2 nights of our Great Smoky National Park vacation were spent atop Mt Leconte, at the highest lodging east of the Mississippi. see http://www.leconte-lodge.com/directions.html
LeConte Lodge is located near the summit at 6,360 feet elevation. The only way to reach the facility is by taking hiking trails up and back. There are five trails to the lodge, the shortest and steepest being Alum Cave Trail at 5 1/2 miles, which a hiker in good condition can do in approximately four hours one way.
So , we took the Alum Cave trail. It took us around 3 hours to reach the top… Anna was tough and made it with almost no “carry my pack” intervals….
At the top, we found a wonderful oasis of cabins (it reminded us of LOST’s Otherville), with warm tea, cocoa, and hearty meals. It also had zero electricity, and no hope of leaving once the sun went down. A very interesting feeling.
We met a bunch of nice people also staying at the lodge (it holds around 50 guests). We especially liked a family from Pensacola (lets call them Mr and Mrs Pensacola). And their delightful kids C and J (I truly cannot spell).
With no hope of showers (yes – they provided a bucket), my hair took a turn for the worse:
1. Day 1 : After the hike up, I had my hat on the whole time. At dinner, C mentioned it looked ok.
2. Day 2: The next morning, it was way worse. I sat down to the shared dinner, asking C how it looked. He said “great”, and then actually looked at me and made a really funny “gasp”.
3. Day 3: So – the next morning, I had to do something about this. I went ahead and bought a bandana (hiking trails of the mountain on it), and did a do-rag on my head. C and J thought it was cool, and called me “bandana guy” (they couldn’t remember my name either). Finally, when it was time to leave, we went into the office and there they were, both with bandanas.
Each night (2) , we went to Cliff point for the sunset. It was cold and windy, but Anna enjoyed it in that fashionable raincoat Amy picked out for her. She may have been cold, but she could also be spotted from 2 miles away.
On the full day on the mountain, we hiked around, and also played board games (yes – slaughtered at Scrabble). It also was quite cold and it even snowed.
After 2 nights, we were ready to head down. Me to do something about the hair, and Anna to get her WWF fix. Most excellent and unique place.