A very different Thanksgiving! Our children and their families were unable to join us for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner because they were enjoying the day with their in-laws. Knowing that I would probably feel a little glum and lonely, I thought it would be the perfect time to check off a bucket list item…hiking to Mt. Leconte on the Alum Cave Trail. At 6,593 feet, Mt. LeConte is the third highest peak in the Smokies. There are actually 5 different hiking trails to the summit with the Alum Cave Trail being the steepest and shortest at 10.5 miles round trip. I thought I could manage steepest and shortest better than less steep and longer, so Alum Cave it would be! (Probably should mention here that Jared and Michael, who had done the trail together a few years ago, both strongly urged me not to do it.) How bad could it be if we took our time and didn’t rush? We allowed 10 hours for up and back and planned to spend 30 minutes at the top…plenty of time. Unfortunately, I was totally unprepared for my legs to turn to jelly about a mile from the top, and between that and horrendous cramping, the last mile seemed to take forever, but we made it! After lunch, we started back down. First mile and a half things are good, and I’m elated that I have conquered the mountain! Then the legs gave way again, and I was also extremely nauseated and felt like I was going to faint. Bottom line, Doug and I made it to 1.2 miles from our car before dark. We did have the foresight to carry flashlights, so we were creeping along, somewhat terrified and thinking about bears, when my legs got so bad that they kept buckling under me, and I was very concerned about falling. We were praying we could somehow make it and not have to spend the night on the mountain. Answered prayer when a couple from Spain happened by and refused to leave us. Shortly after that, a family from Alabama also stopped and were determined to help. The men got on either side of me and “walked me out” providing support for my now numb jelly legs. We made it to our car at 7:00, so we spent 11 1/2 hours on the trail. Felt like I wimped out and was very disappointed that I wasn’t able to make it without assistance, but so thankful for my fellow hikers who so kindly met my need.


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