Good afternoon to you. It's been a busy day on LeConte with people (and critters) coming and going ahead of the storms forecast for tonight. The most noteworthy thing is this morning I captured the first known photo of a whitetail deer and a bobcat in the same frame in the history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. That's important evidence for the diversity of species in park, and I've posted the photo at the end as a public service.
The weather has been better today than the last couple of days. We've seen periodic (short) intervals of sunshine between our walls of gray. I hope it will be enough to get our solar power up to a better charge. The high was 58 degrees with a low of 48 and no precipitation.
We were treated to a lovely concert last night by the occupants of lodge number 2 (or New Lodge as the staff knows it). After a day hemmed in by clouds, the skies began to open over LeConte during supper, a prelude to the music to come. We ended up with a nice sunset, beautiful night sky and impressive sunrise before the clouds rolled back in this morning. As last night's sunset was bowing out, I heard some beautiful hymns being sung in harmony floating off the porch above the kitchen. It was good enough that I turned off the Merle Haggard I was listening to (and that's high praise) while I was doing manager's reports and tuned in.
Guests would stop by and listen and applaud after each song. They wrapped up just before quiet hours began at 10 p.m. and serenaded folks headed back to their cabins for slumber. You hear lots of folks singing up here. Most carry a tune admirably after hiking up to the top of Tennessee. However, once in a while, you'll hear someone who sounds like an alley cat is fighting an accordion in a loser-leave-town match. These folks last night could sing and were on the other end of the spectrum.
I was also pleased to meet Jenny (who comments here at times) this afternoon. She hiked up LeConte off-trail via Styx Branch and dropped by to say hello.
We welcomed the llamas back to LeConte Lodge on a Wednesday food resupply. Llama wrangler Alan told me he saw a bear in the Trillium Gap parking lot. We've had some bear sightings on the mountain in the last week, including the first one I've seen at the lodge this season about three days ago. Make sure you're conscientious about your food and storing your pack.
Also, as the top photo shows, we had some rare guests show up at the lodge. I noticed three men strolling through the lodge and heard the familiar "clink, clink" of spurs as the boots hit the wood floors. I think I've only seen two instances in the four seasons I've worked on LeConte in which people brought up horses for pleasure. There are some soft edges to the Trillium Gap Trail, which a llama can navigate with ease but a much heavier horse must skillfully maneuver.
It was different in the past, but now it's a rarity to see horses at the lodge. These horses were resting at the tie rack on Trillium Gap Trail just before you reach the spring. Horses are not allowed in camp and can't stay overnight. Trillium Gap Trail is the only one servicing LeConte that is open to horse (and llama) traffic. Usually, when we see horses up top they've come to assist with park service work (and may arrive via the Rainbow Falls Trail as the pre-llama, former LeConte pack horses did).
Welcome to the official blog of LeConte Lodge. We hope you find the information provided here both helpful and enjoyable. Thank you for visiting the site, and we hope to see you on the mountain!