"Well it was Gatlinburg in mid-July, and I just hit town and my throat was dry. I thought I'd stop and have myself a brew. At an old saloon on a street of mud, there at a table, dealing stud, sat the dirty, mangy dog that named me Sue." -- "A Boy Named Sue" by Shel Silverstein.
Good afternoon to everyone. Here I sit atop Tennessee, a vertical mile above Gatlinburg, in mid-July and it reminded me of the corresponding lyrics to "A Boy Named Sue."
Lots of lessons to be gleaned from Shel Silverstein's song, but first of all the weather on Mt. LeConte. On Sunday, a light rain stuck with us most of the day, amounting to 0.31 inches. The high was 62 with a low of 52, assuredly much chillier than the conditions in Gatlinburg in the song. We even had guests ask us to turn on the heater in the office, which isn't happening many other spots in the South this summer.
However, you won't find more comfortable temperatures in the state, both for hiking and sleeping weather, than on our fair mountain this time of year. We've not seen any rain yet today. There have been a few sun sightings (more than yesterday), but mostly clouds have hovered around us today.
Back to "A Boy Named Sue," set just down the mountain in our neighbor town of Gatlinburg this very time of year, Johnny Cash made the most famous recording of Silverstein's song. Many people assume Cash wrote the song, but I've heard that although he liked the lyrics, the Man in Black was brand new to the tune when he made his famous recording in front of a captive audience at San Quentin Prison in California.
I've even heard that he was so unfamiliar with the song that he read the lyrics from a "cheat sheet" during his performance for the prisoners. Reading or no, the inmates at San Quentin must have liked what they heard because they sounded like they were about to rip the walls down. If I ever get a crowd that sounds like that in the LeConte Lodge dining room, I'm calling some park rangers for backup.
At any rate, should you find yourself in Gatlinburg this mid-July and thirsty, please come up and see us. Make sure you pack plenty of water for the hike (most people don't hydrate adequately in the summer). Once at the lodge, we serve lemonade, hot chocolate and coffee for $3 with free refills from noon until 4 p.m. for day hikers. Overnight lodge guests 21 years and older on LeConte can also order an hour of wine service from 6-7 p.m. during supper. We also have the best water in Tennessee available for free, treated and ready to drink from the blue-handled spigot next to the office.
A bit of neighborly advice, while there are plenty of fine establishments in Gatlinburg, we would recommend you steer clear of any illicit gambling in saloons on streets of mud. If you listen to the rest of the song no good will come of it. Have a fine mid-July and happy trails.
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