If the forecast holds, the trend is for good weather through most of the week. Sunday's high temperature reached 60 degrees with a low of 41 (which occurred Sunday morning about 7 a.m.). The low for Monday morning was a mild 48 degrees.
I'll be beginning my series of LeConte Lodge crew member profiles today with Rachel Weiderman's bio. Rachel, beginning her first year on the LeConte crew, also celebrates her birthday today.
But first a flower update. I've been told that there's a nice carpet of bluets and spring beauties about a mile down the Alum Cave Bluff Trail.
In other news, we were pleased to welcome back Jeff Wadley for his 88th trip to LeConte. Jeff is the author of Mayday! Mayday!, a book about aviation crashes in the Great Smoky Mountains. He is also one of the most respected search and rescue experts in the southern Appalachian Mountains. I first met Jeff when he led an excellent search and rescue segment during Wilderness First Responder training I took. I'm glad he was on a pleasure trip to LeConte Lodge and not business.
Now, I'll turn the update over to Rachel, who penned the following profile.
Hey, ya'll! Happy Cinco de Mayo!
First things first...before reading this blog entry, go celebrate this holiday with a chimichanga at your favorite Mexican restaurant. Now...ready? OK.
How did I get to be on crew at LeConte Lodge? This is the question Nathan has asked me to answer for today's post. Well...hmm.
I guess for starters, it is safe to say that I have had a bit of the travel bug for the past few years.
I knew that I wanted to travel, pay off student loans and experience work in different non-profits after finishing school. This led me to a national government service program called AmeriCorps. I started my service years in Eastern Kentucky, and later worked in California, Oregon, Wyoming and south central Colorado.
Once I finally had my loans paid off, I took my first overseas trip to Chile and Argentina. I worked in hostels to cover my room and board, practiced Spanish (which is unfortunately not the greatest) and backpacked in the northern part of Patagonia for six months.
I loved my life in these years. I was constantly being physically and mentally pushed, meeting new people and seeing areas of the world I had always dreamed of.
The funny thing about traveling though is that it always makes you crave what you miss about where you grew up. Before my wander years, I had spent most of my life in Tennessee and Kentucky, and knew it was time to come home for a while.
I had never been to Mt. LeConte before, but knew that my aunt hiked the mountain every year for her birthday. I had also visited the Smokies many times as a kid with my family, and definitely wanted to go back and see them again.
Now I live at the top of this mountain for the next seven months. It is a good and simple life. I have no phone, no internet, a small amount of personal items and a tiny cabin to rest in on my time off.
I'm even writing this post with an old writing tablet and pen, a headlamp and a kerosene lantern. Before writing this, I stayed up laughing in the kitchen with our amazing crew, and plan to go to bed with enough energy to serve hot coffee and homemade biscuits to our overnight guests.
It is not always an easy job. The days can be long and the staff can be limited, but I know I am one lucky cat.
Sorry Rockies and Andes, but the Smokies will always be my home. Here is to the next few months to come!
Keep safe everyone! We hope to see ya at the top of the mountain soon. -- Rachel
Thanks to Rachel for providing her story. Chris and Allyson have returned from days off, so I'll be hanging up the laptop for a while. Thanks to all of you who read, posted comments and came up to say hello. Happy trails.