With all due apologies to the Marshall Tucker Band for heavily editing their song title, that pretty much describes a news-laden Tuesday on Mt. LeConte. Perhaps all the following news will make up for some lazy July day when there's not much going on and we have to report for the 121st consecutive day that no crampons will be needed to get to the lodge.
First of all, I'd like to thank all of you for your kind words regarding yesterday's post. I enjoyed meeting several of you, and look forward to having the rest of you visit fine LeConte Lodge. I'll endeavor to keep you abreast of the goings on when Allyson and Chris are on off days. Secondly, because of the way my position is structured (taking on portions of Chris' and Allyson's duties), I'll often be updating much later than Allyson. For instance, I worked 17 hours yesterday taking care of our guests and lodge business, but I'll try to update the best my schedule will allow. I appreciate your interest and patience.
I mentioned yesterday how nice our weather had been. Not two hours after I wrote those words, we had some snow flurries flying about. No accumulation, but this mountain makes meteorologists old. It kind of reminds me of my meteorological ineptitude when I was a horse wrangler for a ranch in the Front Range of Colorado's Rockies. My fellow wranglers would ask me after breakfast if I had put my sunscreen on that day. If I answered yes, they knew that they should tie their rain slickers to their saddles. Dust storms wouldn't be a problem that day.
On LeConte, we did top out at 40 degrees Tuesday afternoon, but shivered down to 18 at our 6:30 a.m. observation Wednesday. On the bright side, because it has been so dry, I've received two good trail reports on Alum and Trillium. One day hiker said conditions on Alum were still good. Mitch, our llama wrangler, echoed that sentiment for Trillium Gap with the exception of a slick 10-foot section.
It may be hard to make out in the above photograph, but, to answer a question from yesterday, the smoke emanates from a fire outside the park on English Mountain. Our thoughts go out to the folks who lost their homes. We hope for safety for the firefighters who are struggling with the beautiful but rugged terrain. Last night, the fire looked particularly ominous on our sister mountain to the north. The dual fire tracks glowed ferociously like jack o' lantern eyes in the April dark. The glow reminded me of the active lava flows at night in Volcanoes National Park near where I wrangled at a ranch on the Big Island of Hawaii.
To close on a happier note, we did enjoy our view of the International Space Station last night. I was fortunate enough to be a crew trainer at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center's Space Camp this time last year, and admire the fantastic discovery science being accomplished on the International Space Station. It's much nicer than our first venture into space stations, Skylab in the 1970s. Skylab was built from leftover parts of the Saturn V rockets after the last three Apollo moon missions were scrapped. Skylab ended up being pulled back to Earth, where it burned up upon reentry, depositing a large piece of space junk in Australia (harming no people or koalas). Word has it that Australia fined the U.S. for littering. We picked up our "litter," and that piece of Skylab is on display in the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., today. There's some trivia for you.
Have a fine day. Happy trails.
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