Oct. 19, 2014
Good afternoon to you. We've struck another beautiful day on LeConte. Saturday turned out to be mostly cloudy, but Sunday's been more a repeat of a stunning Friday. From the lodge, you can look across the valley and see the ridgeline of the Cumberland Mountains. This weekend has been the busiest one yet in October, which is one of LeConte Lodge's prime months.
Saturday's high reached 44 with an overnight low of 28. Occasionally yesterday a light mist floated around the lodge, but it only accounted for 0.03 inches of rain. However, some of it did freeze on the trees of LeConte's summit, making for some spectacular scenery when the sun rose.
Most days LeConte isn't exactly the world epicenter of news, but there are a few things to mention today. First of all, we've had reports of the Rainbow Falls Trail washing down to a narrow strip with a dropoff. I'm sure last week's heavy rains exacerbated that trail issue. The Park Service is aware of that washout and a large tree across the trail.
Secondly, there's been increased bear activity on Bullhead Trail. Please make sure you use good bear etiquette on all the trails.
The next note should remind all about the importance of preparation, especially as the days get shorter and colder. A family of six, including four small children, ended up spending a cold, windy night out on the Bullhead Trail last night. They weren't expected at the lodge, and the Park Service didn't learn about the situation until the middle of the night. They intended to do the Bullhead/Rainbow Falls loop yesterday in a dayhike (which would be an awfully tough 13.5 miles for youngsters anyway), but started way too late in the day to accomplish that feat safely. They didn't have lights or cold weather gear and spent the night out in the elements, looking pretty miserable when they reached our care.
After making a 911 call last night, during which their cell phone battery died without mentioning their exact location, Park Rangers were dispatched from their beds to trace the two most likely routes. When they were located about 7:15 a.m. about a mile from the lodge, the rangers asked us if they could hike the entire group up to the lodge for stabilization and evaluation.
We warmed them, fed them, pumped some hot chocolate into them and let them borrow some of the crew's dry clothes. Later, the family was able to hike down in the company of the rangers. This tale had a happy ending, but with even slightly worse weather conditions could have been a recovery rather than a rescue. LeConte can be a tough place anytime, but winter weather is especially hard on little ones and the elderly.
I'd also like to thank the Park Service for doing a fine job with the rescue. We have different bosses (LeConte Lodge crew members are not federal employees), but we pride ourselves on working well together to take care of people in the middle of a hard day (or night). A job well done to the responding rangers.
10/19/2014 11:27:10 am
Glad to hear that the family who had to spend the night out on the trail are all doing ok today but I sure hope they learned a valuable lesson. What in the world were they thinking?? It was very irresponsible. Good thing we have excellent rangers who do a great job. I look forward to reading your posts everyday, you do an awesome job. Keep up the good work.
10/19/2014 11:33:09 am
There's really no excuse for being that ill-prepared when you've got young children depending on you for their lives. It's very bad parenting.
10/19/2014 12:00:42 pm
I'd like to thank the crew of Leconte Lodge for another wonderful stay at the lodge last night (Friday night). Our group of 4 adults and a 6 year old had a great trip together. Two generations of LeConte hikers were blesed to bring along a third for her first visit.
10/19/2014 01:35:44 pm
Where do all those people park?
10/19/2014 02:02:18 pm
There were cars on both sides of the parkway road as far as you could see in both directions when we pulled out of the parking lot. Going towards Gatlinburg I'd guess it went for at least 1/4 mile if not further.
10/19/2014 02:17:34 pm
My wife and I hiked up last Wednesday with our 8 year old twins Ruthie and Nathan. Ruthie really enjoyed it and I thought I would share a story that she wrote…. "Hi my name is Ruthie and I am about to tell you a story. Long ago there once lived a black bear on top of Mountain Leconte that loved to jog. One day while waiting for day hikers to arrive the crew all sat by the heat stover to relax. Four hikers named Billy, Ruby, Josh and Kate ran up saying there was a bear running after them. The crew had no idea what to do. Five minutes later the black bear arrived to the top. Everybody screamed then the black bear said what? I'm going on a jog. The crew said so you are not going to eat us? The bear said nope I'm a vegetarian anyways. Then the black bear became the mascot of the Lodge and they all lived happily ever after.
10/19/2014 02:56:01 pm
Thank goodness that family is okay! I can't imagine being out like that with little ones this time of year without being prepared. I bet it won't happen again! Let me rephrase that.. ANY time of year... be prepared!
Thank you, Jan. This whole thing has made me very unhappy. The only reason I started the whole thing about trolling was that I believed a good friend of mine, Kent, was being made the object of satire by someone identifying themselves as "Ken T." Then the whole thing spiraled out of control. Anyway, enough of this nonsense. Let us simply enjoy the mountains.
10/19/2014 05:23:08 pm
Please tell me those foolish folk were slapped silly and charged for the rescue. As they used to say in Mayberry: "Stupid, stupid, stupid." Mount LeConte's reservations/hiking central needs to keep this incident posted so that no one ends up dead, as these characters nearly did.
10/20/2014 12:27:28 am
We are planning to come up Rainbow Falls trail tomorrow. Is it passable?
10/20/2014 07:23:02 am
Rule that I go by: If I start on a trail at 2:30 and there are approximately 4 hours of daylight left- cut the time in half and no matter where I am at on the trail, at 4:30 it is time to turn around and head back down. (I always have a flashlight in my pack for extra precaution.) Maybe this will help someone.
10/20/2014 10:45:49 am
We hiked up boulevard and back down alum one day last year about this time, the frost was frozen on the trees just like this pic, it was a beautiful site to behold and I am so glad we braved the 14*-21* temps that day to see it, although we were pooped out.
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