Good afternoon to all of you. Today I'm bringing back something I started last year--LeConte Lodge crew biographies. We get lots of questions every day, and often they concern how we ended up working at the lodge. I hope these introductions will give you a glimpse into a little of the back story.
Bethany Houghton, one of our first-year crew members, gets us started. But first, I'll provide a weather update from Mt. LeConte. Last night and this morning gave our guests something to write home about. Wednesday's high reached 65 with a low of 46, just about perfect for this time of year. However, aside from some blue patches every now and then, clouds have enveloped us since late morning. As of 2 p.m., a few light sprinkles have been falling.
Now, I'll turn the introduction over to Bethany.
Growing up, I've always been exposed to the outdoors and all the different affiliated sports and activities. As a family we went on a number of camping and backpacking trips each year, and I can only remember one vacation when we stayed in a hotel. We always found great campgrounds to stay in when we went to the beach or Six Flags.
With those types of vacations as a starting point, my adventures expanded as a I got older. The summer after my freshman year at the University of Tennessee I moved to Hawaii with two friends to explore the Big Island.
The next two summers I worked at a Christian outdoor adventure camp in Northern California called JH Ranch. While there I was able to climb Mt. Shasta a few times, which had been a dream of mine ever since I saw it with my dad at the age of 16 after we attended a father/daughter session the the ranch.
Before returning to California for a second summer my dad and I rode our bicycles from our house in Knoxville, Tenn., to Fort Pickens in Pensacola, Fla. The next summer we decided to ride bicycles from our house to the White House. We've seen more of Highway 11 than we ever thought possible.
I was almost finished with school at UT when I decided to move to Maine for nine months. I was in the Midcoast area for most of that time before going to work at a Girl Scout camp in Baxter State Park. Before leaving I hiked up Katahdin a few times and was able to witness a number of AT through-hikers finish their trek. That is a beautiful thing to witness.
I came back to Tennessee to finish my degree and graduated in December. LeConte Lodge has been a big tradition in my family since I was 9, and when the opportunity arose to work here I was more than thrilled.
The forecast for the weekend sounds promising so come on up and see us. Happy trails.
The weather broke during supper last night, much to the delight of our guests. After the rain moved out we were treated to blue skies with a nice autumn feel to the air. The high reached 56 with a low of 47.
After registering 0.81 inches of rain Monday, we added another 0.92 inches Tuesday. During breakfast announcements when I gave yesterday's weather conditions, some of the guests scoffed that they "only" hiked up in 0.92 inches of water. I think they wanted me to move the decimal after their soggy ascent. They had beautiful weather for their return trip, however, as the summit of LeConte is currently sitting under mostly sunny skies.
Our fellow crew members Beau and Courtney had to adjust their outdoor wedding plans yesterday, but I've heard good reports on the indoor celebration. We're all excited about their return to LeConte and look forward to plenty of stories. With so many of our crew members attending the wedding, we were surely glad to see former assistant manager Henry Neel come up to lend a hand. It's always nice to have Henry on the mountain for a visit.
On the subject of weddings, John and Bonnie Northrup, members of the LeConte Lodge crew from 2010-2012, just celebrated their first wedding anniversary. I'm beginning to think it's something in our wonderful LeConte water. Feel free to fill up your water bottles from the blue spigot by the office if you hike up. That water is treated and ready to drink (I just can't guarantee you won't be planning a wedding next June).
Turns out LeConte is not the only spot in East Tennessee with recent bear activity. I read in the Knoxville News Sentinel that a bear had been spotted on the University of Tennessee campus (my alma mater) on Saturday, June 10 about 11 p.m. I saw a lot of interesting things on campus Saturday nights around 11 p.m., including some hairy omnivores with questionable manners--but never a bear.
The bear was spotted in a tree near UT's Panhellenic Building, where Tennessee's sorority women hold their meetings. Perhaps the nightlife in the Smokies was a little slow for the bruin. According to the article, the bear was captured and relocated to the Cherokee National Forest, which is beautiful and has a less stringent ACT/SAT score entrance requirement than UT. However, I remember lots of nice scenery around the Panhellenic Building, too.
"Love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring. Bound by wild desire, I fell into a ring of fire." -- "Ring of Fire" by June Carter and Merle Kilgore.
In honor of Beau and Courtney's wedding, this is the only legal "ring of fire" (fires being prohibited and all) I could find on Mt. LeConte.
Have a fine day. Happy trails.
Good day to all of you. And the winner from yesterday's guess the photo location is ... well, it's a little complicated. The top photo was taken on the upper end looking back at Alum Cave Bluff overhang. The bottom photo was taken on the Alum Cave Bluff Trail not too far away from Mossy Spring, roughly one mile below the lodge.
Technically, Brian N Bama's answer was correct, though his location of the rootball photograph gave a lot of room to roam. Vicki got closer, though she overshot her location by a little bit. Woody's answer was closest. Thanks to all of you for taking part and being good sports.
We've enjoyed a beautiful day on top of LeConte--if you happen to be a frog. It's rained most of the morning and afternoon. Yesterday proved quite similar, though we did get some intermittent sun late in the afternoon. On Monday, we topped out at 64 degrees with a low of 52 and tallied 0.81 inches of rain.
We've volunteered to accept all of Max Patch's share of rain today in hopes that my fellow LeConte Lodge crew members Beau and Courtney will have a lovely afternoon for their wedding at that location. Forecast didn't sound too promising, but everyone up here on LeConte is hoping for the best for them. If we can soak up some rain for them, we'll do it with a smile on our face and water dripping down our chin.
It seems we've had lots of bear news lately. We saw a young bear around the lodge three times Monday. I spoke with some folks who spent last night in the LeConte backcountry shelter, and they saw it, too. It didn't cause any issues, but please be extra careful with your backpacks, food and drink if you're coming up to see us. We'll be happy to share the mountain with our four-legged neighbors, but sharing food is a loser's game on both counts.
In other bear news, llama wrangler Chrissy reported she saw two bears on the Trillium Gap Trail Monday. One bear was near the parking lot (all too often an easy place to snag food left by people). The other bear was further up the trail.
Keeping the bears safe also keeps people safe. Happy trails.
Good afternoon to all of you. This is Nathan, patching in for Allyson for a few days. It's been a wet Monday morning on the mountain and the rain is still falling as of early afternoon. The forecast Tuesday sounds pretty damp, too. On Sunday, we registered a high of 65 and low of 50 degrees with a scant 0.04 inches of rain dropped in an overnight shower. It's a safe bet we've multiplied that total already this afternoon. I talked to some nice folks whose extra dry socks got soaked in their backpack. I hope you can be the beneficiary of their damp lesson.
I'm going to do something a little different with the two photos I'm posting today. We're going to test your trail knowledge a bit. The first person to correctly respond in the comments section with the correct trail and location where the photos were made wins LeConte Lodge bragging rights for the day. For tax reporting purposes LeConte Lodge bragging rights can be valued as priceless. The winner and/or correct answer will be revealed in Tuesday's post. One of the photos is a gimme to get you warmed up. The other is a little tougher. Again, try to be as specific as to the trail and location of the photo as you can. Both photos were taken on marked, publicly accessible trails in May.
I hiked up from my June off days Sunday afternoon. I spoke with a park ranger patrolling the Alum Cave Bluff Trail parking lot who told me they had run across some rascal taking an inordinate amount of interest in cars that weren't his in the Laurel Falls parking lot (between Sugarlands Visitor Center and Elkmont). Please make sure you don't leave any valuables visible in your vehicle when you come to visit us. We don't have much trouble with guest vehicles being bothered, but I don't want that trend to end with you.
It was good to see so many families out celebrating Father's Day with a hike on the trails of Mt. LeConte. Rhododendron and mountain laurel amplified an already beautiful trail. Everyone seemed to be faring fine, no tongues dragging the ground. However, I did notice most of the fathers carrying the family backpacks, so that must not have been part of their present. Thanks for reading. Happy trails.
Chris and I got out for a stroll around the mountain yesterday. It was a gorgeous day up top. The sand myrtle was hanging on and the rhododendron is getting ready to show its brilliant display. We were talking about our future trip down the mountain, which is today. We are super excited to be hiking down to attend the nuptials of our own Courtney and Beau. They will be getting married on top of Max Patch. Chris is getting a little nervous, since they asked him to perform the wedding. Yes, thanks to the internet, he is licensed. Don't worry, I will be taking a lot of photos to share with you all.
On to the next story. I know you all saw the photo of Chris sending down his weed eater. You will be happy to know, it has been replaced with a professional model. He had to do a day hike down on Friday to get some supplies. While he was down he swung by the co-op and picked up his new toy. He had a lovely hike up the mountain, bonding with his new weed eater. It took him one morning to cover the same amount of camp as it would usually take three mornings. He was like a kid in a candy store. Men and their toys!
On our trip around the mountain, we stopped to check our little chicks. They are doing great. I am sure they will be out of the nest by the time Chris and I come back from days off. Maybe I will find another nest to watch when I get back.
I am super excited to be heading to down today. After the wedding, Chris and I will be flying to Arizona to meet our newest family members. My sister had triplets and I have not gotten to meet them yet. I can not wait to hold little Evie, Ruby, and Stevie. This is fun packed week down. I am sure I will need a rest when I return to work. In the meantime, Nathan will take good care of you. Happy hiking and see you in a week.
I was beginning to wonder when we were going to see some color on the mountain. Finally, the rhodo is starting to bloom. We seem to be a couple of weeks behind. For those of your wondering about the azaleas, they may be behind as well. Chris said the mountain laurel is on its way to peaking around Inspiration Point. The cold spring is throwing everything off. I guess I should say cold spring and summer. The high yesterday was 59º with a low of 40º. We did have a beautiful day around the lodge. Today is starting off with blue skies. This weekend is going to be a great weekend to hike up your favorite mountain. I was going to say we would have plenty of cold lemonade waiting for you, but with these temperatures, you may want some hot chocolate. In any case, we will have both. I am going to take a walk around the mountain top and see if I can get some good pictures of the sand myrtle. We will need one for the LeConte Lodge calendar.
What a wet day we had yesterday. We did see some of that rain they were calling for. Most of the damage was done to the north of us. There were tornado warnings for the lower elevations around Pittman Center and Cosby. I will say it was a bit creepy when our phones were going off with tornado warnings because we were hitting the cell towers in Pittman Center. The fog actually cleared up and it was a beautiful morning. You could see the storm systems rolling in. We knew we were in for a rockin' and rollin' afternoon. Most of our rain came in a twenty minute time frame. We received about an inch within that time. The total was 1.22". The storm system cooled things down a bit. The low last night was 45º with a high of 67º. We are socked in again this morning. We have hope of seeing sun a little later in the morning.
Take that FedEx! You have nothing on our llamas. Rex has brought up clean linens, loaves of bread, groceries for the crew, and he can now add taking down a broken weed eater to his resume. Sometimes you just have to do what you just have to do. Hopefully, we will get the weed eater back soon, it is summer up here. The grass is growing at warp speed. If you are wondering, Chris uses it for the entire camp. It is pretty much the only way he mows the grass on the side of this mountain. We can add this to the list of many uses for duck tape on Mt. LeConte.
The forecast was of no use yesterday. The clouds finally rolled out and the sun shone down upon us. The high finally reached the 70s. The high was 73º with a low of 55º. It felt like summer yesterday. Once again, we are starting the day in the clouds. The forecast is calling for rain again, but I am not falling for it. I guess we will get what we get and be happy about it.
Chris took this picture from Cliff Top, yesterday. The day cleared up nicely and was the warmest one this season. We hit 66º with a low of 50º. It is now starting to feel like summer on the mountain. The mornings are still chilly. We are currently socked in again. I believe the forecast is calling for rain for the next couple of days. I guess it will be good days to get caught up on indoor chores.
One of my favorite things about this time of the year is looking for Junco nests. The crew found this one on Alum Cave trail. We have had so much fun watching it and waiting for the babies to arrive. Well, they did, yesterday. I guess I now share my birthday with 4 little baby juncos. Bethany described them as looking like dust bunnies. I thought that was a very good description. I look forward to watching them over the next week and seeing them get big enough to fledge the nest. We have also spotted a fawn around camp. The does look like they are getting bigger and possibly ready to have more babies. The summer brings on new life in so many ways on the top of Mt. LeConte.
Yesterday was on again off again as far as precipitation. We saw a little bit of sun through out the day. The high was 61º with a low of 50º. It is currently foggy and wet.
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!