Next Meeting: January 15, 2014
Program: Biking the Berlin Wall Trail in Germany and
Hiking in the Sachsische Schweiz National Park
By Chris and Margit Krato
The Vulcan Trail Association
What a beautiful trip. The Birmingham weather forecasters were predicting some snow in the Smoky Mountains but who would have guessed snow off and on all weekend and 15 inches on top of Mt. LeConte when we got there!
Friday, March 24th, saw most of the usual crew, along with some newcomers; begin to gather at Cottage #1 at the Talley Ho Motel in Townsend, Tennessee. The early arrivals headed to the new Trailhead Steak House only to be turned away by the snooty maitre de because we didn't have reservations. The group split with some going to the Carriage House and the rest going to the old stand-by, Dead Beat Pete s, for dinner. Evidently a divorce settlement had been reached and Dead Beat Pete has re-opened for business.
After dinner, the Friday night crowd gathered for a VTA fire at the Talley Ho welcoming later arrivals and planning events for the following day.
Saturday morning began with light snow showers off and on that continued all day. A select group (Frank’s term) of six VTA ers braved the snow and made a quick bike trip around Cades Cove. Others took a drive through the park to view the snow. The Newfound Gap road was closed due to snow and ice so a side trip was made through Metcalf Bottoms picnic area and Little Greenbrier School and the Walker Sister s Cabin. The cabin setting was picture perfect with a light snow covering the trees and cabin with daffodils blooming on the ground.
Late Saturday saw everyone gather back at the Talley Ho for another VTA fire and the traditional Saturday night dinner. By this time everyone had assembled and the cottage as well as additional rooms were full, and plenty of good food as usual.
After a great Sunday morning breakfast at the Carriage House and checkout, everyone headed for the rendezvous point at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. There we found that the Newfound Gap road was still closed and Rainbow Falls was the only trail open up Mt. LeConte.
With everyone going up and down to the lodge using the same trail the snow was well packed and the hiking easier than in past years. However, if you stepped off of the trail you could easily sink to your knee. Upon reaching the top the sky was fairly clear for all the snow and the temp in the 20 s. Work began on the apple pies in the main lodge with some of the other guests pitching in to help.
After dinner and apple pie some remained in the dining hall for visiting and others joined back at the office for the guitar playing. With a low temperature of 10 degrees Sunday night, the water pipes were frozen Monday morning and breakfast ran late. As usual for Monday morning, the sky was bright and sunny highlighting all the snow on the ground and trees. Overnight all the packed snow and slush on the trail had frozen solid. The trip down was quick and easy for those wearing crampons, slow and slippery for those who did not.Thanks once again to Lem for organizing such a great Townsend / Mt. LeConte weekend. You just never know when you start thinking about this trip in October what the weather will be like the following March.
Coming Soon: Click this link to view this years pics.
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