I have probably been thinking about making a hike to LeConte Lodge for 2+ years. Actually, I'd probably been thinking about it longer than that, but thinking it was doable for the last few. I actually made reservations for June 2013 back in October of 2012, but I realized how far out it was and that the odds of me picking a proper and doable weekend that far in advance (including the kids) was basically 0, so I let the reservations lapse.
Sometime this spring I realized that the Lodge announces last minute cancellations via Twitter and I thought that maybe this would work if we could be really flexible. I decided if we could snag a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night, we'd somehow make it work. Meanwhile, we had targeted the end of June for a few days off (with no particular plans since we'd postponed our Yellowstone/Grand Teton trip until next summer).
I called LeConte Lodge reservations to figure out the best way to snag a cancellation that overlapped with our planned days off. They indicated that 10-15 days in advance is a good time to start calling...that's when people need to get their cancellation in before they are charged no matter what. They said the twitter cancellations are usually REALLY last minute. I called every morning...to no avail.
Around 1pm on June 25th, I learned that there had been a cancellation for the very next night (I had set the LeConte twitter account to text me so I'd know instantly). After a quick call to G, I called them to say we'd take it. Decision made in about 10 minutes and now we'd have to head out a few hours later to get closer to the trailhead for our hike up the next morning.
After quickly packing...we headed out. We stopped at a motel in Maggie Valley, leaving an hour or so to get to the trailhead the next morning. We hit the Alum Cave Bluffs trailhead at 9:50am and made it up to LeConte Lodge Cabins around 1:30pm.
It's a great hike...from the shady wooded hike along the Balsam Creek to the rocky narrow path that peeks out from the canopy...just a beautiful, uphill hike.
I really wanted to bring my DSLR on this hike, but realized I didn't have a pack that would accommodate my clothing needs (rain jacket, change of clothes, extra layer), my water, and the other small items we were bringing. I could definitely have lashed it to my pack, but the fear of rain and no where to stow it made me decide to just leave it at home. I grabbed my Canon G12 instead. Except I didn't charge the battery. So...the photos are somewhat lacking from the upper portion and top.