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.