March 05th, 2013
It's a gloomy morning up top. The high yesterday reached 33 degrees. The low was 7 degrees. It was 33 degrees and overcast at 7am observation. The mountain received abundant sunshine in lieu of snow, resulting in 5 inches of melt. There's about 11 inches of snow left up here. The forecast is looking pretty nasty, please beware if you plan on summiting today. There's a winter storm advisory, there may be 6-10 more inches of snow come tomorrow.
I was fortunate enough to catch both a clear, majestic sunrise and a moody, colourful sunset. It's a real novelty to spend the day in one wild, open place and realize that just 13.5 hours and a bit of rotation allow you to witness each of these fantastic events. It happens every day, but the environment here makes the rediscovery of this much taken for granted fact a bit startling from time to time. It's the little things up here.
On another note. I read this article yesterday and thought I'd share it with y'all. It struck a nerve or two with me and thought you guys would enjoy!
3/5/2013 02:27:25 am
I really enjoy reading of your time up at the lodge. Wish I could be there to experience it as well.
3/5/2013 02:43:32 am
Just wanted to drop you a line to let you know I enjoy your daily blogs and the photos are great!
tomk in SC
3/5/2013 03:00:11 am
With all the snow, have there been any bobcat tracks/sightings?
3/5/2013 03:02:38 am
Love the articles JP. In 7 years if I am able. Heck, I'll only be 55, I better be able!! I would love to hike the AT, I told my husband that is our retirement. He said Go ahead I will follow you in the car. lol.
3/5/2013 07:54:23 am
I would love to do the AT - at least through the Smokies. Maybe some time we'll meet.
3/5/2013 08:14:31 am
I would love that.
3/5/2013 04:04:00 am
Maybe we can hike it together and our husbands can have a car partner. Hehe!
3/5/2013 04:42:57 am
Im in, LOL
3/5/2013 10:13:52 am
Trail names....Musher and Pink Socks. LOL
3/5/2013 11:52:22 pm
3/5/2013 03:36:53 am
Hi JP, just wanted you to know that I enjoy your blog and pictures! I look forward to it every day! I can just imagine just how wonderful it is up there with all of that snow. I cannot wait to hike to that magical place again! Take care!
3/5/2013 03:58:00 am
have fun, be safe up there, the weather man said some more of the white stuff might be heading your way. Like the article- hiking and being out in the woods/trail is my therapy, its my out of body experience. Hearing the crunch under my boots or the soft almost inaudible sound of walking on pine needles is and has always been the best shrink Ive found. Have a great day :)
3/5/2013 04:06:47 am
J.P., how much snow does it take to satisfy your wishes? Really enjoy reading your post every day!
3/5/2013 05:11:25 am
JP: I read the article you gave a link to and it struck a nerve with me as well; Enjoyed the accounts very much and it gave me some 'food for thought' to say the least ! In this age of technology, self-gratification, and political correctness, such a hiking journey would be an undertaking that would surely change a person, for the better, too ! A friend of mine in England, Lyndzi, sent me several emails, and in one of them was a quote by Albert Einstein which rang so true to me: "I fear the day that technology will surpass human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots." Writing comments on this blog serves to fulfill a void for me, it gives me the opportunity to share my life's many outdoors experiences with those of like minds, to be a part of a community which praises the benefits of nature and doing what every single person who posts here loves to do; H I K E. Hiking is just the main part of what my love for the outdoors encompasses. The three main parts of this love taken together constitute my overall being for which I am extremely and eternally thankful. When I'm hiking, of whatever distance that is involved on any particular day, I am completely fulfilled and engrossed in what I know I was born to do. Backpacking is simply an extension of hiking, requiring another level of experience and skill and which is perhaps the true measure of my character for it is then when I find that for which I am seeking. Camping, well, that, too, is very important, but it is an exercise which I insert between the other two endeavors, with connections that seem to change with regularity, its variables requiring different solutions at different times. The variety I find with these passions is never-ending, for me. I thrive on them ! Debi and Gina: sounds like you two may just have the beginnings of a great expedition and journey on your hands ! That's absolutely marevelous ! I see no reason why you cannot one day follow that dream; with thoroough and careful planning and some basic determination you will succeed ! I've always wanted to do it all in one season; throughout my lifetime I've managed to do it all, in sections, a few more than once, and I will never consider myself too old to pursue that dream ! Barbara: I posted a short reply to your question mistakenly on yesterday's page........ What great people there are on this blog ! It's one reason why I enjoy it so much. Hope everyone has a good afternoon and evening.
3/5/2013 05:19:19 am
Gina: I meant to tell you a short but true story about a couple of past friends of mine who visited the lodge some years ago. In fact, it was because of them that I finally began becoming interested in and learning about Leconte Lodge. I had hiked the Smokies since the 1950's, doing every foot of every trail over the years, but had never stayed at the lodge, not even knowing much about it, and ironically you might say, I had hiked right by it several times !! So these two people, who are originally from Egypt and very educated and were really good friends, stayed a night or two at the lodge in the early 2000's I believe. But what was true and funny to me was that the man arrived up there with an electric hair dryer !! For a long time I kidded him a lot about that ! I believe that I would like to see what the lodge area looked like, say, in the 1940's, for starters. Better get back off here for the day now.............
3/5/2013 05:46:20 am
Doug y - your friend reminds me of my backpacking trip on eagle pass in AK during the summer. Took a candle lantern - forgot to consider it was light 24/7...... Dumb things ya do..
3/5/2013 08:00:32 am
Doug - You gave me a laugh that I much needed today. We camp as well and one of the times I let my daughter bring her friend (teens). Well my daughter failed to tell her friend there was no electricity available. After we set up camp, the girl asked where the electrical outlet was. She had a blow dryer, curling iron, ipod charger and cell phone charger - wow! And I absolutely love the people walking around in the mountains with their arms extended looking for the cell phone signal! My girls and I get tickled everytime we see someone doing that! Myself - I run away just to get away from "technology". I let people know I'm running away and I'll call when I decide to come back to reality.
3/5/2013 06:14:30 am
Good story Doug. I had never heard of the lodge and found it online one day.
3/5/2013 07:20:46 am
Hi JP. I've just been introduced to your blog but I certainly enjoy reading your posts! I have been hoping to hike up to Myrtle Point for a while now. I am planning on coming out to the park on Saturday March 8th. With you posts about 16" of snow, and with more to come, I thought a new hiker like me would have no chance. But then you sparked my curiosity with the "5 inches of snow melt" comment. So before I ask, I realize the weather is very unpredictable. But with the warm weather expected between Thursday-Saturday, do you think there is a chance I could hike Alum Cave Trail to Myrtle Point? I am VERY excited for my trip and I would love to experience some elevation hikes rather than low elevation hikes. It would be worth noting that I do not have much snow equipment.
Brian N bama
3/5/2013 07:56:59 am
John, I am no expert on hiking but have made several trips up top with snow and ice. YOU WILL need some sort of traction device regardless of how warm it gets these next few days. Sections of Alum never see the light of day and will be icy. And like they say, better have and not need than to need and not have. BE PREPARED!!
3/5/2013 08:01:46 am
Thanks for the response! What do you recommend? I'm traveling on a very tight budget. I was planning on wearing low-ankle hiking shoes. If I'm not willing to spend on new gear, should I consider other hikes? I would be pretty bummed I don't get to experience Alum Cave Trail but I'd hate to be so wet and cold that I can't enjoy myself.
Brian N bama
3/5/2013 08:58:39 am
John, with as much wet weather as we have had, Alum will be very wet. I would not even attempt to hike in low cut shoes. Alum tends to be wet even during "dry" times. I believe you will be miserable hiking in these conditions without proper gear. Water proof boots, traction device (yax trax, microspikes) raingear, layers and possibly gators.
3/5/2013 10:59:28 am
Thank you for the information. Reaching Mt. Leconte is certainly on my bucket list.
3/5/2013 08:45:30 am
susan b: glad I brought a smile to you; yes, it makes me smile inwardly when I see such people, frantically searching for a signal as you say ! I took my cell phone once to the lodge, but never powered it up, regretting that I had even those few extra ounces of weight along. actually, I'd rather not even have one, and only occasionally make use of it when I'm travelling. not even a wristwatch goes with me; not a single piece of technology that is best left at home. I did take my altimeter and gps unit up to the lodge once, just for curiosity about some data I wanted to see for myself, and I have used these on rare instances when I wanted to compare my actual hikes to my various maps which I always enjoy scanning. otherwise, just the basics are all that I need. But I have witnessed people on the trail who were carrying canned foods, wearing penny loafers and flip-flops, and were wide-eyed and dressed like they were out for a stroll along a beach. Barbara: I went on a very long hiking trip right through the Brooks Range in AK many years ago; that's one part of the world that certaily rivals our beautiful Smoky Mountains; if I were to ever return there I doubt that I would come back ! Gina: I'm sure that your life before discovering the lodge is but a faint memory now ! John: I don;t need to add to the advice that Brian offered you; you should definitely make use of some brand of spikes ! As for the low-ankle hiking shoes, well, but I wouldn;t make use of those either; even in summer I wear high-cut boots, mainly for the support they give, and I wear my two pairs of wool socks simply because my boots fit better with both pairs on; I do own a pair of the low-cut variety which I wear on short day hikes in the "lowland valleys' where I know the trails generally tend toward the more level type; but, I suppose it's a personal choice and preference. The advice that people offer here on this site is usually very sound I believe. But as I just said, many of the matters involving hiking, especially the climbs up any mountain in the Park, boil down to personal preferences and experiences. And, being wet and cold are pretty detrimental to your health, inviting hypothermia for one thing, let alone a miserable experience. I used to always wear cotton t-shirts, blue jeans and did so for way too many years, being so bloody lucky that I almost shudder when I think about the times I could have and perhaps should have gotten into some serious trouble out on some trail. Great Gallopinmg Gertie !! I don't like to contemplate what could have happened to me; they could be singing ballads about me or something ("Hang down your head Tom Dooley" or "The sad tale of that little short bald-headed chubby man who was never found" !!) or perhaps I would be one of the accounts in that book of "Unexplained Disappearances in the Smokies" !! I've invested in some of the latest cold weather gear with which I can "layer up", etc. It's well worth the cost. As an old physician like to say: "It costs a little more to go first class." Well, will we get snow in the lowlands tonight ? Of course, Mt. Leconte will surely be the recipient of some. Good evening.
3/5/2013 10:27:34 am
I do bring my iPhone + a tiny solar charger along -then largely avoid them- but as a petite woman hiking alone it gives a little peace of mind; iPhone has certain features which could prove useful, in a pinch.
3/5/2013 12:16:49 pm
Wow, love all the comments on here. Thanks Doug, all your comments make me feel like I am in the Smokies instead of in Florida for the winter. I do hope you manage to put a few hikes together this summer, for those of us regulars on the blog. That would be awesome!!
3/5/2013 12:19:36 pm
And of course, thanks to JP, your photos and words inspire us all! Deedee I agree with you, my iPhone goes everywhere with me for some great photos and for other features.
3/5/2013 08:56:07 pm
Doug, Had to chuckle on the phone comment. I can get a single up on the deck of the lodge if I stand in a certain spot and always call my mom and a dear friend to tell them I made it. My son sent a text to my son in law to be at dinner time,but it took awhile to go out. Really had to laugh. My husband and I woke up in the morn, real dark and were searching for our phones on the table. Deader than dead they were. My son grabs his and says "Well, you have to turn it off when your not using it" I will bring my phone, but going to have to buy a cheap watch so I know what time it is.
3/6/2013 02:39:29 am
I always put my phone in airplane mode at night. That way i have clock/alarm and my phone is not killing itself trying to find signal
3/5/2013 11:07:11 pm
I sure wish I could be up in the high country this week for all this snow. Two winters ago, I had the pleasure of post-holing up the Alum Cave trail and staying at the shelter. I really startled the caretaker when I went to the spring for water. He didn't expect to see anybody up there in 3-4 ft! We went down the trillium gap and there were more blowdowns than I have ever seen on trail before. Anybody out there in this wind and snow, be careful and have a blast! Good luck to any a.t. hikers that have made it to the smokies early!
3/5/2013 11:58:35 pm
-An interesting question, on the inclusion (intrusion?) of helpful phones or etcetera technologies while up there...I do of course use the camera on my iPhone, check time (for dinner/breakfast bells :)- but otherwise just shut it totally off. It has a compass feature I've never used- and an app that can explain all of the stars and constellations if I point the phone at them-
3/6/2013 01:12:59 am
JP, love reading your posts. Haven't gotten to visit as often this winter as I would have liked, so I will enjoy your adventures into the spring as I catch up. So happy you have lots of snow to enjoy! Wish you were on twitter so I could keep up with your adventures through the summer. I think there are a few other posters here that would enjoy that outlet as well. ;-)
3/6/2013 02:11:30 am
I too am one to have the cell for the camera and the time. Otherwise, there is no need for it. I tell everyone before hand where I am going and if they don't hear by me by a certain tie, then report it. Technology is a distraction and we don't need it when we are in the great outdoors. Music - cheez! Sing without it! Jenna and I are still laughing at our experience we had last summer. We were on one of the trails and encountered a bear. Thankfully a ranger was there who graciously hiked up to the waterfall with us. The ranger didn't go back down the trail and told us to be loud as we hiked back down. Loud - we were probably obnoxious! We passed one group of people and we cracked up after we passed them. We thought to ourselves they must think we belong in th loony bin! Great memories!
3/6/2013 11:30:41 am
Nice article JP, though I take exception with the quote “No one who is happy and content wakes up one day and says, maybe I’ll go live in a tent for eight months”. I've been quite happy and content and said exactly that :-)
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