Hiking: Spruce Flats Falls

When it comes to cross training, I have a hard time just doing the elliptical or something similar.  I’d rather be out continually moving and maybe even doing something challenging.  Hiking can be a great option for those who have access to trails and want to mix up their routine.

Since a lot of trails are inaccessible right now due to snow and ice, our options for a good and small hike were limited.  There is a small trail close to my home called Spruce Flats Falls that is only 2 miles round-trip   Short, but just long enough to get your heart rate up and get a good cross training workout in.  The best part is that it ends at a waterfall.

what a beauty (the falls, not me)

what a beauty (the falls, not me)

TJ and I bundled up really good and hit the trail to get our hearts pumping.  Surprisingly there were no other people on the trail and we didn’t spot any wildlife.  The waterfall was flowing a little heavier than usual due to recent rain so it was great to sit on some rocks and just enjoy the view.  My boyfriend has a sense of adventure and ended up climbing up the falls which raised my blood pressure, but I guess that could be considered his strength training for the day.  I took a small risk and tried to do some yoga pose on a small rock in front of the falls.  I’m definitely not a yogi, but I kept my balance pretty well.

oh hai!

oh hai!

We took some good nature pics before heading back down the mountain. It was a great day for a hike and I’m so thankful that I have so many trails at my fingertips to use anytime I please. Hikes make a great cross-training workout and I would recommend them to anyone!

High on the mountain: Hiking Mt. LeConte

I’ve mentioned before that I live directly next door to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and literally have hundreds of miles of hiking trails at my toenail tips.  Every year for the past ten years, Momma and I have made the 10 mile hike to Mt. LeConte-the infamous highest peak in the National Park.  Most hiking trails here just give you pretty views and lasting pictures but the interesting thing about LeConte is that the top has a lodge and multiple cabins that visitors can stay at if they are lucky enough to get selected in the lottery.  For the high price of $100/per person per night someone can stay in a cabin with no running water, no electricity, and no heating/air.  A little village awaits for those on top.   

We have never chosen to stay the night and have always gone up and back in the same day.  This year was no different.  Originally the plan had been to go with a lovely group of women, but conflicting obligations and illnesses nipped that in the bud.  After rescheduling the trip more than three times, Momma and I finally made the drive and hit the trail.  We could not have asked for more perfect weather-a light chill but the bright sun keeping us warm as we made the ascent.  LeConte is five miles up but you hit a huge cave in the mountain about 1 mile into it.  After hiking about 2.5 miles you run into the Bluffs- a huge overhang above you with alum dust under your feet.  The best part about hitting the Bluffs is it is the halfway point.

Not going to lie when I say that Mt. LeConte is a rigorous hike.  Lots of portions of the trail have metal cables attached to the mountain for extra support when climbing.  Momma and I just took our time and enjoyed the day.  We ran into lots of different people and had some good conversations with fellow hikers.  After making it to the top we purchased the “I hiked it 2012 t-shirt” which is usually the main purpose for hiking the trail in the first place.  We snacked on a light lunch that we had packed and just propped our feet up and enjoyed the view.  

A few pictures later and we were on our way down.  Going down is actually harder than a lot of people think.  My quads were trashed and I could feel my knees starting to hurt.  But once we heard the faint sounds of vehicles we knew we were almost done.  I’ve never been so happy to see a Toyota in my life.  We finished our day with an early dinner in Gatlinburg and headed home to get some rest.  I’m so thankful that we make this hike every year and that I have a Momma who loves to exercise and be outdoors.  I am already looking forward to next year.