Mt LeConte Smoky Mtns NP and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

October 30, 2009

October 17 – Southern Boil 

Harold made a SC “Low Country” dinner for Irmi’s 65th birthday – it’s called Southern Boil.  Recipe includes corn on the cob, potatoes, sausage, shrimp, crab and a seasoning.  It was great!!!


 October 18Mount Le Conte in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I had to make the reservation for a cabin at Mt LeConte Lodge on top of the mountain a year in advance because the prime dates (e.g. Fall colors) are booked that far in advance.  Going south, we had anticipated warmer weather and Fall colors.  We got cold and white!   Fortunately, we drove up Newfound Gap Road in Great Smoky Mountains NP from the southeast (Cherokee) because the same road from the northwest (Gatlinburg) was closed because of snow/ice.  The only way to reach the Lodge is by trail.  There is no electricity and the Lodge is supplied by llamas.  We took the Alum Cave Bluff Trail, the shortest (5 miles) and steepest (about 2800 ft gain in elevation).




The trail was snow covered and slippery but quite beautiful as we hiked along a mountain creek and then up to Alum Cave Bluff.




As we gained elevation there was more snow.  Instead of Fall colors, we were treated to a winter wonderland.



Bear poop on the now icy trail – must have enjoyed the berries from the previous photo!



Cables at exposed parts of the trail were important for safety.  We were also thankful that we had the foresight to bring our hiking poles to help with balance and prevent slipping.


We made it to the Lodge and cabins in about three hours and were happy we had a warm building to “dry out” our clothes and boots.


The date was actually October 18th, must have been too cold for them to change it that day!


Our cozy (with propane stove!) cabin.  Didn’t do much rocking on the front porch!  After a family style dinner in the Lodge, we were treated to a park ranger talk on the history of the park.


When I got up about 3am to go to the outhouse, I found that the storm had blown through and though cold (13 degrees) the sky was crystal clear with a fantastic display of stars!

October 19 – Sunrise, Descent, from Mount Le Conte, and Drive and Hike to Charit Creek Lodge in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

We were up a 6:30 to take the mile hike to Myrtle Point for the Sunrise.  It was spectacular!  First the gold/orange/red glow, then sunrise, then the morning glow on the newly fallen snow.




The storm had produced interesting snow formations that stood out horizontally from branches and leaves.



After a hearty breakfast at the Lodge we headed down on what was to be the most dangerous part of the trip.  The trail was treacherous due to the ice and we both slipped several times (wished we had brought our crampons!).  We caught up to the ranger and as we descended and met people coming up, he advised them not to continue above Alum Cave Bluff due to the ice.


Descending through Arch Rock.


As we hiked down the mountain, the sun rose higher in the sky and the snow fell from the trees like rain.


View looking east toward the mountain under clear skies.


After a four hour drive, we were stiff and sore when we got out of the truck at the entrance to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in northern TN.


Big South Fork Cumberland River.


We took part of the scenic Twin Arch loop trail (2 miles) to descend to the rustic Charit Creek Lodge.



October 20 – Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Our cabin could sleep 12 in three double bunk beds and was heated by a wood burning stove.  The stove burned out during the night so we stayed under our three woolen blankets until breakfast at 8am.


After breakfast, we continued and completed the Twin Arch Loop Trail (another 4 miles) on a beautiful Fall day.







View from top of South Arch.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: