This afternoon I'd like to answer one of the most common questions we get from guests and day hikers. The question concerns our llama resupply operation.
Many people like to know whether the llamas live at LeConte Lodge. The answer is no, though in the 1970s and prior we had some horses live on lodge grounds. The llamas live on a farm off Highway 321 between Gatlinburg and Cosby. The farm is a working farm and not set up to host visitors. The best place to meet the llamas is in back of the LeConte Lodge kitchen about noon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. There they rest, eat and drink at their troughs before they are reloaded and descend the mountain to head home to the farm.
The llamas utilize the Trillium Gap Trail and are trailered to and from the farm. Llamas aren't particularly affectionate animals, though we do ask them to at least be polite if hikers want to have their photos made while resting at the lodge (just never touch a llama on the head). Just posing for photos and refraining from spitting is asking a lot for a llama, so keeping the farm peaceful and quiet is important to them.
Alan and Chrissy share duties as our llama wranglers, usually alternating trips and teams to the lodge. That includes caring for the llamas at the farm and on the trail. There's no way we could operate without their work. They are the reason our guests will sleep on clean sheets tonight and eat fresh eggs in the morning.
Former crew members John and Bonnie Northrup also live on the farm and help with everything from grocery shopping for the lodge, hay stacking and llama feeding. After a recent visit on my August off days, I can attest that farm operations have never been better. The llamas are healthy and happy, and the farm looks great.
All of us on the LeConte Lodge crew thank Alan, Chrissy, John and Bonnie for doing an outstanding job running the farm. Thank you for reading and coming up to see us. Happy trails.