Sunday, June 11, 2017

Mt. Le Conte via Alum Cave Trail

Stone and I decided to hike to Mt LeConte which I have never been to,  mainly because I don't like the idea of staying over night in a cabin with other people other than my husband and on top of that there is no running water to the cabins meaning no showers or toilets in the cabin.   Yuck!!!  Not going to happen.  So after some thought I decided we could hike up and down in a day.  We are pretty fit, surely we can do this.  Our friends kept saying you don't want to do that.  Apparently the thing to do is divide it up into two days, meaning staying overnight since it's a pretty strenuous hike.  

We were up early and left the house at 6:30 in the morning.  We drove up to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which isn't far since we live in Knoxville.  It was 8:20 a.m. when we arrived at the Alum Cave Trail that would lead us up to the Summit of Mt. LeConte.  Hiking boots on, we begin our climb that eventually took us up to 6593 feet where we had our sandwiches and snickerdoodle cookies that I had baked the night before.  The way I figured it was with all that hiking, I was burning off enough calories that I could indulge in some butter and sugar.  I will do just about anything to have dessert!

Our hike begins to Mt. LeConte via Alum Cave Trail

At 9:20 a.m. we arrived at Alum Cave.  It had been years since I had been here.  This actually might be one the my favorite places in the park.  Stone and I took a 17 minute break before continuing on our way at 9:37 a.m.

Cookie Ingredients:
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup Land O Lakes Butter, softened
2 large eggs at room temp
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Sugar/Cinnamon mixture:
2 Tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1.  Preheat oven to 400'.
2.  Cream shortening, butter, eggs, granulated sugar and vanilla together in a mixing bowl.  Sift flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt together, adding to the above mixture.  
3.  Mix the 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon into a small bowl.  Roll balls of dough in Sugar/Cinnamon mixture.  Place about 2" apart on parchment lined baking sheet.
4. Bake 8 minutes.  Remove and let sit for 2-3 minutes on pan before placing them on a cooling rack.  Do not try to remove them to early or they will not hold up.

We made it to Mt LeConte at 11:14 a.m.  Not bad, although I was told that this years record to make it to the top was 26 minutes.  Say Whattttt???  Apparently a young college age person, which we are not, that works on the summit had been on a beer run.

Stone and I found a couple of rocking chairs, settled down and had our lunch while taking in the beauty of the mountains.  It was magnificent....

We saw many squirrels on our hike to Mt. LeConte.  This one wanted our rocker.

Catawba Rhododendron

Before descending the mountain, Stone and I hiked the 0.2 miles to the Cliff Tops, breathtaking.

The Vista from the Cliff Tops Trail

At 12:34 we started our return trip, stopping only for a break once we reached the Alum Cave Bluffs.  It was a perfect day for our adventure in the mountains.  Temps at the top was 56', making it a very comfortable hike.   I had to wear my jacket for a little bit, which actually isn't unusual.  I tend to get chilly pretty easily.  

The Catawba Rhododendron was blooming along the trail.

Poor Stone, does he look tired or what?  We arrived back at the trail head at 3:18 in the afternoon.  Actually we both were glad to be back and just wanted a diet coke.  It had taken us a total of 5 hours and 13 minutes of hiking time to make it to Mt. LeConte and back, not bad.