It's hard to believe that we've been in eastern Tennessee for over 10 months now, and still have not visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Today I put an end to our absence at America's most popular national park. Sierra woke up at 4:40 this morning and I could not get back to sleep. Instead I grabbed the pack I had packed last night and got in the car for the drive north on US 321 to Gatlinburg and into the Smokies.
Once I entered the park, the drive up to Newfound Gap was beautiful. The lower elevations offering views of cascading streams and winter's bare trees. The upper elevations offered long reaching mountain views and frost encrusted trees. I parked at Newfound Gap, used the restroom and then hit the Applachian Trail headed north,
Luckily I had brought my microspikes for the hike. I would certainly need them. I hiked nearly a mile without them, but decided to put them on when I reached a really icy section of trail.
I was a bit worried about the Boulevard Trail as I had read that there was lot of ups and downs. This turned out to be untrue. It was a pretty good descent from Kephart,
Before I knew it I was at the summit cairn for Mount LeConte. It seemed smaller than I had remembered it from my last time there. I took a photo at the cairn
I made it back to the Applachian Trail with no problem. The going on the AT was mostly downhill and went pretty quick. I did see something I had missed on the way up. It was an animal trap of some type.