There are several different ways to tackle Mt. LeConte – one of the highest peaks in the Smoky Mountains. I’ve taken the trail starting beginning at the Alum Cave trail head several times. When we decided upon this hike for Monday, we chose Rainbow Falls for our path up and since they share a parking lot, we’d take the Bullhead trail down.
Its weird driving into the park, being at the base and looking up at mountains. Kelly & I both agreed it was hard to believe we’d be on top of that mountain in just a few hours.
When we arrived, the parking lot was empty and there was snow on the ground. Not sure about the condition of the trail we packed plenty of snacks, hiking poles, and extra layers for the top.
Most of our rest breaks were just long enough to dig out snacks and grab a quick drink of water. The bottom portion of the trail was icy, and we feared we wouldn’t be able to make the trip up quickly enough.
Thankfully after the falls crossing, the trail became more snow and less ice. Even still, the bridges concerned me somewhat. We held on tight and traveled as slowly across.
While the snow made the hike more difficult, it also made for gorgeous scenery. At one point I commented to Kelly about how I felt like I was traveling through Narnia. In the sunny spots, the light hit the snow just right, making it appear as if God sprinkled glitter everywhere.
Our hiking time was around 3 hours but we finally made it to the top.
The lodge was closed for the season, but we stopped here for pictures and lunch.
Then we headed to the cliff top to take in the views.
We decided against tackling a new trail on the way down, not knowing how snowy/icy it might be. Better to stay with the beast we knew.
I was surprised at how quickly the ice had melted off. Further down the trail, most of the ice had melted off into a messy slush. 12 miles difficult miles in around 6 hours. Hard, but definitely worth it!