allows the hiker the advantage of being able to watch the sunset from the top of the mountain, instead of having to hike back down the trail before night fall. We watched a glorious sunset before heading off to bed in our cabin. Our group did not have the best night’s sleep because of cool temperatures and creaky beds, but we awoke the next morning ready to hike back down the mountain.
After a breakfast of pancakes and eggs, we packed up our belongings and started our descent. It was another beautiful day and we ran into a couple of familiar faces as we carefully made our way down the mountain.
As we drove home my cousins and I all passed out in the car and took a well deserved nap.
Until the next trail,