With all due apologies to the Marshall Tucker Band for heavily editing their song title, that pretty much describes a news-laden Tuesday on Mt. LeConte. Perhaps all the following news will make up for some lazy July day when there's not much going on and we have to report for the 121st consecutive day that no crampons will be needed to get to the lodge.
First of all, I'd like to thank all of you for your kind words regarding yesterday's post. I enjoyed meeting several of you, and look forward to having the rest of you visit fine LeConte Lodge. I'll endeavor to keep you abreast of the goings on when Allyson and Chris are on off days. Secondly, because of the way my position is structured (taking on portions of Chris' and Allyson's duties), I'll often be updating much later than Allyson. For instance, I worked 17 hours yesterday taking care of our guests and lodge business, but I'll try to update the best my schedule will allow. I appreciate your interest and patience.
I mentioned yesterday how nice our weather had been. Not two hours after I wrote those words, we had some snow flurries flying about. No accumulation, but this mountain makes meteorologists old. It kind of reminds me of my meteorological ineptitude when I was a horse wrangler for a ranch in the Front Range of Colorado's Rockies. My fellow wranglers would ask me after breakfast if I had put my sunscreen on that day. If I answered yes, they knew that they should tie their rain slickers to their saddles. Dust storms wouldn't be a problem that day.
On LeConte, we did top out at 40 degrees Tuesday afternoon, but shivered down to 18 at our 6:30 a.m. observation Wednesday. On the bright side, because it has been so dry, I've received two good trail reports on Alum and Trillium. One day hiker said conditions on Alum were still good. Mitch, our llama wrangler, echoed that sentiment for Trillium Gap with the exception of a slick 10-foot section.
It may be hard to make out in the above photograph, but, to answer a question from yesterday, the smoke emanates from a fire outside the park on English Mountain. Our thoughts go out to the folks who lost their homes. We hope for safety for the firefighters who are struggling with the beautiful but rugged terrain. Last night, the fire looked particularly ominous on our sister mountain to the north. The dual fire tracks glowed ferociously like jack o' lantern eyes in the April dark. The glow reminded me of the active lava flows at night in Volcanoes National Park near where I wrangled at a ranch on the Big Island of Hawaii.
To close on a happier note, we did enjoy our view of the International Space Station last night. I was fortunate enough to be a crew trainer at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center's Space Camp this time last year, and admire the fantastic discovery science being accomplished on the International Space Station. It's much nicer than our first venture into space stations, Skylab in the 1970s. Skylab was built from leftover parts of the Saturn V rockets after the last three Apollo moon missions were scrapped. Skylab ended up being pulled back to Earth, where it burned up upon reentry, depositing a large piece of space junk in Australia (harming no people or koalas). Word has it that Australia fined the U.S. for littering. We picked up our "litter," and that piece of Skylab is on display in the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., today. There's some trivia for you.
Have a fine day. Happy trails.
Welcome Back Chrissy
Good morning everyone. I'm Nathan, the assistant manager at LeConte Lodge, and Allyson's been kind (and patient) enough to train me on updating High on LeConte in preparation for her days off. This is her photo, as she's far more accomplished in that field than I. It's a mighty delicate thing updating a website from a mountain without electricity that is freely available in the great cosmopolitan centers of world commerce. I hope it's easier to learn than shaving my head by light of a kerosene lamp (that requires a great deal of faith and a handful of bandages).
We've been enjoying a nice spell of weather here on LeConte. The nights and mornings have been chilly, but not inordinately so for this time of year. We topped out at a high of 51 Monday, while our overnight low slid to 28.
Upon Chrissy's return to the lodge last night, we marked the completion of our 2012 LeConte crew. She was a valued member of last year's staff and we're proud to have her back. She ascended via Alum Cave Bluff and reported that the trail was as dry as she could remember. That should make for good hiking and safer traction on the rocks.
Come on up and see us. Happy trails.
Spring is in the air
For the first time in the ten years I have been on the mountain, Easter felt like Easter. It was a pleasant day up top. The trees are budding and the spring beauties are all around camp. It is nice to actually see spring in the spring. Chris and I are getting ready to head off the mountain for our first set of days off. We will leave Wednesday night. I am training Nathan to take over the blog while I am gone. I know you will enjoy his posts. He is a fantastic story teller.
Easter on the mountain
Happy Easter From Mt. LeConte
Another cold night on the mountain. The low last night was 29 with the high yesterday of 50. It was a great day to be outside. We had a lot of day hikers make their way to the top. I hope everyone has a great day.
Bye Bye Flip Flops....
The views were amazing yesterday. The air was crisp and clear. The high yesterday was 44. You could tell it was a holiday. There were a lot of folks taking advantage of the amazing weather. The low last night was 27. It is currently 29. It is looking like another great day up top. I hope everyone can get out and enjoy this beautiful Easter weekend.
Cool air moving in
The thermometer is reading 37 degrees. It has dropped a whole degree since I woke up at 6:30. The cold air is moving in. It is looking like it is going to be a chilly Easter weekend up top. If you have plans to hike up the mountain this weekend, make sure you bring plenty of layers for the colder temperatures we are going to be getting.
For many of you who have hiked to the top of Mt. LeConte, you often ask why there are so many dead trees in the park. I thought I would share a little bit of information about the Balsam woolly adelgid. These small wingless insects were introduced in the United States in the early 1900s. They are an invasive species that originated in Europe. These insects infest and kill fir trees. Since the invasion of the adelgid, found around 1957, the Fraser fir mortality rates have been around 90-99%. A few areas around the park seem to be seeing a rise in regeneration by young firs. Mt. LeConte has seen an increase in the past few years.
It is strange to see old pictures from the 70s that show an amazing amount of healthy fir trees around the lodge. We are happy to see the saplings doing so well. I hope that future generations will see a different mountain filled with fir trees.
Singing in the rain
The rain clouds dumped on us for the better part of the day. It made for awesome puddles for little boys( and older ladies ) to play in. You learn to enjoy what each type of weather brings. If we didn't play in the rain, we would be in doors most of the time. The cute little boy with the monkey hat is the two year old son of two of our past crew members. Being on crew is like being a part
of a bigger family. It is great to have past crew members bring the next generation up the mountain to experience the magic the lodge has to offer. I love seeing kids get that spark in their eyes when they realize what a magical place the outdoors can be.
I have to admit, I love my job. I am sitting at the computer with the window open and the cool air awakening my senses. The birds singing in the trees, the sun and blue sky warming the mountain, and the sounds of the guests making new friends and sharing their tales of the mountain. Life on the mountain is simple and good.
"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness." ~Henry David Thoreau
Having Fun on the Mountain
The crew loves exploring this mountain. Some of the boys hiked around Myrtle Point to check out some of the areas off to the side of the rock outcropping. The days have been phenomenal for being outside. Our luck may have run out this morning. The mountain is covered in fog and the wind is blowing at a pretty good clip. Our thermometer says it is 50 degrees outside. It feel a lot colder.
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!