Just six days ago I hiked the Rainbow Falls Trail up to Mount LeConte on a beautiful 66 degree day. The sun was shining and warm and there were lots of other hikers enjoying the last days of autumn at over 6,500 feet. What a difference just a few days makes. On Halloween a storm and cold front moved over the mountains bringing snow, and lots of it (22 inches on the summit of LeConte). I decided that I wanted to go hiking in the snow.
Instead of switching the time on my clocks, I decided that I would rise at my normal adventuring time of 6 am, even though with the time change, this would mean I actually woke at 5 am. I fed and walked Parker and got my stuff ready for the drive over to the Smokies. Last night I had checked the Smokies Road Report and found that there were not many roads open. My plan was to drive to the Sugarlands Visitor Center. If the Newfound Gap Road was open I would hike a lollipop route off of that road. Since I found the road not open when I had arrived, I decided to instead hike the Cove Mountain Trail up to the summit of Cove Mountain. I would then follow the Laurel Falls Trail down to the Little River Road and walk the road back to my car.
I started off on the nature trail that leads over to Cataract Falls.
As I ascended the snow steadily grew deeper.
The higher I got, the deeper the snow got. It its deepest it had to have been 10 inches.
I backtracked a short distance to the intersection with the Laurel Falls Trail
Laurel Falls itself was a zoo. I would later learn that almost all of the park was still closed except for the Little River Road to a point just past Laurel Falls. Everyone who wanted to get out and enjoy the park from Gatlinburg was headed to the same spot! I took a quick photo of the waterfall