Journal describing my 50 mile hike fest up, down, and all around Mt. LeConte in one day coming soon!
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Ever wonder what The Jumpoff looks like at night? Here ya go!
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Arriving at Myrtle Point around 7:30 to catch the sunrise.
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The grassy Helipad located near the Lodge.
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Catching some early morning light from Cliff Tops, though famous for its sunsets.
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One of three trips to the Horse Gate along Alum Cave Trail, the midway point of each lap between there and the Alum - Rainbow junction.
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Stack of boards near location of former Horse Barn just up from Trillium Gap Trail.
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View from Brushy Mountain towards Pigeon Forge at trail's terminus.
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Arrival in Greenbrier at 11:30, excited about how little time it took getting down.
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Looking down on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, just reopened that morning, from the Trillium Gap Trail.
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A late afternoon pass by a decently flowing Rainbow Falls.
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View of Mount LeConte from the Rocky Spur after sunset.
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Crossing the finish line in 16 hours and 48 minutes...what a day!
 
          After not hiking for an entire week due to work and weather, it was time get the legs churning again.  I also wanted to start the month of May off with a bang, a time of year I have never been in the park.  To say I'm excited about this month would be an understatement.  That morning the mountain saw rain and clouds, but around lunch time the skies began to clear.  I was full of energy and felt it would be a great opportunity to stretch the envelope and head as far down as Grotto Falls.  Along the way, there were already Thyme Leaved Bluets blooming.  Around Trillium Gap, spring beauties, trout lilies, and common blue violets carpeted the forest floor.  On this hike, I also experimented with listening to my ipod, which may have aided in my fast pace, especially the songs with faster beats.  I pulled into Grotto Falls in 1 hour and 15 minutes, and entertained the idea of going all the way to the Roaring Fork, but enjoying the moment took precedent.  For the first time ever, I had the entire falls to myself, thanks in part to the road closures.  It was a hot afternoon and it was nice to soak myself under the falls for a few seconds to cool off.  There were no people, no loud voices, no kids rock hopping against their parents will, just me and the sound of the falls.  I doubt I'll ever get such an opportunity again.
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          Finally, some consistency in the great weather.  Temps on the mountain tapped into the mid 60's this day.  There was one trail I had yet to tackle and for good reason.  Trillium Gap Trail runs along the northern face of LeConte, which is exactly where the snow remains the worst.  Up high and in shaded ravines the snow was deep, occasionally sinking down to my waist when I hit soft patches in the trail.  At least the blowdowns had been cleared the day before.  Along the way I managed to stir up ruffed grouse in three different locations, each sounding like a machine gun with the sudden flapping of their wings.  The views from Brushy Mountain were exceptional and the temps had become very warm.  I can't wait til the mountain laurel blooms in June and covers the heath bald in white and pink.  On the return trip, the sun's rays had been blasting the snow pack on the trail a mile before the lodge.  Each step the rest of the way was irritating and exhausting as I sank into the softening snow.  I would have preferred that the snow not melt so that I could at least have solid footing.  Now I know not to revisit this trail until the snow is completely gone, which I hope is soon.
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