If you are having another dreary day like we are on the mountain, I thought I would share something that I knew would put a smile on your face.
Bethany and Courtney, two of our fabulous crew members, discovered they were both huge fans of The Ellen Degeneres Show. Throughout the months they were joking about what they were doing while other people were getting to watch Ellen. They decided it would be fun to make a little video and send it to Ellen to share what their day looks like. This video is not only humorous, it gives you a great glimpse of this beautiful mountain top. I hope you will all click on the link and watch this awesome video that the crew put together in their spare time. Let's get Ellen's attention.
I found an article about Western Carolina University's Hunter Library and how they are producing a digital library of photographs from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The photo above was included in the article. I thought it was such an awesome picture, I had to share. I love the fact they experienced the same weather I am experiencing today. So, don't feel bad when you hike up the mountain and all you see is fog. The women and men felt the same way back in the 1920s.
The weather did not get much better yesterday. We stayed in the clouds all day. I am wondering if today is going to be a repeat? We are currently under a blanket of thick cloud coverage. The low last night was 49º with a high of 62º. I know everyone is getting excited about football time. I am sure we will be listening to the Vols on our radio. Before you give me grief, I did attend the University of Tennessee, so I do have some allegiance to the Volunteers. With that being said, I hope the weather clears up for the big opening tomorrow night.
Remember the upper lot of Alum Cave parking lot is closed until September 13th. The lower lot is still open. If you are hiking up this weekend, you may want to get an early start so you can get a space, or hike up another trail.
Have a great weekend Labor Day weekend and hope to see you up top.
It is looking like another rainy day on the mountain. We are currently socked in and listening to the sound of rain drops on the roof tops. Yesterday was a mix of clouds and patchy blue skies. We did not the see the sun for very long. The high only reached 66º with a low of 57º. Even with the higher temperatures in the valley, we remained on the cooler side.
The excitement for the day included another bear sighting in camp. The little guy was a juvenile. He, unfortunately, had an ear tag. This means he is a repeat offender. I hope he was just passing through and decided he did not like it around here. If he continues to come around, the park service will probably have to relocate him.
Remember folks, the upper lot at the Alum Cave trail head is closed until the 13th of September. The lower lot, around the bathroom, is still open. Just remember, this weekend it will be packed. You may want to choose another trail leading to the lodge.
Caught this little guy hanging out in camp. I think I startled him when I came down the hill. I sure am grateful the deer like to eat the grass around camp. The rain makes it hard to weed eat. The forecast sounds like summer is heading back around. I guess we are in for a warming trend. I wonder if that means drier conditions? The high yesterday was 63º with a low of 51º. It sounds as though we may be heading back into the seventies for the weekend. Could make for a great Labor Day weekend.
Along with the Grass of Parnassus comes the Purple Gentian. This flower stays closed. The bees pry open the flower to pollinate. I tried to capture a bee in the flower, but they would not cooperate. They did not seem to be in the mood for a photo shoot.
The temperatures are staying on the cool side. It is not going to be long until the flowers have died off and autumn sticks around. This morning we are covered by a thick fog. No sunrise for us. I found some interesting information on the Hiking In The Smokys blog page. The author did a great job on compiling the rain totals for Mt. LeConte and the surrounding area. Our rainfall for the year, to date, is 76.7". Our average rainfall for the area is around 85" for the year. I am not sure of our record rainfall for one season. I will have to do some investigating.
One of my favorite times on the mountain is when the Grass of Parnassus starts blooming. I love these flowers. They have such an intricate design. If you have read my posts in the past seasons, then you know that these flowers are only found in the park above 5000 feet. They like wet areas. The grassy slide at the top of Alum Cave trail is densely populated with these beautiful flowers. It was such an amazing day yesterday, Chris and I stopped so I could take some time and photograph them on our commute back to work.
We had a great time taking our nieces and nephew to Dollywood and then rafting on the Pigeon River. I think we might be turning them into nature lovers, at least not for the lack of trying. It feels good to be back on the mountain and back to a slower pace.
The sun was shining this morning. The high yesterday was 62º with a low of 45º. The chill seems to be sticking around. It will be fall before you know it.
Good afternoon to you. Things were busy on the mountain Saturday with lots of folks out and enjoying the beautiful day. We ended up with some cloud cover in the afternoon, but, on the whole, Saturday was the prettiest day we've enjoyed in quite some time. The high temperature was 69 degrees with a low of 46. We didn't register a drop of rain.
Sunday morning found us in a thick bank of clouds. However, the sun has made a robust appearance after lunch.
Today I'm continuing with the LeConte Lodge crew introductions. Today belongs to Brad Graham, who is in his first season on crew. I'll turn the introduction over to Brad.
My name is Brad Graham, and I am from Mississippi. Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains have always been a favorite family vacation spot. Every trip reinforced my love for the mountains, and leaving them was usually a bittersweet time.
After discovering the existence of the lodge, I decided to apply for a job. My love for the outdoors helped make that decision quite easy.
Being from Mississippi, we do not see very much snow, but it's usually an exciting event when we get a few inches. Imagine my surprise when, two days after our season began, we received around two feet of snow.
Having to shovel snow away from the front door of my cabin so I could get in and out was a very different experience for this Mississippi guy. The mountain was an enchanted winter wonderland, with blowing snow drifts all around. Despite getting tired of the melting and refreezing, working in the slushy mess and being happy when it finally all melted; that dry, powdery snow is one of my fondest memories so far of my first season on Mt. LeConte.
Thanks to Brad for offering his story. In the next three months I'll try to get introductions posted for the remaining crew members. Allyson and Chris are due up from off days this afternoon, so I'll turn High on LeConte updating duties over to her. Thanks for reading. Happy trails.
Friday night's sunset as seen from the back porch of the dining room. We had a question about orientation direction a couple of days ago. Looking straight off the back porch of the dining room, this view would be to your left. Gatlinburg, though not visible from the lodge, would be about a vertical mile below behind the trees in the foreground.
Full-bore sunshine. Welcome to the prettiest morning this old mountain has witnessed in a long while. The skies have been blue, the sun beaming and the bees buzzing.
We had a little rain shower Friday just prior to supper. The quick mover only dropped 0.05 inches of rain on top of LeConte. Once again, the weather cleared and offered up an impressive sunset. We topped out at 66 degrees Friday and dropped to 47 this morning, plenty cold enough to see my breath as I walked to work at 4:50 a.m. A lovely sunrise put the bookend on a tranquil night on the mountain, and, to date, seems like a harbinger of the perfect weather we've experienced Saturday.
Our solar-powered water pump, one of my favorite mountain gadgets, has been on strike most of the summer, pouting because its object of celestial affection has been noticeably absent. However, this morning I turned the solar pump on while its panel soaked up the sun, and it purred back to life.
I walked a few steps up the trail in the thick of the yellow coneflowers and was worried the solar pump had quit us again because I could no longer hear the hum. Turns out that the bees were so noisily buzzing in that section of the coneflower patch that they were drowning out the hum of the solar pump.
Looking around me in a 20 foot radius, there's no way there were fewer than 800 bees. I passed one coneflower and there were five bees of two different species on one bloom. It's like we've been hosting a butterfly and bee convention up here on LeConte (the convention centers in the lower elevations of Sevier County must have been booked). While I passed the host of bees peacefully, they do sometimes get ornery this time of late summer. If you have a bee allergy, it would be wise to bring an epipen with you if you hike up (not that we've had any stings to date as far as I know).
Ann Farrar and Dick Ketelle, former LeConte Lodge crew members from the 1970s, stopped by during lunch to say hello. It's always a pleasure to visit with them. They were up photographing flowers and anything else worthwhile, which gives a photographer plenty of latitude on LeConte.
We had a guest a few days ago who was kind enough to show me a family photo she had taken here at the lodge in 1974. She hiked the photograph all the way up to the lodge again in 2013 to find the same cabin, the same piece of ground where her family stood and mull over the things in life that change -- and those that do not. I like that this place means so much to so many people. I doubt the assistant manager of some chain motel off the interstate has ever had that happen.
LeConte is special. Come on up and see us before your favorite color of t-shirt gets sold out. Happy trails.
Hello to everyone. I hope you have good things in store this weekend. I expect we'll be hopping busy this weekend with a good forecast in the works.
Thursday evening stuck to a pretty nice pattern of late, improving weather approaching sunset with clear enough skies to wink at the waning full moon. Our high temperature was 65 with a low of 48 this morning. We tallied just a trace of rain thanks to a faint sprinkle Thursday afternoon. Fog and clouds have been the order for most of Friday. However, we've gotten a few nice looks at the sun this afternoon.
Unofficially, we just reached the 100-day mark left in the LeConte Lodge guest season. We shut things down for the season and hike down the day before Thanksgiving. With that in mind, I've compiled a short wish list for the remainder of the 2013 season, sort of a poor man's "Twelve Days of Christmas."
Here are just a few of the things on my list.
* A healthy string of llamas and llama wranglers.
* An autumn so beautiful songs are written about it.
* Visibility so expansive that I can look toward upper East Tennessee and gaze out toward Col. David Crockett's birthplace in Limestone and see where Daniel Boone blazed the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap.
* Continued strong souvenir sales, leading to an empty storage room.
* Hopes that the spring water continues to bubble along nicely the rest of the year and that we have plenty of solar power to pump it to the treatment tanks.
* I need to make more mint sweet tea.
* Hopes that all the crew members get their winter work, travel or rest in an order that pleases them.
* No October surprise like the three feet of snow we burrowed through following Hurricane Sandy last year (which in truth was nothing but a mere inconvenience compared to what our friends in New Jersey and New York suffered). Still, carrying six dozen eggs across a sheet of ice isn't much fun unless you're an Olympic figure skater.
* Brilliant red mountain ash berries set against a blue sky.
* Good weather and clear skies for the Leonid Meteor Shower in November.
* The rescue litter collects dust an inch thick.
* Hopes that our guests the rest of the way will be as nice as our guests thus far.
Hope you have a trip to see us in the next 100 days. Happy trails.
Good afternoon. It's been a mixed bag of weather thus far today on top of LeConte. Wednesday's high reached 61 before sinking to 53 overnight with a trace of rain.
My favorite weather of the last 24 hours came right about supper last night, when the clouds began to dissipate and gave our guests a decent sunset and view into the valley (which is precisely what happened the night before). Skies remained clear early into the night, affording a fine view of the full moon rising just to the right of High Top. I love the way the full moon makes the weathered, gray wood on the side of the cabins glow.
This morning we woke to a fog thicker than one of our Hudson Bay wool blankets. This afternoon the fog bank is beginning to yield more often to the sun, though we've had a few sprinkles this afternoon. I think we're on the cusp of one of our prettiest weekends of the summer (if the forecast holds true).
Since June 1, we've seen rain (including trace amounts) on 66 of the last 83 days. Those 17 rainless days were more often than not gray, but I think we're in for an improvement.
I noticed a question in the comments following yesterday's post about what the wet summer portends for the winter season. In short, I won't even predict prospects for a LeConte sunset one hour in the future (learned that the hard way pretty early in my first season working up here). If you can find anyone who will tell you precisely what today's weather means for November, then make certain you never buy a car from that person because you are in the presence of a nefarious rascal.
We enjoyed hosting more fine guests last night--and they seemed to enjoy each other. At one point, I heard someone playing guitar and singing "Night Rider's Lament," an excellent song I first heard while horse wrangling in the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies. The lyrics explain a lot about why the people who work up at the lodge undertake such an assignment. I was just about to go out and compliment the musician on such a fine and original selection. However, then I heard him playing "Dueling Banjos" on guitar (also notably the theme song from the movie "Deliverance"). There was certainly no resemblance to the movie, but, all the same, I decided to give a little space.
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!