June 25, 2013
Hello to all of you. This will be my last update for about a week as Allyson and Chris are returning from off days. The weather has been quite similar the last four days or so--mostly cloudy, some rain and sun.
The high temperature yesterday, 69 degrees, marked the second-hottest day of the year. The overnight low dipped to 52, excellent sleeping weather. All told, we received 0.41 inches of rain. We got a splash of rain around lunch but are sitting under a mottled mixture of clouds and sun as of 1 p.m.
In today's update I'll tackle a frequently asked question to the crew. "How do you get the propane up here?" We only get one shot at propane for the year, so we better have our numbers right. That's also why we prefer folks not to run their heaters if the cabin windows or doors are open. We fly in multiple tanks (big, oval tanks like you might see in your neighborhood) by helicopter during the annual March airlift to bring in all our heavy, non-perishable supplies.
As those of you who've followed the fortunes of our preseason airlift know it's a delicate and expensive operation. However, the construction helicopter company we use is good and can drop pallets of t-shirts or propane tanks just about anywhere we request.
Because we can only fly with the construction helicopter once a year (usually airlift takes two or three days depending on weather conditions), we send all of our propane, gas and kerosene tanks down to the staging area where the fuel truck is on standby. At that point they'll be fueled and reattached to the cable to fly back to the top of LeConte. Typically, the helicopter can fly off four empty tanks and bring back two full tanks. Our loyal ground crew here at the lodge has the unenviable task of standing underneath the tanks as they're lowered by cable and finessing them to their precise spot on the ground. It's a heck of a thing to see those propane tanks spinning on the end of the cable flying over Myrtle Point.
My favorite variation of the "how do you get the propane up here?" question involves the use of llamas. I guess every crew member has had a hiker ask if the llamas deliver the propane tanks. This question usually comes after people have looked off the deck into the propane field and see how big the tanks are.
My response to that question is this: "If you find a llama who can tote that propane tank up Trillium Gap on his back, make sure you let us know because he's getting a job offer." Such a physical specimen wouldn't even need to go through the usual physical, background checks and psychological analysis we require for the right to call yourself a LeConte llama, one of the chosen few.
Thank you all for reading. Have a fine day. Happy trails.
6/25/2013 07:08:47 am
See you Thurs!!! Hopefully the lightning stays away!!
6/25/2013 11:19:57 am
Thanks for answering my burning question about the propane tanks. Ever since my first trip up I have wondered about how they are refilled.
6/25/2013 11:35:23 am
I haven't gone back in the achives to find it, but there's a good photo of the propane gas tank "yard" where snow accumulation had almost covered the tanks; Unless my memory fails me, I believe that in this photo is Tim Line standing next to a tank and it may have been during the annual airlft; I'll go search for it later this evening. Those little propane heaters are always a delightful part when I stay in one of the individual cabins. They are one of the few actual concessions to modern conveniences. Someone to whom I was describing the amenities of the lodge made the statement that the nightly rate seemed quite high when considrerig the lack of running water, electricity, etc. When this is compared to rates down in Gatlinburg, for example, it's not, to me, terribly high - - I'd pay a lot more for a night at the lodge. I cling to a few tattered old virtues, like believing you don't get anything in this world for mothing. This is one of those eternal verities that will be around long after I've hiked my last mile and gone to that great lodge in the sky !
6/25/2013 12:45:01 pm
Are the rhododendron coming just coming in bloom or going out? Love to see it all in bloom when I come up next week.
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