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An upside-down Tour

How do you start a mountain-climbing challenge at the top of the mountain? That’s a riddle that was solved Oct. 4 by Lane DeCost of Maggie Valley, N.C., and Tim Carroll of Oak Ridge, Tenn. They had their sights set on the Tour de Le Conte, which involves hiking all six trails on Mount Le Conte in a span of 24 hours. One of the trailheads in Greenbrier Cove has been closed because of storm damage, so they improvised a route that started with a camp at the backcountry shelter on Le Conte. Departing the shelter at 2 a.m., they hiked down to Trillium Gap, went out and back the Brushy Mountain Trail to Porters Creek, and then resumed the Trillium Gap trail down to Cherokee Orchard. That made the first leg 18 miles. Then they climbed Bullhead and descended Alum Cave, for another 12 miles. After a car shuttle to Newfound Gap, they went up the Appalachian Trail and Boulevard and came down Rainbow Falls, another 14 miles for a grand total of 44 miles, finishing just before midnight with an elapsed time of 21:45. They had 9,351 feet of ascents and 14,324 of descents. Tim will soon turn 60, so when he crossed the finish line, he was the oldest to complete the Tour. But his record didn’t last long, as Lane followed him through at age 68.

Friends bring the light at the end of the tunnel, 11:45 p.m.

The first leg is in red, the second in blue, and the third in green.


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