6 Explores: Trio hikes the Tour LeConte Challenge


GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – For many people, hiking to Mt. LeConte in the Smokies is an accomplishment or maybe a bucket list item, but doing it once just wasn’t enough for a group of local men.  They tackled all six trails in under 24 hours.

At 2 a.m. on May 1, Adam Williamson, Adam Gravett and Adam Ozment all set out to conquer the TLC, The Tour LeConte Challenge. That challenge is to hike all six trails leading to LeConte Lodge in less than 24 hours. The men said quitting was never an option.

“Not even when it got tough. We didn’t even consider it. We just adjusted our pace,” Gravett said.

It took some night hiking to accomplish their goal. The trio said they actually made great time on the trails in the dark, but there were a few challenges.

“The worst part is the bugs on your headlamp, and then occasionally a bat will swoop in and get one of those bugs. And that will cause you to, uh, that will scare you to death,” Williamson laughed.

The group chronicled their adventure with pictures, a blog and an app that tracked their journey from beginning to end: up Boulevard Trail, down Trillium, up Bullhead, down Rainbow, one car shuttle to Alum Cave Trail Head, one last stop at LeConte Lodge and then back down Brushy.

The men described the last few miles: “At the end it was just crawling the best we could, so we kind of abandoned the scheduled and listened to our bodies.”

This journey, which included summitting LeConte three times, took guts, planning and some personal motivation. For Williamson, that meant battling through several chronic illnesses.

“I had some challenges health-wise that I was trying to overcome, and one thing led to another, and I said give me a shot,” he said.

The three trained for months. Part of that training was learning what to carry, what to wear and what to eat. Ozment said that included no real meal but lots of sugar.

“I ended up eating about 2,500 calories: Pop Tarts, snacks, gummy bears, beef jerky, Cliff bars,” he said.

All three say they have no regrets, and they actually have a message for all everyone reading this: “Don’t worry about the distance, just start. Don’t anyone compare what we did in 24 hours. We worked hard to get there. If all you can do is the Gatlinburg Trail, start somewhere.”

The trio said they are planning another similar journey or challenge, but next time they want to make it a fundraiser and raise money and awareness for a person or group in our community.

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