It’s currently 31 degrees up top. Yesterday’s high was 23 degrees with a low of 4 degrees. There is currently 6” of snow on the ground.
US Hwy 441/ Newfound Gap Rd from Gatlinburg TN to Cherokee NC is temporarily closed due to snow and ice.
I miss spoke yesterday. Cherokee Orchard Road with access to the Rainbow Falls Trailhead is also closed due to snow and ice. The road was open up to the Twin Creeks gate. Follow the link below for updates on road closures.
I felt energized when I hopped out of bed. I’d only gotten 5 hours of sleep. Yesterday’s photogenic atmosphere had me tromping around the mountain, all day. Fresh snow, a full moon, and clear skies were too good to pass up. I got dressed and made for the kitchen. Before I made it, a dilemma presented itself. Would I chase sunrise or shoot for the moon? I had to pick one. Which side of the mountain would I pursue?
Following the footsteps from yesterday’s run, I hiked west - away from sunrise. I was shooting for the moon. I moved quickly, knowing my window would be close. The lunar spotlight slowly drifted toward the horizon. I plowed down the trail, lantern in hand. I briefly caught a glimpse through the trees. The moon was shy - it was starting to hide behind the clouds. I shifted my plans, and attempted to get a better vantage. Time was running, out. Worried but not too worried, I continued. Yesterday’s incredible photo adventure would serve satisfactory if I missed this opportunity. An explosion of color came thundering out of the east. Would I miss both shows amidst the commute!? I scrambled for a view…
…the moon was sneaking away.
P.S - Thanks to all of you that have been sending me letters and snacks! I will be writing you a thank-you letter soon.
P.S.S - On Friday, I’ll be sharing my favorite night photo so far this winter. Stay tuned!
“It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.” —Jim Rohn
Good Morning, 10:45AM
It’s currently 7 degrees and above the clouds up top. Yesterday’s high was 27 degrees, with an overnight low of 5 degrees. We received 7” inches of snow last night.
US Hwy 441/ Newfound Gap Rd from Gatlinburg TN to Cherokee NC is temporarily closed due to snow and ice.
Cherokee Orchard Road with access to the Rainbow Falls Trailhead is now open. Stay up-to-date on road closures via the link below.
After a moody sunset, I crawled back into my loft - tired. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.
I woke feeling brand new. Dressed and ready, I stepped outside. It seemed I had walked through a wardrobe - into Narnia. Seven inches of fresh snow had coated Mt. Le Conte. Stumbling through the drifts, I made my way to the weather instruments. Ten minutes later, the smell of fresh brewed coffee wafted through the kitchen. Caffeinated, I walked outside and began percolating through the fluffy snow drifts.
I moseyed around the mountain for well over an hour. Single digit temperatures made my fingers complain. Ignoring the cold, I continued releasing the camera’s shutter - capturing the moments. Retracing my steps, I rambled back toward the lodge - thinking…
…would neighbor bobcat and mr. coyote come wandering?
“Silently, like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fall, each one a gem.” -William Hamilton Gibson
It’s currently 20 degrees and clear up top. Yesterday’s high was 38 degrees, with an overnight low of 26 degrees. We received .5” inches of precipitation.
After calling in the weather the temperature dropped and we received a dusting of snow.
I woke up feeling a few miles older than usual. Yesterday’s twenty-five mile ramble through the Great Smoky Mountains reminded me that Monday should be an easier one. I climbed slowly out of bed and descended from the toasty loft. Tight calves flexed with each step. I smirked and made a comment to myself - “It was worth it.” The discomfort would be temporary; the memory of running to the highest point on the Appalachian Trail would be with me, forever. I finished getting dressed and left the cabin…
… a flurry of snow began to coat the landscape.
So it goes,
“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.” - John Rohn
It’s currently 36 degrees and cloudy up top. Mt. Le Conte received .2” inches of rain. The 24-hour high was 36 degrees with a low of 32 degrees.
I woke and began walking around the misty lodge. Gloomy evergreens dripped around me as I drifted through the somber darkness. The mountain began to take on a bluish hue. The miners lamp in my right hand served as my only beacon of light - my beacon of warmth.
I began thinking about the cloudy view in front of me. It was no less beautiful than the clear cloudless sunrises from the week prior. The grey background helped me find a closer focal point. The blanket of clouds always helped me see and appreciate the finer details of Mt. Le Conte’s landscape. With no sun stealing all the attention, I continued to walk...
...exploring the sights patiently waiting under my nose.
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” - Marcus Aurelius
Good evening, 5:12PM
It’s currently 34 degrees and cloudy up top. Yesterday’s high was 35 degrees, with an overnight low of 15.
The winds began howling early in the evening. Finding cover amidst the myrtle - I gazed south as the ambitious clouds tore across the heavens. Everything around me was in motion. The sky continued to explode with color, the trees waved back and forth in delight, and I shifted side to side as the wind cut through my absence of protective layers. Happy, I decided to keep an eye on the sky. The sun set. It didn’t take long before I needed to escape the gusty assault.
I woke to a contrast in scenery. The mountain was cloaked by a cloud. From the looks of it - Mt. Le Conte would remain tucked in the covers for the remainder of the day. I wandered around camp, taking a seat on the porch of Cabin 9. Powerful gusts collided with the Cliff Tops. The squall could be heard from where I sat. I picked up my lantern and continued a lone promenade around the lodge. A few red squirrels squeaked as I past by…
I nodded in return.
“Trying to catch the meanings that were there, in that moment before the lifting of the dark.” - Sigurd F. Olson
Good morning, 9:50AM
It’s currently 30 degrees and clear up top. Yesterday’s high was 30 degrees, with an overnight low of 14 degrees.
The trails have remained mostly ice free. I would still recommend some ice traction for the upper sections of Alum Cave Trail.
The mountain was remarkably still. Walking to sunrise, I couldn’t remember feeling a calmer morning up top. I sat along Apollo Overlook with a hot cup of ginger tea. Sipping the hot beverage, I watched the sky show it’s true colors. The sky was a creamy peach hue with tinges of purple throughout. The colors slipped across the sky - I relished the scene. I walked back toward the lodge…
feeling as relaxed and calm as the landscape around me.
Away, away, from men and towns,
To the wildwood and the doons --
To the silent wilderness.
— Percy Bysshe Shelly
Good morning, 8:30AM
It’s currently 14 degrees and clear. Yesterday’s high was 32 degrees, with an overnight low of 12 degrees.
Walking through the pre-dawn light, I thought about sunrise. Why was it so important to me to be out and about every morning? I could be laying in bed, watching the sky change from my comfortable loft window. I think it has to do with the process and the unknown. The cold unlit walk across Mt. Le Conte never ceased to raise questions in my head. In one hour, the gloomy landscape I dawdled through would be transformed into a different spectacle. Witnessing the mountain change, everyday, inspired me to consistently leave the warmth of the loft. I loved the process - the transformation. The unknown outcome of the sun’s influence on the Great Smoky Mountains multiplied the pull to saunter about. Still thinking, I arrived at my destination…
The mountain morphed before me.
“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out until sundown: for going out, I found, was really going in.” - John Muir
Good afternoon, 1:15PM
It’s currently 32 degrees and above the clouds. Yesterday’s high was 33, with an overnight low of 15. We received trace amounts of snow last night.
There are still some ice-covered sections along the trails, but most of the mountain is relatively ice free.
I woke to a quiet mountain morning. The star shone vivid in the sky above; Pigeon Forge twinkled brightly below. I eased into the kitchen to report the weather and to brew a fresh cup of coffee. I called in the weather and sat down to focus on the steaming cup that patiently rested on the stainless-steel counter. Finishing the caffeinated beverage, I walked outside - the clouds had filled the valley below. I smiled and disappeared into the forest - on my way to sunrise.
The clouds below resembled a river. They flowed through the valley with intent. The sun illuminated Clingmans Dome in the distance. Awestruck, I protected my face from the wind and continued to capture the moment. A fellow traveler and photographer, Kodak, had joined me for sunrise. I reveled in his joy and excitement. He too, was seeing what lay before us. We were like sponges soaking up the beauty. The stage was set…
The show went on.
“Man is whole when he is in tune with the winds, the stars, and the hills… Being in tune with the universe is the entire secret.” – William O Douglas
It’s currently 27 degrees and clear. Yesterday’s high was 43 with an overnight low of 28 degrees. We received .2” of precipitation.
Walking through the forest, the view ahead commanded my attention. The landscape atop Mt. Le Conte lured me in, again and again. I couldn’t resist. What was it about this mountain that inspired me daily? I began to think about yesterday evening.
The mountain was cloaked again, buried in a cloud. I wandered about with a miner’s lamp in my hand. The orange kerosene glow served as my sunset replacement. The spooky glow set the mood. I continued wandering, afraid of how much I would scare someone if they saw me coming toward them along the dark misty trail. No one showed…
I continued my rounds.
“There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.” – Theodore Roosevelt
It’s currently 36 degrees and windy. Yesterday’s high was 43 degrees, with an overnight low of 34 degrees.
The wind howled…
I left my loft in a whirl of thought and memory. Life up top was giving me a much-needed period of reflection. I walked around the lodge property, periodically coming back to the present to observe my current place in the world. It was a Monday. All my belongings fit into a backpack, and I was happy as a pig-in-mud tromping around the heart of a National Park. My definition of happiness had transformed, again. The clouds rolled in, deepening my thought and reflection…
Mt. Le Conte danced in the wind.
“The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complex. What’s important is leading an examined life.” – Yvon Chouinard
Welcome to the official blog of LeConte Lodge. We hope you find the information provided here both helpful and enjoyable. Thank you for visiting the site, and we hope to see you on the mountain!