Friday's high reached 47 with a low of 28, not bad at all for early May in the highest reaches of Appalachia. I've noticed lots of local folks up today. Perhaps they already have their tomatoes and okra in the ground and are getting in some weekend fun in the Smokies.
I'm increasingly convinced that transportation advances continue to make the world smaller all the time. Last night at the lodge we were proud to host some folks from around my hometown of Rockwood, Tenn., who are doubly lucky to be able to return to such a fine place when they hike down from LeConte.
At the other end of the dining room we were honored to have a guest from Kenya (hard to get a direct flight from Rockwood to Nairobi). He asked if he was the first Kenyan to climb LeConte. I don't have an ironclad answer, though crew member Matt went to high school in Kenya. It is fair to say that the Kenya to LeConte pipeline is a mere trickle.
The gentleman from Kenya bought our last windbreaker in stock. I made sure he tried the windbreaker on because our return policy is fair, but I figured he'd not want to haul it back from Kenya if it didn't fit. As you might imagine, we don't get a great many returns up here.
Also on the international front, I visited with a dayhiker the other day who had climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan. Mt. Fuji almost doubles the elevation on Mt. LeConte (but our cornbread is twice as good). This gentleman told me that there are people posted at stations as you progress up Mt. Fuji, and they'll use a hot iron to brand your hiking stick at checkpoints moving up the mountain. He told me he was hiking in the Smokies with his decorated hiking stick and ran across some Japanese tourists who recognized the Fuji branding instantly and were quite impressed.
I can also count a first for me, as I saw a dayhiker eating Ramen noodles with chopsticks at the picnic table above the kitchen. There's no shortage of Ramen noodle sightings on the mountain, but chopsticks are almost as rare as white tiger sightings.
I also met some nice local folks this morning. A daughter from Alcoa, Tenn., woke up about 5 a.m. and decided out of the blue to call her dad and scale LeConte today. I can testify that these friendly people accomplished their mission. They told me they'd hiked LeConte twice and had beautiful weather each time. I told them they needed to come up and see us more often if such fine weather accompanied them. Another nice lady from Knoxville, Tenn., told me that this is her fourth hike up LeConte, and it's the first time she's been able to see any view at all. She was every bit as impressed as she should be.
I hope to see you all, too. Have a fine weekend. Happy trails.