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Posts Tagged ‘smoky mountains’

Rush Hour: Alum Cave Bluffs to Mt. LeConte (Day 92)

October 19th, 2009 7 comments

Read the scene where gravity is pulling me around.

I miss being young enough to think R.E.M. is/was cool.

Went on this hike:

alum-cave_creekAlum Cave Creek

alum-cave_arch-rockArch Rock, or: I’ve now seen a shot for which it would’ve been nice to have a tripod available.

alum-cave_cave-viewThe view from under the overhang of Alum Cave.

alum-cave_trail-cableThe trail!

alum-cave_lodge_stepsThe stairway leading out of the peak-side lodge.

alum-cave_me-at-peakThe actual peak — it’s not the highest in Tennessee.

alum-cave_cliffsThe Cliff Tops.

alum-cave_me-on-cliffsIbid, but with me in the photo.

alum-cave_lodgeA mountain-top hillbilly village!

alum-cave_trail-treesTree tunnel.

alum-cave_trail-cliff-telkTelkontar goes into the light.

alum-cave_trail-falls-cableRain-fed, trail-crossing cascade.

alum-cave_colorYes, they have fall color in Tennessee as well.

alum-cave_cliff-in-mistThey’re called the “Smoky Mountains” because there are clouds there.

alum-cave_log-bridgeA log bridge!

alum-cave_tree-tunnel-creekCreek with trees.

alum-cave_creek-downstreamSame stream, some fallen leaves, trees, and more great smoke.

Ten or 11 miles, out-and-back, 2,800 feet in elevation gain. Went to the lodge, then continued to the peak, then swung by the Cliff Tops before heading down. We saw Jimmy Carter hiking down when we were on the way up. No joke. Didn’t take any photos of him, of course — I mean, it was just Jimmy Carter, not Calvin Coolidge or anything. Most crowded hike I’ve been on the whole trip (excluding the last two miles on the way down from Half Dome). Either the Smoky Mountains visitors are a hardy bunch or there are just *that* *many* of them. (Truly, the park is choked with visitors, bad weather or no.)

With good weather, this is possibly an A-plus hike. In steady-state drizzle? It was still nice. Wish there would have been a view — any view — along the way. The trail was made for views, what with all those ledges and such. Fortunately, the trail itself had some interesting stuff along the way — log bridges, cable-aided narrow walkways, drop-offs into oblivion, steps through arched rocks, weird accommodations at the top. All it needed was views. And maybe a lighthouse. And if there’d been a family of trolls living under any of those bridges that would snatch maybe every seventh hiker or so, that also would have added interest (and thinned the crowd).

Great hiking with Telkontar, of course. He was less affected by the lack of views, no doubt in part because his alternative was being stuck in an office. Whereas my alternative was… sky’s the limit, really.

bkd

PS, This hike was in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Smoky Mountains, Rainy Weather, Ramsay Cascades Hike (Day 91)

October 18th, 2009 4 comments

It’s sort of amazing to me how much weather determines my mood. And you’d think that someone who grew up in the Seattle area would be okay with being rained on constantly, no-visibility skies, and temperatures in the low-50s. Nope. Ah, well.

Picked up my bro in Knoxville Wednesday night, slept in a Holiday Inn Express in Kodak or Sevierville (one may be a subset of the other), then trucked on down to the Ramsay Cascades trailhead in the northeast part of the park. It was an eight-mile out-and-back with a 2,400-foot elevation gain.

ramsay_little-pigeon-riverWhen it rains this much, the Little Pigeon grows up a little.

ramsay_log-bridge-telkontarA Telkontar sighting.

ramsay_ramsay-cascadesFor want of a telefoto lens, the best shot available of the falls.

ramsay_warning-signWe weren’t next.

ramsay_path-and-treesWenn von Nebel frei die Bahn!

ramsay_log-bridgeLog bridge on the way back down.

The rivers were awesome and the falls apparently relatively big — I’ve found some other photos online wherein the water coming off them is a lot less than we saw. I guess the rain *is* good for something. I was pretty soaked — as much from sweat as from rain — but lived to fight another day. Some website designated this trail as “difficult”, but that website, whatever one it was, is crazy. Or at least its author has a different definition for “difficult” than I do. Or maybe I’m just in that good of shape.

And then we decided we were wet enough that we didn’t need to prove anything by also camping in such weather. Fortunately, Pigeon Forge offers plenty of cheap hotels. Unless you plan on staying Friday or Saturday night.

bkd

PS, I’m staying in the Brick House Campground in South Carolina right now and it is the best Verizon data connection I’ve had through my MiFi the entire trip. Could some physicist out there please explain?