Today I'm writing about the difficulty of predicting the weather on Mt. LeConte. We were talking about the forecast the other day when Walt reminded me of an old saying I hadn't heard in a long time. "Only fools and flatlanders try to predict the weather in the mountains." I'm about to give you the weather report, and I'm no flatlander (which puts me squarely in the fool camp I guess).
Thursday saw a high of 61 and low of 36. It was beautiful almost all day. So far Friday reminds me of its predecessor. It's been another pretty day at LeConte Lodge. The weekend forecast I heard this morning called for increased chance of precipitation moving through Saturday and into Sunday plus significantly lower temperatures. For those of you hiking up, I expect we'll be below freezing for overnight lows at least two nights in the very near future. All of this means that the crew will be paying particular attention to the LeConte Guess the First Snow Contest.
In general, we receive much more precipitation (rain and snow) than the other folks in the Tennessee Valley. Until you've lived up here you just can't imagine how fast the clouds move over the mountain. It's something to behold. We're often living in the cloud as folks in the valley are enjoying sunny skies. If they look up at the summit of LeConte from below, we're often donning a sombrero of clouds.
As a crew member you're often asked how sunset or sunrise should look; is it worth hiking out to see? The truth is most days we can only guess as there's a fine line between being clouded in and experiencing a sunset you'll remember for a lifetime. Sunset can even be a dramatically different experience in the short 0.2 miles from the lodge to Cliff Tops. Just a few days ago, the cloud layers parted just enough at sunset to allow the colors to bounce between the layers of clouds and paint the summit pink. It looked like a sunset layer cake.
So, if a crew member is hesitant to predict the prospects for a sunset or sunrise, they're just being honest. It can change in a hurry. Here's hoping you get a memorable one for your next trip up LeConte. Feel free to write about your favorite LeConte sunrise or sunset in the comments section. Happy trails.