Tami Ruckman’s Hike on 8-28-08

It has been a dream of mine to hike LeConte for a long time. My friends Mary and Shannon wanted to come also, and we made reservations almost a year ago. In the past couple of years, all three of us have lost significant amounts of weight. I have lost about 95 pounds, and they have each lost about 80 each. We prepared by working out – walking and biking – and by getting gear together. We came up on August 28, 2008 on the Rainbow Trail after heavy rains. The trail was flooded and we had lots of water to contend with. The trail was incredible – the log bridges, the rapids, and the Rainbow Falls itself are spectacular. The trip was much more difficult than we ever anticipated. It took every ounce of strength I had and more. I still have a lot of weight to lose, but with Mary and Shannons’s help and encouragement, I made it. They even carried my pack for the last two miles or so. It took us 9 hours – at least we didn’t set the record for the slowest tr ip! The staff told us that one group once took 17 hours to come up. I was seriously exhausted and dehydrated, and perhaps a little hypothermic by the time we got up. We had to do the last two or three tenths of a mile in the dark with flashlights. The staff was wonderful to us. We missed dinner but they fixed us sandwiches and hot soup and gave us Gatorade and Advil. They offered to help us if we needed help in the night. The next day, they gave us advice about which trail to go down. We took Trillium Gap down. That trail was not as spectacular, but had more scenic vistas. Grotto Falls was wonderful – we did not know that you actually had to walk under the falls as part of the trail. We learned so much – take a headlamp, keep dry clothes in large baggies, take PLENTY of food and water – this is no day hike that you can do in old shoes and carrying a water bottle. We’ll be back when we lose more weight, and buy more emergency gear. We are forever grateful to the great staff.

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