By Dick Ketelle
Sunday January 10, 2021 was a great day for a winter hike up the Alum Cave Trail to Mt. LeConte.
I have been hiking this trail each winter since the mid 1960's and it is always interesting and rewarding. This trip started just at the atmospheric inversion level where I was at the top of the wispy clouds and fog. The moisture from the cloud plus a little snow made everything white and the plants had lacy coatings of rime ice needles.
,Once out of the frigid and shady valley floor of Alum Cave Creek and Styx Branch, the sun was shining gloriously and lighting the frosted trees of the heath-covered ridges of Huggins Hell.
The icy ledges on the Alum Cave Trail are often beautifully decked with icicles. Some type of traction devices on one's boots is a great idea to keep the walking safe.
After rounding the bend above Alum Cave opportunities for more distant views begin. The Chimneys, Sugarland Mountain, and ridgelines beyond are visible where the trail traverses the western side of Peregrine Peak.
Views from the upper part of the trail extend across the state line at Newfound Gap into western North Carolina.
Near the top of Alum Cave trail views extend to the southwest beyond Clingman's Dome and the western half of the Smokies as far as the mountains
And views to the northeast from Myrtle Point toward Mt Guyot and mountains beyond along the state line can be spectacular