(Here’s the first part of this story, if you are just joining in.)
Eight hours after the start of our hike, my mother and I made it to the top of Mount Leconte without having anyone Air lifted out of there. The highlight of the walk was stepping through llama poop and walking the entire time in the rain.
I’m thinking there must be a finger of a saint or other holy relic at the top of this mountain. One moment, my mother was shaking from low sugar and on the verge of tears. As the lodge came into view, a big smile broke out on her face. Miraculous recovery! She started walking without a limp and her strides were quicker. It was as if the past few hours through hell never happened.
Leconte Lodge is an area of rustic cabins, a dining hall, main lodge, restrooms(yes, with flushing toilets) and staff quarters. We walked up the stairs to the office inside the main lodge where we checked in. We were given a bucket for water and led to our room in a large cabin. Our room consisted of a queen size bunk log bed, a desk, chair, mirror, kerosene lantern, heater, clean mugs, and a wash basin. There was approximately an area of 2 feet between the bed and the desk. I had to step out of the room for my mother to walk behind the door to get in the room. I thought it was so cool.
My mother, being recovered from her recent trauma, proceeded to meet the other inhabitants of our cabin. There were three generations of men from one family, on a retreat to get away from their womenfolk. What does my mother do? She sits down in a rocking chair next to the patriarch of the family and talks non-stop about her cooking skills. I felt sorry for the man so I urged my mother to come in and wash up for dinner.
Dinner was a grand affair, with family style dining. We were placed at a table with a family from Athens, TN. There were five members, two of them were children. It seems they all went up Alum Cave Trail (thanks for your advice, Dad). Mom fenagled the dad’s cell phone so that she could call my father and let him know we made it to the top. The coverage was minimal and all my father heard was,”We made it. You were right.” Then the call dropped.
The food was hot, with a soup and cornbread for starters. I was so glad my mother had preordered wine with our meal ($8 extra). I really needed a few glasses after the walk. The main course consisted of beef in gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, and cinnamon apples. The finale was an oversized chocolate chip cookie.
After dinner, Mom and I walked out onto the dining room porch to catch a glimpse of a clearing sky over the mountains. The view was spectacular and was so worth the walk up there. Later on, we prepared for bed to rest up for the hike down.