Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Weekend in the Smokies: Mt. Leconte

Last weekend, I did the first hiking... of my entire life.  Prior to this, the closest thing I had ever done to hiking was walking up a slight incline to a cute little mountain in Connecticut or a paved trail at Makapuu Point in Hawaii
When our friends asked if we wanted to hike over Memorial Day Weekend (what started when it was first described as a three-hour hike), I honestly asked Mike how bad it could possibly be.  Well, apparently I misheard or they were trying to bait us into it (which was it Jeff?? yes, I know you read this blog!!), but somehow it turned into five hours, then five miles, and finally ended up being 8.8 miles up and 5.2 miles down (different trails... I swear I didn't fall of the side and just miss 3 miles on the way down). 

 I can honestly say that I had the best time of my life.  We left Charleston on Thursday afternoon, carpooling with our friend, Brian.  It took us six hours (with almost all of the traffic we hit being within 5 miles of our house), and the time flew by.  Roadtrips with friends are seriously the best.  I sat in the back seat, wore my Burger King Queen crown, and played third wheel to all of their movie and tv show jokes.

We arrived in Gatlinburg on Thursday night and headed right to the distilleries.  We got a good night sleep, picked up sandwiches for the hike in the morning, and dropped cars at two different trailheads so that we could hike up and down different trails.
We planned on a rainy hike on the way up Thursday, so everything in our packs was in gallon zip-lock bags... clearly we had highly technological hiking equipment.  My sneakers and I stayed dry for about 3 of the hours of the Trillium Gap hike before it began torrentially down pouring.  Honestly, we didn't care.  We knew we'd get soaked through and powered through it, stopping at Grotto Falls for some beautiful photos (and saw the llamas that bring supplies up and down the mountain three times each week)!
We stayed at the top of the Leconte Lodge, a compound of cabins.  This was my kind of "roughing it."  We didn't have electricity in our cabin (though we did have gas lanterns and bunk beds!), we got water from a pump outside, and were fed tons of amazing food for dinner and breakfast.  We played cards, enjoyed the view, and drank whisky.
The next morning, after breakfast, we started down the Alum Cave Trail.  It took a few hours, and when we got back down, we drove to Pigeon Forge for the night. 

On the way back on Sunday, we stopped in Asheville to reward ourselves with doughnuts at Vortex and beer at Wicked Weed's Funkatorium - yum!
What I learned from camping: 1. Bears don't like to be surprised, so you should always hike loudly.  If we ever had a lull in conversation, we would yell "bears! hey bear!" every few minutes.  2. I can absolutely deal with no electricity as long as I have cards to play (and booze).  3. Hiking is really fun!


Making Restorations said...

This is an amazing first hike to do. Be careful, you might get hooked on hiking now. We did one in the fall foliage and fog last time and it's so pretty

Rebecca Jo said...

I have friends that do that yearly to that same place. They keep trying to talk me into going & i'm like, "nope, I'm lazy" ;)

Julie said...

We love hiking and try to any chance we get! Looks like fun was had all around :)

The Girl who Loved to Write said...

This looks like a beautiful hiking spot!!

Kate at Green Fashionista said...

SO much fun especially at such a beautiful spot! And lol you sound like me hiking the trails in CT <3
Green Fashionista

Ashley @ A Cute Angle said...

I'm not an outdoorsy gal, but I've always wanted to visit the smokey mountains. I want to even more after reading your post! It looks so beautiful and it sounds like you had a great time!

Jen said...

Oh my gosh, how fun!!!! :) This is on my list of places to visit!

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