It’s a much anticipated time of year for adventure seekers… reservations for the 2023 season at LeConte Lodge are nearly open! Will you be booking on October 3, 2022?
We made sure we were in line, online, on the date and time that books opened for the 2021 season and still found ourselves a year in the waiting.
If you are unfamiliar with the LeConte Lodge, it is perched at the top of Mount LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). It is only accessible by trail - of which there are several to choose from. Lodge employees are dependent upon an annual delivery of supplies via helicopter at the beginning of the season. Otherwise, twice a week, a team of llamas and their handlers make the trek up the mountain to deliver perishables and other supplies. So cool!
A year passed by and we found ourselves in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, enjoying a few beers and eagerly awaiting our early morning hike to the Lodge.
What we didn’t anticipate was freezing temps and ice on the trail. We watched the weather forecast in the weeks leading up to our trip and the temps had been mild! Thank goodness for Nantahala Outdoor Center and Bill. Bill pointed us in the direction of micro-spikes and trekking poles.
I’ll add that we never had to use the micro-spikes, but it was comforting to know that they were on hand should the need arise.
But the trekking poles… in all of my years of hiking, I had never used trekking poles. I didn’t think I needed them. Consider me a convert because they. were. awesome. They made the steep inclines a breeze and provided a steady support coming down the mountain. They take the pressure off of your knees, like magic.
Learn from us… get yourself a set of poles!
While there are several trails available, we hiked up the Alum Cave Trail and found breathtaking landscapes and vistas around every bend. It was a gorgeous journey to the top!
The trail is a nice, gradual incline, until you start the final ascent. We found the second half of our journey to be much more strenuous than the first!
We arrived at the Lodge an hour or so before sunset, giving us just enough time to settle into our cabin and make the short hike over to Chimney Tops.
Turns out that 20 or so others made it to Chimney Tops before us. There was very much a party vibe among those who gathered at the point. Despite the din, we were treated to one of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve ever seen.
We made our way back to our cabin, where we lit our oil lamp and settled in for the evening. Because of COVID, we were served dinner in our cabin - a very hearty meal, complete with wine!
While our accommodations were comfortable and warm, sleep didn’t come easy. The sounds of resident critters kept me alert all night long. I laughed to myself because I used to camp without a tent and had all sorts of animal encounters, but the mice kept me up that night.
We awoke the next morning around 5:30 am to hike to Myrtle Point for sunrise. We actually didn’t make it all the way to the point because we found another peaceful spot to meditate while we watched a spectacular sunrise. Our hearts were full!
Once we made it back to our cabin, we bundled up and enjoyed breakfast on our tiny porch. We chatted with neighbors and passers-through, while sipping on hot coffee and cocoa. We soaked it all in until it was time to make our way back down the mountain.
Our adventure in the Great Smoky Mountains is one to be repeated! It was a wonderful experience that can only get better now that communal dining has resumed. We love meeting people when we travel and missed socializing with others on this trip.
Have you stayed at the LeConte Lodge? What was your favorite part of the experience?