I thought I would only make it to the cave or the bluffs (half way up) but I made it all the way to the top of LeConte. I really thought it might just be a bit too scary and a bit too long. I run a lot, but don't have so much opportunity to hike, so leading up to the hike day for a couple weeks, I increased my running mileage so I was running 5-8 miles 3 times a week. In retrospect, I should have run more hills to prepare. I made it ok, in about 2.5 hours on the way up. I just would have liked to be less winded. Additionally, I was concerned about the drop offs I had read about, and the cables you can hold. I do have a good respect for heights, not an all out fear - and I did fine with that. I attached a couple pictures so you get the idea of the more scary sections of the 2nd half of the trail. Know that any scary section is pretty short, maybe 10-20 feet or so and what is nice is most sections even though there is a big drop off right next to the trail, there is often vegetation growing from way down yonder up to you, so it gives you some sense something is next to you which for me was very calming. If you are from a place with mountains you would likely not be as intimidated as I. I would definitely do this hike again, as long as it was not raining. I don't think I would enjoy any added slippery conditions. When we got up to the top, I was envious of all those who were lucky enough to stay overnight on that beautiful end of July night. It would surely be a moment to remember. We saw all sorts of abilities on the trail, many even older than I, and many with legit hiking sticks, but just as many that looked of average ability wearing tennis shoes instead of hiking boots, so you will surely see all levels heading up there even on the 2nd half of the trail. When we got to the top a fog had rolled in and spoiled our view, but I would still have done it anyway, the views along the way were just that pretty. Loved the level section at the very top, with all the evergreen scent, super pretty. On our day I understand it was one of the busiest days of the summer. We were rarely totally alone, and we definitely could not have stopped to take a pee break without being seen, it is just too hard to get off the trail in most spots as the thicket is somewhat impassible. So, I drank a lot of water and had to wait to the top to use the restroom up there, but it was alright. The walk down was easy, occasionally had to wait for uphill traffic. My advice, start before 9 a.m. if you want a decent parking spot at trail head and a little less foot traffic on the hill. If I did it, you can too. Spent 6 hours on the trail, then got in our cars and saw a bear, great finish to the day! Even if you only make it to the half way point, this is a gorgeous trail to hike.
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