After a day of on-again, off-again rainfall, we were treated to a beautiful rainbow over High Top. We saw over .75" of rainfall yesterday. So, it is no wonder that the park has experienced another rock slide on 441. I called the park service and was informed that they were hoping to have the slide cleared up within the next couple of hours. If you are hiking up today and were planning on taking Alum Cave, you can still come that way, you just may be getting on the trail a little later. The slide is around the Chimney Tops Overlook. It is between Gatlinburg and Alum Cave trail. If you are wanting to get an early start, you can still take Bullhead, Rainbow, or Trillium Gap trails. I hope this information helps. I will try and keep an eye on the blog comments for any questions.
After our afternoon thunderstorm, the clouds broke and gave way to an incredible sunset. The high yesterday was 67º with a low of 52º. We were treated to some thunderstorms in the distance that put on a great lightning show last night.
The crew is getting excited to celebrate our half way point. Tomorrow is the official mid season. Chris and I always find it interesting to see what crews are still hanging out together at this time. This crew gets along fantastically. They are still playing cards or Yahtzee at night and hiking together during the day. That always makes for a pleasant season when the kids play well together. It won't be long before we are placing our bets on the first snow fall.
I love taking pictures of the morning dew on the flowers. The dew on this bee balm reminded me of the sugar coating that comes on gummy candy. The vegetation is glistening all around camp. We received another 1.1" of rain last night. Yesterday was rather pleasant for the better part of the day. The high was 70º with a low of 51º. The rain held off so we could get out and start our half marathon training. It has been so wet this season, I thought I might end up walking the event in November. The trails have been too sloppy to actually run. They are starting to dry out a little. Today is starting out nice. The sun is shining and the temperature is quite pleasant. We will see what the afternoon holds.
Along with the amazing sunrise, the monks hood have made their debut. The flowers are starting to show their colors up top. It won't be long until the mountain top is exploding in color. It is feeling like summer around the lodge. The high yesterday was 72º with a low of 53º. We had an afternoon thundershower that brought over 1/2" of rain. I was just commenting to Chris how interesting it was that we had so much rain this season, but not a lot of thunderstorms. I guess I spoke to soon. I know I have said this before, but each season is so different. This year, we have hardly seen any wildlife. We have a few deer around camp but the fawns have been elusive. We have not had a lot of bear activity. I think we have had one bear come through camp during the day and that was for a brief moment. We are almost to the half way point in our season. It will be interesting to see what the second half of the season holds.
Chris and I made our way back up the mountain. It was humorous to think the whole way up, I just wanted it to rain on us. By the time I got home, my clothes could be wrung out. It was like walking through a thick blanket of humidity. We came across some kids that had hiked ahead of their parents. While talking to them we discovered they did not have any water on them. Chris pulled out his water bottle and gave it to them. It is so important on days like yesterday to drink plenty of fluids. Make sure everyone in your party has water bottles on them. I drank two liters with out even trying. All in all, it was a nice hike up. We got here just in time. The clouds started rolling in and we heard thunder in the distance. Luckily, the clouds moved out just in time for sunset. After being in the heat, it was good to be back to the cool weather on the mountain. The high was 72º with a low of 53º.
Good afternoon from the top of LeConte. I'll continue with the LeConte crew introductions today after catching you up on the mountain's weather.
On Monday, we celebrated our second day of July with no measurable rainfall. We've not seen any precipitation yet today. The forecast for today is favorable, and we've seen about equal portions of clouds and filtered sun, which counts as an improvement. Also on a good note, I think the wildflowers at the lodge are stretching their stalks and will be mighty impressive soon thanks to the plentiful rainfall.
Caroline Robe stars in today's High on LeConte crew introduction. Caroline nears the halfway point of her first season at LeConte Lodge, capably serving in Allyson's absence as assistant cook--a tough task. I'll turn the biography over to Caroline, who penned the following.
Caroline was born in Virginia but moved to Maine when she was two weeks old, and but for a few years elsewhere, has lived there ever since. Upon graduating from the University of Maine in December 2012 with a bachelor of fine arts, Caroline moved to Mt. LeConte sight-unseen, to take a position as crew member and assistant cook.
Since arriving on LeConte, Caroline has enjoyed exploring the Southeast, working on her paintings and playing in the well-stocked kitchen. After leaving the mountain at the end of the season she hopes to spend a few years living in the region, taking jobs in the U.S. and abroad and working on her artwork before seeking out an ecovillage where she can live in community and pursue her dual passions of food and the visual arts.
Chris and Allyson should return this afternoon, so I'll be handing over High on LeConte duties until their August days off. For those of you who stopped by to introduce yourself, thanks for the kind words and coming to see us. I hope to see the rest of you soon. Happy trails.
"Well it was Gatlinburg in mid-July, and I just hit town and my throat was dry. I thought I'd stop and have myself a brew. At an old saloon on a street of mud, there at a table, dealing stud, sat the dirty, mangy dog that named me Sue." -- "A Boy Named Sue" by Shel Silverstein.
Good afternoon to everyone. Here I sit atop Tennessee, a vertical mile above Gatlinburg, in mid-July and it reminded me of the corresponding lyrics to "A Boy Named Sue."
Lots of lessons to be gleaned from Shel Silverstein's song, but first of all the weather on Mt. LeConte. On Sunday, a light rain stuck with us most of the day, amounting to 0.31 inches. The high was 62 with a low of 52, assuredly much chillier than the conditions in Gatlinburg in the song. We even had guests ask us to turn on the heater in the office, which isn't happening many other spots in the South this summer.
However, you won't find more comfortable temperatures in the state, both for hiking and sleeping weather, than on our fair mountain this time of year. We've not seen any rain yet today. There have been a few sun sightings (more than yesterday), but mostly clouds have hovered around us today.
Back to "A Boy Named Sue," set just down the mountain in our neighbor town of Gatlinburg this very time of year, Johnny Cash made the most famous recording of Silverstein's song. Many people assume Cash wrote the song, but I've heard that although he liked the lyrics, the Man in Black was brand new to the tune when he made his famous recording in front of a captive audience at San Quentin Prison in California.
I've even heard that he was so unfamiliar with the song that he read the lyrics from a "cheat sheet" during his performance for the prisoners. Reading or no, the inmates at San Quentin must have liked what they heard because they sounded like they were about to rip the walls down. If I ever get a crowd that sounds like that in the LeConte Lodge dining room, I'm calling some park rangers for backup.
At any rate, should you find yourself in Gatlinburg this mid-July and thirsty, please come up and see us. Make sure you pack plenty of water for the hike (most people don't hydrate adequately in the summer). Once at the lodge, we serve lemonade, hot chocolate and coffee for $3 with free refills from noon until 4 p.m. for day hikers. Overnight lodge guests 21 years and older on LeConte can also order an hour of wine service from 6-7 p.m. during supper. We also have the best water in Tennessee available for free, treated and ready to drink from the blue-handled spigot next to the office.
A bit of neighborly advice, while there are plenty of fine establishments in Gatlinburg, we would recommend you steer clear of any illicit gambling in saloons on streets of mud. If you listen to the rest of the song no good will come of it. Have a fine mid-July and happy trails.
Hello to everyone. I'm getting a late start writing--been busier than I expected for a misty day on the mountain. We've been pleased to welcome an office and dining room full of guests Sunday afternoon as the morning mist progressed into a light drizzle.
We received only a trace of rain Saturday with a high-low of 64 and 51. The forecast called for a 40 percent chance of showers for us today (which we've already received albeit gently), but the skies are lightening slightly as of 2:30 p.m.
I just got done unloading llamas for a rare Sunday trip up LeConte. We've been so busy we had to schedule an extra trip for supplies. Rex, the caboose of the llama string, had the responsibility for the most interesting cargo--approximately 80 metal-tipped wooden hiking sticks for our store. The llamas follow each other so putting those metal-tipped sticks on the last llama proves much safer. Just the same, Rex could have been classified as an ancient weapon of war chugging up the mountain with his payload of spears. I think he was glad to just be carrying dirty linens home on the return trip.
My highlight from yesterday was viewing a world-class sunset, without question one of the three best I've seen on LeConte this year. Photos will never do it justice, but at one time sunset looked like the sky was a blanket set on fire and rippling from the west in a vain effort to extinguish it. The show was absolutely spectacular on a day when the skies above LeConte were pretty pedestrian for the most part.
Have a fine day. Happy trails.
Good afternoon to you all. This is Nathan, and I'll be writing reports for a few days as Chris and Allyson take some time off. First off, I've had the pleasure of meeting several High on LeConte readers, some for the first time, in the last few days. It was nice visiting with you all.
While it wasn't exactly weather fit for a Beach Boys' song, Friday was the first day in July that we didn't record any rain. There was some sun, sandwiched with hearty portions of clouds--much like today. Friday's high reached 63 with an overnight low of 49.
While I was home Tuesday I decided to pick some blackberries. I've always enjoyed blackberry picking since I was little and my mom would take us and make a cobbler--if we were productive enough. With all the rain East Tennessee has received in 2013, this makes for a blackberry picker's bonanza. You can pick and choose the cream of the crop, not just pluck anything that's close to ripe.
Of course, the best blackberries are always protected by a fortress of briars. Those choice berries are plenty tasty, but there is a price to be exacted in blood by the thorns once you get past the parasites (seed ticks) and irritants (poison ivy). Some of the best things in life require a sacrifice, but with some perseverance the cobbler can be pretty sweet. Could be a life lesson there, or maybe I'm just dazed from losing too much blood in the briar thicket.
At any rate, my forearms, tracked by briar scratches, look like I've just lost a "loser leave town" wrestling match with a mongoose. I hauled the fresh Rockwood, Tenn., wild blackberries up in my backpack and made a chocolate blackberry cobbler last night for the crew. It didn't last long. I hope the bears and deer will be in for a treat this year as far as LeConte blackberries go. Last year proved a little sparse for the "black gold" in the critters' diet. I expect the blackberries to be peak about the third week of August up top. I know our four-legged neighbors will be eagerly awaiting the harvest.
Finally, I'd like to thank LeConte Lodge general manager Tim Line for covering me when I had to head home to give my Papaw's eulogy last week. He missed his Independence Day plans to do so. Chris and Allyson likewise have been very helpful. If I were a traveler trying to figure out where to spend my vacation money, it would be nice to know there's some substance behind the brochure. So come on up and see us on LeConte. We get more first-time visitors every day. Happy trails.
A much different view this morning than yesterday. For the first time in a while, we woke up to a sea of clouds below us instead of on top of us. It is amazing how just a little sunshine to go with your morning coffee makes such a huge difference. I am sure the crew will be a bit spirited this morning. They seem to have a playfulness to them when we get a great sunrise. We had a cloudy day yesterday. The high was 68º with a low of 48º. The mountain was quiet. There were not a lot of day hikers around.
Chris and I are getting ready to head off the mountain for a few days. Nathan is back and ready to share some stories with you all. We will be back in a few days. I hope everyone has a great weekend and happy hiking.
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