After I bragged about how nice September is on the mountain early in the month, the weather decided to make a liar of me. We saw more gray skies and rain than usual the first half of September. However, the most underrated month on LeConte came around and offered us only 0.59 total inches of precipitation from Sept. 16-30, a veritable drought. We only had measurable rain on three days between Sept. 18-30.
I hope that sets a nice trend for us moving into October. Today has been quite nice, especially through lunch. We've seen a few more clouds this afternoon but no precipitation. Tuesday's high reached 63 with an overnight low of 40.
We did have a report of a guest spotting a large bear Monday morning near Cliff Tops. I hope the bears will pass through LeConte without hanging out too long. There's just not much for them to eat up here right now. The tail end of the blackberries finished up about three weeks ago up top. Additionally, after last year's bumper crop of the brilliant red mountain ash berries, we have very few clusters on the trees this fall. Conversely, Bill Stiver, the Park Service's top authority for wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains, told me the hard mast (acorns, etc.) crop is excellent down below. Maybe that will keep the bears moving downhill for dinner.
It seems we've had an Ohio theme going on for a day or two at LeConte Lodge. We were honored to host Ohio natives Tim and Lisa Parkison for their wedding on Myrtle Point Tuesday morning. The bride squirreled away a wedding dress in the bottom of her backpack and surprised everyone by hiking out to LeConte's eastern-most peak in wedding white. Carol and Gene Parkison, the groom's parents, sprung for wedding cake for the whole lodge last night. Assistant cook Nicholette worked hard to make it, and, after having a piece of wedding cake for lunch, I can testify it was tasty.
I first met Carol and Gene Parkison on the trail on a brutally windy, wet and cold night when LeConte was still holding on to winter in 2010, my first season on crew. It wasn't a very fun hike for them, as the thermometer read 36 degrees when we arrived at the lodge and the wind was blowing rain up the steep slopes of Alum Cave Bluff Trail that night. Once they arrived at the lodge, however, Carol and Gene took a liking to the spirit of the place. We've been privileged to welcome them twice a year since--always a treat for us because of their enthusiasm for the mountain and warmth to everyone.
We were also fortunate to taste some fine "Ohio Buckeye" confections different Ohio natives hiked up for the crew. The candy was delicious and the guests even nicer.
This being Oct. 1 and the beginning of reservations week, we wish all the folks on redial and all our cohorts in the Sevierville office answering those phones a good night's rest. Happy trails.