It isn't taking long to warm up this morning. It's mostly cloudy but we expect this gray veil to burn off before long. Yesterday's high temperature was 69 degrees, and our overnight low never dropped past 50. Whatever mist we received yesterday managed to squeeze out 0.02" of rainfall. If you're hoping to see the llamas on the days they pack, please know that they might be arriving to the lodge a little later than normal, and/or departing the mountain later as well. Our wranglers are well versed in looking out for our favorite critters during these hot and humid stretches, which usually entails the train moving at a slightly slower click.
Today we have the good fortune of turning the mic over to lodge friend, Ben Spicer, who has once again blessed us with another wonderful poem that speaks directly to the shared experience of visiting LeConte. It was inspired by a recent trek up the mountain, accompanied by a first time visitor in his daughter. Allow the words to guide your mind in wonder, and enjoy!
"Daughter to the Mountain"
By Ben Spicer
I took my daughter to the mountain
Just herself and me
We walked behind a flowing fountain
Springing to the sea
We journeyed on a stair of stone
Neath a rocky pass
We frolicked as the morning shone
In water clear as glass
We reveled in the petaled flowers
Strewn upon the way
We laughed an talked for wooded hours
Happy for the day
We stood at length at summit vistas
Taking in the views
Reviving in the clouds that mist us
Riding skies of blues
We sat awhile upon a ledge
In a sunset trance
Watching rays pink, orange, and red
In a vivid dance
Atop at peak we welcomed evening
Rocking chairs for thrones
With stars above so brightly gleaming
City lights below
In cabin beds a sweet rest finds us
As we drift asleep
Adventure now a joy behind us
Memories to keep
I took my daughter to the mountain
Just herself and me
And left with bond we both can count on
It's been a busy few days, so thank you for your continued patience in regards to our updating of the blog. The theme of the month continues to be the rain, as we've endured some amount of liquid precipitation on 14 of 18 days so far. After a sunny yet hazy morning, the clouds have set in, as there is a chance of showers today before possibly clearing back out tonight. Yesterday's high temperature turned in at 68 degrees, and our low got down to 48. We're currently hanging out in the mid 60's.
Over the weekend we were finally able to eclipse last year's rain total. With almost half of the year ahead of us, that's not a bad position to be in coming out of an extreme drought. It'd still be great to rake in another 30+" to get us closer to our yearly average.
In the coming days, temperatures, humidity, and heat indices are expected to rise for the first time all summer. We can't stress this enough: please pay attention to the weather alerts, and take as many precautionary measures as possible to ensure that you can enter and exit the backcountry safely and enjoyably. We're well into the time of year where dehydration and heat exhaustion takes its toll on hikers. If you find yourself in a struggle while climbing this mountain or any mountain, please do yourself and others a huge favor...don't keep climbing! There's no shame in stopping to rest and rehydrate, or turning around completely. The mountain is not going anywhere, you can always come back when conditions are favorable. Always let someone else know where you are going, how you intend to get there, and in what time frame. Always eat and drink enough water before hitting the trail, and stay diligent about replenishing electrolytes during and after your activity. Your body will thank you.
Thanks for checking in on us and have a great rest of the day.
We're hopefully listening to what should be the back-end of this thunderstorm. There have been some steady rumbles and downpours over the last 2.5 hours, but the sun is trying to reclaim control of the skies. Yesterday's high temperature of 72.3 degrees set our new top mark for the year thus far. Our overnight low bottomed out at 55. We received just 0.1" of rain Friday, but today's totals should be significantly higher. Stay dry out there if you're hoping to hit the trails. Have a great weekend.
Tis a bit cloudier today, but we're still enjoying a dry morning. It sounds like the chance for storms and showers won't increase until later today and continue through tomorrow. Either way, what precipitation we've garnered continues to be underwhelming. We only tallied 0.05" yesterday. Thursday's high temperature came very close to our current high for 2017, reaching 71.5 degrees. Our low was mild otherwise, bottoming out at 57. It's comfortably hovering in the mid 60's currently.
The grand attention grabber yesterday was the fabulous double rainbow that appeared during the backside of dinner service. This time of year, as showers cut in and out through late afternoon and early evening, the chances of catching a rainbow over High Top are pretty good. Last night was no exception to the rule. It was vivid in color, and lasted quite a long time compared to most we witness up top. What made this one particularly unique was that it could actually be seen touching down in the woods just below Basin Spring. Curiosity led me down Trillium in search of the desirable pot of gold, or even to see if the greatest spring water in the world had been transformed into some sparkling liquid gold. Unfortunately, no so such luck, but it was still a wonderful sight for guests and crew to behold. If you're staying with this summer, maybe you'll encounter such a sight, a great reward for those folks who have to endure hiking up in the rain.
Despite what the forecast has been calling for, we've been enjoying a mostly sunny Thursday so far. Yesterday's intermittent showers only saw 0.2" of rainfall pour down on the mountain. It continues to feel warmer than it has all year, as we barely missed tagging 70 degrees for a high temperature. Our lowest reading came in at 55. As the sun dances in and out of the puffy clouds filling the sky, we keep hanging out in the upper 60's. Curious to see how it'll shake out as the day progresses.
No need to hesitate, let's feature another one of our lovable llamas, a valuable veteran of the team...ELLIS! This guy is the epitome of small but mighty, able to hold his own with the rest of the herd. His consistent work performance makes him a great member of the team, and he's never shied away from lugging loads like those of the bigger dudes. Despite being the shortest of all enlisted LeConte llamas through recent years, he's learned to grow up tough, and in no way yields to the thirst for dominance from the "alphas" or the annoying curiosity of the young bloods. And his attitude is pretty much always on display, with ears pinned back and eyes almost squinting in disgust, although he's never one to seek out trouble. It's safe to assume Ellis is generally put-out 24/7, but he seems to soften up to Chrissy's sweet coaxing when needs be. One of his more comical traits is watching him depart the trailer after returning home from a long day's work. The taller and longer legged llamas are able to stride out with ease, but Ellis being shorter in stature has to do an odd but cute spread eagle to complete the leap. It's hard not to giggle every time. Attitude or not, we wouldn't change anything about him, and we appreciate all that he's done for our operation. Let's salute this small but mighty llama, and here's to seeing Ellis churn out miles with the likes of the big guys for ages to come!
Have a great rest of the afternoon.
As I write this, we are receiving our first rain shower of the day. Otherwise, it had been a warm, sunny, and beautiful mountain top up to this point. Anticipating that it would rain and rumble at some time this afternoon, it was nice to take care of all the llama necessities in dry conditions. Thanks again Boys! Tuesday's high temperature was 70 degrees, and our overnight low hit a mild 51. It was also our second straight day without precipitation. That streak is now broken, and we're currently in the mid 60's.
Now for a Mt. LeConte wildflower update! The Purple Monkshood have really started to come on strong just within the last couple days. The neat thing about this particular plant is that it will bloom for several weeks before finally going to seed, so that means plenty of time for folks to see them up close. They grow quite well around the lodge Dining Hall, and you might see the patch that exists a couple miles out on The Boulevard.
The plants that are the most populous across lodge grounds are the Yellow Coneflower and White Snakeroot, the former typically reaching peak bloom first. Both are just now starting to open up and should really hit their stride in the next week or two. Once they do, it'll be a feast for the eyes well into August. The Bee Balm have some impressive stands scattered around camp, and may help draw in the occasional hummingbird, so watch closely. Several clumps of Mountain Honeysuckle are blooming around various cabins. The Rugel's Ragwort that lines several of the mountain's approach trails before entering camp are also about to pop. Not the world's most attractive flower, but unique and special nonetheless. The Filmy Angelica, Pink Turtleheads, and Clingmans Hedge Nettle still have some growing time ahead of them before joining the parade. As previously mentioned, the local deer population devoured the handful of American Turk's Cap Lilies in camp before they could mature, but there are plenty of those elsewhere down the mountain. We'll see if we can't get some shots of these most impressive summer Smokies perennials in the coming days.
So if you're a botany enthusiast, the next month is a great time for you to visit Tennessee's famous mountain. And if it isn't your thing, come up and see us anyways, and get some relief from the heat and humidity of the flat lands. Thanks for stopping by the site and have a great rest of the day!
We're soaking up as much of the sunshine as we can while we've got it. It's been a most enjoyable Tuesday on the mountain, with warm temperatures tapping 70 degrees already. For the first time all month, yesterday witnessed no new liquid precipitation.
In anticipation of stormier days ahead, it was important to amble out of camp for just a little bit to enjoy some of the sunny goodness. Myrtle Point did not disappoint. This has definitely been one of the most impressive years for the Dwarf Rhododendron I can recall, as the displays around the mountain have been grand and long lasting. One can certainly enjoy them a little longer before they wilt or get weather beaten, whichever comes first.
While admiring the views from LeConte's famous peak to the east, the low hum of a helicopter was audible, seemingly emanating from the south. Once the old in-skull optics adjusted to peering through today's slight haze, I was able to pick out a small helicopter hauling materials back and forth from the direction of Indian Gap and close to the summit of Chimney Tops. One could speculate that these materials are crucial to the Park's proposed plan of constructing a viewing platform close the popular peaks, but from a safe and stable distance away as a result of the November fire's devastation. We'll continue to wait patiently on their progress to reopen such trails as The Chimneys, Road Prong, and Sugarland Mountain across the way, and most certainly our very own Bull Head Trail. Please respect these closures if you're visiting the Smokies.
Enjoy the rest of your day, wherever you may be!
Here we are, a third of the way through July already (WHAT?), and today marks the first day of the month without witnessing any liquid precipitation...so far. But no complaints on our end. Yesterday's measurement squeaked in a skimpy 0.02" of rainfall. Our high temperature on Sunday was 60 degrees, accompanied by a low of 46. It has been pleasantly sunny much of today, and a bit warmer at that. Certainly an ideal day for some loyal packing llamas to tackle the mountain! Way to go, Chrissy and Co.!
It was a pleasure catching up with Jim Huff this afternoon, up visiting the mountain on a day hike. For those of you who may not know, Jim is a nephew of renowned lodge founders and grand architects, Jack and Pauline Huff. He also spent fifteen years sharing ownership of the lodge concession from around 1975 - 1990. A great deal of the lodge configuration and its performing of operations we've come to know today are due in part to the work of Jim Huff, Tim Line, and others in conjunction with numerous GSMNP administrations beginning in the late 1970's. Helping to ensure our favorite lodge's continued existence while also embracing the importance of ecological responsibility, Jim and other's impacts can still be felt today, and for that we are thankful. Another interesting informational tidbit, it was during Jim's tenure that a certain farm was purchased and llamas became the means of hauling certain supplies to and from the mountain. It was a little more meaningful having our awesome load luggers up here today with Jim present more than 30+ years after the fact; although, he had no qualms about leaving the dispersing of pancakes and biscuits to our veteran wrangler, Chrissy.
Have a great start to the week everyone!
Yesterday morning the sun came...then went away... then dropped 0.70" on us.
Talk about unexpected. The temps were 66/46, getting somewhat chilly overnight.
We were blessed this morning with a gorgeous sunrise and an unexpected new friend, Mr. Ringneck!
He's been spotted at Myrtle Point so watch your step!
We have llamas Monday, Wednesday, and Friday next week.
The sun came out! And no rain so far.
61/51 for temps with a strong taste of humidity in the air, we can only imagine what it's like down below.
This traveler came up with his group yesterday.
Denny James is the name of this backpacker. A grandfather who was training to hike the AT but passed away last year, his family takes this figurine on their travels,hiking and sightseeing all over the world. They are section hiking the Appalachian Trail over the next few years in his memory.
If you see the Pillsbury Dough boy on trail, stop by and say hi to Denny's family!
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!