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084 Home Alone 2009-05-18

Mount LeConte

Because of our family trip this summer to climb the Colorado Fourteeners we have spent most of the spring training. The longer and harder the hike, run, or workout, the better we have liked it. We have been training hard in the limited time and altitude we have available.

Over the weekend we were invited to the Great Smoky Mountains for a training hike on Mount LeConte. Our trailhead at Sugarland was to be at about 1500 feet and the summit of LeConte was to be at about 6600 feet. The total elevation gain would be over 5000 feet! Few of the Colorado Fourteeners have climbs of over 5,000 feet, making LeConte’s vertical rise higher and indeed a worthy training test.

My friends Jon and Laura had gotten reservations at Elkmont Campground for the weekend, and were kind enough to ask us to join them. I was able to go, but my wife could not - she just had too much work to do. My dog, Jake, could not go either because of Park regulations. So only one third of our summer team was able to make the trip.

Amy was very upset that she could not go. She wanted a big hike to test conditioning, but instead had to stay home alone. (For some reason she is worried that I am in better condition than her. I don’t know how that idea came about as she trains for two hours a day five days a week.)

Jake, the dog, was also upset. He saw me pack the car and knew I was going somewhere. He knew that therefore he was going. He was getting nervous as I had not packed his things. Then my wife came home just in the nick of time to divert his attention and I slipped away. Jake was home alone too, even though he was with my wife.

I forgot to call home before I arrived at the Park and once there my phone no longer had reception. My wife is comfortable not hearing from me, but when stuck at home doing end of the year school reports, a call at least lets her know what she is missing. She would have been able to enjoy vicariously.

Some trip highlights:

The four hour drive was uneventful. Jon is very entertaining and makes the time pass quickly. We got to camp at dusk and had just enough daylight to set up camp.

Monica, one of our favorite people, joined us and we did not even have to wait on her at the designated meeting place. She was waiting on us.

The hike was enjoyable.

The camping was fun even though it rained, collecting significant amounts of wetness.

Under the Noah tarp, our dear friends, Nick and Ed came by and played a few Irish instrumental numbers.

Then on the trip home we stopped in Crossville, TN for lunch with two friends, Dave and Jenny. They recommended a small Mexican restaurant. The foods was unbelievably good and the company was even better.

Back on the home front the dog, Jake, walked around the house pouting. He finally figured out that I had gone somewhere and did not take him.

Amy was stuck doing her school work. I was able to call her and tell her how things were going. Each call made her wish she had joined us even more.

On arriving back in Nashville we found that Laura and Jon’s big cat, Jim, who had also been home alone, did not like it one bit. Amy had gone over to check on him and found one ticked off cat.

Everyone was happy for us to be home and we were happy as well. Jake, the dog, forgave me immediately as long as I went in the backyard with him to play. Amy had a big smile and kiss for me. As I told her about the trip she kept saying, "oh, I wish I would have gone."

Jim, the big cat, probably continued to sulk after all, he is a cat. I will have to get an update from the Frapers on his behavior.

The Smokys was a great trip and LeConte was a good training hike. The only thing missing was my wife and dog.

Note on Park Dog Policy: It is understandable but too bad that the Park does not allow dogs on the trails. Jake would have loved the hike.

Note on Park Cat Policy: I did not see a sign saying, no cats, but I am sure they do not allow cats as big as Jim on the trail.

A trip report will follow, soon.

Thanks to all who made this a great trip.

Happy trails.


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