November 30, 2017
It’s currently 40 degrees and partly cloudy up top. Yesterday’s high made it to 49 degrees, with an overnight low of 32 degrees.
Based on my LATS (Look At The Sky) weather prediction system we may get some precipitation today. Feel free to use that one the next time you need to predict the weather. I can’t guarantee accuracy, but you’re bound to get a chuckle from someone, at least a smirk.
I’m still trying to find words to describe today’s sunrise. I can honestly say that this is one of my favorite photos, favorite moments, I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing atop Mt. Le Conte. The way the light danced through the racing clouds left me starstruck, breathless with anticipation. I probably looked like a crazed man. A constant stream of praises flew out of my mouth. The two phrases I found myself repeating aloud were, “Soo funky!” and “This is just fun!”. I still have goosebumps!
The second photo below is a prequel to the show above. I hope everyone finds joy on this last day of November!
Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship. - Denzel Washington
November 29, 2017
Our high yesterday reached 53 degrees; with an overnight low of reaching 33 degrees. It’s currently 33 degrees and clear.
Clingmans Dome is no stranger to a beautiful sunrise, but the highest point along the Appalachian Trail was looking particularly stunning this morning. I hope the photo above captured the moment well!
With my first week as the winter caretaker in the books, I can officially say that I’ve already forgot what day it is. Upon waking this morning, I thought it must be a Tuesday… guess I’ve settled into the new position well. As you can see below, the date no longer matters in the winter months. Just being here, is surely enough.
Onward and upward,
P.S. - I’ve been devouring JP’s incredible library of books and would love to see some book recommendations from you all!
It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy. - Horace Kephart
November 28, 2017
It’s another beautiful day up top! The high yesterday reached 51 degrees; our overnight low was 29 degrees. It’s currently 38 degrees and clear.
If you look closely, you’ll notice Newfound Gap down in the left corner of the above photo. Gotta love the contrast and scale that comes along with a morning in the mountains. I hope everyone’s week is off to a good start.
It’s no secret that I love sunrises, but one of my favorite parts about being up here is the ‘jungle’ like feel the trail often gives me. What’s one of your favorite things about Mt. Le Conte?
Until next time...
P.S. - I've seen some comments about guest's affinity for Cabin 9. The shot below is for you.
November 27, 2017
It’s currently 32 and crystal clear up top. Yesterday’s high made it up to 34 degrees; our low was 21 degrees. The trails up top are in great condition, with little ice present. The constant winds have subsided, giving this red squirrel a little break. He used his tail as a wind guard while he soaked up the sun's precious rays, clever.
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky as I walked out to sunrise. The smell of my pinon coffee blended exceptionally well with the nearby spruce. Still tired from yesterday’s 10+ mile run, out and back along the Boulevard Trail. I looked out and remarked at how simple the sunrise was. I quickly laughed at myself.
Just over two years ago, I had my first extended experience in the Great Smoky Mountains NP while thru-hiking north along the Appalachian Trail. It was 50 degrees and raining, every day. It was a spectacular challenge. I dreamed of bluebird days. Did they even exist in a place with a name like Great Smoky Mountains? What would these mountains look like without a blanket of clouds? While soaking up this ‘simple’ sunrise, I couldn’t help but revel in its simplicity. It may have taken a couple years, but those questions, my what-if dreams, were answered.
November 26, 2017
I hope you’ve had an adventurous weekend. Things have cooled down a bit up top. Our morning low was 22 degrees. Our high yesterday was 46 degrees. It’s currently clear and windy, making it feel much cooler. Be sure to pack extra layers if you’re coming up top. The exposed ledges at Myrtle Point and Cliff Tops were frosty and slick this morning. I hope your Sunday is off to a good start.
The sunrise above had me searching for words. Just before my footsteps arrived back at the lodge, the words came. Alas, they were not my own. And yet, they seem to be the perfect fit for the new week, the new day. I hope these words from Douglas Wood fit for you as well.
“But what,” badgers a relentless voice, “exactly are you doing out here? What are you accomplishing? What are you getting out of it? And what, oh especially what are you going to do with your life?”
Until our paths cross...
P.S. - Below is a new perspective from life on Mt. Le Conte. Pigeon Forge and the busy world below, quiet solitude above.
November 25, 2017
I hope many of you got outside yesterday! It got 'warm' up top. Yesterday's high reached 49 degrees. Our morning low was 35 degrees. It's currently partly cloudy and breezy, with notable gusts. Note, the junction of Alum Cave Trail and Rainbow Falls Trail is still icy, so watch your foot placement there.
I woke to the soft pre-dawn light accompanied by gusting winds. After calling in the weather and finishing my black cup of coffee, I set out on my sunrise rounds. It looked as though I would soon be socked in by the clouds; I was wrong. An overwhelming sense of excitement surfaced when streaks of color began flowing through the trees. What resulted, was a sunrise that had me questioning my very existence. A stanza of pure sensory overload. That's why I love these mountains. They never cease to humble and inspire. I hope the photo below leaves you asking the same inspired questions!
See you up the trail,
P.S. Happy 81st Birthday, Sherleen!
"He who knows he has enough is rich." -Lao tzu
November 24, 2017
The stillness of mountain on this clear morning was mesmerizing. The rising sun broke me from my trance, and I was quickly reminded that time continues to march on, even in the overwhelming stillness.
It looks as if it may be a carbon copy of yesterday's beautiful weather. Our high yesterday made it up to 43 degrees, with an evening low of 27 degrees. There are still traces of snow up top, and the trails will be icy in sections. It's another great day to explore the park. See you out there!!
Nov. 23, 2017_Happy Thanksgiving!!!
It's another beautiful morning up top. Our overnight low dipped down to 25 degrees, and yesterday's high made it up to a refreshing 35 degrees. You can still see some traces of snow from Saturday's dusting. The trails up top are mostly dry, with lingering bits of ice in the shaded spots of the trail. It's gonna be a great Thanksgiving to be out and about in nature!
Though I won't get to see my family this Thanksgiving, I can't say that I feel sad. Since coming up to Mt. Le Conte this past Saturday, I've received nothing but the highest level of hospitality from this year’s crew and management. The picture above was taken during this year's last dinner service. I hope it gives you the same feelings of warmth and hospitality that I've experienced this week.
The staff are all gone now and the dining room is no longer glowing with warmth. The winter season up top has officially begun. As we move into the colder months, I look forward to sharing my experiences with each one of you. I hope to cross paths with many of you this winter season. Until then…
November 22, 2017
As the sun rises to seize the day, we're waking up to twinkling lights in the valley below and a soft gradient of oranges brighten up the sky above. It should be a stellar day on the mountain and all across East Tennessee. Tuesday's weather was fairly breezy all day, with clouds dominating much of the first half before finally clearing off in the afternoon. Our high temperature came in at 38 degrees, and our overnight low dipped to 25. What snow remains is of course patchy, but everything that thawed and turned to slush yesterday quickly refroze. Please continue to use caution if you intend on making an ascent, and have those traction devices on standby until we can confirm the trails are completely clear.
Well, how does one attempt to summarize the thoughts, sights, sounds, and smells of an entire season on Mt. LeConte. In the spirit of the coming holiday, only one way makes the most sense, and that's simply by giving thanks.
Thank you to the devoted followers of the High On LeConte blog and elsewhere across social media. Your love and appreciation for this sacred mountain and its lodge catering to thousands annually is what brought us together. It's amazing just to think that our Facebook page skyrocketed from 16,000 to over 43,000 followers in the span of a few months. That goes to show just how special this place is to so many from across the globe, and we're delighted to share it with you. These channels serve as a bridge to bring the magic of this mountain directly to those of you who aren't able to visit as often as you'd like. This site is also intended to assist upcoming visitors in their preparations for an overnight stay or an afternoon exploration. We'll continue to provide you with pertinent information to make your future visit safe and enjoyable, while also including the inspiring and interesting tidbits that go into making the lodge experience so great. We sincerely appreciate you coming along for the ride while showing your support through these various websites. May your fondness and wonder for this majestic mountain never cease.
Thank you to the courageous individuals and the devoted groups of day hikers who penciled in a trip to Mt. LeConte this season. It was a pleasure to get to meet so many new and wonderful people who share in an appreciation for this place. Your stories and experiences from the trail have all been equally entertaining, informative, and inspiring. The crew is especially thankful for the charity that is bestowed upon them weekly, namely the delicious treats that so many lug up here voluntarily. The Smokies are home to an infinite number of amazing sights and footpaths. We're honored to play host to those of you that find Mt. LeConte a little more attractive than the rest. Keep climbing, keep finding new inspiration, and keep enjoying these awesome scenic trails.
Thank you to the countless folks who hung up their hats and kicked back their feet with us as overnight guests this season. It's important to us that you hike away satisfied with your extended time on the mountain, and striving to exceed our visitor's expectations will continue to be this operation's goal. At the heart of what makes this lodge so special is the bond formed between the people that travel here. Some of you have been coming for decades, while others are still cracking the reservations mold as first timers. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve you all, and desire the chance to welcome you back with cozy cabins and warm cups of hot chocolate for seasons to come. From the soothing sunrises and sunsets to the festive evening music, and from the entertaining peach slurping contests to those victory-achieved, breath-easy moments of swaying back and forth in a rocking chair, we passionately believe there is something up here for everybody. As a crew, our mission is to join in bringing that experience to you. It's the guests who make this collection of rustic buildings into a lodge, a house into a home as they say, and for that, we thank you.
On behalf of LeConte Lodge and Stokely Hospitality Enterprises, it has been an absolute honor to serve you all this 2017 season. We hope you continue to follow the happenings of this mountain through the winter, and we look forward to more actively welcoming you back for another round next March. Happy Thanksgiving, safe travels, and thank you for making this experience so memorable!
Sincerely Yours in Lodging,
November 21, 2017
The mountain is socked in for the moment, with windy conditions whipping through the trees and shooting clouds through the gaps between buildings. We're sitting just above the freezing mark, but the wind chill factor will certainly have things feeling much colder. We're hoping to see the sun at some point today, but we'll just have to wait it out and see if it makes an appearance. There is still plenty of snow and ice around the mountain, so please continue to use caution on the trails. Some of the most hazardous places are where hikers have already packed down the snow, and the overnight refreeze has paths slicker than they've been. Traction devices will be your best friend out on the trail until the snowpack is able to melt away. Monday's high temperature came in at 39 degrees, and our low reading was 19.
The lodge itself may be shutting things down for the winter months, but our office staff will be available and committed to serving you now until we reopen our cozy cabins in March. If you have any questions pertaining to 2018 reservations, cancellations, and waiting lists, or even want to get ahead in your preparations with concerns regarding trail conditions and the seasonal nature of our weather, our knowledgeable team handling reservations is ready to assist you. You can always call our reservations office at 865-429-5704 Monday through Friday, from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org at anytime.
Even though the chance to purchase 2017 "I Hiked It" specific LeConte Lodge swag will conclude after today, we have an amazing assortment of merchandise always available through our online store. There are a number of great gift ideas if you're just now getting into the holiday shopping grind. Be sure and check out what we have to offer this season at www.lecontelodge.com/store/ to find that perfect gift for the LeConte Lodge lover in your neck of the woods. What better way to snuggle up by the fire than by wearing our comfortable logo hoodies and thick socks!
It is with great pleasure that we introduce you to our newest Winter Caretaker. Meet Seth Orme of Topton, NC. Seth is no stranger to life in the woods, standing ready and willing to embrace the conditions winter will throw his way while here on Mt. LeConte. Already familiar with the backcountry lodging scene, Seth has spent time in the past working for the Appalachian Mountain Club as a Hut Naturalist. He is also a founder of an honorable mission of environmental stewardship, a cause called "Packing It Out." During thru-hikes of the Appalachian Trail in 2015, the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016, and a TransAmerican Bike Tour in 2017, Seth's mission has packed out nearly 4,000 lbs. of trash from some of our nation's most famous green spaces. He's visited Mt. LeConte several times in the past, already forging a great relationship with our previous caretaker, JP Krol. Seth is looking forward to getting to know the Mt. LeConte scene this winter, meeting new folks, and sharing the magic of this amazing mountain through his eyes and words on this very blog. He'll take up the writing this Thursday, so let's give Seth a grand ole welcome to the team!
Nearly eight and a half months of work for this crew concludes tomorrow. It's no simple task, and bringing a quality backcountry lodging experience to our guests across all four seasons is something we strive for everyday. If you made the climb this season, we hope you enjoyed your time getting to meet our on-site staff. It's certainly been our pleasure to serve you and assist in making your mountain top experience memorable. A HUGE thank you the 2017 crew, our fine office staff doing amazing things behind the scenes, and a dedicated group of volunteers. An even BIGGER thank you to the overnight guests and visitors who visit the mountain to make this experience possible.
We'll wrap it all up tomorrow. In the meantime, have a great afternoon.
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!