Happy Memorial Day to all of you. I hope you're enjoying the fruits of summer (watermelon, ribs, strawberry pie and the like), even if technically spring is still clinging to the calendar. While I hope you've authored a wonderful holiday weekend, I also hope you've considered the more somber side to Memorial Day. There are many folks who've loved Mt. LeConte throughout the years who've been taken from us in the snarl of war. If you're hiking today, please try to enjoy it a little bit extra for those who've gone ahead and sacrificed all they had to give.
We've had a few clouds take up residence over LeConte this afternoon, but the morning was beautiful. Unfortunately, we had a little malfunction with our weather system Sunday afternoon (since resolved), so we couldn't record an official high temperature. It felt warm, quite similar to Saturday's high of 69, which matches the hottest day of 2012. We have already reached 69 on Monday before the clouds moved in. Our morning low was a mild 52 degrees. There was a bit of a breeze this morning, which seemed to clear out some haze and give us good visibility down into the valley.
Back to Memorial Day, here on LeConte we draw crew members from a widely diverging spectrum of life. We call different areas home, whether embraced in the Sweet Tea Belt (a more accurate border, in my opinion, than the historical Mason-Dixon Line) or hailing from outside it. We pull for different college football teams when autumn graces the Smokies (we do have alums of both the Michigan and Ohio State marching bands on crew), may vote differently in November and pick different tunes on the radio when it's our turn to wash dishes.
But, despite our differences, we fly one flag on LeConte. The U.S. flag proudly decorates crew member John's cabin at the top of Tennessee. I'm not sure about the flags over on Clingman's Dome (not been over there in a while), which stands 50 feet higher than LeConte. But if they don't have an American flag flying on top of the Dome on the Tennessee side, then John's flag holds the distinction of being the highest U.S. flag in the Volunteer State. Mt. Guyot also stands a little higher than LeConte, but there's no one over there, and I sincerely doubt even the most patriotic squirrels are flying the "Stars and Stripes."
We welcome guest Larry Israel tonight. Larry made his 39th trip (out of 42 years) to LeConte Monday. His first visit came in 1970, when he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail and a sign to LeConte Lodge via the Boulevard Trail beckoned. He was incredibly lucky we had a space available that night (please don't try to just show up in 2012 and expect a cabin), and has been visiting us regularly since.
Allyson and Chris will return to the mountain from off days today, so this should be my last update for a while. Thank all of you for reading and for your kind comments.
I'll close by recounting an impromptu sing along in the dining room during last Tuesday's breakfast. One of our guests began singing the Western classic "Happy Trails" and others soon chimed in before people headed down the mountain on their separate ways. After spending plenty of time in the saddle the last five years, I'm a big fan of "Happy Trails." It's genuine and unpretentious. Our guests did a fine job singing it. I dare say Roy Rogers, the "King of the Cowboys," and Dave Evans, the "Queen of the West," wherever they may be, were plenty proud.
Happy trails indeed.
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