Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lot's of Hiking Already this Year

Well hello folks, and welcome to another edition of the great outdoors with your host Robin and Tim. It's been sometime since our last post and we would just like to apologize for that. For you see, we had some issues with funding and our sponsors... erm wait a minute... sorry... just ignore that...

Okay, so, right yes, this year has been quite the year so far. We've made it to May and already several hikes have been accomplished. We decided to keep a log of our hikes this year, and for the years to come, just to keep track of the miles we have hiked. To date, we have over 30 miles logged and our newest fancy spot for hiking, the area we seem to be focusing on, is the Cumberland's in Tennessee. From Cumberland Gap at the TN, KY, and VA border, all the way down to Spring City so far and even a little farther south to Dayton, TN.

We have been to several different and each uniquely beautiful water falls (Ozone Falls in Crab Orchard, Stinging Fork Falls in Spring City, Piney Falls in Spring city, and a couple others). We hiked to a cave (Windless Cave to be exact) and to White Rocks, (a huge rock outcropping that you can't miss). There are a few other trails that we've been on, but of those, the most memorable so far has been the backpacking trip Robin and I took up Mount LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains to stay the night at LeConte Lodge for our anniversary.

For the hike up to LeConte Lodge, we took the Alum Cave Bluff trail. This is a 5.5 mile trail with an average elevation gain of 2,560'. It was an absolutely beautiful day to hike up a mountain even if we were lugging 15 or 20 pound packs. It took us roughly 3.5 hours to make it to the lodge, which included a rest stop at Alum Cave, and plenty of photo ops.

Staying at the lodge was absolutely wonderful and the charge isn't that much considering. There's plenty to do on top of the mountain, which includes but is not limited to, watching the sunset from the Cliff Tops trail, watching the sunrise from Myrtle's Point, or congregating with other visitors to the lodge who share the same love of nature. Staying at the lodge is a pure disconnect from our electronic world. It's refreshing to get away from the hustle and bustle of the everyday rat race.

Upon reaching the top of the mountain and getting to the lodge, we were escorted around on a brief tour. The dining hall, the facilities, our cabin, etc. We had a couple of hours to kill before supper would be served, so we sat around took in the sights, drank cups of coffee and cocoa, and rested a bit from the strenuous hike. Supper was served and we enjoyed beef w/gravy, mashed taters, soup, green beans, cinnamon apples and more. You can even drink wine if you've paid for it. After supper, the office has a host of games, puzzles, books and more to pass the time. We played checkers and chess until it was time for bed. It would be an early morning especially knowing that we would have to hike down the mountain in rain.

It was apparent that in our lodge, we had some visitors that kept Robin awake half the night. Luckily they were never able to get into our room even though they tried. Tim wouldn't have known anything about it as I slept soundly in the double bunk. That morning we awoke to a ominous morning sky, filled with dark clouds that told the story of approaching rain. Soon enough it was time for breakfast. A nice hearty meal to fuel up on prior to the hike down.We ate pancakes, eggs, grits, Canadian bacon, and more. We again enjoyed the company of other guests at the lodge while we feasted.

It wasn't long after breakfast that we had our packs ready to go and we were headed down the mountain. It was about 30 minutes worth of dry hiking before the sky decided to open up. Luckily it was a slow soaking rain, and much to our surprise, it wasn't as tough of a hike down as we initially thought it would be. By the end of it however, we were thoroughly soaked. Thankfully our pack's rain flies kept most everything inside dry as a bone. We reached the car and gave our lodge mates a ride to their vehicle which they parked at Newfound Gap. After that we headed home with the heater blowing full blast.

Well that's our story and we are sticking to it. Did we mention that LeConte Lodge offers day hiker services? Yes a day hike to the lodge can be just as rewarding as an over-night stay. We plan to one day return even if just for a day. There are plenty other trails to take up there and we'd like to say that we've hiked them all.

Until next time, enjoy the photos of our various hikes so far.

Tim and Robin.

Black Mountain - Windless Cave

Stinging Fork Falls

Ozone Falls

Piney Falls

White Rocks

 Alum Cave Bluff to LeConte Lodge