Mt. LeConte via Allum Cave Trail

9/1/18

Sherri and I

This is a bucket list trail. We have been full of anticipation! We woke up bright and early no alarms. Ate some breakfast, Sherri made coffee on her Jet Boil, packed some snacks and headed off to the trail head. It was only about 40 minutes away. Today was a beautiful clear day. Temps are awesome. Views were great. Just after entering the Great Smokey National Park the sun is still coming up and the fog is lifting. We immediately stopped at an overlook and got some amazing morning views!

We continue to the trailhead in a beautiful route that is equivalent to the Blue ridge Parkway. When we get to the trailhead there are already a lot of cars. There are two parking lots already half full of cars. Most of these are for people who spent the night at the lodge.

We started up the Allum Cave Trail which runs along Allum Creek. In about a mile it comes to Arch Rock. It’s a tunnel through a rock that glows inside with the sunshine shinning through it. So cool.

It is still morning and as we round this trail and start getting some elevation behind us the sun is coming up over the mountain behind us.

This trail just continually goes up. There aren’t many switchbacks. There are a lot of built wood stairs and rock stairs along great views as we just keep climbing higher.

Sometimes there are narrow steep trails with cables in the rock for safety.

All of a sudden you round the corner and look up at Allum Cave Bluffs. There is not a cave but these bluffs were once mined for epsom Salts and Salt Peter. They really look out of place to me because of the color. The bluffs, ground everything is all one color.

We have passed only a few people so far. We sat down to have a snack and enjoy the view. After a bit people started filtering up here. As it started to get crowded we took off and headed toward Mt. Leconte.

The trail gets steeper and steeper. There are a lot of wildflowers along the trail. The higher we get the more people we pass that are coming back down.

At the top of Mt LeConte is Mt. LeConte Lodge. They have a dining hall and 12 cabins. There aren’t any roads up here. They get their supplies from a helicopter in the beginning and by Llamas during the season. To be a guest you have to apply in January for a lottery spot to stay. The people we are seeing have spent the night and are heading back down! It’s about 5.2 miles to the lodge.

We are loving this trail. Although it’s tough going up all the time it has a little bit of everything. We are about 2 miles from the lodge and we are take my a break and a lady is coming down and says “48” in the 2 miles she has walked down she has counted 48 people going up. She said last time she counted over 150 people going up!

Toward the top we come to an area that is finally flat and looks a lot like the top of MT Mitchell. Everything is super green and covered in moss. It’s really cool!

Finally! The Lodge! It’s awesome! Bunch of cabins, dining hall, office, bathrooms. Just like camp with a better view! The office and dinning hall do not open till noon so we hangout a bit then go to the office to buy a T-shirt. This is also the gathering place for people staying here with rocking chairs around a heater, games, books and music. They have a history of this place on the walls. Built in 1929. We figure they did not have the nice trails like we do! There is a pic of the guy who built it carrying his mother in a rocking chair on his back! We are wimps!

We have a bag lunch in the dining hall. Bagel cream cheese summer sausage cookies fruit roll up nuts and drink for $11. They don’t make a lot of trash here because it has to be taken down by llamas! The guy in the kitchen says 11 people live/work there. They get 8 days a month off and stay March to November. He says he only goes down the mountain long enough to realize he isn’t missing anything!

There is a shelter nearby also. It’s on the trail to the summit. It has a place for your bear bags also.

The summit is where a pile of rocks are. Our friend Scott told us he was here when he was a teen and put a rock in that pile 30 years ago. We put our rock in too. From here you can go to the point. We did not we decided to turn around and head back down. It’s not higher and it’s the same view and we are kinda done with going up! šŸ¤£

We head back down the mountain. We pass tons of people coming up. Most of them look like they are gonna die from the climb. To many of them without the right shoes, water or ability. We hope many of them will turn back! For the first hour I tell people it’s only 20 min, 30 min etc especially if they look like they are dying!

To many people have small children too! All totaled this hike is 12.4 miles. It’s far and steep for kids!

It’s been a while since we hiked this far. By the bottom my feet are feeling it. I feel like if I put them in the stream I’d see steam rising! I just want to get them off!

When we reach the bottom it is 4:00. Such an awesome beautiful day! We head back to the campground to cook us up some big ‘ol Peach Stand Burgers! Man were they good! The rest of the night we spent sitting around the fire.

What an awesome weekend! This is definitely Sherri’s favorite trail and I have 2 tied for my favorite. This one and Talulah Gorge. Both completely unique and completely different. There are only 2 other trails up here. Were gonna have to come back some day!

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