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.
Chris and I went for a hike the other day and came across this vine that seem to strangling the life out of the cone flowers. Chris had been introduced the plant as "Love in a tangle". It is a Native American name for the cuscuta indecora choisy. It is also known as Pretty Dodder, Love Vine, Angel's Hair, Tangle-gut, Strangleweed, and Witches' Shoelaces. Apparently, it is found throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the world. It is an interesting plant, and at the same time, a bit scary. It had taken over a hillside of coneflowers. The diversity of the Smoky Mountains is something that will always amaze me.
Speaking of diversity, we witness some incredibly diverse weather on this mountain. The high yesterday was 64º and the low was 34º. If there had been any precipitation in the air, we might have seen some flurries. I don't know if I could mentally handle flurries in July. So, thank goodness, it was just cold. I still have a hard time seeing hats and gloves in the middle of summer.
Ruthie is starting to train and learn the ropes. I think she is going to do just fine. She is learning the ways of the power tools and the incinerator. Although, I do think we are going to have to get smaller trash bags.
I am excited to announce that a site manager has been named. I am extremely excited because Chris and I get to pass our knowledge on to a fellow Decatur girl. Ruthie Puckett has accepted the position as site manager for next season. She is beyond ecstatic to be taking on this dream role. Ruthie has been learning the breakfast routine over the weekend and I am happy to report that she makes a mean biscuit. The upper management is working on the rest of the replacements for next season. Things are falling into place and I am breathing a little easier knowing we have a person who cares about LeConte as much as we do. Ruthie is full of life and energy. She will do an amazing job and I know you will all grow to love as much as we do.
Now on to the weather. The high yesterday was 74º with a low of 44º. It is chilly and cloudy this morning. We are expecting the llamas to come up today. They waited a day to make sure there were no trees down after the high winds we experienced Sunday night. The report was good and the trail is clear. They will be up today. From what I have heard, all trails are clear. Rainbow Falls trail should be back to normal.
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.
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2017 Mt. LeConte Weather Data (Year-to-Date)