We decided to do a marathon up on a perfect day so 19 miles was our final tally. You may be asking, “how 19 roundtrip to Leconte?” Well, if you do the “True Trillium” trail starting from Rainbow Falls, it is 19 miles. And that was our day. It was anomolous in that the weather was somewhat chilly even in the valley. True Trillium parallels roaring fork and Cherokee orchard roads. It was coming back when we encountered one of the largest bears I have ever seen.
Of course, I couldn’t just do a dayhike. I had to make it more by adding a 25 lb pack filled with water, snacks etc.
Dr. Dunn had never been to cliff tops so we topped out to a view that afforded a real insight to the Smokies wildfire of last fall. The Chimneys were definitely altered to great significance. As you can see with the strava profile below, we made good time in our near 20 mile day. If you are not using strava, I suggest you put in in your tool bag. I employ this free app primarily for mountain biking but it is becoming quite handy for backpacking as I have been able to map data from Frozen Head and now Leconte. Cell service in the mountains is improving, which is bad, but good for use of strava to log your data.
Late yesterday afternoon, we were hitting the Bataan Death march portion of the dayhike and suffering through the final three miles back to Rainbow. I spied something ahead and this was what we encountered. He was an ever loving monster black bear. Kudos to Laurel for capturing this video.