Mount Le Conte
The following in Ed Wrights Mt. Le Conte Hike #1257
1257 6/26/00 I hiked the Alum Cave Bluff Trail today with Tillroe Smith. It was a humid, cloudy, 60 F day at the trailhead with a forecast of thunderstorms for the afternoon. Tillroe brought and give me a copy of his hiking journal that Diana Stretch had laboriously typed for him. This was my first attempt to hike in nearly three weeks. I warned Tillroe that I would be slower than usual and would take frequent rest stops. He relieved my load by carrying the Knoxville News-Sentinel newspaper for me along with his copy of the USA Today to the staff.
About two weeks ago, I awoke feverish and with a terrible stomach ache. I shut my alarm off because I did not feel like hiking the next morning. The next day, I dosed with Pepto Bismol without any relief. I continue to take that until it was exhausted. In addition I experienced a sharp pain over my heart. I knew that Dr. Lawson, my cardiologist would fuss at me unless I saw him. His examination EKG examination showed a result that caused him to order another series of stress tests and auto radiography of the heart arteries. He suggested that I see my family physician regarding the stomachache, which I did last Friday a week ago.
Dr Heald diagnosed my GUT ache as diverticulitis and prescribed a liquid diet, two antibiotics and a pain medication. He asked me to return the following Monday. The antibiotics and painkiller made me feel very light headed and nauseous. I returned to see Dr. Heald Monday and he said that I could eat solid foods again. That was good news.
Thursday morning, without food or coffee, I went to the hospital at 6:30 am for a blood sample to check the blood chemistry and cholesterol. They took me right away and I was at the cardiology office by 7:00 am for the nuclear stress test. I was ushered right in and directed to a table to lie down while a sweet young thing named Sherry inserted a needle receptor into a vein in my arm and injected a saline solution. Later Patrick, a cardiologist used the receptor to inject a short half-life radioisotope, thallium, I think. I then went into a waiting room and read a Patrick McManus humor story in an Outdoor Life magazine before Patrick came for me again and did the auto radiographic scan of the arteries in my heart.
Following that procedure, I went into the room to walk the tread mill but first a young man named Jeff shaved several spots on my chest, sandpapered the spots and attached electrodes for the EKG while under stress. Next came the treadmill. Jeff gradually increased the slope and speed of the belt and injected more saline solution into the receptor. I continued this boring routine until my pulse rate exceeded 140 beats per minute. I was then sent home and could eat but NO COFFEE. At 10:15 am, I went back to the waiting room and read another story by Patrick McManus. Patrick came for me again and did a final auto radiographic scan. I was then free to go and have a cup of coffee. The following afternoon Dr Lawson's nurse called and reported that all test were fine. I said Wait A Minute, what was my cholesterol? It had been 188 total and Dr. Lawson wanted to put me on a cholesterol lowering drug. I asked that he not but let me do it by diet. She said that it was 137 total. My bean soup diet paid off.
Now back to the hike, about one fourth mile up the trail, we met Amy Pitt, the wife of Dave Pitt, who is building the new food storage structure at the lodge. She had been up for a visit with him over the weekend. A very few rosebay rhododendrons were blooming below Arch Rock. This is not going to be a good year for either the rosebay or the Catawba rhododendrons. I hiked slowly and took frequent rest stops. we noted that several Catawba, dwarf Carolina rhododendrons, mountain laurel and the sand myrtle were blooming at Inspiration Point. I took a short break at the bluff before we trudged on.
We met Tom "Monday" Morgan at the saddle returning from his early morning hike to the lodge. We visited with him at some length. He related his experience of running across five wild boars on the Spence Field Trail and how awful they smelled and how evil they looked. After resuming our journey we met backpackers Buzz Paine, from Big Sandy, TX with three teenage young men Zach, Bobby and Seth Marley from Decatur, TN. Zach and Bobby are brothers and Seth is a cousin. I think that Buzz is their uncle. We were then overtaken and passed by Marlene Denton and Orlie Wood from Cosby, TN. We next met Jeff Holman from Walterboro, SC. He was the first of a large group from there returning from their annual overnight at the lodge. I took my Granola Bar break, three miles up the trail and things got hectic there so you folks out there please forgive me if I mix up some of your names and locations. Some of the other folks from Walterboro, SC included Hilda Holman, Marvin Jones, Henry Sauls, John B and Garrett Johnson, Bob and Kathy Smith, Todd and Catherine Wolfhurst from Danton, NC, Ben Smith from Charleston, SC, Sara and Billy Stork from Columbia, SC. While sitting at the three-mile point, we were overtaken by a large group from a high school in Dayton, OH with their teachers on a field trip. They were ninth through twelfth graders. Some of their names were: Cody Matthews, Roxanne Moore, John Tawney, Mickey, Pete, Janet, Susan, Emily, Autum Cahill, Wes, Kelly Lewis, Zach Steffens, Alice Balse, Chris, Joe Kramer (teacher) Boyd Miller, Libbie Schaefer, Mike Grant, Michael Way, Mike Were and others. Mixed in with that crowd were Mark and Starr Lindsey from Atlanta, GA, Mary from Mobile, AL, Chris, Somerville, SC, Pete, Charlotte, NC, Leigh Ann Jackson from Jasper, AL and Michael Way from Tuscaloosa, AL.
After resuming the hike we were overtaken and passed by Ronald Gunter from Barnard, SC and we met the new lodge chaplain Holly Hatton from Knoxville, TN. She was the chaplain for several years and is taking over for Stephanie Quatlebaum. Stephanie took a fall on the trail and is not hiking regularly any more. Near the steps, we met Anthony Whitted, a young man from Seymour, TN . He and Andy Darnalas from the Biology department at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, have been doing a park bird survey. Anthony will enter medical school at UT Memphis this fall and Andy is working on his PhD at ODU.
Above the steps, Tillroe noticed a new strange manmade object. He asked me what I thought that it was. I guessed a device to count bears. On my trip by the park to turn my hiking report in it is instead a devise to measure ozone levels at that location. That is supposed to warn old geezers like me when it is unsafe to hike. To date I have never seen such a day due to the ozone level. At Bust@ss Rocks we met Paul and Vivian George from Powell, OH with Dave and Christie Ahnonark from Worthington, OH. They wanted to take pictures. I said OK if I could continue to sit.
The lodge was a warm 58 F and mostly sunny. There were clouds building to the east. I filled my CamelBak as I passed the water spigot. As I entered the office, I tossed my pack onto a rocker Inside I signed the register and copied down the weather data for the lodge in 1999. I will enter that into my web site. In 1999 the lodge received 76.43" of rain, 82.5" of snow, The high temperature was 79 F on July 31st, The lowest temperature was -10 F on January 10th, earliest snow November 3 with 2.5" and the latest snow occurred on April 30th when a half inch fell.
I returned to the porch, occupied a rocker and proceeded to eat my lunch with Tillroe and a young couple from Glen Burnie, MD. The thunderstorm that was building to the east became increasingly noisy. Henry Neel came by and said that he didn't expect it to hit there. I noticed on the weather from Mt. LeConte that they got 1.87" of rain. Henry is not much better at the weather forecast than I am. Lodge staffer Ben Gibbs from Orlando, FL dropped by a couple of times. I nicknamed the head of the Orlando Mafia. He is responsible for Dan and Jessica Fox, Darrin Hughes and Summer, all from Orlando being on the staff this year.
As we headed away from the lodge, I decided that I would not take any other notes rather than count the number of people on the trail. I was moving too slow that even slowed me down more. I took a short break at Lew's Pulpit and there I met long time friends John Woge and his son Jim from Hermitage, PA.. We continued to descend under an overhead of rolling thunder with an occasional burst of sound from the 1812 Overture. well above the saddle we met lodge staffer Dan Fox returning from days off. It was at this point that our luck ran out and raindrops started falling on our head and whatever else that was covered. Tillroe deployed his umbrella and offered it to me. I declined because the rain was cooling and I decided to wait until I reached the bluff to decide about donning my trusty poncho.
We joined eight others under the bluff and the rain increased as I ate my snack. When we left it was coming down in torrents. The water falling from the bluff was in great quantities and covering the trail. There were numerous water cascades from the high rocks but we survived. The fun came at the site of the big washout of June 28, 1993, the trail was completely covered and the only way across was to wade. The depth was considerably greater than the tops of my boots. I found out though that they were waterproof. I was able to pour water out of them when we reached the trailhead. The rain slowed somewhat for the last mile and we were delighted to return to our cars. This had been a slow, painful hike. It took eight hours and fifty-five minutes and we met six backpackers and ninety-six hikers. It was a fun day. I will miss this when I can no longer hike this lovely mountain with such great friends and character. When I returned home and opened Tillroe's Hiking Journal " I Climbed A Mountain," I found the following words.. Dedicated to - Edward A. Wright, whose strength and dedication inspired me to "Climb A Mountain" Thanks Tillroe old faithful friend.
A map of Alum Cave Bluffs Trail on Mt. Le Conte
This is one of 5 trails to Mt. Le Conte
View of Mt. Le Conte from Clingmans Dome
Mt. Le Conte from Newfound Gap road
Mt. Le Conte from the Sawteeth
The Mt. Le Conte shelter "Here there be rats"