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
Mt. LeConte - A Newbie's Tale
I have been in the VTA for several years and have participated in many excursions. This trip was a legend to me. I have seen slides and pictures and heard many stories. I have a conflict on the same date every year with this trip. With a little motivation from Anne and some rescheduling of business, Anne signed us up for the hike. I started by asking advice of what to bring. Guess what Hugh suggested? Oh well, I already knew what he would say. I carried a daypack with the bare essentials. Of course, this included my rookie share of apples. As I was told I was a virgin trekker and had to carry apples. As long itís for one of Lemís pies, I can handle it.
We all met at Tally Ho in Townsend at different times. Everyone was pretty much in there on Saturday. Some went on a bike ride, some on a wild flower walk, while some of us paid a visit to Gatlinburg. We all met later for a bring a dish dinner.
Sunday we all got up early, cleaned the house, had breakfast and headed out to the trail head. Anne and I took the Alum Cave trail. Although we had great weather, Anne was quick to point out how difficult the trail can be. All along the path are steel cables bolted to the side along rock faces to help you when ice is on the ground. At the end of the hike, you pop out onto the top of the mountain and walk a short distance to the Lodge. WOW out on top of the third largest peak in the Smokies sit a series of small cabins with a dinning hall and office. Many folks were already there. We picked a bunk and put our gear away.
The cabins have new porches equipped with rocking chairs. Sure felt nice after the hike. About an hour before dinner, we began the Lem (famous Lem) apple pie event. Yes, event itís the only way to describe what happens next. Lem told me straight off he was not in charge of bunk space. He is in charge of the apple pie brigade. There were peelers, choppers, mixers and artistic designers all under the scrutiny of the master baker (I hope I spelled that right) Lem Stabler. If you donít believe any of this just ask to see the pictures. I have seen fewer photos taken at a bear spotting at Cades Cove. Dinner was good, the company was better. There was an endless bottle of wine I probably should have skipped. I didnít realize the hike up hill to see the sunset was a little more a hike than ďa short walk to the top of the hillĒ The sunset was spectacular. I am told that to see it is rare. It was well worth it. The pies (5) were then delivered to the cooks to be baked.. At 9:00 pm we gathered around the hall to enjoy our pies and fellowship. In true VTA form, two of the pies are left for the crew.
We retreated to the porch and told lies until it was time to go to bed. The temperature was just a little chilly. The bunks have fresh sheets and Hudson Bay wool blankets. Very comfortable and cozy. I had to get up in the middle of the night. I stepped out into the common room and froze in my tracks. What kind of noise was coming from the room? Was it bears? Was someone chocking? Was I going to look? No! I asked in the morning, but no one knew. Some things you just donít talk about. What happens on the mountain stays on the mountain. Monday morning we got up packed and ate breakfast. We said good-bye and hiked down. Our walk was slow and pleasant. We stopped and took lots of pictures. One of them is now featured on the web site. Anne and I really enjoyed ourselves. Thanks Anne.
I have now completed Lemís super trifecta. I have been purged (Joyce Kilmer), canoed the Black Water and now been to Mt LeConte. Lem thanks for the trip. Hope to make it next year.
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