December 31st, 2015
We have forgotten the virtue of sitting, watching, observing. Nothing much happens. This is the way of nature. We breathe together. Simply this. For long periods of time, the meadow is still. We watch. We wait. We wonder. Our eyes find a resting place. And then, the slightest of breezes moves the grass. It can be heard as a whispered prayer. Terry Tempest Williams
It's a beautiful, grey morning up top. The high yesterday reached 50 degrees. The overnight low was 39 degrees. It was 40 degrees and clear at 7am observation. The mountain received no new precipitation yesterday. It looks as if some of the clouds up top will be burning off soon and we'll have another gorgeous day. Get out and enjoy it!
I had a great run down Alum yesterday morning. There's nothing quite like starting off your day with a shot of adrenaline. I overslept and was late to meet some friends at the trailhead, so I didn't even get the chance to go through my typical morning rituals... I just put some gatorade in my hand held water bottle, threw on my running pack and headed out the door. I haven't had a coffee-less morning yet this season, so I felt a little foggy until I got to the double stair. After that, the clouds and mists started to shift a bit from some perpetual sogginess to something resembling clearing. As I ran down Monotony ridge, I was treated to some great cloud shows which got me wondering if curiosity can act as a suitable stand in for caffeine...
December 30th, 2015
O lands, would you be freer than all that has ever been before? If you would be freer than all that has been before, come listen to me. Fear grace, elegance, civilization, delicatesse, Fear the mellow sweet, the sucking of honey-juice, Beware the advancing moral ripening of Nature, Beware what precedes the decay of the ruggedness of states and men. Whitman
It's a beautiful, misty afternoon up top. The high yesterday reached 53 degrees. The overnight low was 41 degrees. It was 49 degrees and cloudy at 7am observation. The mountain received 2.32 inches of rain yesterday. It's sure to be a wet, misty hike, get out and enjoy it!
December 28th, 2015
It's a blustery, rainy morning up top. The high yesterday reached 51 degrees. The overnight low was 46 degrees. It was 49 degrees and raining lightly at 7am observation. The mountain received .11 inches of rain yesterday. It is sure to be another wet day up top... Get out and enjoy it!
I had something unusual happen to me on my hike up to the lodge on Saturday. I was hiking up with my college friends when I noticed a few familiar faces coming down the trail. I've always known of the folks associated with the GSMNP Off Trail Society, but I rarely get a chance to see them in person. I typically stick to the trails (I'm a bit scared to venture off trail solo) and they're always exploring the nooks and crannies of the mountain's drainages. I had heard rumours of them finding a couple of boxes of old lodge t-shirts in some far off place. I happened to notice that everyone hiking down with their party had a rather tattered lodge t-shirt on. I got to talking with Tommy and Ronnie and before you know it, Tommy was giving me the shirt off his back! There are still a few roots growing out of it, but it is supremely comfortable. Thanks so much guys! I hope to return the favor somehow soon!
December 27th, 2015
It's a beautiful blustery morning and it's thinking about clearing out. The high yesterday reached 52 degrees. The overnight low was 47 degrees. It was 47 degrees and mostly cloudy at 7am observation. The mountain received .02 inches of rain yesterday morning. There is no ice remaining up top. The trails are sure to be wet with runoff, so be prepared for some soggy conditions! Get out and enjoy the day!
December 26th, 2015
It's a calm morning up top. The high yesterday reached 50 degrees and the overnight low was 46 degrees. It was 49 degrees and mostly cloudy at 7am observation. The mountain received another 2.32" of rain yesterday, bringing our 5 day total close to 6 inches! Be prepared for some sloppy trails. It appears as though 441 is back open, so get out and enjoy the day!
December 25th, 2015
It's another warm, rainy day up top. The high yesterday reached 51 (!!!) degrees. The overnight low was 48 degrees. It was 48 degrees and raining lightly at 7am observation. The mountain received another .80" of rain yesterday, bringing our 4 day total up to 3.62". There is no ice remaining on the trails, but there is plenty of water. In addition to those 3.6", the last of our melting ice has the trails as wet as I've seen them this season. Be prepared for wet conditions! As of this posting, 441 is closed due to a landslide. Get out and enjoy your holiday season!
I got restless after my morning reading session and I couldn't stand still any longer. I ran down Bullhead, saw some cars in the parking lot, then headed up Trillium. I didn't see any hikers on those lovely, meandering paths. It was my first day of the season where I didn't speak to another person. There's a certain lightness that comes with that kind of solitude. By foregoing connection with others, more wells up inside of you. It is a calm, compelling sensation.
December 23rd, 2015
It's a blustery, rainy morning up top. The high yesterday reached 46 degrees. The overnight low was 44 degrees. It was 45 degrees and raining lightly at 7am observation. The mountain received .37" of rain and no new snow. There is no snow on the ground. There is also very little ice remaining. The trails are sure to be wet, so please prepare for some soggy conditions. Get out and enjoy this classic Smokies day!
I went for an incredible set of hikes down Alum and up the Boulevard trail yesterday. I headed down Alum at 11sh to meet my Little 500 teammate Chris at the trailhead. The clouds were phenomenal - it's always a treat to leave the lodge all socked in and gain varied degrees of visibility as you quickly lose elevation. I literally ran into Chris just past the Alum Cave Creek bridge, then we headed up 441. We hiked up towards the Boulevard junction, enjoying the warm temperatures (t-shirt and shorts weather 3 days before Christmas!)... We noticed a few wild boar traps, talked about outdoors writing, said hey to a few day hikers, and then headed down Boulevard. We didn't see a soul until we were near Myrtle Point. The Boulevard always feels like another world.
December 22nd, 2015
It's a beautiful, blustery morning up top. The high yesterday reached 44 degrees. The overnight 'low' was 34 degrees. It was 44 degrees and cloudy at 7am observation. The mountain received .37" of rain yesterday and there is no snow remaining up top. There is very little ice remaining on the trails... I had a relatively easy time coming up Alum in my trail runners yesterday with no traction. Yesterday was the busiest weekday I've seen in the Park all season, get out and enjoy it!
I had a wonderful time coming up yesterday afternoon. There is really nothing like this extended fall in the Park - it's just warm enough to wear running shorts and a t-shirt if you're moving consistently and the wet woods give off a new aroma with seemingly every step. With the warmers temperatures, there's no real risk of the immediate discomfort that comes with real winter conditions. While I miss the newness that a fresh coat of snow brings, there is no shortage of wonders if you keep your eyes open. There were Peregrines flying at Cliff Tops (I've only seen them on warm February days in the past)... and everyone was too distracted by their cell phones and companions to look up. I wanted to make a public service announcement and tell them that the fastest bird in North America was screaming 50 feet above their heads, but to each their own. The clouds and hemlocks kept me company for the rest of my hike.
In more somber news, two children lost their mother and the wilderness lost a great friend this week. Kayah fought for the places we love and if you have the means, I'd appreciate it if you folks would take a look at this website and make a contribution for Kayah's kids Caleb and River. Thanks in advance for your generosity.
December 21st, 2015
It's a blustery, grey morning up top. The high yesterday reached 47 degrees. The overnight low was 30 degrees. It was 36 degrees and cloudy at 7am observation. The mountain received no new precipitation yesterday and there is no snow remaining up top. Although there is no snow on the ground, there is plenty of ice on the trail. I would definitely recommend some sort of traction devices for Alum and Boulevard, whereas you could get away with jumping rock to rock on the upper sections of Rainbow and Bullhead. The Glacier is back and it will take you out. Happy Winter!
I went on a lovely run down Bullhead and up Rainbow yesterday morning. It was 40 degrees when we left and there was still a good bit of moisture in the air. It allowed us to run down the mountain into increasingly clear and sunny skies. Whenever this is the case, there's always a 5 minute section where the light is just phenomenal - an ethereal mix of cloud and want to be sun intermingling high up in these old, old trees...
December 20th, 2015
It's another beautiful morning up top. The high yesterday reached 37 degrees. The overnight low was 9 degrees, recorded shortly after observation yesterday morning. It was 33 degrees and clear at 7am observation. The mountain received no new snow and there was a decent amount of melt yesterday. There is still some snow remaining up top and there is definitely some black ice lingering beneath some of those benign looking patches of snow. Be careful if you intend to reach the summit! Get out and enjoy the day!
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