" There is an art of finding one's direction in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up." - René Daumal
It was only fitting that our sunset was as great a show as sunrise. Yesterday was a perfect day for getting out and exploring what this mountain top has to offer. The crew enjoyed playing in their back yard. The high was a comfortable 69º with a low of 47º. Chris took these photos of sunset to share with you all.
I want to add one thing to this blog entry. We are starting to experience warmer weather which brings out more hikers. Please remember, no matter what the conditions, it is extremely important to bring water with you. Not only bring it, drink it. We see more cases of dehydration on this mountain then any other medical emergency. Even if you are not thirsty, make yourself drink. I am not talking about caring a soda up the mountain or an energy drink. I mean water or some sort of sport drink that will help to rehydrate you. We have treated water at the top that you can refill your bottles with. I suggest drinking about 2 liters, if not more, during the hike up. Remember folks, drink your water. It can make for a much more pleasurable hike.
Good morning from the mountain. Chris captured this beautiful sunrise while I was still in dream land. One of his favorite times on the mountain are the hours from 5 am to 7 am. He loves waking up before everyone else and having his time to listen to NPR and make biscuits. I tell the crew, all of the time, how important it is to find a piece of the day to carve out and make your own. Fifteen minutes of solitude can help recharge your battery and refresh your mind. We love sharing this mountain with dayhikers and guests, so it is important to remind ourselves what this mountain is all about.
The days are getting warmer. The high yesterday was 69º with the low of 47º. The weather has been perfect for a hike around the top. Chris and I are back in training mode. We have signed up for a couple of races in August and November. It is good for us to have goals to look ahead to. It helps us stay motivated. So, if you pass us running back and forth, just ignore us. We like to call the flat section of trail our treadmill. Personally, I like the view from our treadmill much better then the one at the gym.
The vegetation is coming in strong and the deer are coming out in full force. We have quite a few around camp. It won't be long before we see their fawns frolicing around the cabins. I love this time of year. We seem to be a couple of weeks off for blooms. The sand myrtle has usually started to bloom on Cliff Tops and Myrtle Point, but we have not seen it yet. I have been asking locals about the fireflies in Elkmont, the word is "not yet". If you are hiking up today, you will have splendid weather. It is sunny and beautiful up top. The high yesterday was 67º with the low being 47º. The trails have quieted down a little bit. I know some schools are still in session, so the family vacations are not quite in full swing. Well, it is time to serve biscuits. We have 50 hungry guests patiently awaiting the breakfast bell. Happy Hiking.
A good part of yesterday was beautiful and sunny. The clouds starting rolling in around dinner time. It made for a dramatic sunset. The high yesterday was 64º with a low of 48º. The lodge is currently shrouded in cloud cover. It smells like rain is in our future. The families are on the mountain. You can tell school is out. Last night we had a dining room full of little ones ranging from 16 months on up. It brings a smile to my face to see multi-generations sitting at one table. LeConte Lodge is a great tradition to pass on.
The perfect ending to a great day. The sun came out and warmed up the mountain top. There were a lot of day hikers basking in the sun. The high reached 59º for a second day in a row and the low was 35º. Make sure you bring layers with you if you are coming up for the night. I have seen a lot of guests shivering while walking around camp, and later seen them in the famous LeConte hoodie.
Today is starting out to be a great day up top.
I would like to take a moment to remember my husband's grandfather, Col. John M. Virden. He served our country and made his family proud. I had a chance to get to know him, this past week, through pictures and old correspondence. It was great to learn more about my husband's side of the family. He was an interesting man who flew with the Flying Tigers and served as the press-relations person for President Eisenhower. I would like remember all of the people who have served our country and helped make it what it is today. I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day.
I awoke to sleet hitting my sky light and a darkness that only cloud coverage can create. Five minutes later I was pouring my coffee and noticed the clouds lifting and the valley below. This just goes to show you never know what kind of weather you might get in the Smokies. Always come prepared. As I am typing this post, rain has started to fall again. I doubt this will deter the masses from their hike up the mountain on this Memorial Day weekend. Yesterday kept us moving at a pretty steady pace. The high yesterday was 59º with a low of 35º. The cold nights are still hanging on. Make sure you bring layers of clothing with you. If you are planning on hiking today, carry your rain gear. The weather seems to be fickle this morning.
It's a fine morning to start off the weekend. It is promising to be a beautiful day on the mountain. I am sure this will bring a deluge of hikers to the lodge. Long weekend means busy, busy up top. We are loading up on coffee and ready for the day. The high yesterday was 44º with a low of 31º. I thought I was hiking back to spring, but it seems the cold temperatures are holding on for dear life.
Chris and I had a great hike up Alum yesterday. The sand myrtle seems to be in full swing just before the bluffs. It won't be long until the myrtle up top is putting on its display. I am ready for some photo ops of the beautiful flowers we get around the lodge. Hopefully, June will bring that. It is hard to believe it is just around the corner. Well, it is good to be back. It is time to go prep for the crowds. If you are out in the park this weekend, hike safe and enjoy this weather.
I wish everyone a fine Memorial Day weekend. The clouds have finally lifted here and we're looking at azure skies. It's a breezy, chilly, lovely afternoon and you can see as far as your eye is good.
This morning was a different story, however. While yesterday's high hit 57, Friday morning's low sank to 40. By late this morning the temperature dropped to 35 with a stiff wind. With the cloud pressing in and wind blowing up the mountain this morning, I felt like I'd been trapped in a Charles Dickens' novel. There's redemption at the end of A Christmas Carol, and I guess we've gotten some, too, as sunny skies have overtaken the top of Tennessee.
We're heading into late May and have yet to see a bear at the lodge. Usually by now, we've seen a bruin wandering through camp. With that in mind, I wanted to pass along a few bear safety tips for your trip to the Smokies.
We're sensitive to leaving food, drink or backpacks lying around camp. Sometimes the oddest things could attract a bear onto your porch here at the lodge. That's why we ask our guests not to leave anything out on their porch unless someone is there to watch it. One time we had a bear steal a pair of jeans from a porch.
I also heard a report recently about a bear breaking into someone's car trunk (which had been held partially shut with an elastic cord) in the Alum Cave Bluff parking lot. Please don't leave food in any unsecured location in the park. Once a bear gets a taste for human food, grubs and acorns don't seem quite so tasty. In all seriousness, once a bear begins to look at humans as a source for food, the people who got him hooked have signed his death warrant.
On the trail, be careful about leaving scraps of snacks. Just because it's biodegradable doesn't mean you should leave it in the woods. That apple core is an artificial food source and could begin a bear down that nefarious path of seeking food from humans.
We had some guests not long ago say they always kept a jar of peanut butter in their backpack to throw at a bear in case it threatened them. We mentioned that was exactly why that bear would threaten them, because it had been rewarded with human food for that bad behavior. We encouraged them to bring a can of pepper spray instead if they were concerned about bears (not that I've ever needed it in the Smokies). It's lighter than a can of peanut butter (but doesn't taste very good on a cracker), and much better for the long-term health of the bear.
We only had one problem bear last year at the lodge. This one bear had lost all fear of humans and was waiting around the lodge for someone to make a mistake--leave a pack unattended or leave a cup of lemonade out on the porch.
We ended up trapping him and ranger Rick Varner came up to do a full health workup on the bear. When that bear awoke from sedation, he was pretty wary of the two-legged critters responsible. That story ended happily, exactly like we hoped--that bear may have continued to call LeConte home but he never turned into a beggar. As far as we know, he's doing what Smoky bears are supposed to do--live wild and fend for himself.
I've heard some unfair criticism that the rangers are bullying trapped bears. I've seen firsthand two bears trapped on LeConte, and the actions of Rick Varner and the other bear rangers may very well have saved their lives and prevented ugly bear-human encounters. In both instances, the ranger explained each step of the process to a gathering of hikers in a wonderful educational opportunity while the bear was sedated.
I know this has been a long post, but this topic is important to all of us on LeConte. We're concerned for the health of our neighbor bears and our human guests. We can share the mountain. Allyson has returned from off days and will be retaking the lead on High on LeConte. I've enjoyed visiting with many of you in person and thank you for reading. Happy trails.
Hello to all of you. Mt. LeConte is still seeing some unsettled weather, but nothing that should force you to change hiking plans. We were treated to another brief supper shower Wednesday night. We received another heavy shower this morning about 6:45 a.m., just about time for me to haul the coffee up to the office.
We reached 68 degrees Wednesday, the warmest day of 2013. The morning low was 50 degrees with 0.16 inches of rain (that total doesn't include our morning shower as I checked the gauge about 15 minutes prior). The current conditions are much like the last two days, periods of thick clouds punctuated with bursts of sun.
I was perusing the calendar yesterday and realized we've been open for about two months now. We have a lot of season left, but I've already been happy to see some of my favorite guests of the year--people who love to be on the mountain. The best thing about my favorite guest list is that at a place like LeConte, the list continually grows--like a boy's Christmas list after he tears into the catalog for the first time.
Just in the last week we've hosted so many interesting folks, with whom I've enjoyed friendly conversations. Just in the last couple of days we've met guests from Washington to New Jersey, with a contingent from Missouri to represent the interior of this fine land.
Yesterday we were honored that Jenene Martin and Rick Rinschler chose LeConte Lodge as their engagement spot. Rick proposed at Myrtle Point Wednesday afternoon (in good weather) and received the answer he hoped.
Sam McGroom brought her family up to see us. I wrote about Sam last year after she chose LeConte as the last hike as she finished all the trails in the Smokies. It was good to see her again the year after she joined the Smokies' vaunted 900-mile club.
The forecast sounds pretty good for a busy Memorial Day weekend. Come on up and see us. There's plenty of room left on the favorite guest list. Happy trails.
Good afternoon. We've been powerfully busy up here at the lodge. With a nice Memorial Day weekend in the forecast my advice to the crew down below on off days is to catch your breath now.
The atmosphere was electric in more ways than one last night at supper. We didn't get heavy rains as I heard they did in the valley, but we were treated to an impressive lightning storm. I was standing beneath the overhang on the porch and saw one lightning bolt ripping through the sky--a jagged hypodermic needle delivering tough medicine to a tree between High Top and the Trillium Gap Trail.
Tuesday's high was 67, tying for the warmest day of 2013. The low only sank to 50 with 0.38 inches of rain in the gauge. Wednesday's forecast isn't promising, but we've had a nice day up top thus far.
The main subject of today's entry is Crazy Horse, the dependable, strong and proud. While I could be talking about the Native American, one of the most feared and skilled warriors in the sordid history of the "Wars of the West" (ask Gen. George A. Custer), today I'm talking about one of our finest LeConte llamas.
Crazy Horse is the most veteran of the LeConte string. Crazy Horse predates Alan, who is working in his 11th season as a llama wrangler, and is the last of his original team. "Crazy Horse is a really solid llama," Alan said. "The most striking thing about him is he has two different colored eyes--one brown and one blue. He's a hard-working guy."
Chrissy, in her first season as a LeConte llama wrangler, didn't hesitate when asked how valuable Crazy Horse has been in her inaugural campaign.
"Crazy Horse is a 'man's man' llama," Chrissy said. "He exudes his experience more than any other llama. This boy just wants to work. He's past all the games the other llamas play."
Crazy Horse packed up some groceries for us today and took down some linens to be washed. He'll enjoy life on the farm and be off for Friday's trip and the weekend before returning to see us on Monday (if the schedule holds to form). We salute Crazy Horse, the elder statesman of the LeConte string. Happy trails.
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!