A coworker mentioned going this weekend, so Jay and I decided to give it another try. The hike to Leconte Lodge is 5 miles via the Alum cave trail (there are several ways to get to the top).
I could talk all day about the area, the history, and what its like. Instead I'm going to skip straight to the pictures.
You can click the picture to make it larger or I can save you a step. It reads "LeConte Lodge" then under that "Elevation 6593" and the date. The elevation is important because LeConte is the 4th highest peak east of the Mississippi. Sure, the Rockies make the Smokies look like babies, but for this side of the country Leconte is just about as good as it gets.
To stay in a shack like this on the top of the mountain, people make reservations a year in advance and pay over $100 (per person) to stay. If you do stay, be sure your food is protected - you never know when a mouse or a bear might be tempted to share.
One of the aerobics instructors at my gym also works at LeConte, so I had to hunt her down while I was up there. Sure enough she was trying out new moves for the next class she'd be teaching. One thing is for sure - those steps were not made by Reebok.
After that we headed up to Myrtle Point. I'd been up to the Lodge area 2 other times, but never had I made it to the true summit of the mountain.
High point is the tallest part of the mountain. As we passed, Jay decided to stop and make it just a hair taller.
Myrtle Point, while not the true summit, certainly has the best views. The views going out are wonderful, but can be a little concerning if your child wanders off and gets a little too close to the edge.
The views from the point itself are magnificent.
My willingness to talk to strangers typically pays off - and this day was no exception. I offered to take a picture of an entire family together, so they returned the favor.
Sometimes I forget just how blessed I am to live in the middle of all of this natural beauty. Not to mention almost 12 miles of hiking and I wasn't all that sore the next day!