First I'll catch you up on our weather and then pass along a story worth reading. Wednesday was a beautiful day start to finish. The high topped out at 66 degrees, the second warmest day of the year. The low registered 47. We've not had any measurable rain since Saturday, but the forecast hints that may be changing soon. Today's weather has been fine with mostly cloudy, filtered sunshine replacing the bluebird skies of Wednesday.
I wanted to pass along a monumental achievement we witnessed Wednesday at LeConte Lodge. Terry Tinnell, with the help of 14 strong friends and a service dog named Cocoa, became the only person we know of who reached LeConte Lodge in a wheelchair. Utilizing the Trillium Gap Trail, Terry celebrated his birthday on top of LeConte last night with a dedicated group of friends and family.
A native of Atlanta, Terry first had the idea of climbing LeConte in his specially modified chair 25 years ago.
"We went through lots of detailed practicing with the equipment and personnel," Terry said. "The only way we got up here was sheer determination. With friends, family and attitude you can accomplish any challenge."
We enjoyed having the Tinnell group as our guests and admire their planning and commitment to each other. They seemed like fine folks who enjoyed their stay at LeConte Lodge. However, we don't recommend just anyone try to summit LeConte in a similar fashion. The success rate for such attempts is abysmal in this inherently dangerous pursuit. LeConte Lodge general manager Tim Line, who has been affiliated with the lodge since 1977, can remember no other happy endings when someone attempted the top in a wheelchair. One other note, Cocoa, an Australian shepherd, works as a service dog. No other pets are allowed on any trail leading to LeConte.
That being said, we appreciate Terry and his friends celebrating his birthday with us on the mountain. Along with our other guests in yet another sellout at LeConte Lodge, they were delightful and good company. Happy trails.