If the flowers were not blooming all around the mountain, I would have sworn it was fall. The high yesterday was 59º with a low of 47º. It has been seasonally cool with beautiful skies. I hope it is giving us a preview for what is to come in September. I have noticed a lot of families saying their kids start back to school soon. It won't belong before we only see actual tree limbs in the big tree all the kids climb.
It was a beautiful day until around 4 p.m.. The clouds started rolling in and the wind picked up. We could see the storms passing to the north of us and wondered if it was going to miss us. About 8 p.m. we sat on the back deck and watched a mean looking cloud as it engulfed the mountain. It didn't take long for the bottom to drop out. We got pounded. The rain gauge measured 3.11" this morning. When we crawled in bed at 9:30, our room looked like we had plugged in a strobe light. The lightening was putting on an impressive display. It continued to rain off and on all night long. We are currently under a thick cloud cover as I type. If you are coming up today, I would highly recommend not using Rainbow Falls trail. There are still some issues with one of the creek crossings becoming impassable after heavy rains. I want to add that our thoughts and prayers are with the surrounding communities. We hope everyone is safe this morning.
"The Amen of nature is always a flower."-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
The sun is rising and the biscuits are in the oven. Just another day on top of our favorite mountain. Wow, what an amazing day yesterday turned out to be. The high was 74º with a low of 58º. It was a picture perfect day at the lodge.
Hopefully, we will get a repeat of yesterday and I can lace up my hiking boots and take a stroll around the mountain top. It is always nice when you can get out for a walk around the block. I love the fact that my block just happens to be Mt. LeConte.
It is another beautifully cool morning on the top. The high yesterday was 67º with a low of 51º. The sun is making its way over High Top and the sky is clear. It is going to be an epic day for hiking in the Smokies. The flowers are starting to really burst with color. The monks hood and bee balm are blooming and the cone flowers are just starting. Chris and Pat went for a hike on Trillium and said the pink turtles head are blooming a mile or so down the trail. I suspect the ones around the lodge will be coming in soon. The crew has noticed the drunk bees. This is the time of year when the bees are drawn to the filmy angelica. The nectar is intoxicating to them. I will try and find an example of the local bee bar to get a photo for you. Well, it is time to go get breakfast on the table and get this day started. With this weather, how can it not be a busy day on the mountain? It is a perfect day on to of Mt. Leconte.
What a gorgeous morning to wake up on a mountain top. There is a cool breeze and blue skies. The flowers are shimmering in the morning rays. The weekend is upon us and it looking like a good one. Yesterday was a mix. We did see some rain and some sunshine. The high was 64º with a low of 48º. All in all, it was a good day for a hike.
The season is plugging along. I do appreciate all of you who have made your choice for site managers clear. The one thing you have missed is the fact that Chrissy and Alan love the llama farm and love those llamas. They also love the hundreds of miles they get to hike while doing their job. The llama farm is home for them and they would not change a thing. LeConte Lodge management is working hard at finding replacements. We will do our part to make sure the replacements are trained well and they learn all the secrets to making LeConte Lodge the special place that it is to so many people.
I love this little coneflower that blooms every year next to our wood shed. The contrast in colors warms my heart. The vibrant yellow next to the rustic grey captures my attention and makes me smile. It is nice to have the flowers blooming during this rainy month. We had a decent rain shower this morning. It is that time of year when you can tell when the rain is moving in. The humidity can be so thick you could cut it with a knife. We had showers on off all day yesterday. The high was 67º with a low of 55º. The crew is plugging along and staying busy with the summer hikers. It is amazing how many people will brave the wet weather for a chance to visit their favorite mountain. Of course, for me, after hiking a few miles, the rain feels wonderful. Just make sure you bring a dry shirt to change into. Once you stop at the top, it can get rather chilly.
I guess it's time for my yearly etiquette talk. Remember folks, when you are hiking down and you come across someone hiking up hill, stand aside and let them pass. It is easier for you to get your momentum back going down hill. I also recommend a friendly "thank you" to the folks that moved over for you. Now, if you come across a large group, move over and let them through. It is easier for one or two people to find a good spot to move off the trail than it is for ten people to move over. If you practice these little bits of etiquette, it will make for a more pleasant hike for everyone. Remember to smile and say hello. It could make someones trip much brighter.
While Chris and I were on days off we helped celebrate the engagement of our two favorite llama wranglers. Chrissy and Alan are getting married in September. LeConte changes people lives in many different ways. It helped bring these two fabulous people together. They met in 2011 when Chrissy worked her first season as crew and Alan was leading the llamas up the mountain. The romance blossomed when Alan came to work on crew the next season. They later moved back to the llama farm and now spend their days hiking with their four legged friends.
I believe Norm asked how Chris and I met. I realized that through the years, the crews have posted their stories but Chris and I have not. So, here you go.
I met Chris while hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2000. I started the trail on the 25th of March by my self. Chris started the trail on the 20th of March with a friend who came down from Alaska with him to hike. Thank goodness for me, I was hiking faster and he took a few days off to wait for the boyfriend of the friend to meet up with them to hike for a week. The magical story continues when I started hiking up Shuckstack in the Smokies. I was hiking with another girl I met and we were watching out for one another. I would look back every now and again to make sure she was behind me. At one point I looked across a ridge and their was a person hiking behind me. A little voice told me that was the person I was going to marry. Let me just say that I was not used to hearing little voices, so it kind of freaked me out. Anyway, Chris hiked up and introduced himself and we have been together ever since. He likes to say that my pack was bigger so I could carry some of his stuff. That is why he stuck around. Anyway, we hiked a total of 600 miles and I tore the ligaments in my foot. I had to come off the trail and he followed me. We were married October 13th of 2001. I couldn't imagine any better life long hiking partner. We have covered thousands of miles together. Before you ask, we would like to go back and finish the trail one of these days.
Yesterday was a great day for a hike back to work. We saw numerous amounts of families hanging out on the lower section of Alum Cave, enjoying the water. Kids skipping rocks and looking for salamanders. The turk's cap lilies are in full swing on the upper section of Alum. It was a perfect reminder that we are in the throes of summer. It just so happened that yesterday was also the official mid season point. We are officially on the back end of the 2014 season.
The guests enjoyed a rather cool day, yesterday. The high was only 63º with a low of 54º. We are currently covered in clouds.
It feels good to be back on the mountain with the low humidity. It is going to take some adjusting next summer when I am living in the low lands. Chris and I had an excellent time off the mountain. The concert was amazing and I realized that I have been fortunate enough to see Alison Krauss since she started touring in 1990. I often listen to her music while cooking at the lodge. It is a great way to start my morning.
Good afternoon to you. We've finally seen a few glimpses of the sun today, though it remains mostly cloudy. The rain has not really been a factor today, though we received another 0.43 inches Saturday. The cloud layer continued to insulate the lodge Saturday, as well, with a narrow high-low range of 55-51 degrees.
The forecast calls for improving conditions during the next few days. If we get about three sunny days soon the flowers will explode all around the lodge grounds. The flowers really put on an impressive (albeit too brief) show up top--our answer to Dollywood's fireworks show. The purple monkshood are already blooming. Just yesterday I saw the first hints of crimson bee balm. By far the most numerous will be the coneflowers, with yellow petals and a brown center. This time next week you should be able to take a photo of all three of these LeConte favorites, maybe even in the same frame. The best place to look is between the hot water spigot off the exterior wall of the kitchen and lodge No. 2, though there's no shortage of beauty up here. We do ask that people not tramp through the flowers so others can enjoy them, too.
In trail news, this afternoon I received a report of fresh bear tracks in the mud around the Rocky Spur area of Rainbow Falls Trail. That doesn't mean you need to change any plans, just use good sense to protect you and our neighbor bears.
While they're unlikely to win any photography contests, I thought I'd post an interior and exterior photo of a portion of the work recently completed on our office. The construction task was to buttress and support the wall of the building nearest the toilets, and a variety of methods were used.
Also, today I recall the four-year anniversary of one of my most memorable days on LeConte. On July 20, 2010, my first year working the LeConte Lodge crew, I was taking a CPR/first aid course taught on the mountain that the company wisely offers all staff members to help us assist hikers in difficulty.
One of my fellow staff members working the kitchen shift, knocked on the door of the room where we were doing our training and said, "Nathan, you got a phone call and you're an uncle." She then turned around and walked right out without any explanation. This was a big surprise to me, as my new nephew was supposed to be delivered by planned C-section on a specific day in mid-August. I had arranged my August off days from LeConte to be present for the birth, as I had missed the birth of my first nephew three years earlier while I was horse wrangling in Hawaii.
Thus, the July 20 call was early and unexpected. However, little Colton was undersized, early and anxious to meet the world. Needless to say, it was a little hard to focus on splinting injuries during first aid class the rest of the day. Looking up this morning at the sign above the dining room and reading "July 20, 2014" brought back some happy memories from four years ago.
It's not unheard of for crew members to have new additions to their family born while working at LeConte Lodge, though it's rare for guests. Former crew member Bethany became an aunt up here twice last year. I will say I hope we don't have any births ON the mountain, as that's an episode of "Little House on the Prairie" waiting to happen. Happy trails.
Hello to everyone. It's been a soggy, but good, beginning to our weekend up on LeConte. The weather is much like yesterday, periods of mist alternating with rain showers. We've not had any heavy rain. This morning the wind has increased and the blanket of gray covering the mountain is a little lighter in color than it was yesterday and this morning. I hope our neighbors below received rain, too, so tomatoes and okra can be rejuvenated.
On Friday, our temperature range was extraordinarily narrow with a high of 53 and low of 49. We tallied 1.23 inches of rain Friday, the wettest day at LeConte Lodge since May 30. There's still a chance of rain in the forecast for the rest of Saturday and Sunday, but the outlook is a little more sunny.
Speaking of rain, one of my best friends from down below sent me up an interesting read, a book called Pioneer Superstitions by Ferne Shelton. In the section about "Weather Signs," Shelton lists the following signs of rain (in addition to many others): "if clouds hide the sun at sunset, if dry blades of corn in the field appear to twist, if tall grass is dry in early morning, if cream in coffee collects at the top edges of a cup and if a pig straightens the 'curl' in his tail."
During lunch the LeConte crew came up with a few sure-fire signs predicting imminent rain on our mountain. You know it's going to rain on LeConte if...
1. You're carrying a huge stack of clean sheets to take up to the cabins to make beds.
2. You have the afternoon off and decide to enjoy a good book at Myrtle Point.
3. You forgot your raincoat in your cabin.
4. It's time to restock the shirts in the office or the food in the pantry.
5. It's your best available day to do laundry and need to dry it on the clothesline.
6. You run into a bear wearing a poncho and rainboots.
7. You see a squirrel with a snorkel.
Come up and see us (and prepare for rain). Happy trails.
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2018 Mt. LeConte Weather Data (Year-to-Date)