1982   1983
Thanksgiving at Mt. LeConte

Thanksgiving at Mt. LeConte Lodge

One of the most wonderful and memorable Thanksgivings I have ever had was the year we spent Thanksgiving at Mt. Cabins at LeConte LeConte Lodge. Mt. LeConte lodge is in the Great Smoky Mountains National park in North Carolina. Mt. LeConte, at 6593 feet, is the third highest peak in the Smoky Mountains. At the top of Mt. LeConte is the "lodge" which consists of the main building that has the dinning room and kitchen. There are also several smaller cabins for guests to sleep in that accommodate four to a dozen or so people. The Lodge is open to guests from mid March though mid November. The only way to get to the Lodge is to hike one of several trails, the shortest being just over five miles. If you are luck enough to get a reservation, which you have to do many months in advance, you can hike up to the Lodge, have dinner, spend the night in one of the cabins, have breakfast the next morning and hike back down. For several years my brother David was one of the five or six caretakers that prepare the cabins, fix dinner and so on. After the Lodge closes for the winter mid November, one lone caretaker stays at the lodge all winter to watch over it.

   On this particular year, my David was the winter caretaker and he invited us up for Thanksgiving. So two days before Thanksgiving, Julie, Anne, Julie sister Louise and her boyfriend John and I traveled to North Carolina in my van. Van in Parking Lot We got there late afternoon and stayed the first night in a hotel. The next morning we got up and made up our Snow on the Trail packs. We didn't just pack the usual overnight packs but we packed a complete Thanksgiving dinner: 18 lb turkey, dressing, potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce and so on. We then drove to the Alum Bluff trail and hiked up to the Lodge which in the summer with light packs is somewhat of a strenuous hike but in the winter, with overnight packs and complete Thanksgiving dinner (John carried the turkey) it was a challenge. On top of that, it was really cold that year and it had snowed the previous week and the top of Mt. LeConte and the trail up was covered in snow. The sun shinning though the trees on the snow covered trail was quite beautiful. Well we made it and it was so wonderful when we got there for we all gathered in the kitchen and David served us hot chocolate. We spent a lot of time in the kitchen for it was the only real warm place there was for it had a gas stove. Although some of the cabins have fireplaces, they were not allowed to burn firewood anymore. There were kerosene heaters in the cabins but they barely took the chill out of the air. Going to the "bathroom" was Outhouse not fun at all for it was only an outhouse. I remember before going to bed putting on my coat, hat gloves and boots on and going to the outhouse. When I was leaving I couldn't find my right glove, well I had to take it off for, well you know, and it fell down the hole. I really missed that glove on the way back. 

Thanksgiving Dinner On Thanksgiving Day, we all got up and the fog was so thick you couldn't see the cabin next to you, which was not more than twenty feet. We all gathered in the kitchen and David made us Mt. LeConte Lodge biscuits for breakfast, which were some of the best biscuits that I have ever had. We then proceeded to cook the Thanksgiving dinner getting the turkey into the oven first thing. It was a most wonderful day, so quite and serene, the heavy fog wrapping us in a blanket of whiteness and the smells of the turkey and food cooking all day. In mid afternoon everything was ready, we lit all the kerosene heaters in the dinning room, lit the kerosene lanterns and put the food on the table, and the six of us had a feast.

The next day we packed up our belongings (less many pounds of food thankfully) and prepared for our hike down when it started raining a cold hard rain for it was only a few degrees above freezing. We had brought ponchos but the rain Hike Down was so steady and hard that we hadn't gone a mile before we were completely soaked. It rained so hard that in many places the path was a creek of water flowing down the mountain, which caused our shoes to be soaked though. I think we made it down that mountain in record time. When we got to my van we opened the door and then threw ourselves in soaked to the bone and freezing cold. I started up the engine and we all were so thankful to get the heater going to get warm. We had originally planned to drive back to Florida that afternoon but we were so cold and wet we canceled that idea and drove down the mountain side to Pigeon Forge and got a hotel room with a fireplace. We all took warm showers, started a fire and after drying out and warming up went out and got something to eat. We then drove back the next day.

This was a Thanksgiving experience I will always remember.

University of Central Florida

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