Anyone familiar with the Smokies knows the challenge in obtaining an available room at one of Mt. LeConte’s few cabins – the only place to stay overnight inside the national park besides campsites. The exciting (some disagree with my adjective choice) part is that Mt. LeConte is accessible by hiking trails only, making the experience that much more rewarding.¬†Somewhere around October 1 of each year, interested parties submit their preferred dates for the next year’s season and wait with anticipation for an acceptance letter, much like college.

My friend Buffie sent me a link to a news article back in March about the Smokies. Sitting quietly in the article – a hyperlink to LeConte Lodge’s reservation line. Might as well call, right?

Text to Buffie: LeConte costs $150 per person and includes lodging, dinner, and breakfast. If I call, and they have a cancellation for this season, are you in?

Buffie: Yes.

She barely responded before my fingers flew through the dialing process. The lovely lady who answered the phone offered two cancellations for April and mentioned a couple in November. Monday, April 18? Private bedroom in a three-room cabin? Let me grab my credit card.

Ask my coworkers how my face glowed after placing the phone back on its receiver. I’m not usually very animated. I was that day in March.

Me: Oh my gosh! I got a reservation at LeConte! Oh my gosh! I can’t believe it! This is a dream come true.

Coworker: What’s LeConte?

Me: Cabins at the top of Mt. LeConte that are accessible by five different trails, so the only way to get up there is by hiking. The shortest trail is 5+ miles up. All five are steep. But…it’s away from all the noise and electronics. It’s so hard to get a reservation!

Coworker: I’d want a helicopter to drop me off. Does it cost?

Me: Yeah. $150. That includes two meals.

Coworker: Do you get your own shower?

Me: Umm…there are no showers up there. It’s rustic. I’m just excited that paying guests get a key to use one of the four flushing toilets that we have to walk to. Day-hikers have to use the port-a-potties.

Coworker (eyes bulging): And you’re paying for this?

Of course. Are the hiking trails difficult? For me…yes. But I’ve done two day-hikes up there and back down…on the shortest one (10.4 miles round-trip). I greeted this upcoming challenge with respect and knew I’d come out on top, pun intended.

Up next: LeConte via the Boulevard


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