Good afternoon to you all. This is Nathan, and I'll be writing reports for a few days as Chris and Allyson take some time off. First off, I've had the pleasure of meeting several High on LeConte readers, some for the first time, in the last few days. It was nice visiting with you all.
While it wasn't exactly weather fit for a Beach Boys' song, Friday was the first day in July that we didn't record any rain. There was some sun, sandwiched with hearty portions of clouds--much like today. Friday's high reached 63 with an overnight low of 49.
While I was home Tuesday I decided to pick some blackberries. I've always enjoyed blackberry picking since I was little and my mom would take us and make a cobbler--if we were productive enough. With all the rain East Tennessee has received in 2013, this makes for a blackberry picker's bonanza. You can pick and choose the cream of the crop, not just pluck anything that's close to ripe.
Of course, the best blackberries are always protected by a fortress of briars. Those choice berries are plenty tasty, but there is a price to be exacted in blood by the thorns once you get past the parasites (seed ticks) and irritants (poison ivy). Some of the best things in life require a sacrifice, but with some perseverance the cobbler can be pretty sweet. Could be a life lesson there, or maybe I'm just dazed from losing too much blood in the briar thicket.
At any rate, my forearms, tracked by briar scratches, look like I've just lost a "loser leave town" wrestling match with a mongoose. I hauled the fresh Rockwood, Tenn., wild blackberries up in my backpack and made a chocolate blackberry cobbler last night for the crew. It didn't last long. I hope the bears and deer will be in for a treat this year as far as LeConte blackberries go. Last year proved a little sparse for the "black gold" in the critters' diet. I expect the blackberries to be peak about the third week of August up top. I know our four-legged neighbors will be eagerly awaiting the harvest.
Finally, I'd like to thank LeConte Lodge general manager Tim Line for covering me when I had to head home to give my Papaw's eulogy last week. He missed his Independence Day plans to do so. Chris and Allyson likewise have been very helpful. If I were a traveler trying to figure out where to spend my vacation money, it would be nice to know there's some substance behind the brochure. So come on up and see us on LeConte. We get more first-time visitors every day. Happy trails.
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