I pass along warmest regards on a beautiful, sunny day from LeConte Lodge. Allyson and Chris are headed back up tonight to close out the season. Thus, this will be my last High on LeConte update. I'll write more about that later, but first on to the news of the day. It's an interesting time of year: we have more inches of snow on the ground (16) than days left in the season (12). That's a sure sign that crew members are packing up their rooms, some of them sadly for the last time.
As many of you know, our llama teams have been "grounded" because of trail conditions left by the record October snowstorm. This forces us to be a little creative to make sure all our guests are still taken care of with clean sheets, fresh eggs and the like. A helicopter dropped in fresh supplies this morning and hauled off our dirty linens to be cleaned. We hope to bring the llamas back up to the lodge on Monday, though plans can change.
I'd like to thank our guests who volunteered to help us haul bags and bags of supplies up and down from the helicopter blowdown. Displaying LeConte spirit, our guests paid their clean sheets forward by making sure our guests later this week could enjoy the same. Our guests and fine crew (including Scott, who made a welcomed visit after working on last year's crew) made sure a tough job was completed perfectly on a sun-kissed LeConte morning.
John and I used some ingenuity to haul about 100 pounds of sugar, enough chicken to send chills through the henhouse and some other supplies down to the lodge by sliding our rescue litter/stretcher along the snowy path down to the lodge. That's a tough task, one that will surely make you a platinum member of the LeConte Llama Appreciation Society.
Thursday's high reached 35 while the low of 18 occurred a couple hours after supper. Oddly enough, we enjoyed a temperature inversion, and the thermometer reading warmed up overnight. As of 2 p.m. Friday, the icicles are working overtime draining snow off the roof with sunny skies and a current temperature of 52 degrees. The forecast for the weekend looks wonderful.
I expect this weather will do much to improve the trails, though I can comfortably recommend Rainbow Falls, Trillium Gap and Alum Cave Bluff Trails now. I'm going to wait for more melting to recommend Bullhead and the Boulevard Trails. Please keep in mind that with all of the melting, there will be plenty of icy water on the trails. I've seen a few freezing, miserable people in tennis shoes here at the lodge. Plan for overnight refreezing as the lows are likely to remain chilly. Tim Line, our general manager and a skilled hiker, found the descent of Alum Cave Bluff Trail in the morning more slippery than his ascent, though still doable.
Finally, I'd like to thank all of you for reading High on LeConte during this circuitous trip through the news on Mt. LeConte during the 2012 season. I appreciate you leaving kind comments and coming up to say hello in person with nice thoughts about Allyson's and my daily updates. We spend a lot of time taking photos, visiting with guests to gather news and trying to pass along safety information, and it's nice to know that it's not just floating around in space unread.
It's been quite a year. I still remember the crew huddling around the thermometer in June awaiting our first 80-degree day on the mountain (we ended up with three of them this year). Conversely, the monster snowstorm of October will live for many years in the stories of the crew and guests who experienced it. LeConte is a special place, and has been for a long time. Special thanks to all of you who came up and made the crew members' days better with your kindly dispositions. Thanks again for reading and for your passion for this mountain. Happy trails until we meet again.
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