Great Smoky Mountains National Park

When my old friend, Mindy, sent out an invitation for a girls backpacking trip in the Smoky Mountains this July, I immediately rearranged my schedule so I could go.  I first met Mindy in 2008 working as photographers for a wedding venue in Las Vegas.  She taught me so much as far as photography techniques and we shared a love for the outdoors.  Early morning hikes in Red Rock Canyon became the norm and we even took a camping trip to Zion National Park.  After moving back to Maryland in 2009, I was able to visit Vegas a few times and see Mindy and her family.  Over the past 7 years, moves and life and family got in the way and  we haven’t seen each other since!  She is an avid outdoors-woman and coordinated the entire trip.

Photo by Mindy before heading to the trail.  From left to right, Me from Maryland, Jennifer from Florida, Mindy from Florida, Tanya from Utah, Jessica from Florida.  Adventure began from the Alum Cave Trailhead October 20, 2017.

There were plenty of water sources along the way.  Here are the girls filtering water to refill our stash.  I highly recommend the Katadyn filtration system – super easy to use!

NBD the girls doing some handstands/acrobatics along the way.  Some serious fitness in this crew!

I, on the other hand, was STRUGGLING on the initial hike up to Mt. LeConte.  My pack was about 35 lbs because I had to bring my camera gear and tripod.  The girls were wonderful and supportive and Mindy helped carry the tripod on the way up.

Jessica took naps when she could.

We happened to meet some fellow hikers at the trailhead who offered FREE lodging at the LeConte Lodge!  We had planned on staying in the backcountry shelters each night, so this was an AWESOME offer!  When we asked what the catch was and they said they just needed to fill the spaces so they could reserve the same rooms next year, we said where do we sign!

View from Mt. LeConte elevation 6,593 ft.

Photo by Jennifer

Sunrise

The moss and greenery on the mountain was just glorious.  It looked like a fairy village!

We continued our adventure to the Icewater Springs Shelter for the second night

Photo by Mindy

Photo by Jessica.  Breaks are good –  we took a lot.

Icewater Springs Shelter – we were lucky to have met some other hikers who had a tarp to drape on the open end of the shelter to stop the wind.  They collected all the firewood and built an awesome fire.  We are forever grateful for our lodging luck these past two nights!

My failed attempt at star tracks.  There was too much light at the shelter and the clouds started to roll in.  This was an hour and a half exposure.

Us at the AT!

As we hiked down the mountain on our way to the Kephart Shelter, we entered into beautiful fall foliage.

Haha, we had to!  Cute City!

An ode to Adventure Mamas

“Adventure Mamas Initiative is a non-profit organization that is redefining motherhood. We are enhancing women’s maternal health by facilitating adventure, building community, and providing educational and inspirational resources to our diverse community.

AMI is built off the premise that there is immense healing, growth, and transformation that takes place when we pursue challenge and adventure. We believe that spending time in wild places is more than a selfish luxury, it should be available to all.”

Amen!  It was an honor to backpack with these amazing mamas!

Kephart Shelter was so lovely!

The rain held off until our last day!  We hiked out in the wet, but all were in good spirits.  I loved every minute and will always remember this trip fondly.  Memories for a lifetime!

Photo by the amazing Mindy.

 

 

 

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