February 11th, 2013
The mountain is quite windy. The high yesterday reached 40 degrees. The low yesterday got down to 28 degrees. It was 39 degrees and overcast at 7am observation. The mountain received .66" of rain yesterday. With the warmer overnight temperatures, we are down to about 2 inches of snow. The trails are still quite slick, so be sure to pack some microspikes or some other form of traction devices.
Currently, 441 is closed. Be sure to check it's status at the Park Service's Twitter account.
2/11/2013 12:08:38 am
I was wondering what the average age might be of all the folks who post comments here, and, of the ones who go to the lodge. But that's perhaps a needless fact to know. The thing is that the lodge holds so many of us in its spell. My paradigm of thinking can't seem to focus much beyond that. As I said here once, my body was blessed my Mother Nature and cursed by Father Time ! I'm 63 but feel and act like I'm in my thirties and I enjoy reading all the comments about how and when someone first came to the lodge. I don't know how valuable my personal experiences would be to those who are contemplating a visit to the lodge, but I know that my feelings tend to give great encouragement to such people. Yes, the hike, whichever trail you follow, to the lodge isn't the easiest, but neither is it the hardest, so, for those thinking about such a journey, one you certrainly will not regret, the hardest thing for you to do is acquire a reservation. If you're patient you'll get one and it will be well worth it. The waxing moon is beginning to tempt me to repeat my experience watching it set from Cliff Tops in a week or so, provided the sky will be clear on a night when the moon is full or nearly so. The road closure in N.C. will give some difficulties for folks coming from the south, but I'm certainly glad we can still access the trails to the lodge. There was a big slide many years ago on the Tenn side, but I cannot recall when that was; up near the top of the mountain below Newfoud Gap it was. These days that creep up into the fifty-degree range are really tempting me to head down for some more day hikes and a possible stay at the shelter above the lodge. G'day
2/11/2013 12:48:04 am
My body is 49 years old. My mind, well my wife says I act like a kid.... or was it a spoiled brat?
2/11/2013 01:28:54 am
65 years young here, winter in Florida and summer in NC. This summer will be my fourth season to hike to the lodge. My first year I posted yesterday. I also have done the up and down in a day hike on Alum. Most exciting trip was 2011 hiking up Trillium with my then 12 year old granddaughter and my daughter in law and coming face to face with a very large bear!! Take your time, enjoy the trip and most of all, once you have reached the top, it is so well worth it!!!
2/11/2013 01:42:10 pm
Mary F. - love bear stories. How far were you from the bear and what did you do. We go up Leconte every year and that is my biggest fear to run into a bear although I think I have smelled one on several trips.
2/11/2013 04:09:11 am
Hi, my name is Kent, I'm 50-years-old, and I'm a LeConteholic. (Sorry.)
Paul B (Cincinnati)
2/11/2013 07:55:31 am
The only one that I know of is A Walk In The Woods. I looked into using them a couple years ago but our trail choices changed and we didn't need a shuttle. I have heard good things about them, timliness, friendliness, etc. There website is www.awalkinthewoods.com
2/11/2013 07:57:59 am
Nuts! "their" not "there". Yes, I do know the difference for any grammer police reading today.
2/11/2013 10:32:16 am
Thanks, I'll check them out. :)
2/11/2013 12:00:43 pm
Definitely use Walk in the Woods... I have used them 3-4x a year for about 5 years. Always been pleased and never been let down.
2/11/2013 12:24:19 am
It seems like the sky is always brighter these days for some reason.
2/11/2013 02:10:19 am
I totally agree! It feels like I'm born again.
2/11/2013 01:15:58 am
Regarding *age*.. I am 52 and first hiked LeConte at 50, alone and knowing absolutely nothing of such endeavors as climbing a mountain--but then again; no one told me that I couldn't or that it might be difficult so I just put one foot in front of the other and it was bliss :).
2/11/2013 01:18:32 am
I'm 72. Been hiking up LeConte since 1976. My first trip was with a backpack and stay at the shelter...not nearly as nice then as now. Since 95 I've had reservations every Sept at the Lodge. Have been up all but Brushy trails. Hardest trip was in 2011 but 6 months later I had heart attack so must have been in distress then and didn't realize it. Gave up my space in 2012 to my daughter and will now be going this year so am looking forward to once again being on "our" mountain. Been up with my 3 older grand kids and will make it in Sept with my 2 youngest (7 & 8) Also hiked up with friends, my younger brother, younger sister and older sister. Alas I can't get my other sister to go (she is not physically able) and I can't get my other brother interested..if it isn't a 5 star by his standards he's not interested even though I told him he could have all the wine he wanted for about $9! Each trip I've made since 76 has its own set of memories and I've met a lot of great people there....3 families who are there same time as me each year so its been a long once a year get-together for us. My daughter crewed up there in the 90's so it holds a special place for her too. I would encourage anyone who has an interest in hiking LeConte give it a try. Make your own memories. The rewards are worth the trip! Enjoy this site and all the comments made and the pics and words of wisdom from JP and everyone. Keeps me hooked to the mountain during the months I'm not in the Smokies. Happy hiking everyone!
2/11/2013 01:27:18 am
Age 47. Hiked all but Brushy Trail since October 2010, usually with snow on the ground. Most recently 2/2/2013 Trillium with 10" up top and heavy drifts. My knees are now age 67 because of it. Wouldn't change a thing.
Ryan in Green Bay
2/11/2013 01:39:45 am
I am 33 and first climb it at age 24. I am from Wisconsin, so I have made only 6 trips to the area and 4 treks to Leconte. But no matter the distance, it holds a special place in my heart and is part of my daily routine to check and think of that place
2/11/2013 01:43:49 am
Age 72. Last hiked in 1996 via Trillium. Since then have had two spinal fusions. Now I'm wondering if I can return via Alum or if its too steep for my back.
2/11/2013 01:57:42 am
Age 49. Been hiking Leconte since I was about 26. Goal is to make it up at least once a year...made it twice last year. Had planned to come up last month, but due to closed roads had to "settle" for hiking Mt. Cammerer. I very rarely post, but visit this blog everyday with my morning coffee. Thanks JP for the blog and the wonderful pics!!
2/11/2013 01:58:35 am
I made my first trip up the mountain with my niece last May. She had just finished law school and needed a way to celebrate. My family has been coming to these mountains for years but never went hiking. We decided about a year ago that we would commit to hiking up to the lodge and the view from the start to the finish were awesome! We have already committed to doing a day hike again in May.
2/11/2013 02:11:51 am
I am 68. I first hiked up in 1968 when I was 24. I live in the St. Louis area but have managed 27 trips to the lodge. I have carried each of my three children up and did my 20th with my two sons in 2005
2/11/2013 03:04:19 am
Age 54. We have been taking day hikes to the lodge since 2010. So far, Alum has been our only trail. This spring will be our first overnight at the lodge and I am so excited! Although we will probably be taking the long drive around to get to the trailhead as we live in Bryson City. I wonder if the road will be open by May 24th? For several years before 2010 we had only hiked to the Bluffs and I wondered what it was like to go all the way up. Yes, it gets increasingly steep and more difficult but just remember you are not in a race. Stop frequently to take in the most beautiful views and smell the fresh mountain air. My husband and I are not in the best of shape but we do try to prepare for the hike up Alum.
2/11/2013 03:16:49 am
Just talked to the Sugarlands Visitors Center, 441S is now open to Newfound Gap.
JT mobile al
2/11/2013 03:42:51 am
Morning all you mountain lovers, First made the trip to Mt. Leconte in 1987 walking alone ,did not intend to go all the way to the top. Started walking and just kept on looking and talking to people I would meet on the trail . After I got to Alum cave bluffs I started going further and asking people I met coming down how much further it was to the lodge . I just kept walking thinking anytime I would stop and go back down . I just kept walking and finally reached the lodge, on the way back down my feet were hurting so I took off my shoes and waded in the small creek beside the trail . When I got back to my car I was hungry but glad that I went all the way to the lodge ,I will always remember and cherish the trip. I love to read everyones experiences and thoughts about the Smokies. I have been going to the smokies for about 40 yrs. my age now is 69. Good day to all
2/11/2013 03:57:57 am
Lets see my b.c.
2/11/2013 04:13:13 am
I day-hiked to the lodge with our daughter in 1993. I have always wanted to return for an overnight stay. I now have a reservation in April to do that - at age 66.
2/11/2013 04:39:22 am
I am 40 and have hiked up Alum Cave to Mt. LeConte 4 times in the past 6 years. My husband and I have taken my uncle (late 60's with double knee replacements) and my mom (late 60's with rheumatiod arthristis) up to the top twice.
2/11/2013 04:40:34 am
MY WIFE AND I VISIT THE MOUNTAINS EVERY YEAR FOR AT LEAST THE LAST 15 YEARS AND ALWAYS INTENDED TO MAKE A TRIP TO THE LODGE. NOW AFTER DEALING WITH CANCER FOR THE LAST 4 YEARS,I AM NOT ABLE TO MAKE IT DUE TO MY PHYSICAL CONDITION ALTHOUGH I AM CANCER FREE AT THIS TIME.MY ADVICE TO EVERYONE IS IF THERE IS SOMETHING YOU WANT TO DO,DO IT, WE DON'T KNOW WHAT TOMORROW WILL BRING.JUST CURIOUS IF ANYONE KNOWS WHO HOLDS THE RECORD FOR MOST TRIPS TO THE LODGE AND THEIR AGE AND ALSO THE OLDEST HIKER TO THE TOP. I ENJOY READING EVERYONE'S COMMENTS WHO DO GET TO THE LODGE AND REGRET I DIDN'T WHEN I COULD.I ENJOY THE PICTURES AND COMMENTS J.P. AND ENVY YOUR SPIRIT.
Bob B. (Northern KY)
2/11/2013 04:58:43 am
I am 51.
2/11/2013 05:19:18 am
Ages 49 and 52....completed all the trails to LeConte but Brushy Gap...Alum several times. Have been hiking in the park for several years as well as on our own turf. Hoping to get Brushy Gap this spring. A dream is to one day earn our 900 mile badge...so many trails...so little time...sigh
Larry (Sevierville, TN)
2/11/2013 05:46:15 am
I am 69 years young and have hike all the trails at least twice. In my opinion Alum is the easiest and Brushy the toughest, but they are all special in their on way.
2/11/2013 05:49:42 am
woops (hike = hiked)
2/11/2013 05:51:07 am
I'm 55 and first hiked LeConte in 86. I still remember the smell of fresh coffee & cookies waiting for us when we stepped out of the "tunnel" on the Alum Cave trail! Planning to summit again this summer.
2/11/2013 06:08:36 am
I'm not sure if this record stands but I know that Gracie McNicols moved to the Smokies at the age of 62 and began climbing LeConte. She made a record 244 trips. I read a story about her called Gracie and the Mountain. I also know from pictures and reading that John (I think John) Huff carried his mom who was I believe in her 90s up the mountain in a straight backed chair but guess being carried doesn't count does it? Wonder if LeConte Lodge people know who holds record...maybe if so they can weigh in here. Oh, and someone wanted to know if Alum cave is really a cave...according to geologists it is not a cave but a rock shelter. The Epsom Mining co. was formed to mine from it epsom salts, saltpeter, alum, magnesia and copperas. They quit mining after the Civil War.
Brian N bama
2/11/2013 06:22:33 am
Age 42, made my first hike oct. 2010, dayhike up alum. Next time up was Oct 2011, overnight in shelter. Became hooked, have stayed in the shelter once more and lodge 3 times since then. Will be back in lodge this May but might have to do shelter hike between now and then... TOTALLY HOOKED ON HIKING!!!
2/11/2013 06:46:23 am
I am speechless ! If anyone wants to know what the Leconte Lodge experience is all about, all they have to do is read the comments posted here today ! ! Out of respect I usually like to address particular reader/writers but there are so many here today that I can humbly say that it brings great satisfaction and pleasure to be a small part of all of this. This site is fabulous and totally cements the lodge experience which will remain one of the greatest around as long as it has supporters, visitors, and admirers like it has now ! As some were prone to utter back in the 60's: "Far out !" G'day all.
2/11/2013 07:01:43 am
I hiked to the lodge last year for the first time on July 4th. I am 66 and have a reservation for this July. Only regret is that I didn't do it sooner. Great views, food, accommadations. The staff does an amazing job. Go while you can
2/11/2013 07:17:10 am
I made my first trip to the top in 2011 on 60 birthday. I was hooked after that. Made another trip up in 2012 with wife, spent night in lodge. I'm hooked now, going back in Sept
2/11/2013 07:29:49 am
Did my first Leconte hike with hubby 2 years ago at 51! Plan to do it again. Problem is our July 4th vacation got moved to end of March. What's the weather like for hiking then? I know hard to predict!! When does the lodge open? I WANT MY T-SHIRT!! oh yes someone said it best. LeConteholic!!
2/11/2013 08:52:54 pm
We have hiked to the Lodge the last week of March. Kids spring break. Its all different. Been up there 4 times in March and started out in alot of clothes and started peeling off layers. Last year we hiked in shorts and a sweatshirt that we took off. Bring some yax trax. Have also used them too. First time I went I woke up to it lightly snowing and 16 degrees. You just never know.
2/11/2013 08:06:17 am
Age 39 & started hiking to LeConte in 1998. Been up & down the mountain 40 times. Done all official trails along with Huggins Hell & Roaring Fork Creek to the mountain top. Also done from Sugarlands visitor's center to top and back one day to get in the vertical climb. Never been lucky enough to spend a sub zero degree night on the mountain let. Been in the shelter one night at 2 above and another night at lodge that was 2 above. One of the best hikes was November 1, 2012. The 3' of snow was awesome . Make for a great day hike
Paul B (Cincinnati)
2/11/2013 08:20:02 am
Now 48, I hiked the beautiful huge rock three times in the 80's ('83, '86 and '89) with my dad traversing Alum, Boulevard, Rainbow and Bull Head. Unfortunately I took 21 years off and did not return until 2010. I have stayed at the lodge the last three years (plus a day hike "summit or plummit") and included Trillium to complete the five main trails. Friends, my brother and two of my daughters have joined me the last three overnight adventures. For my 50th in 2014, my dream present is to start at the northern end of the park and hike the AT southbound for several days staying at shelters along the way before reaching the prize, a nights stay at the lodge. They may want to give us our own meal time after several sweaty days on the trail!
2/11/2013 08:52:31 am
Made my 1st dayhike in April 2011 @ age 66. Did 2 dayhikes in 2011 and 3 dayhikes in 2012 all on Alum. Also did a dayhike up Alum and dwn. Boulevard in 2012. Total of 5 trips to top. 441 road closure is going to affect my dayhikes in the spring, it is a long way around on I-40 to try to do a dayhike and get back to WNC. Guess I will wait for the road to open
2/11/2013 08:57:15 am
I have been visiting the blog daily since the fall 2010. I am now 27 but I first hiked LeConte when I was 24. It is one of my favorite places.
2/11/2013 08:58:35 am
My family hiked to the lodge on November 19, 2012. It was the 4th hike for my son, age 24, second hike for my husband, age 53, first hike for myself - 51, my daughter 22, her boyfriend 19, and my daughter-in-law 24. It was beautiful and I hope to hike again soon. I didn't do well with my first hike so I need to do it again in a better fashion.
John M (TX)
2/11/2013 09:20:50 am
Age 76. First time to LeConte was 1949. As a Boy Scout we were there during the Christmas holidays and slept out in the open until the rain started, at which time we crawled under the few cabins that were there that had crawl space under each. Woke up the next am with about 6 inches of snow. As a boy I spent many pleasant times in the Smokies. Wish I could get back up but due to health issues I am afraid I can't. Still enjoy the blog every day.
2/11/2013 09:36:52 am
I turned the big 40 a few months ago, and my wife gets there in a couple of months. Our first "hike" was in July 2002, a mile in and a mile out on the AT at Newfound Gap (yes, we were the stupid tourists in shorts carrying only a water bottle, but hey, it was our honeymoon!). We got serious about hiking in 04 and summitted the Mother Mountain twice that year. For a time our goal was 40 summits before 40, but that hasn't happened due to a blessing of work (we're both self-employed, so when there's work, we do it). Our last time to the top was Dec. 2011, which was #28 for both of us. We missed last year due to my wife's health (she was ill for parts of the year and has since been taking massive numbers of allergy shots... and we'll be able to hike again soon).
2/11/2013 09:37:32 am
age 59.1st leconte hike 1970.several after that but not as many in the last few years.my 54 year old wife and 30 year old son are starting to get the best of me.always keep trying,making memories.yesterdays gone.live today.plan for tomorrow.thanks for the memories.10 year old grandson looked at jps fab.picts and said we are hiking up and back as soon as we start staying in in our camper in townsend this spring.have to keep this from 2 three year old and 1 six year old grand kids.thanks all.papawlg.
2/11/2013 10:40:43 am
I have hiked up only 3 times, I was lucky to be able to celebrate my 60th birthday at LeConte, spent 1 memorable night that I will never forget. I am almost 62 and plan on hiking up several more times.
2/11/2013 11:56:04 am
I hiked to the lodge for the first time this past July at 52 with my husband 51 and our two sons 13 and 14 and a really good friend and her family.My youngest son and I were lucky enough to stay at the lodge that night with my friend and her family. What a treat! I can't wait to do it again! Since then, I read this blog every day, wishing I was closer than rural Ohio.Thanks JP and staff for making this site available and letting so many of us that love these mountains feel a little closer to them even if great distances separate us physically.
2/11/2013 12:07:04 pm
Age 58. I haven't hiked LeConte yet but hope to after I deal with some orthopedic issues. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the photos and hearing about everyone's experiences!
2/11/2013 12:24:10 pm
Time for me to chime in. I think I have wrote something on this blog for the last year or so every day. I might miss a day, but I always go back and comment, even if it takes me a day latter or 2 to get to it.
2/11/2013 03:30:22 pm
I'm 46 and cut my teeth on the Smokies ! I do believe it was the only place my folks knew to take us growing up lol..I would'nt change a thing now though. Have hiked Leconte 4 times in the last 4 yrs. and now I'm hooked ! At first I used the hike as a excercise adventure, seeing how quick I could make the trek up (2hrs 5mins my best). Now however I take my time and enjoy all the splendor the mtn. has to offer. Currently looking for a smoky mtn. cabin as a vacation home ;)
2/11/2013 08:45:31 pm
Donnie, thats what my kids say and my husband. But we only have so much time and I know its a great vacation. My youngest gets dragged with all the time. I started hiking to the Lodge when my older 2 stopped going. But my youngest was as excited as me when I got that confirmation in the mail. They don't know what there missing. Its terrible trying to find a decent cabin.
2/11/2013 03:45:48 pm
I am 47.
2/11/2013 04:01:05 pm
This part is ..... but the moon seem like a flower of gold It have not time.
2/11/2013 04:32:10 pm
I do not see black bears now but know there are a few as... black bears in 200 km those seen in a village at this year but Ir.... cheetah and Ir.... wildcat seen in 50 km.
2/11/2013 04:39:45 pm
Hiked to LeConte Lodge the 1st tIme in Oct.of 1995. My wife and I were on our honeymoon in Gatlinburg. We were green to hiking and started late and were ill prepared with a bottle of water each and a few snacks. Made it to Cliff Tops around 4:30p.m. And slowly realized there was a real risk of being on the trail after dark. We took off down the trail and made it to the arch rock by dark, took us almost two hours of baby stepping with my wife's hand firmly tucked into my belt from behind for us to make the mile back to the Alum Cave trailhead.
2/11/2013 05:45:44 pm
M y father tell me a few stories about contact dogs with wolves for save animals and a story contact a dog with Ir... jaguar at on the mountain at last years he is 80 now.
2/11/2013 10:02:26 pm
I'm 53. My first time was in 1978 at the age of 18. I did 99 and 100 on a trip back in October (a few days before the big snow). I've done all the trails (including starting at Sugarlands that Chris turned me on to) and all have been day hikes. A lifetime of wonderful memories.
2/12/2013 12:12:49 am
Ben F> That seems to sum it all up;
2/14/2013 04:40:59 am
2/12/2013 12:36:09 am
Age 54. First hike up at 50. My hubby and I had been to a UT football game the previous day and decided to try a hike to Leconte the next morning. We had no idea what to expect and had not slept much the night before, We made it to the top and finished at dusk in the rain. We actually got in the car and drove back to Ohio....a little hard to get out of the car when we arrived home almost 7 hours later. We fell in love with the mountain that day and have hiked it twice a year since. We always day hike, but now we spend the night in a cabin or hotel.
2/12/2013 12:43:43 am
I'm actually surprised (maybe not) that there aren't more people my age posting on here. Where's the free spirited types of my generation? :)
2/12/2013 01:53:12 am
Hiked to LeConte via Alum for the first time Oct 2012 with my husband we are both 51. It was like Christmas morning excitement when we stepped onto the trail! Our reservation at the lodge had just been confirmed two weeks prior to our visit and this was our first vacation alone in our 27 year marriage. The hike was picture perfect and we fell in love with the mountain. The trip down the next morning held more excitement than I would have liked...long story short we will return next year with our son and the cast I wore for 8 weeks from slipping on the first log steps during our descent. Hiking 4 miles on a broken leg requires one to "have" to do it again according to my husband!! I read the blog daily and it calls me back to the mountain. Thanks JP for your beautiful words
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Welcome to the official blog of LeConte Lodge. We hope you find the information provided here both helpful and enjoyable. Thank you for visiting the site, and we hope to see you on the mountain!