The only way to get to LeConte Lodge in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is to hike up a mountain. To stay the night, you need to make reservations far in advance. We sent in our reservation request in August last year and then waited till the October 1 drawing of names. We did not get our first choice of dates (mid-October for the fall colors) but got our second choice of April 5.
When the date got near, it was still cold and snowy at the top near the lodge. So we bought Stabilicers and IceTrekkers. We also had to pack layers since the weather at the bottom trailhead was fairly warm, but it was freezing at the summit.
We started on the Rainbow Falls trail in the morning with the weather a little cold and foggy. As you can see on the elevation chart below, the trail goes up and up almost constantly. Due to rain and snow in recent days, the trail was quite muddy.
It was good that we brought the ice cleats as the last 1.5 miles of the trail was covered with snow and ice.
We got to the LeConte Lodge in the afternoon and enjoyed some amazing views.
After dinner, I went to Myrtle Point for a nice view of the sunset.
There was no electricity in our cabin, but it was warm due to a propane heater.
The next morning, weather was a little warmer. We had planned to go down the Bullhead trail, but it had not been cleared after the winter storms, so we headed back the same way we had come. Here’s the map for our return hike.
On our way back from the smokies, we drove on the Foothills Parkway and Deals Gap, which was a lot of fun.
In February, we headed out to Colorado for our first ski trip out west. It was a different and much more fun experience than skiing here in the East.
I had my Garmin Oregon 450 with me along with Snowranger maps and I recorded my tracks.
The first day we were at Copper Mountain. Here’s my tracklog at Copper, analyzed by the Mountain Dynamics website.
Next day, we went to Keystone resort. You can see my adventures there.
Our second day at Keystone was more fun.
Then it snowed 10 inches at Breckenridge, so we headed there for Friday. You can follow my GPS track if you like.
Saturday was a day of rest, from skiing. We went to Vail, where we did snowtubing, walked along the ridge and relaxed.
Finally, our last day was here. We headed back to Keystone for some skiing.
Zoom in and you can see the lifts, gondolas and ski runs on Google Maps.
For Amber’s birthday last fall, we went camping in Cloudland Canyon. We camped in the walk-in campground which was nice and secluded, but full due to the season.
Here’s our first day’s hike, around the West rim loop.
On the second day, we went to see the waterfalls and the overlooks near the park office.
Here are some photos.
On April 20, the weather was cool (39F/4C) and we all headed out to take part in the Run the River race nest to the Chattahoochee river in Roswell, GA.
Michelle and Amber ran in the 5K which started at 7:30. Michelle finished the race in 39:29 which was a new record for her, beating her Jingle Jog time by 11 seconds. Amber’s time was 42:32.
Then it was time for the 10K. It was a fairly flat course with just a bit of a hill at the midway mark where we turned around.
Here’s the map and data for my run:
I paced myself much better this time than for the Silver Comet 10K. My mile splits were 9:42, 10:09, 10:27, 10:56 (the hill), 10:40, 10:34 and 9:29 (per mile for the last 0.22 mile). In fact, I should have gone a bit faster since I felt pretty good at the end.
I finished in 1:05:13. I placed 415/537 overall, 230/248 among men and 37/37 among men aged 40-44. Yes, I placed absolute last in my division!
I asked a while ago how to keep track of my race times. I have figured out now that Athlinks is the best way to do so.
This Saturday, I ran the Silver Comet 10K which bills itself as once of the fastest 10K races in the area since not only is it flat, but part of the course is slightly downhill. That made it the perfect first 10K for me.
Here’s the map and data for my run:
I finished the race in 1:05:01 (chip time). My gun time was 1:05:30, according to which I was placed 474/675 overall, 285/330 among men, and 58/67 among men aged 40-44.
One of my new year resolutions this year was to do 1,000 miles in 2013.
Running a thousand miles in a year requires 2.74 miles/day or 19.19 miles/week. That is beyond my ability. But I do some cycling on the weekends. So I decided to count my cycling miles at one-third.
Let’s see how I have done since January 1.
Running: 4.26 + 4.05 + 5.1 + 4.19 + 4.04 + 3.22 + 4.11 + 4.2 + 6.04 + 4.31 + 4.25 + 6.16 + 4.2 + 4.29 + 6.33 + 4.07 = 72.82 miles
Cycling: 29.5 + 31.5 + 40.3 + 28.9 = 130.2 miles
Adding them up, we get 72.82 + 130.2/3 = 116.22 miles.
Today is February 6, the 37th day of the year. So 10% of the year is gone. To keep my pace for the 1,000 miles, I needed to do 100 miles till noon today. Thus I am on track.
In October, we usually head to North Georgia to hike, enjoy the nice weather and see some fall colors. This time we booked a room at the Len Foote Hike Inn which can only be reached by hiking 5 miles from the Amicalola Falls State Park.
Here is our hike path from Amicalola Falls to the Inn.
On our return the next day, we decided to take the Appalachian Approach trail which connects Amicalola Falls to Springer Mountain.
It was an easy introduction for our trip to LeConte Lodge in the spring.