The time has come! The 2020 season has officially concluded, and as the last guests of the year make their descent of the mountain after a hearty breakfast, the crew is rumbling down the trail like a herd of buffalo right behind them excited for the holiday. All hikers leaving the lodge today will have a significant tail wind, as we are entrenched in a Wind Advisory that lasts into the early part of Thanksgiving. Sustained winds out of the south will continue to hammer the region at 25-30mph, with gusts of 55mph expected. Strong rainstorms are moving across the state and should arrive not long after lunch time. Temps will remain mild, as we start out in the mid 30s and should see the upper 40s later, although the wind may keep it feeling cooler today. Please use caution if you are deciding to be out in these conditions.
Picking up where we left off yesterday, we continue to express our thanks to everyone who helped make this season a success. To the overnight guests and record number of day hikers, thank you for choosing LeConte Lodge and Tennessee’s most famous mountain (yes, we’re biased) as your destination of choice this year. Despite the changes and limitations encountered in place for the pandemic, people were still inspired to conquer the climb and partake of this unique mountain getaway. Your understanding of operational modifications geared towards health and safety, your patience in light of epic hiker traffic and gift shop lines, and your overwhelmingly positive support of the crew gave all of us the fuel to keep going. Once again it was our sincere pleasure to serve you for an experience of a lifetime, and we hope to welcome you back soon.
Last but certainly not least, we give one final shout out to the people who brought it everyday and against unusual odds to keep this engine humming. From the frontlines here on the mountain, to our folks behind the scenes down in the valley, we are honored to have such caring and committed people seeing this task through from start to finish. There have been plenty of records and firsts throughout the year. No crew has ever served as many visitors in a season, day after day, wave after wave of climbers. No crew has ever put in as many steps, scurrying up and down the slopes toting blankets and hot meals in all types of weather, still with a smile on their face. No crew has ever had to alter their expectations and adjust routines and traditions in light of a pandemic, and then done so admirably. It’s enough to charge hard through any “normal” lodge season, then to throw the countless challenges of 2020 into the mix, and so it takes a special kind of person to be a LeConte Lodge crew member with a no-quit attitude to become the fantastic finishers that these folks are. Congrats and thank you to our crew, llama wranglers, llamas, reservations and office staff for your hard work and dedication to seeing this job through once again.
And with one last shoutout, a special thank you and congratulations are in order for some of the most passionate, selfless, and dedicated people you will ever meet. Yesterday, Chrissy Householder made one last trek with her beloved llamas, completing an illustrious career of provisioning the lodge and caring for our fuzzy friends. Chrissy has committed the last 10 years to serving this operation as crew, an assistant cook, and a llama wrangler, and the lodge and llama experience is so much better for it. Her next endeavor will be travel nursing, and we know that wherever the stars lead her, someone’s life will be touched in a most positive way. And to Alan Householder, even though he won’t be hanging it up officially until the spring, we are also extending our thanks. The man in the Tilley hat, after an amazing 19 years of service to our llamas, the farm, and the lodge mission. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who has walked more miles on this earth in a lifetime than Alan. Through thick and thin, good times and spur of the moment challenges, Alan has always been there for us and for our animals. The Householders will leave a lasting impression on the hearts of everyone who has ever had the privilege of working with them these past decades. They’ve raised the bar for llama wrangling in the East, and we are so appreciative of all that they’ve done.
We could keep going, but there’s plenty to do to get this lodge ready for winter. Have a safe and prosperous holiday season. Thanks again for allowing us this opportunity to host and participate in your mountain memories. Happy trails!
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