I quizzed a couple of hikers who came up the Alum Cave Bluff and Rainbow Falls trails this morning. They reported some slick patches of ice within the last mile to the lodge and some slushy mess below that. Neither group had to use traction devices, but please place a premium on your footing. I'd expect more of the same with melting and refreezing continuing the next few days.
The cold temperatures have been the story of the day. Thursday's high topped out at 44 when I checked the thermometer at 6:30 a.m. yesterday. The temperature dropped throughout the day as the skies cleared. We ended up with a few flurries throughout the night but not enough to whitewash the ground. Before the rain moved out yesterday, we totaled another 0.25 inches of rain (though our rain gauge had frozen solid and I had to sit it next to the perking coffee for 30 minutes to get an accurate reading this morning). The reason for ice in the rain gauge--an overnight low of 17 degrees, although the temperature continued to fall for a couple of hours after observation. We finally eclipsed the freezing mark about 2 p.m. today.
I met a couple of guests with interesting stories this morning. One gentleman is using his hike to LeConte as his last bit of training for a trip to hike Aconcagua. He climbed Rainbow Falls Trail today before adding in some extra mileage with a day hike and return via Alum Cave Bluff. He plans to fly to Argentina in a couple of weeks to tackle Aconcagua, the crown jewel of the Andes Mountains and highest peak in South America at 22,837 feet. We wish him a successful summit.
I also spoke with a gentleman who made his first overnight trip to stay with us since 1983. He's a fan of the cabin porches, added since his last visit. He also counts the propane heaters in each cabin/room as improvements. From his earlier visits, he remembers the old wood heat (kerosene stoves came in between the wood and propane heat) which "left you hot on one side and freezing on the other." I was also glad to hear that "the food is every bit as good as it used to be, and I'd say probably even better." I told him he'd better not wait another 30 years to come see us.
That's the news from the top today. Come on up and see us. We still have plenty of 2013 merchandise left and even a limited supply of 2012 shirts. They'll look much better on you than in our storeroom this winter. Happy trails.