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Trout Branch—West October 6, 2011

Posted by Jenny in bushwhacking, hiking, Smoky Mountains.
Tags: , ,

Cascade on Trout Branch

Trout Branch is one of the streams that drain the south side of LeConte. It forks at 4360′, and that left fork again splits at 4750′. Our adventure yesterday took us up the westernmost of the forks, the one that leads toward the ridge over to West Point. The eastern fork of the left fork leads toward Cliff Top, and the right fork leads toward the Trout/Styx divide.

Upper Trout Branch

My fellow adventurer was Dave Landreth. When we met up at the junction of Trout Branch and Walker Camp Prong, we saw that water levels in the stream were very low.

Dave finds it easy to negotiate the nearly dry streambed. Notice how the little pool at right is deep blue, while everything else is green.

I apologize for the poor quality of images in shady places. I need to learn how to adjust the settings of my new camera for these kinds of scenes. The photo below is subpar, but I include it because I want you to get an idea—even if just a hint—of how beautiful some of the pools are. This one had a little cascade running down to it.

Sorry for bad photo---but you can see that the color of the pool was just beautiful

As we got out of the main valley and started climbing more steeply, we encountered a series of sandstone shelves, each one in the range of five to ten feet high, a sort of repeated geological theme. Both sides of the stream channel were generally bounded by dense rhodo, so that you needed to find a way to get up these smooth ledges. I nearly always decline the offer of a hand up, but in one spot Dave hoisted me up a difficult spot and saved me a lot of trouble bypassing the ledge. Some of the ledges sported a fur coat of moss.

Mossy cascade

These kinds of places are somehow deeply restorative, their value intensified by the difficulty involved in reaching them.

We reached the sunnier spaces of the upper slope.

Things opened up as we climbed

This route does not feature the slide climbing of the next fork over, but we encountered sections of rock—now changing over to Anakeesta—alternating with forest floor. The streambed still carried some water.

Dave follows the dwindling stream

As we approached the ridgecrest, we encountered grassy spots mixed in with rhodo and rock slabs.

Near the ridgetop

We climbed through some blowdown, but it wasn’t severe.

Dave negotiates blowdown

We intersected the ridge a bit east of the saddle between West Point and the Alum Cave trail, and followed the fairly clear manway over to the trail. Then it was up to the Lodge for some basking in the sun. It was an utterly gorgeous fall day, when the sunshine beams down benevolently and the world seems to shine.

Dave enjoys the sunshine


1. AdamB - October 6, 2011

Loved it Jenny! Dave seems to really be mapping out that side of LeConte lately.

Jenny - October 6, 2011

Glad you enjoyed it, Adam. Yes, Dave does seem to be making a systematic exploration of the south side of LeConte!

2. Ronnie McCall - October 6, 2011

Good report and both of you had good company,Saturday morning the wife and I are taking the kids to Leconte via Alum Cave…My daughters are 7 and 12 and have great endurance.I am ready for that trip into Anakeesta or Little Boob Ridge before winter sets in if we can swing it.

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