I noticed quite a bit of trail work had been completed on the upper half of Alum Cave Bluff Trail. The trail crew has put in a lot of sweat clearing out waterbars, digging drainage channels in low spots and repairing a couple of steps in the upper section of wooden steps. Between carrying all those tools up the mountain and the exertion required to use them in the thinner air--there's not a minute of that work that was easy. Thanks to them for their hard work.
There's really only one trail concern I saw, and that was a frayed cable on the first slide past Gracie's Pulpit (right about halfway up Alum Cave Bluff Trail). Just a short distance past Gracie's Pulpit, you'll notice the first cabled section (this cable is coated in plastic).
Where the cable runs through the eyes bolted into the rock on the right it has become frayed with just a few strands holding on. There is a relatively new slide off to the left there, so don't hold on to that cable with a lot of weight. It shouldn't be a big problem until that section gets icy. I'm sure the trail crew will be working on that soon. They do a great job with limited resources to keep all the avenues to LeConte in good shape.
I noticed my hike up yesterday afternoon felt like the warmest I've done this year (maybe it's just because it was sunny). I always pack extra water and certainly drank more than usual yesterday on my hike up. I especially noticed the warmth around Inspiration Point (just below Alum Cave Bluff), as the rocks were sun-baked and radiating a lot of heat. The trail was also the driest I've seen this year, which makes for better footing.
I passed four gentlemen (who were also doing their fair share of sweating) on their descent between Alum Cave Bluff and Gracie's Pulpit. "I can smell the finish line," one of them told me. To which I replied, "You may just be smelling me." At any rate, please pack plenty of water. You're welcome to refill those water bottles up here at the blue-handled spigot beside the office.
During this time of year hikers need to be cognizant that they may experience three seasons on an overnight hike to LeConte Lodge. You can certainly feel summer on your ascent up the mountain, enjoy nice autumn temperatures when you arrive up top and, with any sort of breeze at all, overnight lows in the 40s might remind you of winter.
The purple gentian and grass of Parnassus are moving past their peak, but still impressive and in abundance around Grassy Slide as you near the top of the Alum Cave Bluff Trail. Meanwhile, up top at the lodge, the mountain ash berries are putting on a display with their bright, red berries cast against a blue sky.
That's the news around LeConte today. Hope to see you soon. Happy trails.