My alarm went off at 3:00 the next morning. By 3:45 I was drinking coffee and talking to Uncle Johnny about the forecast - it was grim prediction. At 4:00 Dema (spelling?) and was quickly sent back to Mark's to get his boots. Mom and Greg came a little after 4:00. It was already raining, but not too much. We stopped in Harriman to eat breakfast - the rain was still coming down.
We arrived at Sugarlands a little before 8:00 a.m. The sky was dark, but the rain had stopped - or so we thought - we later learned that had just gotten in front of it and it was coming up behind us.
When we got to Alum Cave parking lot we put our rain gear on and readied ourselves for the group photo.
Then we ran over to see Bruce. Kara, Nathan and Bruce met us there. They were going to hike the flat part of the trail with us.
Since it was raining we didn't stop for snacks at my favorite part - Heaths Bald - which was informed is know called "Inspiration Pointe." We powered on up to Alum Cave to get some shield from the rain.
After a quick break we hit the trail hard for Le Conte lodge. It started to rain hard after leaving Alum Cave. Em asked me if I wanted to set the pace - I accepted and never looked back. The warmth of the lodge was calling my name. By the time I turned the last corner on to flat land I was drenched. My shoes had water pouring out of them. We were literally walking in ankle deep puddles for the last quarter of a mile.
When we made it to the top I went directly to the bathroom - stripped down and rung the water out of my clothes. I wore my running pants which turned out to be good decision. Then we went to lodge for lunch. There were at least 12 other people all sitting around the stove trying to warm up. I grabbed a rocking chair, took my shoes and socks off and enjoyed my lunch. Mom and Greg came a few minutes later. The first question mom asked was "does anybody have a comb?" I would've given my whole baggie of Kashi for a comb at that moment. Before leaving the top we bought t-shirts and took a quick group picture.
Then it was time to head down. The temperature must have have fallen while we were eating lunch because it was really cold on the way down. I never warmed up. My hands and fingers were numb the entire time - which made holding on to the cable really difficult. You may ask, why did we need cables . . .
. . . because that is what the trail looked like. There were several place where the water cascaded over the trail and right off the mountain. If I were ever nervous of falling off the side (which I never am) this would have been the time.
In addition to waterfalls - we had water running down the mountain. This caused some slips. I hid the ground pretty hard on one occasion and Greg fell too - luckily his pants caught him or it could have been pretty bad.
Made it from the lodge to Alum Cave in 40 minutes - even with having to watch every step we took. Our next stop was at Heath's Bald where Zac said he was "inspired" to make it to the parking lot so we kept truckin'. During the last mile of the hike we got a welcomed surprise. I looked up to see Johnny, Laura and Megan hiking our direction. It was so exciting to see them. They had been to the Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg with Kara, Nathan and Bruce. Megan took a picture so for us. Then they continued up the mountain to find Mom and Greg. We headed on to the car.
If I am being totally honest, the rain was awful. But, even with the rain - the trip was great fun. I will always remember the time we hiked to Le Conte in the rain. I am glad that we decided to ignore our better judgment and power through.