I lucked into terrible weather to hike the famous Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte. The trail follows Alum Cave Creek and Styx Branch before rounding a scenic heath bald ridge called Inspiration Point. From there it hugs cliffs to the base of the impressive Alum Cave Bluffs. After this popular spot the trail turns north into conifer forests with occasional views over Styx Branch. Once I got above 5,000 feet I was in clouds and intense wind the rest of the trip. The area received more than 2.5 inches of snow a couple of days prior in addition to rain, and what remained was slush then as I got higher ice sheets and packed snow. Many people turned around due to ice, luckily my Yaktrax Pro worked just fine. When at the summit I first went to LeConte Shelter then High Top, the tallest point on the mountain at 6,593 feet. I turned around at Myrtle Point, where the fierce wind gusts were between 30-50 mph. I stopped at Cliff Top on the way back then ate a snack at LeConte Lodge with other hikers. On the way down it was slushier than before, and the clouds lifted a little but not enough to get views. Fortunately there’s 3 other routes to the mountain that I have to try in the future.
I made a few geographical mistakes in the video. First I said the bridge before Arch Rock was over Alum Cave Creek; it is over Styx Branch. I called Cliff Top the westernmost peak on Mount LeConte when in fact the westernmost peak is West Point. However, West Point is not trail accessible while Cliff Top is, so I was half-right. Last I referred to the hole in Little Duck Hawk Ridge as “The Keyhole.” It is called “The Eye of the Needle” on Hiking in the Smokys (
Hike was 12.4 miles in 6 hours and 45 minutes.