Let’s start off with wishing “Happy Birthday” to our own Allison Mayes today. The crew wasted no time in bombarding her with various versions of the popular tune associated with such an occasion, as well as pizza and desserts prepared by Heather for lunch. Allison recalled a conversation with her family earlier in the year where she wanted to spend her birthday on Mt. LeConte. This was before she knew she’d actually be living on the mountain as crew. Funny how things work out! At least we aren’t making her work this afternoon on her special day.
We didn’t see much in the way of liquid precipitation yesterday, collecting a mere 0.1” of rainfall. Expect a higher total tomorrow morning as we’ve already seen some intermittent showers roll through since daybreak. Wednesday’s high temperature reached 64 degrees, and our overnight low fell to 49. It’s currently in the mid 50’s here at the lodge. Rain gear? Rain gear.
The task requires three ascents and three descents of the popular mountain with as little trail repetition as possible; hence, the inclusion of Brushy Mountain Trail out of Greenbrier. There are so many possible combinations when it comes to determining a route of attack, but out of the convenience of shuttling and time restraints, only a handful make the most sense. The combinations will also affect how much elevation gain and loss one would encounter, but the average attempt comes out around 11,000 – 12,000 feet of change both ways. Distance wise, you’re talking a total of 44.7 miles by trekking each trail in its entirety while excluding side ventures to overlooks and such. A few of us who have completed the challenge try to keep up on the latest attempts. To our knowledge, at least fifteen different people have successfully completed the six-trail challenge since 1993.
So far, only two females have completed the TLC, which coincidentally happened on the exact same day of May 31, 2014. One of whom is the lodge's own Bonnie Northrup. Since both groups that day took different routes, they never crossed paths, and completed the challenge in about the same time, unknowingly. The number for most completions currently belongs to John Northrup at four, ranging from 11h:5m running to 19h:30m hiking. Yours truly is chomping at the bit to garner number five, but is patiently waiting for Bull Head to be officially reopened. Most attempts have utilized an automobile to shuttle between certain trailheads, but one completer actually did so via bicycle!
After Worth's record setting attempt, he wrote about his experiences on the trail to which I believe many of us can relate and appreciate...
"I enjoy these sort of challenges because at the end of the day there are no cheering crowds and no finishers medals, you are alone with the trail and the truth of the situation. Quiet moments on the trail and an honest sense of fatigue are reward enough. There are purists who argue against these speed hikes and runs, viewing them as nothing more than a continuation of our hurry-up culture. For me, a day of trail-running is more than a simple race against time. It's how I've come to appreciate the trail the most. Thoughts of grocery lists, school work and everything else yet to be done take a back seat. I'm able to experience the trail directly, without mental chatter."
-David Worth 8/7/11
"The mountains are calling, and I must go." - John Muir
We hope to see you up here someday, in whatever way suits you. Have a great rest of the afternoon, and thanks for reading.