First off, the weather conditions thus far on this opaque Saturday can best be described as gray, though the forecast is favorable. Late Saturday morning offered a brief glimpse down into the valley--looked like the folks in Pigeon Forge were plenty busy. However, we've been living in a cloud most of the day on Mt. LeConte. Friday's high pushed to 63 degrees, the warmest day this June. The low dipped to 41 degrees.
Now for the fake news. The much hyped showdown between LeConte llama Kramer and one-time Triple Crown horseracing favorite I'll Have Another has disintegrated. Kramer, a prized newcomer in the LeConte stable working under the direction of trainer and llama wrangler Mitch, threatened to shock the world with his blazing speed at the Belmont Stakes. There would be no easy waltz to Belmont glory for I'll Have Another, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes champion, with Kramer racing on llama rocket fuel (leftover LeConte pancakes and biscuits).
However, Belmont Stakes officials refused to move the race from New York to Mt. LeConte and balked at more than quadrupling the 1.5-mile race to reroute up the Trillium Gap Trail, Kramer's home turf. As a result, we've decided to scratch Kramer from the race in protest. If you'd like to see the llama racing phenom, you'll have to come up to LeConte Lodge and see us on Monday, Wednesday or Friday--the days we're resupplied by llama. Keep in mind, that Kramer will be taking every other trip off to rest and stay healthy.
In all honesty, we did hear that I'll Have Another did pull out of the Belmont Stakes and a shot at the legendary Triple Crown. We wish him a speedy recovery and enjoyable retirement. I guess he gets to trade working for idyllic life on the farm as a stud, which is not the worst job in the world. Where can I sign up for that?
Also back to reality, in the above photo, Alan is walking Kramer around to settle his nerves. This photo was made on Kramer's first training trip to the lodge. Another wrangler, Katie, was going to lead Kramer down separately as part of his training. When the other seasoned llamas were getting packed up and ready to head down together -- and Kramer wasn't -- he got a little nervous, and Alan was helping take his mind off that. To update, Kramer is taking to his new job just fine. In fact, he followed Mitch to lead the llama train up to the lodge on Friday.
Finally, I'd like to thank Al Bedinger, former LeConte Lodge crew member, for passing along some photos of the beloved and departed Blackie--the LeConte wonder horse profiled in the May 27 update. Al sent me these photos last time I was off the mountain, and I hope they display correctly.
Have a fine day. Happy trails.