It’s currently 38 degrees, wet, and cloudy. Yesterday’s high was 45 degrees, with an overnight low of 38. We received another inch of rain yesterday.
The trails are ice free but expect that to change if the temperature drops.
I trudged through the dank dripping darkness. Clouds continued to permeate through the trees. I moved slowly, quietly toward my destination. I thought with wonder at how different the landscape was just a week ago. I couldn’t help but to think of a particular past sunrise. The light, the snow, and the frosted trees were mesmerizing. The image was imprinted on my memory. As quickly as it had arrived, I let the image go. I brought my attention back to the moment, back to the now…
…the dripping evergreens glowed in the morning haze.
P.S. - Happy Winter Solstice.
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”
– Mother Teresa
It’s currently 40 degrees and raining. Yesterday’s high reached 48 degrees, with an overnight low of 37. We have received 1.2” of rain up top with precipitation continuing.
I woke to the steady drum of rain on the wooden shingles above. The cold steady rain, that I grew accustomed to while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, was back. I laid in bed and wiggled my toes, thankful for both. My thoughts drifted to yesterday.
“I really need to stop baking so many sweets.” - still talking aloud to myself. I scooped another teaspoon of cookie batter into the pan. “I think the Christmas spirit has taken hold.” Maybe, the vagabond lifestyle had deprived me of a kitchen for too long. I settled on it being a combination of the two.
I’m in the kitchen now. Fresh ground Sumatran coffee fills the room with deep earthy notes. The empty Piñon Coffee container is now over-stuffed with yesterday’s Cape Cod Oatmeal Cookies. With the mountain smothered by the clouds and the rain pouring down, I’ve opted to forego my morning jaunt. Instead, I aim to delve into a couple new projects, namely books. The other, I shared above. The timelapse video of the picture above is on the Facebook Page. Here is the link:
One of my goals while living up top is to find ways to best share the beauty of the mountain with you all. I hope you enjoy!
“Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.” – Mark Twain
It’s currently 40 degrees and clear up top. Yesterday’s high was 46 degrees, with an overnight low of 36. There is still a trace of last week’s snow on the ground. Much of the ice has melted, but expect the spots that haven’t melted to be particularly slick.
I finished the blog and strapped JP’s backcountry skis onto my backpack. Word of good snow up north had made it my way. I was going to do my best to see that our former Caretaker would be in the powder by Christmas. I started down the mountain, quickly peeling layers as I went.
The first group I crossed didn’t seem to notice the skis towering over me. That would not be the trend. Group after group gave me confused looks that clearly showed suspicion. I hiked on, smiling. Someone yelled, “Nice Skis.” Not one for being keen on sarcasm, I agreed. They were nice skis. I soon made it to my van, unloaded the skis, and made for the post office.
I’ll spare you the post office venture.
I began my hike up by midafternoon. My pack was less conspicuous this time around. The wary looks I encountered during the descent gave way to laughter filled conversations with the same folks I had passed just hours before. I received an outstanding sunset as I traversed the south face of Le Conte. The glow faded just as the trail leveled off.
Happy and ready to eat, I made for the kitchen at a faster clip. The jar of Braswell’s pear preserves waited anxiously in my pack. Growing up in Statesboro, Georgia – I lived less than two miles from where these preserves were made. The kitchen in sight; it wasn’t long before the preserves were spread over a thick slice of honey oat bread…
…the past never tasted so sweet.
P.S. – Thank you Ashley and Courtney for the kind letter you left me on the front porch of my cabin. I would have fixed my “number 1 fans” a cup of coffee and a slice of heavenly goodness. Maybe next time.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less. -C. S. Lewis
It’s currently 40 degrees and clear, with an excellent view above the clouds. Yesterday’s high was 43 degrees, with an overnight low of 35.
The warmer temperatures have melted most of the snow leaving the trails wet and icy. We received 0.2” of precipitation.
Walking to sunrise, I slushed through a sloppy wet world. The morning glow revealed the cotton tufts below. Focused on the ice-covered path ahead, I hiked up to Apollo Overlook. The beauty of the rising sun set the tone for the day… set the tone for a beautiful week. Happy, I continued to wander around the mountain.
Back in the kitchen, I warmed water for tea. The apricot almond bread and blueberry muffins from the day before stood proudly atop the stove. Having already devoured much of both, I wished I had taken a photo. “Good”, I thought. I’ll have an excuse to make them again.
P.S. – Below is picture of Friday’s baking excursion. Garlic herb loaves sit above. Honey oatmeal to the left, and Banana Nut to the right.
“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s currently 42 degrees and cloudy. Yesterday’s high was 41 with an overnight low of 35. Expect plenty of ice on your way up.
I woke less sore than expected. Dressed and ready, I was already peeling off layers before making it into the kitchen. I laughed. When did 40 degrees become warm?! The coffee was soon ground and brewed. I was out the door just after 7:00AM.
The walk to Myrtle Point was filled with an energetic chatter. It was unmistakable that my companions, from thru-hikes past, held the same zest and adoration for the wilds. Smiles were anchored to our faces as the sun creeped out of the east. Alive and buzzing, our growing hunger was satisfied.
Walking back to the lodge, I found a new hunger on the forefront. Baking was on the mind. Just the night before, a buddy from Sylva hiked up two unique requests (dried apricots and orange extract). The Apricot and Almond bread that had filled my thoughts would soon become a reality. I arrived back at the lodge. Walking into the kitchen, I removed more layers and grabbed The Fannie Farmer Cookbook…
…I pulled a mixing bowl off the shelf.
"Limits exist only in the souls of those who do not dream."
- Philippe Petit
P.S. - Update!!
I was so excited to go run that I forgot to talk about ice traction! We ended up completing the 16-mile loop in 3:35:00 – It was very icy on the upper section of trail. So, onto ice traction. There are numerous options available. I’ll keep it brief and mention two options that should be available locally.
I’ve used both options extensively and they’ll work. Ultimately, in the world of ice traction, you get what you pay for.
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
It’s currently 30 degrees and clear. Yesterday’s high was 27 degrees, with an overnight low of 12.
The trails are icy up top. I would highly recommend some form of ice traction. I will list a couple options in the P.S. section below.
I woke and walked in to the kitchen. The smell of fresh baked bread still lingered in the air. Loaves of garlic herb, oatmeal honey, and banana nut bread lay comfortably on the stove top. I think that baking should happen more often. Thinking, I wait for the water to come to a boil.
Speechless, I applauded the sunrise. Like yesterday’s sunset, the mountains radiated hues I thought could only be found in fairytales. My thoughts began to drift toward looming adventures.
Down Rainbow Falls, up Trillium Gap. The thought of running challenging trails, from my doorstep, fills me with joy and gratitude. The weather is warming, and I’m fidgeting with excitement. It’s time to move in the mountains!
The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble. – Blaise Pascal
It’s currently 22 degrees and amidst the clouds. Yesterday’s high was 33, with an overnight low of 20. The trails up top have plenty of ice and the winds have started picking up.
I woke from a deep comfortable sleep. While preparing for the day, I made a mental note to keep sipping peppermint tea with honey before bed.
Wandering up the trail, I stared thoughtlessly at the blue-jean colored landscape. When I arrived at Myrtle Point, the artist had already begun painting his morning masterpiece. I found a seat and watched the show.
I gave a standing ovation. The artist continued to paint…
...I sat back down, awestruck.
"It’s more important for a photographer to have very good shoes, than to have a very good camera." - Sebastião Salgado
It’s currently 21 degrees and clear. Yesterday’s high was 30 degrees, with an overnight low of 6 degrees. The winds have subsided and we still have 4” of snow on the ground.
Access to Alum Cave Trailhead is now available via Hwy 441. Expect plenty of ice on the trails up top.
I woke to a clouded world. Yesterday’s incredible sunset paired with evening glimpses of the Geminid Meteor Shower left me content with the haze around me. None the less, I poured a cup and marched into the morning light. Oblivious to what lay ahead.
I arrived at Apollo Overlook just before sunrise. The world was grey and my coffee mug was dry. I sat down and began to close my eyes. An orange speck caught my attention. It grew. The clouds whispered around me. I focused on the object hovering above. It continued to grow. I was observing the sun, perfectly filtered through the clouds. Suddenly, the earth was aglow! Prepared for battle, I got into position. The dragon’s fiery breath swirled around me. Lost in the beauty, I never stood a chance…
…I was consumed.
So it goes,
“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.”
– Augusta Kantra
It’s currently 12 degrees and clear up top. Yesterday’s high was 20 degrees, with an overnight low of 0 degrees. The winds have been blowing since yesterday afternoon. There is still plenty of snow on the ground!
After yesterday’s post, I grabbed my essentials and hiked down the mountain. With 441 still closed, I correctly assumed that nobody had hiked Alum Cave Trail, yet. It was a surreal experience to hike down without seeing a single person. There was no one. Roughly a mile down, signs of the full-time residents began to appear. Fox, raccoon, and squirrel tracks kept me company. On multiple occasions, I had the pleasure of walking beside bear tracks. To see the trail well used, was a treat.
I woke to a bitterly cold mountain. With fresh coffee high on the priority list, I trudged into the kitchen and got to work. Once caffeinated and warm, I led a one-man expedition for Myrtle Point.
The mountain was glazed with hoar frost, making it as appetizing as ever. I hiked quickly through the creaking snow. My cheeks began aching from the cold. With all the ingredients in place for a spectacular sunrise. I shielded my face and pressed on.
My chase for the golden hour, the moments just before and after sunrise, was met with unparalleled success. The world transformed from the predawn grey to the soft golden hue of a pearl. The rising sun brought deep purple notes to the landscape. The world continued to transform, showcasing every spectrum of the rainbow.
Still mesmerized, I made for home…
“Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.” – Yogi Bhajan
It’s currently 19 degrees with winds and low visibility. Yesterday’s high made it up to 40 degrees, with an overnight low of 20. We still have 5” of snow on the ground.
I climbed into my spruce colored overalls and slid on my primer grey anorak. Purchased for a dollar at a church thrift store in Lander, WY – the anorak somehow ended up being worn more frequently than any other layer. Maybe it was the fact that I biked over 3,500 miles before stumbling upon the, already well loved, piece of gear. Regardless, I felt invisible as I trailed into the steel colored world.
I sat at the overlook and stared into the cloud covered landscape. There wouldn’t be a visible sunrise; no indicator of the passage of time. I closed my eyes and focused on the volume of my other senses. The cool winds were gentle. I sat and breathed. I breathed and listened.
I wasn’t sure how long I’d been sitting there, but when I opened my eyes, I imagined a sunrise as great as any other. I was content and happy.
Standing up, I disappeared back into the forest…
P.S. – I noticed a question about visitor numbers. There have been a handful of folks hiking up every day. It looks like the Rainbow Falls Trail is getting much of the traffic.
Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. - Rumi
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!