Thursday morning has provided us a mix of sun and clouds--but no precipitation as of early afternoon. The high topped out at 57 with a low of 45. We received an additional 0.46 inches of rain Wednesday. I don't think we have to worry about the spring drying up anytime soon.
We were finishing up morning chores when the telephone rang. The number identified the caller as the National Park Service dispatch, which often means your day is about to get busier with a rescue. The good folks at dispatch do excellent work to serve all the guests of the park in happy times and, more importantly, tight spots. Turns out that the University of Tennessee Medical Center prudently wanted to get in a practice landing for its Lifestar helicopter on Mt. LeConte just to stay sharp in the event of a real emergency. We were glad to welcome them to the mountain, and even happier that there wasn't a real medical evacuation. We'd be glad to host them on a social call anytime.
The flight crew did an excellent job and the landing looked textbook to me. A couple members of the flight crew hopped out for a brief but friendly visit. I offered them some lemonade, coffee or some of the best hot chocolate in Tennessee if they wanted to visit the dining room. However, they were on duty and wisely didn't want to shut down the helicopter in the event of a mechanical malfunction. Kerosene lamps I can fix; helicopters not so much. I imagine that would be the mother of all prank calls to AAA -- "Your helicopter's broken down and it's where?"
The helicopter took leave of the mountain in fine form. We appreciate the crew being prepared to help our guests in a time of need. That being said, it should be noted that the rescue crews on the ground (whether LeConte Lodge personnel or National Park Service rangers) and in the air go to incredible risks to protect visitors. Slips and injuries happen to us all through no fault of our own. However, do everything you can to limit the dangerous effects of fatigue or improper gear by preparing for your hike up LeConte (like Mr. Watkins' training from Wednesday's update). We'd love to see you, but we'd rather see you healthy and happy.