Way back in February my mom called me up and asked me what my thoughts were on taking a trip out to the Smoky Mountains sometime during the summer. There is this magical time of year, she explained, that only happens in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and Malaysia, when the fireflies sync up. Yes, synchronized fireflies. I was totally sold.
Along with the fireflies, she had a hike in mind.
Have you been walking lately? You know you should really do a couple practice hikes before you get here. Do you have your boots yet? I'm not really sure if Kate is going to make it. Have you exercised at all recently? I think it's going to take about 5 hours up and 3 down, that's how long it took a friend of mine who went last year. Did you ever get those hiking boots? You better start working out on an incline, you know this hike is gonna be like climbing the Statue of Liberty five times. All up hill. You packed your hiking boots, right?
That is pretty much every conversation I had with my mom for 2 months straight.
Mt. LaConte is a 11 mile hike-- 5.5 miles up and 5.5 miles down. It took our six person crew 3 1/2 hours to climb to the top and 2 to reach the bottom. It is by far the prettiest hike I've ever been on. I was snapping photos by the minute. The tangling roots, the moss, the mini waterfalls, the purple rhododendrons, the jungle-like landscape, hundreds of ferns, dewdrops, the hanging fog that seemed to lift right as we got to the top-- it was all incredible.
If you ever go, go early. We decided to beat the crowd and pulled into the parking lot at 7:30 a.m. It made for a cooler, less crowded hike up, and because it had rained the night before, everything was a little damp. It was the perfect hiking weather.
(photos taken by me)