Front row: Jenny (sister). Second row (left to right): Bonnie and Susan (mom). Back row (left to right): Allen (dad) and Andrew (brother).
Nathan has graciously allowed me to use part of this blog post to tell you a little bit about myself. Most of you know all about the story of how John and I met and ended up married, so even though that is one of the very best things about my coming to work at LeConte, this time I’ll share something different.
I was born in Marietta, Ga., to my parents, Allen and Susan. I’m the oldest child in my family. My “little” brother is 20 and my “baby” sister is one year away from high school.
When I was nearing school age, my parents decided to homeschool me. Being homeschooled allowed me to have more time to focus on things that I really had an interest in, such as music. When I was four, my parents enrolled me in piano lessons and ballet class. I’m a bit of a klutz, so ballet didn’t work out so well, but it seemed I was a natural at piano. I continued playing at a competitive level until I graduated high school and still enjoy playing, although pianos are hard to find up here on the mountain.
During my senior year, I got a job helping teach younger homeschoolers. It was this job that finally helped me decide what I would major in when I did go to college. I found that I loved helping children learn, and, in particular, learn to read. I decided to pursue a degree in elementary education. The next year I entered Kennesaw State University. I graduated in 2006 with my degree and got a job tutoring for homeschooling families and caring for younger children after school.
Four years later, I’d been able to get some traveling under my belt, including a two-month trip to Europe and a month-long roadtrip out West. I realized that even though I loved the kids I worked with, I was ready for a change. It was time to get out of Georgia. I wanted to get to spend more time outside, so I applied for jobs in several national parks, but the one I got came as a surprise. I ran across LeConte Lodge while looking for a hike. I thought it looked interesting and applied for a job. Thankfully, I got it, and being here has been an incredible experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Living here in the Smokies has given me so many opportunities to experience the park and a new appreciation for the area and the people who live here. Thanks for letting me share a little of my life with you!
Now for the weather update. Thursday's high reached 66 degrees while the low fell to 53 degrees, quite a bit milder than some of the nights in the low 40s we saw just a few weeks ago. I was hoping to jinx us into some much needed rain by mentioning on yesterday's update that it hadn't rained much the last 10 days and hanging out some laundry to dry. Sure enough, in less than three hours, we enjoyed a decent little shower totaling 0.10 inches (not much, but a start). The rain and thunderstorm chances have been bumped up a bit in the upcoming forecast (Saturday 50 percent, Sunday 60 percent and Monday 50 percent).
Today I'm continuing the crew introductions with Bonnie Scott Northrup. Bonnie is winding down her third consecutive season on the LeConte Lodge crew. In 2010, we were cabin mates, and I can report Bonnie was a fine neighbor. Like her husband, John, Bonnie can pick up and put down the miles on the trail, too. She also possesses the most impressive mental clock regarding the LeConte daily schedule. Bonnie always knows what to do and when. She wrote the following introduction, so I'll turn it over to her and will wrap up with the weather report.
Bonnie at Mt. Cammerer in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in fall 2011.
We were treated to a beautiful sunrise Thursday morning on LeConte. The cloud deck covered us early in the morning but lifted about 6:15 a.m. to provide a lovely canvas as our ceiling.
"The more you explore, the more you find that needs exploring." -- Anonymous author, read in The Oregon Trail: An American Saga, David Dary's fine book about the history of America's trail of dreams and heartache.
Hello again to all of you High on LeConte readers. This is Nathan back filling in for a while as Allyson enjoys some down time. Most of us have returned to the mountain following our LeConte Games Victory Tour. Since a ticker-tape parade flies in the face of our anti-litter policy on Mt. LeConte, the benevolent prime minister of LeConte gave all crew members who earned gold medals eight days off to journey anywhere in the world on a no-expenses paid goodwill tour. Of course, the prime minister of LeConte is so generous that I'm sure the same offer would have been made even absent the stirring victory in the LeConte Games earlier in August.
I chose to venture out to some ranches where I'd wrangled in the Front Range of the Rockies in Colorado and in Yellowstone National Park. I rode a little, cleaned up plenty of manure and enjoyed swapping stories with my friends. My only regret is the time flew so fast (and having to spend the night in the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport--my bed on LeConte ranks a far sight better). I took a hike in Grand Teton National Park in between. I also got to see Old Faithful put on a show and watch sunset at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone beside the corral where I rode my wonderful horse, Raven, last summer. I saw every animal in the lyrics to "Home on the Range" and added a handful for good measure.
However, after having my views obscured by wide-ranging wildfire smoke from California in parched Colorado and Wyoming, I flew back into Knoxville and saw the verdant Smokies. I was reminded of what this Tennessee boy has known for a long time--Great Smoky Mountains National Park is no one's consolation prize and plays second fiddle to no one.
Plenty of people have asked about how Hurricane Isaac might affect LeConte. According to the National Weather Service's forecast early this morning, we have about a 30 percent chance of showers Thursday and Friday. If we see any remnants of Hurricane Isaac (and we may not), it would be toward Sunday when the rain chance bumps up slightly. As always, if you're headed up to see us, please bring rain gear regardless.
On Wednesday, we had a high of 67, low of 53 and measured a scant .02 inches of rain (or a heavy dew as one crew member said). The low of 53 marked our warmest morning in three weeks.
We really need some rain, as our spring is looking a little sad. Cajoling our water system through the dry weather is adding hours to our work day. Until our .02 inches of rain yesterday, we had 10 days without measurable rain--an eternity on green LeConte. In July and August, the first two-thirds of each month were quite wet. However, the spigot turned off in the last third of July and August. In July, we received measurable rain in all but three of the first 24 days of the month, while only registering one rainy day in the last seven days of month. From Aug. 1-19, we only had four days without measurable rain. From Aug. 20-29, we've only totaled .02 inches of rain.
What does that mean for the current forecast and early September? Ask a good meteorologist, I have no idea. I will say that September tends to be one of the best times of the year to visit LeConte. So, come on up and see us.
Thanks for reading. Happy trails.
Tim's wife, Lisa Line, hiked up the mountain to do a little chair repair. She has spent the past couple of days putting new seats in our dinning room chairs. I know the guests will greatly appreciate having a comfortable place to sit while eating dinner. Thank you, Lisa, for all of your hard work on making these chairs beautiful again. The rain has held off. We have had another beautiful day for the books. The high was 68 with a low of 51. It looks as though Isaac's
path is going to miss us. Some of you have inquired about the weather, I would keep an eye on it, but it looks as though it going to go around us. Chris and I are heading off the mountain today. I know you are anxiously awaiting the entertaining posts from Nathan. His creative writing skills will be back tomorrow. I am heading into the woods for a backpacking trip and then heading to South Carolina to the warm sands of Folly Beach. I hope everyone enjoys these last days of summer. It has been great up top. I will leave you with a parting shot of sunset.
Our record breaking crew member, John, has done it again. Another Mt. LeConte record has been smashed. If you have not heard the story of the first record being set, I am here to tell you. Our general manager, Tim Line, held the record for running down Alum Cave trail in 33 minutes, driving into town, buying popcorn and a six pack, and hiking back up the mountain in a total of 2 hours and 50 minutes. It was important that he made it back to the lodge in time to watch The Waltons
. After a few decades, our crew member, John, decided it was time for that record to be broken. He left at 5:30 last night and ran down Alum Cave trail in 26 minutes. He then drove into town bought a sixpack of beer, (we told him it would not be fair if he did not carry any weight in his back), and hiked back up the mountain. His total time, drum roll please.......... 1:54:48
!!!!!!! Way to go John. We are so impressed by your athletic accomplishment. Tim's wife, Lisa Line, was here for the excitement, said Tim was more then happy to let John have the record. He did not believe he would attempt to try and break that time. I wonder if it will be a few more decades before some young crew member attempts to break John's time?
John, after his big record breaking "town run".
John had some great weather for running. The high yesterday was 69 with a low of 46. The sunset made the flowers on the mountain glow.
Here is a bit of inspiration to get this work week started. Jesse Smith and his wife Shirley climbed LeConte to spend the night. The inspiration is the fact that Jesse is completely blind. I had a great chat with him about what it takes to do something like this. He said he has climbed other mountains. He created a solution so he could run by himself. He uses two canes. He was telling me about running road races and how he holds his cane to the side and the other person grabs ahold and guides him through the course. I was really impressed when he told me he likes to trail run. I understand how difficult this is. He said you take high steps and your other senses are heightened. We asked Shirley if he held on to her while hiking up the trail, she said "No, he would be stepping on my heels the whole time." She also said that she never tells him he can not do something, "that would make him want to do it even more." One thing I did note was Jesse was telling how amazing this mountain is. Without seeing the views we all love and admire, his other senses were used to achieve the understanding of just how special this mountain is. I believe I will take this lesson of determination to Africa with me and remember Jesse as I am struggling to summit Kilimanjaro. A "can do" attitude is sometimes all you need.
The weather is still amazing up top. The high yesterday was 67 with a low of 45.
I am sorry if my posts seem a bit redundant. It is that time of the year when the days are filled with blue skies and beautiful vistas. If that is what you are longing for, yesterday would not have disappointed. The high was 67 with a low of 49. There were day hikers all over the mountain top. As of right now, the mountain is blanketed in a low lying cloud. I am sure as the sun comes out, it will burn the fog away.
What a fabulous night sky. Not only are our days something to write home about, the night skies are becoming that clear, crisp, diamond studded sky you see in the fall. I do believe fall is going to grace us with its presence sooner rather then later. The high yesterday was 63 with a low of 45.
We were treated to an amazing sunset last night. The low was 45 with a high of 65. Today is looking like another banner day up top. Blue skies and a cool breeze will greet you as you make your way to the summit. It is going to be a great day for a hike.
There are so many different varieties of flowers in bloom on the upper section of the Alum Cave trail. I found a patch of pink turtleheads that were magnificent. We had another perfect day on the mountain. A high of 60 with a low of 42. Blue skies were in abundance. If you only have a day, you should hike up and join us for lunch. Call our office at 865-429-5704 and make a reservation for our hot lunch on the mountain. It is a great time of the year to visit the lodge.
Grass-of parnassus going to seed.
We had five deer in camp yesterday morning. They were enjoying a breakfast of grass and cone flowers. This cool weather has made for some amazing days. I hiked down Alum a little ways to enjoy the purple gentian. I think every crew member was out and roaming the mountain enjoying these incredible days. The high yesterday was 59 with a low of 41.