Taking advantage of the good weather and lower temperatures, we decided to do a day hike up and down Alum Cave Trail on Mt. LeConte. We left early enough to get a parking space in what is usually a very crowded parking lot at the trailhead. We lucked up and there were still a few spaces available.
The trail has been closed on weekdays all summer. Crews from the “Trails Forever Program” has been hard at work building stairs, water bars, and erosion control. The work completed so far was impressive. The first mile of the trail had been leveled and smoothed out with several water bars to divert rain water away from the trail. The picture to the right shows one of two rocked ditches. Of course, all of the rock used was harvested with hand tools from the site. I think they rigged pulleys to actually move the rocks that are too big for one person to pick up.
A bolder pile was replaced by rock stairs. Between the water bars and new stairs, the vegetation had been cut way back off the trail. Rocks and boulders had been smashed to make a gravel like substance that covered where they had scraped and smoothed the trail.
The biggest change was Arch Rock. The workers had smoothed and leveled the rocks at the bottom of the stairs. The staircase itself had been re-routed giving more headroom. They actually put more steps into the same space that made it a little easier to climb. At the top of staircase, the zagged rocks had been chiseled away to make a smooth walking path. Previously, this spot had been slippery and dangerous even in the best of weather. The work is still in progress, but what has been done so far at Arch Rock is a welcome change.
Below are some pictures we took along the way. Of course, I rarely post without adding a few pictures of wildflowers …