Hello from the top of LeConte. We rode out a rough evening but are enjoying cooler but fine weather this afternoon. At least we got our bad weather at night when all of our guests were checked in safely at the lodge and not still on the trail. Most of the morning we've been overlooking the clouds blanketing the valley, which is always an impressive sight.
The high Thursday reached 59 with the low bottoming out at 44. Most notably, we received 2.18 inches of rain. The first sprinkles painted the ground around supper, a peaceful prelude for the night to come. By "mountain midnight," a crew designation for 10 p.m., we were treated to a lightning show as the storm hovered close to LeConte Lodge. Even then we had enough rain to prime "LeConte Falls," our nickname for when heavy rains cause water to cascade down the steps to the dining hall (but not inside thank goodness).
The lightning was relatively short lived, piercing your eyelids with flashes of illumination after the kerosene lamps had been blown out. However, the rain and wind continued through the night. Most storms on the mountain soothe you to sleep with the pitter-patter percussion of rain on the roof. This one was different for me. While not nearly the worst I've seen in three seasons on LeConte, this storm stole slumber. The wind howled and whistled all night. But just as it has since the 1920s, our LeConte fort held up fine.
The llamas made a fine recovery after getting a late start because a tree fell across the road even before they hit the trail. Llama wranglers Chrissy and Alan reported that the rest of Trillium Gap Trail was a river, but otherwise in fine shape. I haven't received any other trail reports. Perhaps a nice weekend will make the slick spots on the Boulevard a little more palatable.
Speaking of trees falling, you veterans of the Alum Cave Bluff Trail will notice some giants of the canopy gone horizontal next time you hike. When we reported for duty and hiked up on March 15, I hated to see some of the venerable sentinels of the forest laid low by a tough, wet winter. You'll notice most of the downfall particularly between the bluff and the lower section of wooden steps (including the "flat" section just past the halfway point). It's a natural part of the cycle, I guess, but those once proud specimens now have a more humble job--nursing the soil for the seedlings they've been lording over.
With a favorable forecast, we're expecting lots of folks on the mountain this weekend. Come on up and see us. Have a fine day. Happy trails.
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