The Blue Ridge Parkway and The Great Smoky Mountains National Park have long been two of our favorite vacation destinations. I don’t even remember how many times we’ve been to each of them. The majority of our trips involved camping and multiple day hikes. I’m not as crazy about the more touristy areas nearby, like Sevierville and Gatlinburg, but I’ve spent plenty of time there, also. I will admit to liking Dollywood, although it’s been a long time since I’ve been in the park. While I was in my fifties, and looking for fifty places I’d never been before, we decided to go back to the Smokies and do an overnight hike, staying in a lodge on top of Mt. LeConte. LeConte Lodge is the highest guest lodge in the eastern United States and sits on the third highest peak in the Park. The following post is my journal entry about that trip.
Last week, we hiked to the top of Mt. LeConte and spent the night in a quaint little cabin with breathtaking views. Personally, I don’t think the views were what took my breath. In fact, after completing an eight hour hike straight up the side of a cliff-like mountain, I wouldn’t even swear that there were any views. Whose idea was that anyway? Ummm…probably mine! LeConte Lodge now has a place on two of my lists: Fifty places I’d never been and fifty places I will never go again!
My husband wants to hike it again next summer, mainly because we argued about which of the five trails would be the easiest to hike. He wants to hike his trail choice to prove I chose the worst one. The Trillium Gap trail was recommended by a park ranger as being the easiest for fat, out-of-shape hikers. It basically had our name on it. I also knew that this was the trail the llamas used when they delivered supplies to the lodge. I was thinking I could hitch a ride if I got desperate.
I’ve decided to agree that he was right and that I picked the hardest trail. I conceded, not because he was right but because I’ve seen him hike the one trail and I’m not sure he could climb that mountain again! Every few feet he kept telling me he was turning around, but I was keeper of the car keys and keep them I did. I think he decided that a bed and hot meal at the top would be better than sleeping on the ground, in the cold rain, by our little, antique car.
Being just a few steps beyond normal, I was glad that it rained as we hiked up the riverbed that was supposed to be a trail. It was just miserable enough to take my mind off the screaming protests that parts of my body were making. I was thankful that my husband is such a gentleman, too. He offered to carry our one small backpack…on the way back down….a quarter of a mile from the car. What a guy!