Backpacking the AT @ Mt. LeConte

If ever there was a classic hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mt. LeConte would certainly qualify. Sure, there are hikes in the Smokies that are far longer, gain more elevation, or have steeper climbs, but the Alum Cave Trail is unmatched in its combination of interesting geological features, history, high adventure and stunning panoramic views. This is why it’s become a new Troop 3 favorite!

We started off our trip that Friday night, when we arrived at a camp right outside the National park. We quickly set up tents and ate cracker barrel before bed that night.

Saturday morning we got up, tore down tents, prepped and cooked breakfast, then my patrol (Fruit(y) Bats) rolled out around 9. We got to the Alum Cave trailhead and divided up gear before hiking up Leconte. The trek up Mt. Leconte was quite steep, but beautiful! You could most defiantly feel the unmatched charm of the smokies around you. When we got to the top, we got settled in our shelter before exploring Mt. Leconte Lodge, a small vacation village only accessible via trail near Leconte’s summit. There were musicians playing mountain music, a heated dining hall selling drinks and cookies, and other hikers stoping for a break to name a few sights at the lodge. After that we followed lodge guests and other hikers up a bluff to watch easily one of the best sunsets I’ve seen my whole life! Dinner was cooked soon after, and we went to bed, happy and fulfilled!

Sunday we took a steadier trek down the mountain. We met the other patrol coming the direction we were headed to, swapped keys, and socialized for a minute. Not too long after that, we ate lunch and were looking forward to our last night the trail. Before we got to our shelter, however, we took a side trail to a spectacular, however steep, overlook. This was defiantly the highlight of my day! At the shelter itself, we met a couple groups of AT through-hikers bunking with us. It was nice talking with them and hearing their AT stories. They didn’t hesitate for a second about taking our left overs as well.

When we awoke Monday, we were excited! It was our last day! The remaining few miles took place on the AT, so we were excited to return. It was a steady downhill trot like the day before, so we were happy about that too. The trail spit out into the busy, touristy, Newfound Gap, so we had navigate through a maze of cars to get to our own. Soon after, we drove to Friday night’s campsite to take much needed showers. After that, we Collected gear, and headed to Culver’s for a much deserved butter Butterburger meal!

I’m really glad I went on this trip! As I mentioned before, this became one of my top scout outings. I was amazed by the views and sights along the trail. Will defiantly want to return!

-Nazz Wilson

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