GINNA PARSONS: LeConte trip worth every step – once

GINNA PARSONS

GINNA PARSONS

My husband, Charlie, and I spent last week in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was our 21st wedding anniversary and more than anything, he wanted to climb Mt. LeConte, stay in a cabin and eat at the lodge on top of the mountain.

Let me assure you this venture was on his bucket list, not mine. He’d been on the waiting list for a spot atop LeConte for six years and when the lodge called with a cancellation for the night of Oct. 23, Charlie jumped on it.

His excitement turned to despair as we watched the weather forecast, which got worse each day. The 6.5-mile hike up the mountain was going to be tough enough on this old girl, but when the weatherman said 25 degrees for a high and 30-mph winds, we wondered if we needed to back out.

In the end, we went.

It took us just shy of six hours to climb to the top, with 15-pound packs strapped to our backs. By the time we arrived, we’d hiked though frost, sleet and snow. The low that night was 17 degrees. When we started down the mountain the next morning after breakfast, it was a balmy 23 outside.

The trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and by that I mean I ain’t going back. Charlie can go every year if he wants to, but Ginna is not going up that mountain again unless she is being carried.

We arrived back home just in time for son Patrick’s Cross Country meet on Saturday morning at Ballard Park. I was charged with providing some muffins for the concession stand and I chose the old standby, blueberry.

But another mother, Jennifer Love, made her signature pumpkin muffins, and that’s all anybody was talking about. Jennifer graciously shared her recipe with me. What a yummy treat for autumn!

Perfect Pumpkin Muffins

3 cups sugar

1 cup oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 eggs

1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

11⁄2 teaspoons cinnamon

1⁄2 teaspoon allspice

1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg

1⁄4 teaspoon cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, oil and vanilla. Add eggs and pumpkin, then remaining ingredients. Grease muffin tins and fill 2⁄3 full. Bake for 25 to 30 min.

Makes 21⁄2 dozen muffins.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.

  • Tom Davis

    Leconte Lodge is a wonderful place to visit. There is no easy way to get there and you never know what the weather will be. I assure you it is much more plush than the shelter, just up the hill near Cliff Tops. There is no place on earth to see a more beautiful sunset.