We had two separate black bear sightings on Sunday. Crew member Austin gets credit for the first bear sighting at the lodge in 2012. While enjoying a beautiful LeConte Sunday night from his porch, Austin saw two black bears walking through camp about 10:30 p.m. They ambled through the lower part of camp near the staff housing and left via the Trillium Gap Trail. I think all the snoring scared them off.
In addition, Tom, our backup llama wrangler, reported seeing a black bear sow and two cubs about two miles down the Trillium Gap Trail late Sunday morning. Given Austin's and Tom's descriptions, the two sightings aren't the same bears. Neither bear sighting caused any hardship for either party.
At any rate, because we share the same mountain, we need to be good neighbors to the bears -- for their safety and ours. You should never leave any human food out -- either on the trail or your cabin porch -- not even an empty lemonade cup or banana peel. Bears are wild animals and need to find their own food. If you assist in causing a bear to become habituated to human food, you've signed its death warrant. They're perfectly capable of foraging on their own and have been perfecting it for a long time (that's why you don't see fast food restaurants up here). As long as people act responsibly, we don't really have much bear trouble on LeConte. Share the mountain and give the bears their space.
For the weather report, Monday looks a lot like Saturday and Sunday, except hotter. Sunday's high reached 66, while the overnight low stood at 48. As of Monday midafternoon, it's currently 68, which is plenty warm for April. Keep in mind that it's never hit 80 degrees on the summit of LeConte since temperatures have been recorded and that gives you some perspective on how warm a 68-degree day feels to bookend April.
We were pleased to welcome a day hiker named Phil Large on Monday. Phil accomplished something admirable on his first day of retirement; he climbed LeConte via the Alum Cave Bluff Trail. "You have to do something memorable," Large said. "You don't want to just clean out your closet." Wise words.