Sunday turned out to be another beautiful day. The high temperature of 67 degrees marked the warmest day of 2014. Our low was a mild 46 degrees. We measured 0.11 inches of rain, with the first drops starting about 10 p.m. on Sunday.
Since then the winds have really picked up in spurts. I've enjoyed seeing the stratification of the clouds atop LeConte this morning. I saw some cumulonimbus storm clouds brewing in the valley mid-morning. The most interesting clouds were the ones zooming directly over the top of the mountain, somersaulting from one side to the other. However, the upper layer of clouds appeared relatively stationary. Since 9:30 a.m., we've been mostly sunny at the lodge.
However, I hear that copious amounts of rain have been forecast for East Tennessee for the next few days. Please prepare accordingly if you come up to see us. In that vein, if we receive heavy rains I recommend you do not attempt the Rainbow Falls Trail for your ascent or descent. Not only is Rainbow one of the rockiest trails (and also quite slippery) to LeConte, but it carries a torrent of water after significant rain. Last year we had guests who made it the majority of the way down Rainbow only to find they couldn't safely make the stream crossing, which had swollen violently after a deluge. They had to hike all the way back up to the lodge.
In much more pleasant news, I met some relatives of the late Rev. A. Rufus Morgan this morning. Rufus Morgan (1885-1983) is one of the legends of Mt. LeConte. He climbed the mountain into his 90s for a total of 172 trips. The last few trips he was nearly blind and relied on good friends and family to help him return to the top of the mountain he loved so much.
Rufus was an Episcopal priest from the Franklin, N.C., area and founded the Nantahala Hiking Club. He single-handedly maintained more than 30 miles of the Appalachian Trail in the Nantahala Mountains, according to Alan, one of our llama wranglers. Our overnight guest's mother was Rufus' cousin, and, while in high school, she hiked up to LeConte with him in his later years. "He couldn't see much in his final years, but he didn't like to slow down much either," she said.
Perhaps the greatest compliment is that Rufus Morgan is the only person for whom a table is named in the LeConte Lodge dining room. The other table names are rather vanilla (Big, Door, East, North, West and Map tables), but Morgan stands out. Now you know part of the story behind the man.
Our thoughts are with our neighbors from Arkansas who had such a tough time of it in the storms. I hope better days are coming. Happy trails.