Good afternoon from a soggy Mt. LeConte. The wind is howling and spitting rain on us periodically, but things could be much worse. Yesterday proved awfully nice for a day with an 80 percent chance of rain. We didn't see our first raindrops until about 10 p.m., long after all our guests were off the trail, fed and tucked away warm and dry in their cabins.
We ended up with a high-low of 63-47 and 0.90 inches of rain for Monday. The forecast isn't very promising for today either, with rain a possibility all day and a chance for more severe weather tonight. Just in case you didn't read yesterday's post, I'd steer clear of Rainbow Falls Trail if we have heavy rains due to some stream crossing issues guests had last year. There's also a large tree down across the Trillium Gap Trail above Grotto Falls. I've been told that hikers will get across it fine, but it will be a dealbreaker for the llamas until it is cleared.
The wind really ramped up about 10 p.m. last night. You could still see Pigeon Forge down below, but as the cloud deck lowered you could also see tendrils of clouds (not funnel clouds) wisp down toward the valley. That reminded me of the clouds bearing bad news for the Egyptian first-born in the Passover scene of the classic movie "Ten Commandments" (which always got my attention as the oldest son in my family). We made out all right, as all of the oldest sons made it to breakfast this morning.
We saw a little filtered lightning through the cloud cover overnight, but nothing too close. The gusty winds were the biggest issue of the night. I looked outside my window and saw the outlines of trees gyrating like Elvis on "The Ed Sullivan Show." I'm sure some of those bare, weather-bleached, dead fir trees lost their battle to remain vertical as graceful sentinels on LeConte. Between blasts of the ferocious wind, I could hear frogs singing in the basin near the spring for the first time this year. The amphibians sounded glad for the extra rain, though I shouldn't translate for them as I don't speak Kermit.
The rain picked up in intensity about 4:10 a.m. (I know because I didn't sleep a wink last night). Most of the time we get fairly gentle rain at the lodge. However, this rain hit my cabin with such force it was as if John Henry was driving it home with a hammer.
While we had no reports of guests having any problems with the weather overnight, sometimes the conditions affect you in ways you don't expect. For instance, the change in weather made this my worst pancake-making morning in three years of preparing breakfast on a fill-in basis at LeConte Lodge. It didn't matter how much non-stick spray you used, the pancakes welded themselves to the griddle. Fully one-third of the flapjacks didn't meet the LeConte standard and were incinerated (and there were no llamas up today to polish off the remainder). Also, the biscuits were even hunkered down, cowardly refusing to rise too far above the baking sheet.
We persevere and remember our brothers and sisters across the Southland with real weather problems. Happy trails.
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