Saturday morning has been spent in the cloud, but we've not seen any precipitation as of early afternoon. I'll take a gray morning, seems a fair trade for the glorious sunset on Friday night. Friday's high was 66, the hottest day since May 3. The low only dipped to 49 degrees.
We have lots of folks who stop by and ask about bear activity. I have a few updates, but nothing to be concerned about as long as you use good sense. A day hiker came by the office Saturday morning and reported a bear on the lower section of the Rainbow Falls Trail (below the falls). Mitch, our llama wrangler, has seen a lone bear about halfway up the Trillium Gap Trail the last few trips up the mountain. Also, crew member Alan saw evidence of a bear at the summit of LeConte on High Top. Some people will leave a rock on the pile at High Top to make LeConte higher. Evidently, the bear left a pile of something else and is not overly concerned about adding to LeConte's 6,593-feet elevation.
We've enjoyed more interesting guests than we can shake a stick at. The Sabos came up to visit us a couple of nights. In between their two-night stay early in the week, they set off on a day hike down the Boulevard Trail and got absolutely soaked. Despite slogging back to the lodge, they arrived with smiles on their faces and retained them their entire trip. We like to see that. When the weather finally broke and the sunset painted the sky for the first time in days, I enjoyed a fascinating conversation with them about the Battle of Little Big Horn. That's one of the best things about life at the lodge; it's amazing the conversations you have when you turn off the phone and TV and start listening to each other. The Sabos started visiting us around 1999 or 2000. I say that's a fine way to start a millennium.
On my last ascent up the Alum Cave Bluff Trail, I ran across a trio of former University of Tennessee Lady Vol track and cross country runners. They seemed to be making fine time, but they allowed the footing on LeConte wasn't quite as forgiving as Tom Black Track.
We were also proud to host a couple of my former colleagues from the University of Tennessee. Dr. Rob Hardin and Jim Bemiller made reservations for lunch recently. Rob is a Desert Storm veteran, teaches at UT and uses his expertise to help the university host high-profile athletic events. He's also plenty helpful when you have a thesis weighing heavy on you.
A Renaissance man, Jim has worked as an attorney, teaches at UT and ranks as one of the best pole vault coaches in the U.S. Jim coached American (and former Tennessee Vol) Tim Mack to an Olympic-record, gold-medal winning triumph at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece (during happier times for the Greeks). With the Olympic record and gold medal hanging in the balance, Tim launched the jump of his life--soaring 19 feet, 6 1/4 inches to clear the bar with the world (and his coach Jim) watching.
I met another gentleman on the trail who had hiked up a small (and I hope light) HAM radio to LeConte. While enjoying the top of our mountain, he contacted someone in Oregon and Switzerland, both of which boast pretty nice mountains, too.
You never know the fascinating people you may meet on LeConte if you slow down and take the time to visit.