October 30, 2017
5:00 PM Update:
US 441 and Roaring Fork have been reopened. Guests can now access Alum Cave, The Boulevard, and Trillium Gap Trails beginning tomorrow. Temperatures will drop below freezing again tonight, so places that have thawed will refreeze. Please use caution in these places if you are getting an early start. Winds gradually picked up this afternoon and should persist throughout the night.
1:00 PM Update:
The heat wave is happening! We've already returned to the freezing mark, and should easily surpass it in these next few daylight hours. The trees are significantly less caked than they were, and by tomorrow the mountain should return to a more normal state of green. Sure to be a fair amount of water running off the mountain in the meantime.
At this time, US 441 and Roaring Fork remain closed while NPS crews work diligently to get them cleared and deemed safe for travel. Certainly this current weather we're having helps their cause. The 6.7 mile trek along Rainbow Falls Trail continues to be everyone's best bet for making it to the lodge. Even as the snow melts, footing can be difficult as the slop can easily cause one to slide, slip, and stumble, so continue to use caution especially if you lack traction devices.
It's always a mixed bag of emotions when the mountain receives dramatic snowfalls so close to the end of October, especially when most people's mindset is still in autumn. Thoughts of pumpkins, leaves, and mild afternoons come to mind...snow, temps in the teens, and parkas? Not so much. But that's part of the unique experience on Mt. LeConte. The crew will embark on the next chapter of Halloween pumpkin carving with snow on the ground, a tradition that has witnessed such conditions many times before.
As mentioned previously, the most notable snowfall to occur on Mt. LeConte this time of year took place on October 29th and 30th of 2012. It was Super-Frankenstorm-Halloweenicane-Sandy that, over the duration of two days, pounded the mountain with 36" of snow, with drifts upwards of 4-5' in various places. When skies cleared on Halloween, the dense white that blanketed the mountain against the purest of blue backdrops was an unforgettable sight. A similar drubbing took place two years later in 2014, when on Halloween night and into November 1st, Mt. LeConte recorded 22" of snowfall.
In both instances, roads and trails were closed for extended periods, and for good reason. Trees, many still clinging to their leaves, were quite hazardous because of the added weight of snow and their low proximity. Everyone hikes slower in the snow, temps are much colder than normal, and of course there is less daylight to work with this time of year. There were many instances of guests struggling to make the ascent, with several rolling in late into the night utterly exhausted and/or soaking wet. That is a major reason why we can't advise visitors to use caution enough, as the well-being of our guests is our top priority, and not just while they're here on the mountain, but when in transit as well. It is just as important to us that visitors enjoy the journey as much as reaching the destination.
So in the spirit of winter and Halloween clashing on Mt. LeConte once again, today we'll treat you with some immaculately constructed snowflakes, courtesy of Heather and Allison. Tomorrow, as crew members put their creativity to the test, we'll be sure to feature the entries for the annual crew Halloween pumpkin carving contest. Should be some good ones!
Have a great rest of the afternoon.
8:00 AM Update:
Our overnight low dipped down to 11 degrees. It is currently 13 under impeccably clear skies. US 441 and Roaring Fork are still closed, so guests are encouraged to use Rainbow Falls Trail out of Cherokee Orchard at this time.
10/30/2017 01:08:22 pm
Ah.... the beauty of the mountain continues! The scenery in photos, the words which add depth to the sights and sounds and mountain fragrances, AND the artistry of the crew are all simply amazing!!! Can’t wait to see the pumpkins! Have fun
Barbara Shenefield Daniel
10/30/2017 02:29:51 pm
Hi. I was thinking about the winter caretaker and wondered if JP was going to be bac this year..
10/30/2017 03:36:47 pm
Our group was at the Lodge Saturday night, and as usual had a great time. It was exciting to be there for the first snow of the season. We also were there for the Halloween snow in 2014, so this is getting to be a habit. Many thanks to John and the crew for another outstanding job. What you do for us is greatly appreciated. Also loved the improvements on the Alum Cave Trail! .
10/30/2017 04:33:36 pm
Looks very pretty but I am glad it is melting. :) See you Friday!!
10/30/2017 10:28:16 pm
I always love your blog, but this one is outstanding. :-) Thanks for the great picture's. Stay warm and well. AND SAFE
10/31/2017 02:15:33 pm
We are planning to come up to LeConte via the Brushy Mt. trail on Monday. Has anyone been on this trail recently?
10/31/2017 03:43:17 pm
Keeping my eye open for an update today (10/31). Looking to hike Leconte tomorrow and wondering how conditions are.
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