Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mt LaConte

After almost a year of trying to get someone to day hike Mt LaConte I decided to just suck it up and go alone. I like hiking alone, but I don't like the idea of driving 2 hours and hiking 17ish miles then a 2 hour drive home alone.

  Due to some road closure I had to park at Ogle Homestead site and do a half mile road walk (ugh all road walks are too long) to the Rainbow Falls trailhead. After about 6 miles the trail hits the LaConte spur trail and go about .6 to the lodge for some water and another little .5ish to the summit. I did a little loop to Cliff Top for lunch and some views. Plus some good talks with a couple other hikers. After that I took the LaConte Spur back and then the Bull Head Trail for about 6 miles down another ridge then a horse trail (Old Sugarlands) back to the road for a walk back to the truck.

Rainbow Falls trail is pretty sweet. I had it to myself for the most part (even on a Friday) due to the road work. The trail cuts back and forth over the LaConte Creek and by a few falls. I didn't get any good photos of Rainbow Falls due to a hornets nest and me being stung way too many times on my last several hikes. But I'll be back.

I was lucky enough to get up the same time as the Llamas. I don't really like the idea of huts and inns on mountains, but I wouldn't mind working there. Plus I have some really good memories of the Hut Croos in the Whites of NH.

Boring summit shot. This summer I was trying to get all the South Beyond 6,000 footers bagged, but due to working so much I only got 5 or 6.  The good news is that leaves plenty left to do!

In this shot you can really see how an invasive species of beetles have reeked havoc on the high altitude fir forests around here. They still smell amazing for the time being, but its noticeable for sure.

On the way down I spent some time with this guy who was enjoying the stinging nettles a lot more than my legs were.

The Bull Head Trail has lots of really cool rock formations when you get down to the mixed deciduous forest and below the pines. 

There were a few of these really cool overhangs and even though I felt fresh I have a rule where I always sit down on a good sitting rock.

Over all the trail was a lot easier than I expected. Its 4,000 ft of elevation difference from the trail head to the peak, but spread that over the miles and its a piece of cake for someone in decent shape. I spent a few hours on the summit and took several long snack breaks on the way down and the whole day took maybe 8-9 hours. It just left me wanting a bit more and my mind on other peaks to bag.