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Thursday, October 24, 2013

All the Way to Alum Cave

Yesterday I took you as far as Arch Rock on the Alum Cave trail.  Not quite a "cliffhanger" maybe, but hikus interruptus perhaps?

Right after I collected my camera equipment from the tree and made my way back across the bridge I ran into another couple on their way down.   

The lady in turquoise let me past because hubby was at the top with his camera.  Eyeing my equipment on the way up he asked if I wanted a shot of myself coming up the stairs.  Yes, please and thank you!

On the other side of Arch Rock things got a little rocky and slippery on the black slate so the NPS was kind enough to attach some cable to the rock to grab onto.  Looking out for me and my safety, love those rangers!

 After two switchbacks uphill I spied a nice spot to sit for a second since my heart was pounding and I was feeling a little dizzy.  (No fear, totally normal for those of us with low blood pressure, it goes away quickly if you rest and wait for the blood to finish getting to your head!)  While I was resting I thought it would be a nice spot for a selfie.  A gal in the middle of the trail was quite a surprise to the next hiker coming around the bend...

After chatting with him and his wife for a minute they passed me while I set up my next shot.  The wife thought it was pretty funny when I posed in a fashion to underscore my flatlander exhaustion.

While it's always fun to entertain the masses, I had some more work to do and put those quivering quads back to work.  It wasn't long before I was rewarded for my efforts.

Right?  I think I was standing at Inspiration Point, but there was no sign so I'm only guessing seeing as how I was so inspired.  Yet another couple stopped to enjoy the view with me and I was happy to take a snap of them with their camera.  Hope it turned out well, it was hard to tell on their digital screen whether it was overexposed or not.

Hmmm.....seem to be running out of mountain. How high is Mt. LeConte anyway?  Can't be much further.

 As I passed through a little tunnel of rhododendren branches a small squirrel was running back and forth over my head.  I got my hand within a foot of him and he just stopped and looked at me.  Someone been feeding this fella, I wonder?  When I get home I'll crop in and see if he's visible in the shot below, but you can feel free to whip out your magnifying glass and have a look if you like.

A staircase came into view and it just started feeling like I was almost there.  I had to be, because the climbing had gotten so steep that I was stopping often to catch my breath and rest my legs.

The last stretch was nearly vertical, and on loose gritty surface.  Alum Cave wasn't really a cave but an overhanging rock shelter it turned out.  From 1838 to 1840 three local gentlemen formed the Epsom Salts Manufacturing Company and mined alum, Epsom salt, saltpeter, magnesia and copperas here.

 I was resting and talking to two other hikers when a trio joined us coming down from the peak of Mt. LeConte.  You know how it went, right?  Where you from?  How far did you hike?  I met folks on the trail from Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Utah, Kentucky, and Alabama.

As the couple from Utah with their father from the Smokies started their descent I figured it was as good a time as any to get moving.  Turns out they've hiked this trail before and they estimated 45 minutes down to the parking lot.  I stuck behind them the whole way since they had long legs.

I had a hard time moving past that rock full of yellow lichen without stopping, but I kept pace with the trio all the way down and we had some nice conversation about hiking in Utah and other great places.  Dad recommends the Uinta Wilderness and I told him that it was on my list.  Alum Cave is no longer on my list though, we made it to the parking lot in 50 minutes and Wayne was at the end of the trail.  He had only been waiting a few minutes and told me I had missed a bear sighting alongside the Newfound Gap Road after he dropped me off.  I was devastated but then a few minutes later we lucked into a bear sighting in almost the same spot!  The mama and her growing cubs were a little too far down in the vegetation for me to get any shots in the fading light, but we watched for a few minutes before resuming our ride back into town. Time for dinner to make its way to my belly, I hadn't eaten in 6 hours and had a lot of calories to make up for! 


  1. That looks like a great hike. I found it funny you getting caught by the hiker striking a pose and the camera capturing the moment, but you out-did yourself on the next "drama" shot. Well done. I am always offering to take pictures of people with their camera which they are always way too happy to have done. When I give the camera back to them I'll say "There is your Christmas card photo for this year." Great post.

  2. Well, adding this to my hiking list. This looked fab. Had a LOL moment at your dramatics!

  3. That was a good hike though I did thing you had to go to the top of the rock as well. Love the flatlander look.

  4. What a beautiful trail! Nice fall colors.

  5. Hiking! such a great experience. thanks for sharing..
    you have make beautiful photo for sharing with us..
    you're welcome, Pam!