Top of the morning,
All is well at LeConte Lodge, silence is plentiful up here. The only sounds being uttered at the moment are being created by me, so I'm trying my hardest not to disturb the quiet. Green tea sits eagerly to my left, warm blue flames sit to my right, what more could you ask for? At the moment, it is a whopping 25 degrees outside with cloud cover revealing the valley floor every now and then. A small amount of snow melted yesterday in the exposed areas, so now we're down to 7.5" around the cabins. Looking at today's forecast, there's a chance of light snow throughout the day (less than 1"). As if we need any more snow! Saturday has snow on the radar as well, so I will welcome the new snow with open arms. The wind has not made an appearance in a few days now, and I'm getting concerned. Light gusts of 15-20 mph are expected, but none has occurred yet. What's a mountain top with no wind? I miss the wispy sound it makes when it travels up and over the hills. It's a very distinctive sound, those who have traveled to LeConte during times of high winds know what I mean. Those looking to come check out the snow today are in luck, all roads leading to LeConte's trails are open! Also, a kind soul trimmed the trees that were down on Alum Cave trail, so the climb should be a little easier. Do not underestimate the snow, travel is twice as hard with a compact blanket covering the trail. Fortunately, footprints have already been made on most of the trails, so you won't have to pave the way. Ice is not an issue with all this powder on the ground, so traction is pretty good. Use caution on some of the step-ups and long staircases, snow drifts can cover them entirely in some spots! On another note, enjoy your time on the trails today! I will be strolling along the Boulevard and Appalachian Trail today, so I'm looking forward to seeing the snow along the Sawteeth Mountains past Charlie's Bunion!
Yesterday's high temperature was a scorching 31 degrees, with a low of 25. I spent a lot of time exploring the top of the mountain, I even ventured off the trail (only to get soaking wet). Thin clouds prevented the sun from shining for a quite some time in the afternoon, but we were eventually treated with a glimpse of the valley floor. Clouds rose up and over the ridge, revealing a beautiful array of white on the hemlock trees. With this heart-stopping visual, I figured sunset would be out of this world. The clouds had other ideas, giving me sneak peaks of what lies beneath. Sunset or no sunset, I was still in awe. This mountain looks entirely different with an array of white dispersed erratically. As always, be cautious and courteous out on the trail. Take your time to appreciate the elegant snow and frost-covered trees. Stay sharp and have fun!
Good morning from the high hills,
The early morning silence today is golden, no sounds have been uttered aside from the crows. The wind has taken the day off, and I cannot complain! At the moment, it is 26 degrees out there, partly cloudy and calm. Looking at the forecast today, temps should hover right at or just below freezing, with partial cloud cover throughout the day. Snow still resides on just about everything up top, with only around half an inch melting in some spots yesterday. In addition, we received trace amounts of snow flurries yesterday evening, but nothing compared to what currently lies beneath. It looks like Highway 441 is still closed through the park, so Alum Cave and the Boulevard are inaccessible at the moment. Those planning on making the climb today should plan accordingly. With trees still down and deep snow covering the path, travel up and down LeConte will be considerably slower. Fortunately, it is not windy and bitter cold outside! Upon exploring the Boulevard trail yesterday afternoon, I concurred that the snow drifts are definitely over a foot in some spots. Slopes along the trail can be dangerous, deep pockets of snow conceal obstacles along the way. I took a couple spills during the trek, but the snow padded my fall! As you can see by my first picture, the icicles aren't leaving any time soon. Beautiful displays of nature are hidden all around, some are in plain sight. This snow is perfect packing snow! If it wasn't life-threatening, I would be out there sledding right now!
Yesterday's high was a toasty 31 degrees, with a friendly low of 25. Throughout the day yesterday, clouds migrated through the park, encasing LeConte ever so often. Pockets of clear skies would come and go, only to be taken over by a large mass of water vapor. During these pockets, I closely examined the surrounding land. Snowfall is pretty spotty on the Northeast end of the park, with the hefty amounts starting at around 5,000 feet or so. During brief moments of sunshine, the snow would begin to melt ever so slightly. From the looks of it, we lost around half an inch around the lodge. Certain spots near the summit saw brief direct sunlight yesterday, causing the snow to slightly deplete. However, snow in the shaded slopes is still as deep as ever, some spots are significantly deeper than what we have around the cabins. Thinking back on what I said yesterday about skiing down the trail, the snow is perfect for it! Steep slopes covered in untouched powder, a dream come true for some folks...
"Skiing is the only sport where you spend an arm and a leg to break an arm and a leg..."
Good morning from your local snow globe,
Beyond ecstatic to wake up engulfed by snow yet again! Earlier this morning, clouds encased the mountain, concealing the surrounding land. At the moment, it is 26 degrees out, golden hues are burning through a thin layer of clouds. The mountain lie quiet, aside from the bickering crowd of crows on the back porch. The beautiful snow has not budged, as each individual tree is still heavily caked in white! Almost NINE inches around the lodge, and deep drifts along the upper portions of the trails. Snow tends to melt fairly quickly on LeConte, and direct sunlight greatly impacts melting time. With clouds predicted for the remainder of the day, this snow isn't going anywhere! Moody skies, the ultimate prize. Thin strands of clouds prevent the sun from depleting our precious snow, while giving us a dreary but clear view of the land! The perfect combo in my view. Looking at the forecast, it seems the clouds will stick around all day today, with a chance of snow again tonight. In the near future, chances of snow are predicted multiple times, and temps should hover below freezing until this Sunday. At this rate, we may not see the ground for quite some time! In other news, Highway 441/Newfound Gap Road is closed this morning due to ice. That being said, Alum Cave and the Boulevard trails are currently inaccessible. If you decide to hike up one of our other stellar trails, bring your skis (just joking, please don't try to ski. It will not end well)! A Thick blanket of elegant snow is covering the upper half of LeConte, and with temperatures hovering in the upper 20s, this snow shows no signs of melting. Traction is a huge problem on the steeper sections, so bring your best pair of snow boots and some thick socks! As I mentioned yesterday, staircases and step-ups are concealed by snow in some spots, which makes footing a challenge towards the top. To make matters worse, copious amounts of trees are down, blocking the path in various places across the mountain. Be sure to eat you Wheaties this morning, because this hike will require some extra muscle...
Looking back on yesterday, clear skies and sunshine dominated the first half of the day. The high was an exceptional 28 degrees, with a cozy low of 17. Around 3:30 p.m. mountain time, clouds began to crawl up from the valley, covering the once crystal blue sky. I was really looking forward to a snow-capped sunset, but the clouds had other plans. Just after sunset, the clouds thinned out, revealing a sneak peak of the inevitable sunset. Combinations of orange, pink and red coated each passing cloud, a true blessing to watch unfold....
"Advice is like the snow. The softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon and the deeper it sinks into the mind.."
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Good morning from your local Winter Wonderland,
Woke up blessed once again this morning! A little bit of a chilly start, but I cannot complain. At the moment, it is 17 degrees out with an ever-present sun and, wait for it, 8.5 inches of snow on the ground! We received 4.5 inches of fresh powder throughout the day yesterday, silent snow fell gracefully on every living (and non-living) thing. I'm currently sitting in the kitchen by the heater with a cup of Joe, sun rays beaming confidently through the front windows. I hope the sun doesn't plan on wiping out some of our precious snow, because it is quite the sight! If you plan on hiking up to LeConte today or tomorrow, be advised! Highway 441 is closed due to snow/ice, which means Alum Cave and the Boulevard are inaccessible. After making an intelligent decision to hike up 50 lbs of groceries up Alum at night, I can tell you first hand that travel is EXTREMELY difficult with this amount of snow on the ground! I broke trail all the way down the mountain during heavy snow fall, then proceeded to break trail again on the way up! My tracks were concealed by another white blanket, to my surprise. Snow becomes an issue about 3 miles from the lodge (right at Inspiration Point), and it continues to get deeper and deeper until you reach the top. The last mile is pretty dangerous, snow drifts start to become a threat really quick! Steps become invisible, and traction is terrible in most areas. Some of the sections where the trail wraps around the rock have drifts over a foot deep! That being said, I strongly recommend staying low today. I know, it's hard to resist, right? If you simply cannot resist the temptation, please be careful out there. Travel will be slower than usual, and harder than usual, so keep that in mind. Heavy snowfall and clear skies, the perfect mixture of beauty and hostility!
Yesterday's high temperature was a balmy 27 degrees, with a low of 17. Snow fell constantly throughout the day, with hefty amounts on the top half of the hill. Walking down the mountain, snow continued to fall until the last mile of the trail, turning into freezing rain in an instant. Looking ahead, clear skies will dominate the mountain today, with slight chances of snow on the radar yet again tomorrow! Temperatures are expected to be in the upper 20s today, with lows in the upper teens. I am ecstatic about the snow, so I will be out throwing snowballs, making snow angels, and taking photos all day! This mountain looks like a whole different world right now. Trails become unrecognizable, and each step is twice as hard...
"With every falling flake, a unique spark of interest falls from heaven..."
Woke up to haze and gentle snowfall this morning! At the moment, it is 27 degrees outside with moderate snow and heavy cloud cover. Currently, I am sitting by the heater typing away, scalding black tea within arm's reach. Darkness fills the room, trees illuminated by a thick coating of white. Dusted evergreens surround snow-covered structures; a strong snow globe candidate. The wind has begun its walk-through of the lodge, making a quiet entry this morning. It looks like Highway 441 is closed as of right now, so Alum Cave and the Boulevard are inaccessible. After walking around extensively yesterday and a little bit early this morning, I have concluded that the ice is still a huge threat. Snow/ice melt has refrozen multiple times, so some spots can be pretty dicey (what's new?). Fresh snow covers up a fair amount of the threatening ice. However, it is very grainy and soft, so traction is not the best. If you plan on climbing the gem of the Smokies today, be advised. There are reportedly numerous trees down on all trails coming in from the North (Rainbow Falls, Bullhead, Brushy and Trillium Gap), some of which can be huge obstacles in the snow. With the addition of snow and week-old ice, try to give yourself ample time to get up and down the mountain safely. Use caution, and use your noggin'...
Yesterday's high was a mere 27 degrees, with a not-so low of 18. The weather was truly all over the place, changing periodically through the day. We started out with clear skies above and cloudy skies below, with no visual of the valley floor. As the morning progressed, the cloud sea quickly burned off and unveiled some powdered peaks in the process. Clear skies started to become partly cloudy, creating a moody landscape. Standing on an exposed rock near the summit, I watched menacing clouds begin to converge on the mountain. Happening in the blink of an eye, sunlight was a thing of the past. Snow began to fall slowly and precisely, barely uttering a sound. Clouds resided high above us, giving me a view a the valley beneath. A truly rare occurrence, I was pretty ecstatic. Snow would fall off and on for the rest of the evening, giving us a total of 1 inch of fresh snow. With snow already clinging to just about everything, we now have approximately 4 inches on the ground! Looking ahead, snow showers could continue to fall until late this afternoon! That being said, we could end up with 6 or 7 inches on top! I'll try to snap some good photos today once the snow dies off, so stay tuned!
I found this Japanese proverb moments ago, see if you can decipher what the word is!
"One kind word can warm three winter months..."
Good morning fellow mountain dwellers,
Blessed to wake up to another beautiful morning above 6,000 feet! At the moment, I am seeking warmth in the kitchen, promising sounds of percolating coffee fill the room. Whistling winds race through structures with ease, gently shaking the evergreen trees in the process. Looking behind me, inverted clouds conceal the valley floor, strips of pink begin to turn yellow-orange as the morning progresses. Currently, it is a hospitable 18 degrees outside with clear skies above and cloudy skies below. There is still a 3" blanket of snow around the top, with trace amounts at the bottom as well. Wonderful day to be out and about in the park in my opinion! Clear skies should continue throughout most of the day, with snow showers likely this evening. Predicted amounts range anywhere from 2 to 5 inches, so I'm crossing my fingers. At the moment, all roads leading to the base of the mountain are open, so all trails are accessible. Those planning on tackling the relentless climb should expect to see snow and ice along the way, with thick sheets of ice residing towards the summit. That being said, bring your crampons and a taste for discovery. Discoveries lie around each corner, so keep your eyes peeled along the way! Hopefully you all will get to experience this beautiful cloud inversion! There's no telling how long the white sea will stick around, so come check it out before it's too late! In my recent explorations, I have found that trees are down on every trail. Some more threatening than others, this combined with sheeys of ice make for a slower ascent. Give yourself some extra time to climb up and down this massive hill, and be sure to check out the large icicles towards the top!
Yesterday's high was comfortable 21 degrees, with a substantial low of 15. Looking into the near future, high temps seem to be in the upper 20s, with clear skies predicted for most of the week. Be sure to check the current weather and road conditions before entering the park. Conditions can change rapidly without prior knowledge or warning, so make sure you are informed!
We started out the day bombarded by thick clouds and another fresh coating of white powder. At around noon, sun beams penetrated the clouds within minutes, revealing a crystal clear blue sky! Dusted white evergreens against a vibrant blue, a treat indeed! An afternoon stroll around the neighborhood was in order, so I suited up and hit the trail. Burning sea of clouds beneath me, I admired the "open water," looking out towards the horizon. Only the highest peaks were visible at the time, with small windows opening up periodically. Heavily-frosted trees emerged from the encasing clouds, glistening in broad daylight. As the day progressed, "water levels" crept lower and lower, exposing the valley floor over time. Sunset grew close, and I was anxious to get up there. Each step was intimate, but rather obnoxious at the same time. Deafening crunches resonated in my ear drums, this mountain was an ice cube. Silence filled the air as i stopped to examine the forest. White powder resided in every nook and cranny, with peculiar tracks etched into the ground. I immediately stopped fantasizing about the future, channeling my focus on this very moment. The finer details on this mountain are pretty surreal! Slowing down, soaking it all in for a brief moment, I felt intrigued. Solitude and silence intertwined, hard to come across in this day and age..."
Good morning all,
Another quiet day on top, no sounds have been uttered so far. Steam begins to fill the air, tea is on the agenda. Right now, it is 16 degrees and calm with light snow flurries. It looks like we ended up getting another .25" of snow overnight, and there's still about 3.0" on the ground. I was disappointed that the rain was so prominent yesterday. If it had been just a little bit colder, we could've seen a lot more white stuff. With the small amount of snow we received last night and the declining temperatures, all the slush and melted ice around the mountain seems to have refrozen. If you plan on climbing Mount LeConte this morning/afternoon, Highway 441 closed around midnight last night, so Alum Cave and the Boulevard are currently inaccessible. Looking ahead at the forecast, clear skies should sweep in fairly soon, so that road shouldn't be remain closed all day. Be on the lookout for slabs of ice, downed trees and fancy icicles. Before setting out on the trail, make sure your all your valuables are with you, not in the car! The fact that someone would break into a car at a trail head sickens me, but it has happened before. Have a great day on the trail! Stay warm and stay motivated...
Yesterday's high was a mere 33 degrees, with a low of 16. Temperatures hovered from 32-33 most of the day, resulting in 0.8" of rain. Heavy snow overnight left 3.0" on the ground, slowly turning the precious powder into slush. With no more snow in the forecast until Sunday night, waking up to flurries and another .25" of snow was a treat! The forecast shows clear skies through the rest of the day today, with clouds burning off in the early afternoon/late morning. Temperatures could stay below freezing all day, so you might want to pack some extra layers for the top.
A rather uneventful day of rest yesterday, up until around 5:00 pm. Rain and clouds combined and took over the whole day, making any outdoor excursion a wet one indeed. Sunset was around the corner, and I was loosing hope. All of the sudden, the dormant sun broke through the clouds. Small pockets of blue sky appeared, with sneak peaks of Pigeon Forge and Sevierville below. I took the hint, layering up quickly and precisely. I scrambled up the slope to Cliff Tops, dodging ice sheets and rushing water along the way. A true blessing awaited me at the top! The clouds parted ways in the perfect spot, giving me a great view of another burning cloud sea! I never saw the sun actually set, but this was just fine...
"Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get..."
Good morning from the highlands,
It is truly a nasty morning up here, so I am cooped up in the kitchen at the moment, enjoying some black tea. It is currently 33 degrees with freezing rain falling lightly onto a blanket of white. We received what looks to be 3 inches of snow overnight, the rain could have reduced it over time though. What a shame, freshly fallen snow obliterated by rain drops. Fresh white powder transforms into wet slush, sloshing with every step! With temps just above freezing, more snow throughout the day will be iffy. Temps should hover around the low 30s, dipping into the upper 20s later this evening. After walking up and down Alum Cave trail three days in a row, I will be taking advantage of this wet weather by observing a day of rest (for the most part). With temperatures hovering just above freezing at the top, warmer temps down the trail could cause ice melt, making your life a little bit easier. Walking the trail yesterday, I concluded that the ice is still equally as bad as it was yesterday and days prior. That being said, use extreme caution if you decide to climb LeConte today. With the combination of snow, ice, freezing rain and high winds, travel times will increase significantly. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to climb up and down the mountain, downed trees and thick pools of ice at the top can be hard to maneuver! In addition, Highway 441 closed at approximately 7 pm last night due to high winds (no snow and/or ice apparently), so Alum Cave and the Boulevard are inaccessible. The "High Wind Warning" issued by the National Weather Service has been in effect since 7:00 last night, and will stay in effect until around 4:00 this afternoon. As always, hiking during times of high winds is always a risk, so be on the lookout for more downed trees and debris along the way. Safe travels, and use your best judgement on the trail...
Yesterday's high temperature was 33 degrees with a pleasant low of 28. Partly cloudy skies dominated most of the day, with patches of blue sky bleeding through ever so often. Yet another great day to be on the trail! Ice is still pretty serious on the upper half of the trail, with large patches covering the entire trail in some places! Things took a nasty turn during my hike up, with brutal wind gusts, snow, and freezing rain moving in just before dark. Fortunately for me, I found refuge in my cabin just before the front moved in! We ended up receiving an inch of rain overnight, and 3" of snow in the mix! Like I mentioned earlier, snow will be hit or miss today, as temps are hovering right around 32 degrees. According to the forecast, we could see another inch and a half if we're lucky! Moving into this evening, clear skies are predicted. Looking a few days ahead, skies should stay clear with snow on the radar for Sunday night and Monday! Temperatures look to be in the low 20s to low 30s for the next five days, which means the ice could be here for awhile. As always, I will update you all as the week goes by! If you are planning on hiking up in the near future, always be sure to check the road status and weather forecast. If you don't live locally, these two things are essential when planning your hike up LeConte! Folks that live at or near the base of the mountain may have a decent idea on what the weather may look like, but conditions can change rather quickly! After spending over 2 years hiking avidly around LeConte and the rest of the National Park, I can tell you firsthand that the weather is virtually unpredictable out here! Weather can change drastically in a matter of minutes (and sometimes seconds), so it's important that you come prepared for anything Mother Nature throws at you!
"Eager folks from all around, shall make their journey from the ground. Hearts will pound as views astound, atop the mound where kings are crowned. Mountain-goers find their way, weathered cabins old and gray. Avid hikers come to stay, cherished trails they shall not stray..."
Top of the morning from the top,
I am currently sitting in the kitchen, enjoying some black tea and oats to start my day off on the right note! The sun is just beginning to rise, only to be engulfed by a large dark cloud that resides above us. The blueish hues from the sky and the valley beneath us have meshed into one blue, making it difficult to tell where the cut-off is. Large black crows have taken over the lodge, traveling in intimidating cliques. Loud chatter fills the air as I type, I'm unsure what exactly they're talking about. Observing them for a brief moment, I saw one pecking at its reflection in a window! I tried to persuade him to stop, but nothing seems to work...
At the moment, it is 29 degrees with clouds over head and light winds coming and going. Judging by the forecast, snow showers have moved into tonight, and should last until late tomorrow evening. A good couple inches have been predicted, so keep your fingers crossed! Maybe we'll get some snow up top this time... In addition, a high wind warning has been issued for the Eastern Tennessee area, primarily the high country. Winds should pick up late tonight and continue through the afternoon, with gusts reaching 70 mph! As of right now, all roads leading to the base of LeConte are open, so all trails are accessible. After hitting the trail yet again yesterday afternoon in search of my spikes (someone took them...), I can tell you first hand that the trails are COATED in thick slabs of ice. The last mile of Alum Cave is extremely difficult to navigate, but it can be done! Slow and steady wins the race in this case, so watch your step up top! Use the cables to your advantage, and if all else fails, crawl! Did a lot of crawling yesterday, I even slid on my bottom for a good 30 seconds down one of the longer sections. As you probably know, there are still a couple downed trees on Alum and all the other approach trails, so keep that in mind if you decide to climb today! Safe travels on and off the trail...
Yesterday's high was a cozy 39, with a not-so-low of 27. I am really enjoying these warmer temperatures! I realize 27 is not warm by any means, but compared to 2 or 3 degrees?! I'll take 27 any day! Conditions were perfect for hiking, mostly clear skies with no wind, mild temperatures. The only negative would be the unforgiving ice blankets along the exposed rocks. I met quite a few folks on the trail yesterday, and they were all in high spirits! Ice was a huge obstacle, but that didn't stop them from making it to the very top! About a mile or so down the trail, I noticed that the snow was virtually all gone, with trace amounts left in the nooks and crannies. Icicles dominated the path, with large chunks of ice hanging from cables, cliffs, and nearby rock walls. If you see an impressive wall of ice, please do not destroy it. Leave it for more people to see, icicles are a work of art that takes time and the perfect environment. Take some time to look off the trail at your surroundings. A lot of magic is hidden in the forested hills that we call the Smoky Mountains, and people walk by countless works of art without even noticing! Whether it be a large, untouched tree, a swelled creek, or a sublime vista, a lot of things can get overlooked on the trail. Stop and smell the roses! Give yourself plenty of time to get up and down the mountain, that way you can stop and enjoy the little (or the big) things along the way! I've seen numerous groups of people rush up this mountain, only to go right back down upon reaching the top. Come prepared and bring a smile or two! I'll be on the trail again today, so maybe we'll run into each other...
Good morning all,
Jack Frost is finally giving me a break! It is 35 degrees at the moment with some light clouds, and no wind. Feels great to get a break from the bitter cold. It will make outings more enjoyable, and not as dangerous! Today is a great day to be on the trail, moody skies offer incredible visibility! Highway 441 opened just after 1:00 pm yesterday, so all trails are accessible! Be aware, all routes leading up to LeConte are coated in thick ice towards the top! Spikes are a must during conditions like these. If you are caught without spikes in an icy and dicey situation, there is almost always a way to avoid it. Whether it be crawling off the trail, or crawling on your hands and knees, you should be able to pass safely. It's better to stop and take a little extra time maneuvering the ice patches, that way you don't take a painful spill. Upper Alum Cave is really dicey, slipping near the steep drop offs could be fatal. Ironically enough, I dropped my microspikes on Alum yesterday night! Coming up the last mile of the trail was very slow, each step was precise and gentle. If you happen to pick up a pair of Kahtoola microspikes on Upper Alum Cave trail, please reach out to me. I am going down to get them now, I talked to a woman that spotted them on Monotony Ridge (about 1.5 miles from here). As always, be safe and use your best judgement. Also, take note of all the ginormous icicles along the way!
Yesterday's high was a blistering 30 degrees, with an inviting low of 2! Single-digit temperatures combined with decent wind gusts made for a very cold start to my day. After I got a sneak peak of the valley below, I was in awe. Heavy blankets of white spread across the park, but no snow up top?! An odd phenomenon, I was dumbfounded seeing all the snow beneath us. Seas of cloud have blocked the valley floor for the past day and a half, I had no knowledge of the snow! Walking down our beloved Alum Cave trail, I didn't see any snow for the first mile. As I progressed down Monotony Ridge, white powder slowly appeared along the trail, getting deeper and deeper with each stride. Common measurements around the top would read anywhere from a dusting to 2 inches. Oddly enough, the same goes for the bottom of the trail too! The most snow occurred right in the middle (just past the cave bluffs), coming in at 3-4 inches in some spots! Wind gusts blew the delicate powder of the trees constantly, looking almost identical to fresh snowfall. Crystal clear blue skies and bright white snow fair well together. Beams of sunlight parted through the sea of clouds about halfway down, giving me a view of the surrounding land. A thick, reflective layer of white was spread across the entire valley before me! This was one of my personal favorite walks down the mountain. To top it all off, I saw a Red Fox near the bluffs! I followed his tracks for about half a mile. I came around a sharp curve in the trail, and it was standing in the middle of the pathway. Never seen a fox in the park, a true first for me!
"The pine stays green in winter; wisdom in hardship..."
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!