Not 20 minutes ago I was working on some projects around the lodge and had to put on a hat to keep my bald head from getting sunburned. Now, as of 2:28 p.m., I'm watching raindrops fall outside the window. Most of the morning and early afternoon were cloudy, though the forecast today and Saturday calls for a 70 percent chance of rain. On Thursday we topped out at 65 degrees with an overnight low of 56 after totaling a scant 0.05 inches of rain.
One of the best things about working at LeConte Lodge is all the interesting people you get to meet. I have two to introduce to you today. We were honored to host Dick McAliley and his family again. Dick celebrated his 85th birthday with us last night with a host of his family in attendance--all hiking in special 85th birthday yellow shirts they had printed for the occasion.
Dick has hiked LeConte every year since 1990 except one. A man of few words, Dick told me, "missed 1998--had a stroke." His tone reminded me of the way others might lament a sore throat. Dick has a prized hiking stick with lots of character--medallions from trails he's notched and hand-lettered dates from each of his LeConte hikes. I'm glad he'll get to add "August 8, 2013" to his venerable hiking stick.
From the LeConte crew standpoint, we're also appreciative Dick brought his granddaughter, Katie, back to see us. Katie was a member of the fine 2009 and 2010 LeConte Lodge crews, and she loves being back on the mountain.
It was also nice to see Jerry Luth of Findlay, Ohio again. Jerry's Friday day hike marked his 100th trip up LeConte. Jerry, age 72, was escorted by his 8-year-old grandson, Jake Sewell of Dublin, Ohio, who was making his third trip up LeConte.
Jerry didn't start his LeConte ascents until he was 60 years old. He has hiked the mountain 55 times in the last three years, which beats my total and I work here. Interestingly enough, Jerry counts his favorite LeConte hiking combination as coming up Bullhead Trail and descending Rainbow Falls Trail. The majority of our hikers prefer to climb Rainbow and descend Bullhead.
Have a fine day. Happy trails.