Ok. so its Day 2:
Friday, June 15- Gatlinburg. Hikes: Mt Leconte via Rainbow Falls and Bull Head 13.6 mile loop.
We arrived at this trailhead at 9:15am b/c we wanted to get an earlier start. The trip here was much quicker than Grotto falls, because the Roaring Motor trail turns into a one way loop soon after you pass the Rainbow falls Trailhead and you have to go alllllll the way around to get home. this time it took about 15-20 minutes door to door.
This hike was up to Mt. Leconte via Rainbow Falls, then back via Bull Head. Rainbow Falls was about a 6 mile hike and was SO SO SO gorgeous. It was a REALLY old growth forest with just green green everywhere. Lots of water- a very wet trail. i was thankful for my waterproof hiking shoes. Much of the trail followed Leconte Creek, which is so picturesque, but i later found that so many rivers and creeks look like this in this beautiful park. The trip up was moderately steep, getting steeper as we reached the bull head junction (where you have a .6 mile spur to get to mt. leconte). The spur trail was really steep. i was huffing and puffing. I dont do as well on the really steep stuff, though distance on moderate steepness is no problem.
Anyway. after about 3.5 hours we got to the "top" and were quite confused. We found the lodge but didnt exactly know where to see any vistas. We werent getting our hopes up anyway b/c it was a cloudy day...unfortunate b/c our next day was crystal clear- just bad luck i guess. Anyway. we finally found a sign that said "Mt Leconte Shelter" and followed that..until we saw another sign that said " Cliff Tops". That was a quiet little spur trail back into the woods to a fantastic little spot with a giant flat rock and a fantastic view of the smokys. it was much colder up there (probably about 60 degrees instead of 70 down below)....and yes....mostly cloudy & misty...but still beautiful. We ate our lunch and relaxed and started on our trip down via Bull Head.
Bull Head was a tad more boring i hate to say. It was pretty....but I'm glad we used that route to go back, because typically after 10 miles of hiking you just want to get the heck off of your feet and get back. this trail was much drier, so it wasnt as green as a result.
This night we decided to go down onto the strip since it was friday night. We went to a fish restaurant called Lineberger's. We sat upstairs on their balcony and it was a great people watching location. I ordered a grilled tuna steak & baked potato, my boyfriend ordered rainbow trout.
I dont want to sound like a snob...but coming from NY (and my mother is a chef)...i just wasnt expecting the food to be good...and well...it really wasnt! I think i might have just ordered the wrong thing. Although it was "seared" it was SO tough, i coudl barely cut through it. it was really not edible. It was fine though...the baked potato was filling and my boyfriends Rainbow Trout was pretty ok. At least was tender.
here is a bit of cheese for you all- after dinner, my boyfriend suprised me and proposed...so yep, we got engaged in gatlinburg! After the "engagement" we went on the chairlift that they have that goes up the mountain and gives a great view of the city. it was 12 bucks each, but i love rides and being up high...so i LOVED it. we bought the cheesey photo they take of you as an "engagment memento" and ended the night with some baskin robbins frozen yogurt as i was still hungry!
end of day 2! tomorrow: Chimney Tops and Alum Cave Bluffs