Day 8: A Big Hike
We put Eric and Mia, the two staff leaders and veterans of the Mountain Challenge program, in charge of planning this day’s events. They ambitiously chose to lead us up to the top of Mount Le Conte, one of the highest peaks in the Appalachian Mountains, and third-tallest mountain in the Smokies. We trusted their years of expertise hiking in rugged terrain, but we knew we had our work cut out for us. My wife and I had hiked up to the Mount Le Conte lodge a decade ago, but I had never attempted to ascend and descend the peak in the same day. What I had forgotten, though, was how utterly inspiring this hike could be; the terrain is challenging but this climb simply has some of the most breathtaking views in the Southeast United States. At the end of the day we were all exhausted, but we had all made it to the top and returned without regrets.