March 31, 2023
GSMNP will be temporarily closing US 441 (Newfound Gap Rd) at 5:00 PM in conjunction with the High Wind Warning for this evening and Saturday. The main road will likely remain closed for the duration. Guests with reservations at the lodge should adjust their plans accordingly. Cherokee Orchard Rd and its trails remains accessible to the public at this time.
The forecast for this weekend sure is making for some deja vu. Once again the Smokies are looking at strong winds out of the south, bringing warm air and chances for thunderstorms Friday into early Saturday. Fitting for this edition of March to go out with a roar. Currently a High Wind Warning is set to begin at 6:00 PM this evening and last until 11:00 PM Saturday night. At their peak strength tonight, sustained winds will be around 50mph with gusts of 80mph possible. They’ll be just as strong on Saturday, so don’t be surprised if GSMNP opts to temporarily close US 441 through the park until conditions improve and roads are assessed. And because these mighty winds will be out of the south, that means trails on the mountain’s northern side, like Rainbow Falls, will be better shielded from the breezy battering. Right now the precip amounts are low, but a storm could flare up and hit the summit just right with the sudden influx of warm air and moisture. Anyone looking to tackle the mountain today should take care of business early, as it’s already getting blustery up here. If you have a reservation this weekend, better load up on that protective gear for staying dry and warm from head to toe.
Have a great day.
March 30, 2023
Another gorgeous sunrise greets guests high above East Tennessee this fine Thursday morning. We had ourselves a superbly sunny day yesterday and are expecting a repeat performance again today. Temps overnight dipped down into the 20s, so folks will have to contend with chilly conditions until the sun gains some altitude. Once it does, we should enjoy high temps in the 40s later this afternoon. Speaking of repeat performances, the start to this coming weekend looks wet and windy much like the previous. Clouds will increase during the night and welcome back the rain, thunderstorms, and blustery conditions on Friday. The skies could remain sour deep into Saturday afternoon. No wind advisories have been issued just yet, but early indications are that gusts could tap 65mph late Friday into Saturday. Temps should remain mild throughout, but then dip below freezing again come Sunday after this nasty front blows through. So have all the necessary gear handy for as safe and enjoyable a hike as possible this weekend, and have those alternative options ready in case the NPS feels the need to temporarily close US 441.
Have a great day.
March 29, 2023
It’s a frosty mountaintop this Wednesday, with every surface glazed in a crunchy white. The skies are clear all around though, and we are set to have a beautiful sunny day ahead. Hikers will experience brisk conditions to start this day, as we’ve dipped down to temps in the teens. Once that glowing orb in the sky overtakes High Top to the east, its warmth should help toast things up and even see us reach temps in the 40s this afternoon. Breezy conditions will persist out of the north with gusts of 30mph at times. Traction devices and warm layers are all good things to pack today whether staying overnight or just passing through.
We’d prefer to be done talking about it, but The Great Ground Freeze of March 2023 on Mt. LeConte had one more parting shot in store for us yesterday. Thank you to everyone who visited the lodge Tuesday afternoon for your patience and understanding while we tackled another unplanned and pesky pipe issue. Not having running water for a couple hours during peak traffic hours is never ideal, especially for the hard working crew having to tote jugs of water up from the spring just to keep things rolling. But all systems are back up and running as they should be once again! April is drawing near, and hopefully we can put this bothersome beast of March to bed once and for all.
Have a great day.
March 28, 2023
Partly cloudy conditions streak across the upper atmosphere this morning. We could see less and less sun as the day goes on, with even a slight chance of rain beginning this afternoon. Temps will be spent mostly in the 30s and 40s today with a steady breeze. By this evening our recent warm streak will officially end as temps slide down below freezing for the first time in several days. And if the precip chances continue to linger by that point, some flurries could even fly. Trail conditions could turn icy and slick overnight and into the next morning, so consider having those traction devices handy. Thankfully the cold spell will be brief, as sunshine returns for Wednesday and Thursday.
Have a great day.
March 27, 2023
It’s turning out to be a beautiful day on the mountain. What once began in and under clouds with occasional mists has slowly given way to mostly sunny skies this afternoon. Aside from the light breezes passing overhead, temps in the mid 50s feel quite pleasant in the calm. Today marks one full week into the new season, and it’s been enjoyable to see our crew learn and grow in their roles, especially as they continue to be excited about meeting and serving our numerous guests.
It looks like we have some cloudier conditions slated for Tuesday, with temps eventually dipping back down toward freezing as the day progresses. Thankfully any ice that was still lingering from The Great Ground Freeze of March 2023 on Mt. LeConte has - for the most part - disappeared. What stubbornly frozen water remains on this mountain top is very likely under the occasionally flipped rock in a densely shaded area still clinging to a solid and chilly state. Perhaps more importantly, the ice cubes closer in similarity to what brought down the Titanic than those for sipping on savory beverages have at long last vanished from our water tanks and lines. Warmth and sunshine means happy water heaters, happy spigots, happy solar panels, happy crew, happy llamas, and happy hikers! This close to April, more spring please…
Have a great rest of the day.
March 26, 2023
Well nobody got windswept off of the mountaintop this weekend, but it sure was rough up here for a bit. Thankfully skies didn’t take long to clear late Saturday morning and treated us to another beautiful afternoon full of warmth and sunshine. Sunday has been pleasant as well, albeit with a bit more clouds in the sky. We even had a freakish mix of rain and snow flurries for a brief moment this morning whereas the thermometer took a quick dip to 36°. Was certainly an unexpected eyebrow raising moment. GSMNP had their hands full clearing downed trees and debris yesterday along the roads, but they were able to reopen US 441 (Newfound Gap Rd) in the middle of the afternoon. Looks like we have some more rain and storm action on deck for late this evening and into Monday morning before improving after lunch time. Temps will continue to stay mild with highs in the 50s and lows in the 40s.
Have a great rest of the day.
March 25, 2023
The forecasters were right, as the mountain’s been getting walloped all night by winds, rain, thunder, and lightning. The Park closed US 441 (Newfound Gap Rd) last night in anticipation of the worsening conditions and rightfully so. Judging by the radar, the nasty precip should start to clear out later this morning, but the High Wind Warning calling for 70mph gusts doesn’t expire until 2:00 PM this afternoon. Even if skies clear in time for guests to have a decent day on the trail and a rewarding sunset tonight, it will still be on the breezy side up top. Sunday is looking pleasant. Temps have currently dipped into the upper 30s as the biscuits get rolled out. We actually tapped 60° yesterday afternoon, a great day for some of our llamas first trip to the summit, and we are expected to see the upper 50s again today and tomorrow. Cherokee Orchard Rd remains accessible at this time, so anyone eager to start up the hill will have to utilize one of the trails emanating from the mountain’s north side. Every path will be thoroughly soaked today, so dress appropriately. And if you come across what looks like a freshly fallen tree, please take note of its location/size and share with us or the NPS for prompt resolution. Thank you!
Stay dry, hold tight to those umbrellas, and have a great day.
March 24, 2023
So about that tug-of-war between winter and spring on the mountain…
The forecast has a doozy dialed up for us this weekend. Beginning this evening and lasting until Saturday night, our region is under a High Wind Watch. Air out of the south will be charging hard over the mountains, bringing not only unseasonably warm temps but roaring wind speeds. Gusts are expected to have a strong presence here over the next 72 hours, with the crescendo coming sometime Saturday at possible wind speeds of 65mph. Friday will start sunny and delightful with highs nearing the 60s (nearly a 70° swing in a few days when factoring in windchill!), but rain and thunderstorms will roll into town overnight and rock the Smokies early Saturday. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that hazardous conditions across the upper elevations cause a temporary closure of some park roads, so have your plan Bs and Cs already mapped out if you have an overnight reservation. By Saturday evening the skies should improve giving way to a beautiful back half of the weekend. Come dressed head to toe for wind and rain, and dry clothes to change into. There may not be a chance of snow this weekend (amen!), but hypothermia is always lurking around the unprepared hiker.
Speaking of clothes, we need to unveil this season’s exclusive “I Hiked It” design! We historically bust it out of the freshly flown boxes on Opening Day, but recent circumstances dictated that our focus be on not turning into popsicles, and most importantly serving our on-site guests. It’s of course the in-person experience that made the lodge such a famous destination after all, and we thank those rabid enthusiasts who follow us virtually for your patience and understanding. Without further delay, here’s a swag-tastic nod to season #99 atop East Tennessee’s gem!
Have a great day.
March 23rd, 2023
There comes a point during such a long and deep freeze where no amount of blow torches, space heaters, pick axes, or chisels can match the fury of an ice-encased mountain. And when that point is reached, despite all other attempts at countering, the only solution becomes patience. That is the story of the past 72 hours that shall be known as the Great Ground Freeze of March 2023 on Mt. LeConte, of which a book could surely be written, even in the moment’s brevity. Many lodge enthusiasts fantasize about the solitude and simplicity of a life on the mountain during the winter months. Granted, it takes a special kind of person to embrace the lack in a number of common living conveniences, namely running water. And as a bonus, warm water at that. When such a convenience is not an expectation, then there are no surprises. There are multiple reasons the lodge is closed during the winter, the challenges with providing running water in such a remote and fierce location being chief among them.
March on Mt. LeConte has a long history of taking no prisoners when it comes to the turbulent transition of the seasons, and this has been just the latest in a long line of episodes. So how does a crew overcome such a challenge, when doors are open and “modern” conveniences, even in one of the last truly rustic holdouts in the USA, become expectations?
Patience. Perseverance. Then throw in an inspiring dose of teamwork.
You’re going to dig up every last pipe and valve to thaw that last blockage even if it takes all night. You’re going to sweet talk those precious little flames to give it all they’ve got to warm up what feels like liquid straight from arctic ice. And you’re going to amass an army of brawn and bravery to carve out a safe path for courageous llamas and wranglers bringing much needed provisions. Mother Nature and the Winter Warlock may be looking to win some battles, but this crew is committed to winning the war.
And now that all the water is flowing like it should be, a summer-like surge is inbound. Temps are near 50° this afternoon with partly cloudy skies, and we could even creep close to 60° over the coming days. Trails will continue to be a slog as rainfall and melting ice make their way down the slopes. Best to keep those traction devices handy just in case. And a shoutout to the NPS trail crews who clearedTrillium Gap and Rainbow Falls trails of downed trees earlier this week.
Have a great rest of the day, and raise a glass of Tang in honor of every plumber everywhere keeping the water flowing in winter!
Wet, cold and soggy day
The mountain is experiencing connection issues. High yesterday was 42, low 27. Guests today are showing up cold and wet. It has stayed above freezing today, but still ice on the trails. Traction devices are still recommended especially on the upper sections, north facing and shady areas on the trails. The weather should be warmer, with more sun tomorrow this will help melt the snow and ice. Be prepared for wet and muddy trails as the thawing continues. Thursday and Friday, look mostly sunny, but very windy conditions are predicted.
The llamas had a tough time negotiating the trail and the crew had to help them out with pickaxes.
The trail crew cleared Trillium Gap from Grotto Falls Parking area and Rainbow Falls this week. Remember Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is still closed to the public through April 6.
Hopefully, with the clearing weather the mountain can start posting soon.
Have a good evening .
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!