February 28th, 2013
It's winter again(!!!) up top. The mountain is blanketed with fresh snow and all has been made anew. The high yesterday reached 33 degrees and the low got down to 13 degrees. It was 14 degrees and snowing lightly at 7am observation. The mountain received 1 inch of new snow, bringing our total back up to an inch. I would bet that the trails are still in rough shape, given how much water has been coming off the mountain the past few days. I would recommend Microspikes as a must for anyone planning to summit.
The flurries started dancing around 6pm last night. My friend Walt and I were sitting on the porch outside our cabin admiring the low hanging clouds bearing the makings of our overnight storm. These clouds had a classic dark quality, they seemed to be tipping their cap at us as they settled in overhead. It was a great contrast with the other day on Alum, nature seemed gentle and beautiful, it's raw power hibernating for the moment, a wild muscle unflexed. We awoke to a fine powder, the perfect flakes having wrapped the mountain in a fine sheath of chaste flakes, a felicitous end to February. Nature's displays will never fail to impress those who make themselves present.
ps: Happy Springerversary to my dear comrade First Man! Wish I could be at WB with ya to celebrate!
February 27th, 2013
It's a beautiful morning up top. The mountain has a light dusting of snow and the clouds are dancing about in a mesmerizing way. The high yesterday reached 37 degrees. The low got down to 18 degrees. It's currently 22 degrees and clear at 7am observation. The mountain received .53" of rain yesterday morning. There's still only patchy snow on the ground. I would bet the trails are in pretty nasty shape, with all the water coming off the mountain freezing overnight with the low temperatures we received. Be cautious.
I had an exhilarating hike on Alum yesterday morning. The weather was as raw as I've seen up here. It was in the mid-30's, raining in shotgun bursts and the wind was cutting through the trees like a buzzsaw, stabbing with blasts of frigid power. The display was too captivating to turn back, the whole mountain buzzing with activity and force, watching the trees sway in the monumental gusts, threatening to snap and break, then holding on time and time again. There was simply too much happening to fall into a meditative trance like on most woodswalks, a kind of sensory overload made for a memorable day. It's especially impressive to consider that a storm of that magnitude seemed to cause little damage, which would indicate that all the blowdowns, slides and such on the mountain were caused by acts of an even greater order. It's impossible not to feel a swell of reverence in the midst of such intensity, action, and purity.
February 26th, 2013
It's an absurdly blustery morning up top. The mountain is a swirl of winds at the moment. The high yesterday reached 39 degrees. The low was 31 degrees. It was 36 degrees and raining at 7am observation. The mountain received 1.65" of rain (shoulda been SNOW!) last night. There's only patchy snow remaining up top. The trails are sure to be wet, wet, wet so be prepared for some discomfort.
I came up Alum yesterday afternoon and it was yet another blissful day for a hike. The dream lives on. The sun was kissing the rhododendron leaves, the streams were singing and the breezes were gentle. The atmosphere was full of warmth, the way the air enters your lungs just felt far too welcoming. It was like an intoxicating trap, I was a blissed out bee in a fine flower designed to relish such days. It was the kind of day that makes you feel most alive, at the peak of your powers, giving you delusions of grandeur and an inflated notion of just how special life on Earth can be. It's all there for the taking, depending on your ambitions.
February 25th, 2013
It's another stunning day up top. There are some low hanging clouds to the east and a fiery sunrise is lighting up the sky, like a match to kerosene. The high yesterday reached 35 degrees. The low was 23 degrees. It's currently 29 degrees and clear at 7am observation. The mountain received no new precipitation, but with abundant sunshine there was a bit of melt. There is now only patchy snow up top.
I went down Alum and came up Rainbow yesterday. The trails are in pretty good shape. Whatever remaining snow has been packed down and there is sufficient traction on the upper slopes to make spikes a luxury item, depending on your comfort level. It must've reached 60 in the valley yesterday afternoon. It was the kind of day where you wear shorts and don't even feel like you have to brave it for 10 minutes or so to get warmed up. It's just comfortable. The lower half of Rainbow had that distinct, fecund aroma of the coming spring. I even saw a few daffodils trying to sprout on Cherokee Orchard Road! There's such a pregnant sense of anticipation with the coming spring, it's such an authentic kind of excitement no matter how much you treasure winter. We've been programmed to have a euphoric sense of relief as the winter months show signs of coming to a close, no matter how much we take our survival for granted in our day and age.
February 24th, 2013
It's a stunning morning up top. The high yesterday reached 41 degrees. The low was 22 degrees. It was 23 degrees and clear at 7am observation. The mountain received no new precipitation yesterday. We had a little bit of melt, so there's only about an inch of snow left up top.
I came up Alum yesterday and the trail is in pretty good shape. There isn't too much troublesome ice, but I'd still pack some sort of traction device in case last night's freezing temperatures worsened conditions. Get out and enjoy the day!
February 23rd, 2013
It's another blustery morning up top. The high yesterday reached 41 degrees. The low hit 30 degrees. It was 37 degrees and overcast at 7am observation. The mountain received .21" of rain last night. The high temperatures yesterday made for plenty of melt, there's only about 2 inches of snow left up top.
I came up Alum yesterday afternoon. The trail is in pretty good shape. It's very wet, but the ice is manageable. Enjoy the day!
February 22nd, 2013
It's a nasty day up top. The high reached 47 degrees (!!!) and the low hit 28 degrees. It's currently 30 degrees and short blasts of freezing rain are coating the mountain. We had about 2 inches of melt yesterday, bringing our snow total down to about 5 inches. The mountain received .15" of rain last night before it all started freezing. If you plan to summit today, be prepared to suffer. Rain gear is a must and every trick in the book is necessary to minimize risk in conditions like this.
_All the blue skies have cleared out and it's one of the more miserable days I've seen up here. The winds were howling all night and freezing rain is creating a treacherous layer atop hard, crusty snows. There's something about that first few drops of rain in the evening... it brings me back to nights spent under a tarp on the AT. There's such a sense of expectation with rain - people are always warning you about weather and you're getting better and better at 'reading' it on your own, that when it comes, it's a kind of liquid exultation. The first few nights under a tarp during such a storm can be intimidating, you wake, wonder and worry if it'll be enough... surely, it's impossible that an 8 X 10 sheet of sil-nylon can keep such fury at bay! Once you realize the worst that ever happens is a slightly damp sleeping bag, it's incredibly empowering. You can go anywhere with this seemingly flimsy material, weighing under a pound and survive the night! It still astonishes me, from time to time... we're constantly limiting ourselves with glass ceilings.
February 21st, 2013
It's another stunning day up top. The high yesterday reached 31 degrees. The low dropped to 26 degrees. It was 29 degrees and clear at 7am observation. The mountain had no significant melt, but the snow is now a harder pack than it was earlier in the week. The total is still around 6 inches and there are some significant drifts on Alum Cave trail. I came up Alum yesterday morning and the trail is slow going due to deepish snow and poor traction. Be sure to consider this into your plans if you intend to reach the summit.
I would definitely still recommend gaiters, Microspikes and the whole gamut of winter gear. Check out the link above for a great, concise write up of how to make your winter hike more enjoyable.
_The colours up top are spectacular at the moment. I was greeted by a purplepinkblue fade on the horizon which was constantly changing as the sun approached it's daily perch. I notice a funny thing about gorgeous mornings like this, I stand and watch and can hardly notice the ever changing atmospheric canvas as the light intensifies, but as I brew my coffee and call in the weather, I go outside and it's a whole new day. It's startling just how limited our powers of perception are. And yet, there's still so much to see, feel & do. Life is constantly overwhelming, in all the right ways.
February 20th, 2013
It's a bright, colourful day up top. The high yesterday reached 29 degrees. The low dropped down to 6 degrees. It's currently 9 degrees and clear at 7am observation. The mountain received no new precipitation and had about 2 inches of melt, bringing our total snow down to about 6 inches. The drifts are still quite high with heavy winds the past few days. I would recommend Microspikes and gaiters, but as they say, there are many paths to the mountaintop...
_I had a wonderful 'SoliTuesday'. It's my favorite day around camp - there are very few visitors during the week and the hours creep by without folks serving as bookmarks as to what 'time' it is. I wrote letters, read poetry, made coffee and took a few micro strolls around the mountain. I saw no other footprints beyond the shelter... nobody out at Myrtle or Cliff Tops. With only 3 weeks left, I am trying to load up on these peak experiences before I head back to the 'real' world. These drawn out days spent with a pleasant trees : people ratio make me more patient and caring when I am thrown back into the world... another gift from the mountain. Here comes the sun again...
February 19th, 2013
It's a blustery day up top. The high yesterday reached 35 degrees. The overnight low hit 21 degrees and it was 28 degrees and overcast at 7am observation. The mountain received about 2 inches of new snow overnight, but we had about 6 inches of melt during the day. Our total stands at about 8 inches of snow. The drifts are quite high with all the wind we received last night. I came up Alum yesterday afternoon and did not need spikes. The new snow provides just enough traction to get to the summit, but as always, I would recommend carrying a pair of Microspikes just in case you feel uncomfortable.
_I had a fantastic hike back up yesterday after pizza time in town. The sun was bright, the snow was brighter and brightest of all were the smiling faces enjoying our treasured national park on President's day. It was nearly warm enough to go shirtless, reminding me of long summer hikes through the Greens. I got to Alum Cave feeling a little low on energy and met a group of young ladies who gave me some apples, peppers and hummus! It was like a mirage, especially in the Cave with that arid rockscape... even if it was all in my mind, it felt real enough. The quiet on the way up from the Cave is fantastic on these winter afternoons. All that could be heard is the building roar of wind around ledges, distant ravens and a placated heartbeat. All these little moments add up.
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!