John began working at LeConte Lodge in 2010 and is on the downhill side of his third season with us. John's hiking prowess and Smokies' trail knowledge is legendary on LeConte. I'll provide an address below where you can read more about John's admirable adventures in the Smokies (as long as you promise not to skip reading High on LeConte). He's hiked every trail and side trail to LeConte in a day with plenty of time to spare. This spring John also became a member of the vaunted "900 Club," attained only by those who hike every mile of trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park--the only current LeConte crew member in the exclusive club.
John also boasts the crew's only prenatal hike to LeConte. His mom, Pat, was 5 1/2 months pregnant to host John on his first trip up LeConte. His first trip on his own two legs came in 1994 up the Boulevard Trail.
John earned his degree in history and minor in music at the University of Michigan. A talented musician, John finished school in 4 1/2 years in spite of the many hours he spent drilling as a member of the Michigan Marching Band. Or as John explains his band commitment, "about 24 hours a week to be precise, which was outside of classes, studying and eating pizza."
John played Bass Drum in the Drumline, serving as Rank Leader for his junior and senior years. From a host of memorable moments, one sleepless, 36-hour whirlwind trip in service to the Michigan Marching Band particularly stands out for John. On New Year's Day 2007, John marched with a 30-lb. drum in the nearly six-mile Tournament of Roses Parade (which he recalls as more rigorous than any of his exhausting hikes). After that tough haul, he played for the Rose Bowl game and then immediately flew back to Grand Rapids, Mich., to receive Air Force One and the late President Gerald Ford (a Michigan man) as part of his funeral.
After meeting Bonnie on the 2010 LeConte Lodge crew, the two were married this June. Aside from meeting his wife on LeConte, John lists his favorite parts of working at the lodge as meeting new people, the camaraderie with the crew/volunteers/repeat guests, the food and the opportunity to watch so many unique and inspiring sunsets.
Crew members use their off days to different purposes, but John's off days always seem to include hiking in the Smokies. Before getting married to Bonnie, the majority of his time on days off was spent completing the quest of hiking every trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park while enjoying a favorite hobby in nature photography. John has included photos from most of his hikes and around Mt. LeConte during the last three years on his website and hiking journal at "smokiesstoriesandglories.weebly.com". We're working John too hard to keep his writing up to date, but his hiking photos are current and include some beauties.
Transitioning to the weather report, Saturday's weather didn't prove as damp as the forecast. We only received 0.02 inches of rain with a high of 65 and low of 57. Sunday's and Monday's forecast calls for a healthy chance of storms. Although we haven't seen any wet weather as of Sunday at 2 p.m., make sure you're prepared for it if you're hiking up to see us.