Thursday's cloud is so pervasive that you can feel moisture condense on your lips as you move around camp. You can even see wisps of cloud float through the window screens. The llamas appreciated the sunblock during their special Thursday trip to LeConte. The llamas will be keeping bankers' hours and take off July 4. We will be open for all services at LeConte Lodge.
The forecast for the weekend is favorable. I expect we'll see a great many first-time hikers. In the chance that some of those are studying for their first ascent of LeConte, I'll pass along a few things as far as trail etiquette goes.
After seeing the beautiful white rosebay rhododendrons blooming along Little River Road through the park, I was dismayed to see too many "white flags of surrender" hanging from some trees beside Alum Cave Bluff Trail. Bathroom breaks are a part of hiking, but toilet paper should never be left in the trees or on the ground beside the trail. Toilet paper doesn't disappear as quickly as you think. The Smokies are beautiful and in no need of further decoration.
Also, most people know not to litter and are fairly diligent about packing out their food wrappers. However, the little corners ripped off to open the package show up on the ground at the lodge all the time, as they tend to fall out of pockets.
Pistachios are a wonderful trail snack. However, their shells last forever and should be designated with a "half-life" like plutonium. Similarly, discarded chewing gum is impervious even to our tough mountain weather. If the weather can break down our buildings, but not chewing gum I'm steering clear of it. Please pack both of those things out with you.
I hope it never happens, but someday when the great Yellowstone Supervolcano erupts and people become past tense, there will be three things left on Earth. There will be a cockroach living in a house cobbled together from pistachio shells and discarded chewing gum.
I know most of you reading already know all this, but maybe you'll be hiking with a newcomer this summer and can get them off to a clean start in our wonderful national parks. Come on up and see us. Happy trails.