I hope everyone's enjoying a fine Tuesday. It's been a gray day thus far at LeConte Lodge as we've been living in a cloud. Just after lunch that cloud layer began offering us a gift of steady rain. If you want to be an optimist, the good news is that I sincerely doubt anyone's hike up LeConte will be hindered by dust storms Tuesday.
The gray conditions have been offset by an interesting group of guests, which I'll tell you more about on Wednesday.
Monday's weather proved exciting for about 45 minutes. Pulling my laundry off the line proved to be a sound decision as we experienced a grade-A, frog-strangling rain beginning about 4:15 p.m. It didn't last long, but we endured a couple of bouts of small hail interspersed with the rain and lightning. Within 5-10 minutes, the deluge turned our stairs leading down from camp to the dining room into "LeConte Falls," my least favorite waterfall in the Smokies.
Officially, we received 1.08 inches of rain very quickly, but it surely seemed like more. Thank goodness most of our guests were already checked in safe and dry. Although crew member Alan, returning to LeConte from off days, was forced to seek shelter in a small cave just down from the Pulpit on the Bullhead Trail. He arrived no worse for the wear. Our high temperature from Monday was 55 with a 42-degree low.
A hail storm on LeConte provides a sensory explosion. You are bombarded with all the sound and visual aspects which you all can imagine at home. The thing that impressed me the most (and I've never thought about before I began working up here) was the heightened sense of smell caused by the hail bruising the spuce and fir trees high on LeConte. Although I'm glad I wasn't outside getting pounded like the trees, the hail didn't do any damage to them. It did create a heavenly aroma as the spruce and fir scents wafted across the porch.
On Wednesday, unless something changes, I'm planning on introducing you to the elder of LeConte last night -- an 85-year-old gentleman from Louisiana with an interesting method of training for his hike. Stay tuned.
Come see us (just bring your rain gear, a good idea regardless of the weather). Happy trails.
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