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ASC Mt LeConte 2014

Trip Date:  November 14th - November 15th
Location:   LeConte Lodge, Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Mountain Information

Mount Le Conte (or LeConte) is a mountain in Sevier County, Tennessee located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At 6,593 ft (2,010 m) it is the third highest peak in the national park, behind Clingmans Dome (6,643 ft, 2,024 m) and Mount Guyot (6,621 ft, 2,018 m). However, from its immediate base to its highest peak, Mount Le Conte is the tallest mountain in the Eastern United States, rising 5,301 ft (1,616 m) from its base, near Gatlinburg, Tennessee (1,292 ft/394 m).

There are four subpeaks above 6,000 ft on the mountain (referred to as the LeConte massif): West Point (6,344 ft/1,934 m), High Top (6,593 ft/2,010 m), Cliff Tops (6,555 ft/1,998 m), and Myrtle Point (6,200 ft/1,890 m). In addition, Balsam Point (5,840+ ft/1,780+ m) serves as the dramatic west end of the massif.

The Hike Up

A visit to LeConte Lodge, though always enjoyable, requires personal effort and a little sacrifice. A big part of the Lodge’s attraction is one’s sense of pride in reaching it, as there is no other available way but to hike up one of its five beautiful trails. The shortest of these, Alum Cave Trail, is about 5.5 miles long with about 2800’ of total vertical climb, and takes the typical hiker about 4 hours. Thousands of all ages over the years have proven that anyone in reasonably good health can complete this trek to the summit and back. 

The key to enjoying the hike is to: 
  • Start with your party early in the day 
  • Follow a comfortable pace, 
  • Take time to observe and shoot photos of the mountain scenery and flora, and “critters,”including us! 
  • Rest at appropriate intervals. 
This is not a race to the top, and each of us has all afternoon to get there. As a courtesy both to yourself and your fellow hikers, please wear the suggested boots and clothing, and try to be physically and medically fit – also let’s be patient with one another, and try to offer assistance if needed. Upon reaching the Lodge it's as if you were 100 years back in time -- so be prepared to sacrifice one night of 21st-century conveniences.

Weather and Trail Updates

The weather can be a bit cool so please make sure to pack and wear proper clothing. The temperature up on the mountain can easily be 10 degrees cooler then in the town. For current weather plans in the town see: http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/tenday/USTN0196

Daily Posts and Trail Updates: http://www.highonleconte.com/daily-posts.html 

Park Traffic and Road Closures

The Smokey Mountain National Park main road access from Cherokee to Gatlinburg is just a two lane road though that stretch of the park. This road can become closed for multiple reasons including simple accidents, rock slides, trees down, and as the park doesn't operate any snow control equipment any ice or snow quickly closes down the road. In the event of a road closure we may still be able to get up to Mt LeConte by just hiking Rainbow and you can get to Garlinburg by going around the park though Maggie Valley (depending on conditions) but give me a call to see what alternate plans we may have if road closures become an issue.

Lodging Information

The lodge is nestled at 6400’ near the summit of Mt.Le Conte in the center of Great Smoky Mountains National Park:  The Lodge is a rustic collection of log and rough-lumber structures of various ages, including a quaint log dining hall, a social hall, and various-sized sleeping lodges and cabins. Open roughly April thru mid-November, it is maintained and managed as a Nat’l Park concession by Tim and Lisa Line and their staff of about fifteen friendly men and women, who feed and lodge about 50 guests each night. Guest reservations include a hearty dinner & breakfast and comfortable cozy bedding in pre-assigned cabins. Built originally in the late 1920’s by a Gatlinburg pioneer family, the Huffs, LeConte Lodge was operated by the Huffs and their descendants until 1960.

LeConte Lodge Websitehttp://www.lecontelodge.com
LeConte Staff Websitehttp://www.highonleconte.com/

LeConte Lodge

  • DINNER, BREAKFAST& HOT DRINKS in DINING HALL: The Dinner bell rings about 6PM, and the Breakfast bell about 8AM.  Our ASC group is normally seated at 2 or 3 adjoining tables. Meals are served "family style" on passed platters.  The Dining Hall also normally has hot chocolate & coffee available as a treat when you arrive.  Wine option 
    available at dinner:  Pay about $9 and get as many refills of your glass as waiter has time to serve you.
  • FOUR FLUSH TOILETS: Located in small structures near Dining Hall. Use the key hanging in your cabin.
  • LIMITED UTILITIES: A propane heater is now in every room, and kerosene is still used for the lamps – no electricity.  Water for drinking comes from outside artesian spigots. Hot water for sponge baths from spigot near Dining Hall. No showers or bathtubs.  Wash basin and a little soap & matches in each cabin.  Bring your own washcloth & towel.
  • “PIONEER STYLE” CABIN SPACE & BEDDING:  Cabins are assigned by the Lodge. ASC typically gets one of the large cabins (3 bedrooms) and a couple of the smaller cabins. Each bedroom sleeps four in two double beds, one above the other bunk-style, so it’s likely you'll not only have a bedmate, but also another bunkmate or two, above or below you. There are a few spare single bunks in the cabins (limited). The staff makes up beds daily with clean sheets, warm blankets & pillows. Its highly recommended you sign up with a friend that you would enjoy or at least tolerate sleeping with and indicate it on your sign up form.

Gatlinburg, TN

For Thursday night I will be staying in the Quality Inn Creekside. This parking lot is also where we will be meeting on Sunday morning to start our trip to and from LeConte. I was able to get a room for $64/night via hotels.com.

Quality Inn Creekside

Pancake Cabin

What to Bring and Wear

What to Wear

Figure on temperatures atop Mt. LeConte averaging about 20 degrees cooler year-round than in Atlanta.  (They claim it has never been over 80 F at Lodge.)  In selecting clothing for trip, take weather forecasts into account. Check the Gatlinburg, TN forecast for local temps. Keep in mind that the weather can deteriorate rapidly in the Smokies -- better safe than sorry. We are in the cooler months so dress in layers for cold.
  • In general, choose wool blends or synthetic fabrics. Cotton wicks perspiration poorly, dries slowly, and has little warmth when wet. 
  • Hiking Boots are a MUST! Boots should be comfortable and already broken in. Be sure your toes DO NOT touch the front of your boot when walking down a hill/incline. 
  • Soft Dry Socks: Synthetic or wool-blend -- avoid all-cotton! Especially if boots are new, minimize chance of blisters by wearing thin pair of synthetic liner socks inside a 2nd heavier pair. Have adhesive “moleskin” handy if you’re blister-prone. 
  • Comfortable non-abrasive underwear. 
  • Hiking shorts or loose long pants (appropriate for weather). 
  • Upper layers adjustable for weather & body heat.  Example: Bring with you 4 layers: a synthetic undershirt + long-sleeve shirt + light sweater + thin outer Gore-tex shell.  Wear only what you need and keep other layers handy in daypack, especially after building body heat on uphill climb. 
  • Cap or Hat + (appropriate for weather). 
  • Rain Gear / Poncho

What to Bring

Below are some recommendations on what to bring. If you are unsure about anything feel free to ask your Trip Leader about it. As a general rule, the weight of your loaded pack shouldn’t exceed 25% to 30% of your ideal body weight. Some experienced backpackers may be able to carry more, while novices should generally start with less. Many trip members spend almost their whole weight allowance in alcohol for festivities in the evening. :)

Suggested Items

  • Wallet with IDs + about $40 cash for optional wine at dinner, T- shirt, other souvenir, etc. 
  • Small Emergency Kit (map, compass, knife, matches, etc.), First Aid Kit
  • Packet of ASC-supplied information & directions. 
  • Light Raincoat, Gore-Tex Shell, or large Garbage Bag that doubles as light emergency raincoat. 
  • Canteen of Water (at least 1 quart for trip up. Lodge has free drinking water from artesian spigot.)
  • Lunch to eat during hike up mountain at at least a snack if not lunch for the hike down as well.
  • Basic Toiletries: Washcloth, Hand Towel, Toothbrush & Paste, Tissues. 
  • Lightweight Flashlight with fresh batteries. 
  • Spare pair of dry Socks & Underwear. 
  • Change of clothes for the hike down. (1st layer) 
  • Change of clothes to wear at the top at the lodge. (1st layer) 
  • Extra Daypack Room (or straps) for extra upper layers or clothing you shed while hiking up. Upper layers will be used for hike up, at the Lodge, and the hike down as needed. 

Optional Items to Bring

  • Camera or Camcorder + extra Film
  • Binoculars + Light Nature Guidebook such as Stars,Wildflowers, Trees, Birds
  • Walkie-Talkies – to keep in touch with the group while on the trail.
  • Light Slippers or Sandals for comfort at Lodge, or to wear while drying boots if they get wet.
  • Walking Stick
  • Bug Spray 

Optional Items for Car

  • Cooler of drinks & snacks to leave in car, for refreshments both days.
  • Change of clothes for the drive home. 
  • Change of shoes for the drive home.  

Trip Schedule

Thursday Night Get Together (Optional)

Friday - LeConte Hike Up

  • 08:30AM - Meet for breakfast at Pancake Cabin (Map Above)
  • 09:30AM - Meet at Quality Inn Creekside Parking Lot (Map Above) to head together as a group to the run shuttle to Rainbow Falls Trail and Eventually Alum Cave for the hike up. (Quality Inn is the LAST POINT to meet up with the group before the hike up!)
  • 10:30AM - Start Hike Up
  • (TBD) - Lunch (BYO, Break when people feel it's lunch time)
  • (TBD) - Make it to the Summit!!
  • 06:00PM - Dinner at LeConte (Provided by LeConte Lodge)
  • Late - Hang out in the lodge main hall and have fun! (The uno games by oil lamp can get vicious!!) 
** We will try for a sunset point hike depending on conditions

Saturday - LeConte Hike Down

  • 08:00AM - Breakfast at LeConte (Provided by LeConte Lodge)
  • 09:30AM - Start Hike Down
  • (TBD) - Lunch (BYO, Break when people feel it's lunch time)
  • (TBD) - Arrive at Rainbow Trail Trailhead, Grab a bite in Gatlinburg as a group or Head Home! 
** We will try for a sunrise point hike before breakfast depending on conditions

Sunday - Dollywood / Pigeon Forge Activities

I will be staying overnight Saturday night and headed to Pigeon Forge for Dollywood and likely some other activities before heading home. If you are interested in joining me then let me know! 

Trailhead Maps

ASC Mt LeConte Hike