First of all, I'll pass along some weather statistics. Our high Monday reached 59 with a low of 53. The nearly omnipresent clouds have kept the temperature within a range of 48 to 60 degrees since Saturday morning. We measured 0.57 inches of rain Monday, though I expected a higher total.
This morning I noticed a bright, yellow circle in the sky for a brief period. It hurt my eyes when I looked at it. Someone said it's something called the "Sun," but I don't know. You know how people make up things. The forecast calls for 70 percent chance of rain Tuesday, but so far it's been dry albeit mostly cloudy. The forecast for the upcoming days sounds quite a bit sunnier.
Dakota ranks as one of the strongest, most dependable LeConte llamas. He doesn't believe in getting hurt, playing sick or pouting. He just works like crazy. I spoke with Alan, who's now on crew here at the lodge but served as llama wrangler for a decade prior. He worked extensively with Dakota and passed along some insight into the personality of this valuable member of the LeConte family.
For many years, Dakota was the alpha llama, not to be pushed around by anything. Alan thinks that time has mellowed the old boy a bit. Dakota was already trained and working in the team when Alan started the llama job going on 11 years ago.
"He's the fullback of the llamas," Alan said. "He's the last to get loaded in the trailer. He bulls his way in and nobody can stop him."
Although we've cut back on his workload, Dakota still ranks as a powerhouse. In 2010, we had to send a small generator down the mountain for repairs. There was no question who would shoulder the load. In fact, Dakota may have been offended had we entrusted the task to one of his "subordinates."
Dakota's not a big fan of people, attention or affection. If he were a human, he very well might have been a cowboy--riding fence all day probably would have suited him just fine. In fact, he doesn't care anything about people--unless they happen to be holding a pancake. He's also a notorious browser (nipping at vegetation while he hikes up and down the mountain), which can be fatal as several plants (like rhododendron) are toxic to llamas. For this reason, he sometimes wears a muzzle-type mask for his safety.
"Dakota's a valuable team player," Alan said. "He's strong, dependable, never sits down [to protest working] or shows any lazy llama behavior."
A while back one of our fine readers asked about the tarp-covered containers located behind the LeConte Lodge office. I mentioned that the containers held air-lifted building supplies to help us maintain our facility, as the harsh weather conditions up top can punish our structures. We don't have any plans to add anything new to the lodge, but we've been pleased to welcome a trio from Lebanon (Tennessee--not passport Lebanon) who are replacing some old windows.
I've mentioned the last few days that the sun has been sparse. That has made it particularly tough to do construction with power tools and no solar power available to recharge them. However, John Crowder, Ben Spicer and Bubba Hill have been troopers--hanging plastic sheets to replace windows in the rain. There's more to do, but they're making headway--and I hear more solar power is on the way.
Unless something changes, I plan to profile the aforementioned Alan Householder in Wednesday's update. He's an interesting individual, so I hope you'll stop back by. Come on up and see us. Have a fine day. Happy trails.