We got a late start, finally hitting the Lead Cove Trailhead at 1-2 local time. Lead Cove was a pleasant surprise. I'd done a similar trip back in March, only coming up Anthony Creek from Cades Cove instead. The trail rises steeply from Laurel Creek Road through a cove thick with rhododendron and mountain laurel and fording several small creeks.
You'll also pass a home site right on the trail.
Lead Cove Trail dead ends at Bote Mountain Road, which we took up to Anthony Creek Trail, and back down to CS#9. Bote Mountain Trail is featureless, a wide roadbed that follows the ridge up to the backbone of the Smokies. There are three sites, all along the creek. we took the upper site, hemmed in by a large boulder.
At the top of the ridge, where Anthony Creek Trail meets Bote Mountain Trail is where the fog set in.
Atop Spence we found fungus, a huge turkey, and still more fog.