Monday, October 20, 2008

You're So Vain . . . and other tales of the highlands

This past weekend, my sister and I and our spouses took a long-anticipated, greatly-appreciated, totally relaxing backpacking trip to the top of Mt. LeConte in the Smokies. Relaxing, you say? Hiking in the rain and cold, round-trip 13.3 miles, up steep inclines and across scary-because-there's-nothing-underneath-you cliff faces was absolutely, completely and totally rejuvenating on so many levels -- yes, relaxing. Because, see, at the top of Mt. LeConte are a lodge, some cabins, and even a few flush toilets (wo-hoo!) -- yes, primitive, without electricity and somewhat Little-House-on-the-Prairie-ish, but they cook delicious meals for you and they keep you warm, and there is no noise -- no exaggeration here -- at all. It's like the mountain just absorbs any noise the other guests make and you are insulated from the world (no airplanes, cars or trucks, televisions or radios, no phones, unless you are as tall as my husband and you align yourself like an antennae while standing in the one spot on the mountain that gets any signal). God bless our family -- Mom kept MommyJ's kids, and our little brother and his new wife kept my little ones. (The news is good -- Gramma doesn't want to have anymore children, which is good because, well, she's 56; and The Newlyweds still want to have children even after spending two days with mine!) A good time was had by all.

MommyJ and I are the vain ones. Both of us got up early Friday morning and fixed both hair and makeup before we began our trek up the mountain. Josh totally made fun of MommyJ for "smelling too good" and making an effort to be attractive on the mountain. Who you trying to impress, right? I mean, this is the man who didn't even bring a clean pair of socks with him. Strangely enough CPod refrained from haranguing me. If you know him, you know this is odd. No comment on my perfectly coiffed curls? No poking fun at me as I applied makeup in the car, driving in darkness through the curvy roads of the Smokies? Nay, not even a look askance, nary a word was spoken. I am convinced it's because he's seen how ugly I looked in the pictures taken when we were at Mt. LeConte earlier this summer, and if he is to be allowed to post them on his Facebook page, I have to look good (my requirement, not his), and until he changes his password, I will keep removing photos! I think maybe I'll let him use this one:

We hoped for some great views of fall colors, but with our rainy weather and serious fog, it just was not to be. Instead we ended up with fantastic sunset and sunrise, and some pretty cool shots of people next to Nothing. (You'll see what I mean.) All in all, a great trip -- and we plan to repeat it ever year that we possibly can, and when our kids are big enough that we trust them to not fall off a cliff, we'll bring them with us.

Side note: many of you who have known me for a very long time (cousins, college roommates, high school friends, and such) may notice my wild woman curly hair. I know, you're thinking, "Her hair isn't curly! She must have a perm." I assure, I don't. MommyJ will vouch for me -- she is insanely jealous of the curls and would be the first one to give me up if they weren't natural!

And now for the slide show . . . and a brief explanation for each image.

See, I told you . . . totally Little House. I mean, when you check in, they give you a key to the flush toilets (they have latrines for the non-paying riff-raff who just do a day hike or stay in the AT shelter up above the lodge) and a pail with directions to the hot water tap!

Me and MommyJ in front of our totally awesome sunset . . . the lodge was completely socked in by the clouds, so the hike to Cliff Tops was a bit of a gamble, but we were rewarded for our efforts.

People next to Nothing. This is why Mom can't ever do this hike. She might be hyperventilating right now just looking at the vast expanse of space beyond the edge of the rocks.

Sunrise wasn't bad, either. The best part about it? It didn't happen until 7:45AM, which is just perfect when you took a loooooong nap the day before, and then stayed up until the unbelievable hour of 10PM playing Yahtzee and Trivial Pursuit by lamplight the night before.

On the way home, we started out above the clouds, then hiked through them, and then finally emerged from the mists and finished below the clouds. We also sort of hiked through the seasons -- we had snow flurries on top of the mountain (high of 48, low of 28 when we were there), beautiful fall leaves through the mid-elevations, and a lot of green at the trailhead. Beautiful! We saw at least 4 distinctly different ecosystems, varying by elevation, proximity to water, and exposure. Just amazing. Now you go do it!

For more images of this trip, and a different perspective, visit MommyJ's blog. Or don't. I may have bored you to death!


  1. That sounds like a great trip! It's so nice to have a getaway without the kids!

  2. What an amazing trip! Makes me miss those mountains.

    So um, who gets to post about keeping all the kids?!

  3. i wouldn't call my jealousy insane... more like checked and reasonable jealousy! :) And, Josh did too bring socks... just because he didn't wear them doesn't mean he didn't have them...

    we had such a good time. :)

  4. That picture with you guys walking in the fog is awesome!! Sounds like tons of fun. I'm envious!

  5. Sounds like a fabulous trip. Great pics. I love the pic of you and mommyj.

  6. beautiful!!! I am sick of these bare, spiky mountains -- I want my mountains lush, green and smokey !

  7. sounds like a lot of fun. i would love to do that!


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