Top of the morning,
Silence prevails at the moment, with the occasional squawk of a neighboring bird. The wind is calm and shy, making very soft and short-lived appearances. The current temperature is a hearty 12 degrees, and it is not expected to climb above 20 throughout the day. Oddly enough, no snow is falling at the moment, giving us a clear window of Wears Valley. Partial cloud cover will be bombarded by snow showers at some point today, with another 2 inches of accumulation possible! The clouds have left just enough room for the sun to poke out, gracing the mountain with a tiger-striped sky. Spotty clouds glow pink and red as the sun begins its morning stretch routine. Aside from the birds and the whispering winds, not a sound has been uttered this morning. All prominent sounds have been created by yours truly, so I am doing my best to keep quiet! Delicate snow engulfs the top of the mountain, seas of white are accompanied by a crimson sky. Looking ahead, snow showers are likely until this evening, with temperatures hovering in the low to mid teens all day. As of right now, Highway 441 is still closed, so Alum Cave trail and the Boulevard are inaccessible. Cherokee Orchard was closed briefly above Twin Creeks, but it is now open to the public. It seems the road down below is suffering from a combination of snow, ice, high water, and debris, so there's no telling when it will reopen. Those planning on hiking to the top of Mount LeConte today, proceed with caution! Hazardous conditions reside near the top, with deep snow, ice, and sub-zero wind chills packing a punch. With Alum Cave trail being out of the picture, that adds another 2+ miles to your ascent (and descent). Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to hike up and down the mountain, as snow depth and ice will greatly lengthen travel time. In times like these, hypothermia is a huge possibility. Be sure to pack plenty of layers for the top. Like I mentioned in a previous post, try not to sweat through your essential layers. Wind chills at zero degrees can be life-threatening if you are caught under-prepared, so keep that in mind before you set out on the trail. In most circumstances, temperatures at the summit are around 20 degrees cooler than the valley. It could be sunshine and rainbows down below in Gatlinburg, but the weather up high can be drastically different. Do your research before making the climb, it will benefit you in the long run...
Yesterday's high was a measly 14 degrees, with a hospitable low of 7. Snow showers fell confidently throughout the entire day, blessing us with another 2.5 inches. Also, we received a mere 0.32 inches of precipitation. If my calculations are correct, we have approximately 6 inches on the ground around the lodge! Single-digit temperatures and the occasional wind gust made travel outside fairly dangerous. Jack Frost had his grip on the lodge yesterday, leaving behind solid evidence in his path! Bitter cold aside, a truly beautiful day to wake up in the mountains! It's amazing how a layer of white can completely change the atmosphere up here. These well-known trails have never looked so foreign to me! I took an evening stroll down Alum Cave yesterday, and I had a lot of trouble even on the way down! Heavy snow drifts climb above the knees, making certain areas of the path invisible. In addition, a thick layer of ice resides underneath the snow, so you may run into a couple slick spots here and there. I know I said this yesterday, but I will be walking all the way down the trail this morning to the parking lot. I will be taking notes the whole way down, which I will relay to you all tomorrow morning. Hope you folks have a great start to your day! If you decide to climb the mountain today, use extreme caution towards the top! Bring your best hiking boots and a taste for discovery...
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