The substitute caretaker reported a low earlier this week of -12. This morning it was between 21 and 26, with a light dusting of new snow and the clouds were settling in over the Lodge. The ruler on the weather station had 22 inches, but drifts are to the roof on some of the buildings.
Hwy 441 reopened for a short time yesterday which allowed quite a few day hikers access to Alum Cave trail. Most were only going as far as the Bluffs. The road has been closed again due to freezing rain. The Park Service main goal was to get Hwy 441 open, then start working on the other roads. The Gatlinburg area is experiencing freezing rain this morning.Hopefully the warmer temperatures predicted with allow the road to reopen.
The caretaker reported there are no tracks in the snow past the Lodge, so no one has ventured up/down Rainbow Falls trail. As Allyson mentioned and the caretaker wanted to remind everyone to PLEASE be prepared with proper clothing and equipment. As more hikers use the trail, the more the snow will compact and become icy and slick. It took one set of hikers 6 hours to make a hike they normally make in 2-3 hours.
As you have probably guessed, Alex is down the mountain and enjoying the holidays. I received some pictures from our infamous Ranger Dave Worth. He and a friend were brave enough to break trail to the lodge. He said there was about a foot of snow with snow drifts up to mid thigh level. Our substitute winter caretaker was getting a few visitors today. Dave said he ran into several parties on the trail. Folks if you are contemplating a trip up the mountain, please make sure you are an experiences hiker and have the gear for it. Make sure someone knows you are on the trail and when you are supposed to return.
Photo by Dave Worth
photo by Dave Worth
Hello everyone. This is Allyson. The resident manager and blogger during the season. I thought I would take a moment to share some images from Gatlinburg and show you what we are experiencing in the "lower elevations" . Chris and I took a walk and snapped some shots for you. The image above is looking out over Mt. LeConte. I am guessing they are getting their fair share of the white stuff as well. We have about 9" around our house at the moment so I am guessing Alex is looking at about a foot and half if not more.
Since I am snowed in at the moment and I have lots of electricity, I thought I would answer some questions for you about how the blog works and what exactly the winter caretaker does.
First of all, the lodge has a limited amount of solar panels that provide electricity. Now, as you can imagine, when LeConte is getting bad weather, there is not much solar to produce power. We have a bank of batteries that stores a limited amount of electricity. One has to be very picky about how much "juice" you will need in case you do not see sun for a while. Alex is not able to run his computer all day because he has limited amounts of electricity.
As for what the caretaker does. He is there to call in the weather and look out for the lodge. The caretaker works with the National Park in an emergency situation. As you can imagine, when the weather is bad, there are more emergencies. Unprepared hikers, late hikers, and more injuries. The park service will ask the caretaker to assist on any rescues around the lodge.
Now, on to how the caretaker passes time on the mountain. I like to call those of us who love working up top a "special breed". I can say that because I am one. Many of the crew come to the mountain to enjoy a simpler life and have time to enjoy nature. Alex has said he is learning different music, the art of homebrewing, and I also know Alex is a great artist. Many caretakers take the winter job for a chance at solitude. They are usually people who like peace and quiet and want a chance to be alone with their thoughts.
This blog was continued after last winter, as a way to share the weather conditions and some of the amazing views we experience from the top. As for using this site to plan your visit, I started a forum page so people could share with one another their experiences and advice on climbing the mountain. I would not rely on this site for contacting people, figuring out road closures, or any other trip planning. Due to the unreliable conditions, we are not always going to be on the computer. The National Park has a great site that will share road closures, weather information, and any other emergency issues that may arise. I hope this answers some of the questions.
Oh yeah, one more answer. The camera that is being used for the photos is an entry level Cannon point and shoot digital camera. I use a Nikon P5000 point and shoot and a Nikon D200 during the season.
Have a wonderful holiday and I will be back before the winter is over. I will share some photos from other hikes around the park. I hope everyone has a happy New Year.
Maayong adlaw (Bisaya),
High 23, Low 3. 12" of Snow on Ground.
Meilleurs vœux, (Happy Holidays, Fr)
Snow's a-fallin'. 2" so far. High 38, Low 18. Roads are closed, Snow expected until monday, winds supposed to pick up with a negative windchill. Pictures from Christmas Eve sunset.
Oli yah (Bamougoum),
High 24, Low 11. It was such a nice day yesterday, but right now the ground is just solid ice, hard to walk on. Reading "Soul of Nowhere" by Craig Childs, thanks to a friend; Good read. Looks like snow coming in around Midnight tonight and to stick around for 3-4 days. Looking for classic country/bluegrass tunes to learn, any recommendations? Merry Christmas Eve, Should be a quiet peaceful Christmas here.
Boker tov (Hebrew),
get this: high 38, low 8. little bit of snow, not much. very, very windy. The beer is an imperial IPA, and it's bubbling away.
Dzie Dobry, (Polish)
low 35, high 40. Raining. We didn't get to see the Eclipse at all. Once again, I wouldn't hike up today, It's pretty nasty out there. Wasn't able to get any pictures yesterday really, so here is a picture of the beer wort cooling in the snow. supposed to cool back down and clear up tomorrow. It's officially winter.
high 38, low 18. Freezing rain just started an hour ago now, it is really, really slick and dangerous, not to mention windy and cloudy. I fell walking the 15ft to the kitchen this morning. I wouldn't recommend coming up today, its supposed to stick around till tomorrow morning. pictures from sunset last night.
Zou San, (Cantonese)
Low 9, High 15. Very Icy and Cloudy Today. Looking for plane tickets can be frustrating, if anyone knows a good place to find international flights with flexible dates, let me know :). I'll be ice skating down and meeting up with a friend today on rainbow falls trail, and be back later to start my first batch of homebrewed beer for the winter.