November 20, 2017
4:00 PM Update:
The sun is working its magic on melting the snow away. Patches of green are starting to reappear, but there's still plenty of crunchy white powder covering the mountain. Temperatures rocketed up the thermometer throughout the day, as much as 25 degrees by lunchtime. Despite the warmer temps today, the shady areas around camp and on trail are steadfast in holding on to their slick surfaces, so be sure and have those traction devices on the ready. US 441 (Newfound Gap Road) reopened to traffic around lunchtime today. Guests coming up for our final night will have access to Alum Cave and The Boulevard.
The llama wranglers made their penultimate trip of the season today, their last haul coming on Closing Day this Wednesday. Given that we have two rotations of packers, today marked this particular team's final trip of the season. They'll be excited about getting set loose in the pastures for a few months this winter. They've more than earned their time to rest up and eat heartily back at the cozy confines of the ranch. We've said it before and we'll say it again, we're extremely grateful for the work put in by our wranglers and lovable llamas year after year. It's no cakewalk, and they put in a tremendous effort to get the lodge its various supplies in a timely manner while also taking amazing care of our favorite famous animals.
We're also witnessing the culmination of greatness with a loaded graduating class of fine llamas. Clifford, who's been packing as long as Alan has been wrangling, led his team up the mountain for the final time today. He's joined by Flash, already enjoying the spoils of retirement, and eventually Chester, who will saddle up for the last time Wednesday. These three load-luggers have been reliable in their service. They're also considered members of the family when you get to know them through the years, as our wranglers will surely tell you. Way to go, guys! Some of these closing cups of hot chocolate will certainly be raised in your honor.
Tomorrow is our final full day for business this season. The weather should be splendid leading up to the holiday. If you're still waiting to get any of the 2017 "I Hiked It" merchandise, Tuesday will be your last opportunity. The same can be said for the hot chocolate, sack lunches, and delicious assortment of cookies. Come Wednesday morning, everything will get boarded up, and there won't be anything for sale or open buildings to warm up in until mid-March.
Have a great start to the week.
8:45 AM Update:
We're working our way out of the frigid cold. The skies are clear and the sun is making its ascent. Our low temperature last night eventually bottomed out at 12 degrees, but this morning is already warmer than yesterday ever got as we're currently pushing our way through the mid-20's. We should finally see some some snow melt today, so trail conditions will shift from slick or crunchy to all-out slushy. Continue to use caution as you reach the upper elevations. US 441 (Newfound Gap Road) is still closed this morning, but conditions will certainly turn favorable for the NPS road crews in their efforts to clear it. Guests are once again encouraged to use Rainbow Falls and Trillium Gap Trails today for visiting the mountain.
11/20/2017 04:22:43 pm
The trio have earned their retirement. Congratulations for a job well done.
11/20/2017 04:23:21 pm
Sad to see the season end! I have enjoyed reading your post.
11/20/2017 04:28:41 pm
Beautiful! Well, for some reason, this one brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, wonderful crew! Enjoy your time off the mountain. Happy retirement, Clifford, Flash, and Chester! You certainly are at the top of your graduating class! May you graze in good health.
11/20/2017 05:09:07 pm
What determines the retirement of the llamas? Do they get too old? It seems sad if they are physically fit to take them out of the team. I understand there must be some reason for their being retired but they are so cute - are they still on the ranch?
11/21/2017 12:28:26 am
Congratulations to the retiree's,job well done. So long to crew for the winter.It will be interesting to see who is back next spring. Hello to J.P. or whoever the winter caretaker will be. God bless all. Happy Trails. :-)
11/21/2017 06:02:35 am
I have enjoyed reading your post. I'm already looking forward to your return next year.
11/21/2017 07:30:45 am
Was truly a joy to meet & spend time with such an amazing team as the LeConte Lodge Staff! Now it's time for you guys to take some R&R after all your hard work! Thank you for the on-the-spot rescue boot repair & for welcoming us like family. Till we met again . . .
During my trip to the Lodge a year ago in October, I came away with a far deeper and profound appreciation of what the llamas and llama wranglers do for the support of the facility. It definitely is an arduous job. Three times a week is a demanding endeavor to say the least. I am quite awed by what and how they do that task and certainly appreciate it. To the crew, have a pleasant break. Nice photo from Cliff tops, too. Just remember: "No matter where you go, there you are." G'day.
11/21/2017 09:31:06 am
It is actually the morning of Nov. 23. Wishing y'all a great winter off. I am excited about possibility of coming up in March. My next time up will be my 17th trip. Each time up has been met with consistent cheerful staff and good hearty meals. Thank you for the experiences of LeConte Lodge.
11/21/2017 09:53:47 am
Your posts have been enjoyable to read this season. You provided interesting stories, features, and beautiful photos. I look forward to your return next spring. Enjoy your winter rest. Thank you from those of us who aren't able to travel to the mountain.
11/21/2017 06:15:42 pm
Congratulations to the retirees for a job well done! Have a beautiful season off, staff! You all deserve it. Looks absolutely gorgeous!
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