Good afternoon from LeConte Lodge. The weather's not been too welcoming thus far today, but that's not kept many hikers off the trail. Our office and dining room are full near capacity with folks stepping in out of the chilly rain and drying off before they head back down into the land of thick air.
It started raining lightly around breakfast this morning, but we've not really had any heavy showers--just enough to soak you through and get the shivers started on a cool, windy, gray July day at the top of LeConte. Thursday's high-low was 60 and 48 with no rain. After breakfast we had a run on ponchos in the office, which topped morning sales with nine sold.
As usual, we've had plenty of interesting guests. I spoke with one guest in her 80s who first came to visit LeConte in the 1960s. She's been coming up annually pretty much ever since. She said she missed a few years about 30 years ago, which she told me almost apologetically.
I visited with another nice guest who was born in Ukraine but had been adopted by American parents. She said her homeland was lovely, and I'd like to see it myself some day. But it made me think how fragile our beautiful places are when their protection is shoved aside by conflict, which unfortunately happens everywhere in the world. There were even a few troops (though no real battle) scampering around Mt. LeConte during the Civil War (but that's a story for a different day).
Thankfully, there's not much to fight about up here today so far. Everyone left the mountain this morning with a belly full of pancakes, biscuits, grits, eggs and Canadian bacon, coffee, hot chocolate, treated spring water and Tang. Hope to see you up soon, too. Happy trails.
Hello to all of you High on LeConte readers. Allyson has headed down the mountain for a few days off, and I'll be filling in. Today's weather looks a lot like yesterday's--mostly cloudy with periods of sun, but not at all bad for LeConte in July.
Yesterday's high reached 60 degrees. The official low of 38 arrived Wednesday morning. The actual low for Thursday morning resided in the 45 degree range. We didn't record any precipitation on top of LeConte yesterday. I figured it would be quite a bit colder based on the predicted lows for the valley.
Yesterday, we welcomed hikers from the Wednesday Hiking Group who made their annual day trip up LeConte to celebrate what would have been Margaret Stevenson's 102nd birthday. Actually, that anniversary comes today, but the group Margaret founded always hikes on Wednesday. Each July they assemble at about midday at LeConte Lodge to share cake and stories about their mentor, Margaret.
There are few real LeConte legends, and Margaret Stevenson ranks as a charter member. Margaret made 718 hikes to LeConte Lodge--all after her 48th birthday. Her route to our beloved mountain was circuitous, she was born in China but eventually made her way to Maryville, Tenn.
She ended up hiking the equivalent mileage of 5.5 times around the world before she passed away in 2006 at age 94. She possessed a photographic memory and kept a journal of all of her LeConte trips (which is available for perusing in our office), beginning on Oct. 13, 1960 and making the bookend 718th trip to the lodge on May 21, 1997.
One year Margaret hiked 3,000 miles while only driving her Pinto 600 miles. It was said that everyone wanted to buy that car, as it was well serviced and Margaret preferred walking to driving anyway. Margaret became the first female member of the "900 Club," accomplished when someone hikes every mile of trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
One of our overnight guests not part of the Wednesday Hikers remembered struggling during her first trip up LeConte. She remembered meeting Margaret on the trail and how her encouragement buoyed her spirits on her first climb. We were proud to host the Wednesday Hikers as they honored Margaret, who helped make a special mountain even more special during her 718 visits.
This morning is a perfect example of how the weather can fluctuate from day to day. At 6:50 a.m. it is currently 38º. Yes, I said 38º. It is a bit on the chilly side this morning. Yesterday's high was 70º. This is the reason I always tell people to bring extra clothing with them, even if it is July.
Chris and I are getting ready to head down for days off. We will be hiking down after dinner tonight. We have another busy weekend ahead of us. We will be working at the Gatlinburg Farmers Market on Saturday. We are then going to see Alison Krauss and Willie Nelson perform in Knoxville. I love live music and I know this show is not going to disappoint.
I am hoping by the time we return the flowers will be in full swing. I also saw blackberries in the higher elevations. They were not ripe but they are starting to make an appearance. I hope that is helping the food situation for the bears.
Allyson is experiencing problems logging in. She will try again later today after the cloud cover lifts. The high was 70, low 54 and currently 55. They had .21 inches of rain and are currently socked in under thick clouds. A front is moving through that should bring below normal temps. Lows on the mountain could be in the upper 30's to low 40's by tomorrow night.
And we have flowers...... The purple monks hood is finally blooming. That means the cone flowers and bee balm are right around the corner. Yesterday felt like a real summer day on the mountain. The high was 71º with a low of 49º. The construction crew had such great weather they were able to get everything done a week early. They are cleaning up as I type and getting ready to head off the mountain. We apologize for any inconvenience the work might have caused, but I am sure you can understand that even rustic lodges have to be worked on every now and again. It looks like the crew might have finished just in time. The skies are gray and it looks like rain in our near future.
First of all, I would like to say, "Happy Birthday, Norman." The LeConte Lodge Crew hopes you had a wonderful day. We had a busy day on the mountain. There were a lot of hikers who took us up on a cup of lemonade. They were treated to an afternoon thunderstorm around 1 p.m.. It was a heavy downpour with a pretty big lightening crack. It got my attention. After the sky fell out, the rain stopped and the sun came back out. It ended up being a beautiful afternoon. Remember, if you are taking a hike, start early. We are seeing a large amount of late day hikers. These hikers are arriving at the lodge around 6-7 p.m. We have seen them later than that. It is one thing if you are a prepared hiker who has a flashlight and is used to hiking at night. If you are a novice hiker, it can be tricky. Roots and rocks look a lot different at night. If you are unfamiliar with the trail, please start your hike earlier. Give yourself plenty of time to make it up and down the mountain before night fall. And once again, carry plenty of water and snacks. I guess the folks who are showing up without water don't read this blog.
The Monks Hood are well on their way. It won't be long until the flower beds have bursts of purple sprinkled throughout. I have been watching for that single cone flower to pop up. They are couple of weeks out. It is proof that the mid season is just around the corner. I am sure once it slows down a bit, I will become more reminiscent. But until then, we will keep enjoying the dog days of summer. I guess that term doesn't apply to us since the high yesterday was 65" with a low of 49". I will try and remember these times when I am melting in the heat next year. It will take awhile for my internal thermostat to regulate back to the hot and humid days in the south. This mountain girl has had it good for the past twelve years. If you need a reprieve from those hot summer days, come on up for a visit. We will have plenty of lemonade waiting for you.
The wall to the office is getting a face lift. Or should I say wall lift? Our construction crew is working so hard to get the job done quickly. We are excited to give the building some new life. Thank goodness the weather seems to be cooperating. The high yesterday was 64º with a low of 49º. As you can tell from the picture I took this morning, we are looking at blue skies. It is looking like a picture perfect day for a hike. Lace on those boots and come see us. Just don't forget to bring plenty of water for the hike up.
The bottom fell out right around dinner time. LeConte Fallls returned with a vengeance. We were beginning to wonder if the swimming hole in front of the dining room door was going to continue into the dining room. Luckily, our drainage worked properly and the water soon made its way down the mountain. The high yesterday was a cool 59º with a low of 51º.
We had a full house last night. You can tell summer is in full swing. Mid season is only 10 days away. Luckily, the rain stopped and made way for a great sunset. The kids were able to enjoy a little time outdoors before settling in for the night.
The clouds lifted long enough for us to fly the construction material to the lodge. The helicopter then picked up a load of mine and Chris's items that we have been using for the past twelve years. We have a little over 4 months left as the resident managers on the mountain, but our stuff is now sitting in a storage unit off the mountain. Our little cabin in the woods is starting to feel less like home. I feel a time of reflection in my near future.
One of the many questions that people ask while eating their breakfast, "Are the eggs real or powdered?". Well, I can say, with certainty, that they are real. The llamas deliver fresh eggs twice a week. The breakfast cook cracks an average of 6 dozen eggs a morning. The biscuits are made from scratch and the eggs are real.
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!