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 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.
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.
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.
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!