Sept. 11, 2014
Hello from the top of LeConte. This is Nathan filling in on High on LeConte duties for Allyson for a while. Sorry about not being able to post yesterday. However, we were assisting the National Park Service with a rescue for several hours yesterday afternoon and evening, and that takes precedence.
Our weather hasn't been much to brag about thus far. We ended up with a high of 62, low of 53 and 0.08 inches of rain Wednesday under mostly cloudy skies. Thursday morning has been quite wet with heavy showers dominating the weather. It hasn't rained much during the afternoon thus far, but the clouds are hemming us in tight.
I mentioned the rescue yesterday, which reminded me of a few autumn hiking safety tips to consider if you're hiking up to see us. First of all, the hiker we tended to yesterday didn't do anything wrong--just took a bad step.
One thing to keep in mind is that the days are getting shorter. I know, prior to this weather front moving through, the weather in the valley still feels like summer. However, we're in autumn mode on top of LeConte. That means that you need be aware of sunset time and how much daylight you have left to descend on a day hike.
We've seen too many dayhikers without flashlights show up at the lodge recently around supper, telling us that it took them four to six hours to ascend Alum. From this time of year forward that means you'll certainly be hiking down part of the trail in the dark. Also keep in mind that the leaf canopy is still thick on the lower sections of the the trails. That canopy means that darkness descends there sooner than it does on top of LeConte. While the dropoffs may not be as severe as you near within a couple of miles of the trailhead on your return, keep in mind all the roots and rocks can easily trip you up, especially if you can't see them.
Also, know that if you do get hurt and are hiking down too late, there will likely not be anyone else on the trail until morning to pass along word to us at the lodge or the rangers at the Park Service you need help. While we've been seeing seasonal temperatures up top for September, keep in mind that the mercury will soon be dropping. On July 30, our morning low dropped to 34 degrees (which is a rarity in July). That will become the norm soon. Do you really want to spend a cold, wet night injured and alone out on the trail without proper lights and gear? If you get a late start dayhiking, it's safer to turn around and prudently hike down in the light.
Enough of the serious business. I'm going to close with a little levity. A while back, one crew member up here was trying to remember which day of the week it was and couldn't recall. They finally said, "Every day on LeConte is Groundhog Day." They were referring to the movie in 1990s in which the main character is stuck in the same day, Groundhog Day, over and over again and is powerless to escape it.
We all got a laugh out of every day being Groundhog Day on LeConte. There's a lot of truth to that--same schedule for the most part, nice guests, beautiful surroundings just about every day.
However, once in a great while we see something wildly different. At the end of July, I was astonished to see someone at LeConte Lodge walking around in a Bigfoot costume. I talked to this person, who wore regular clothes hiking up and changed into the costume when he arrived at the lodge on a day hike. He seemed friendly and remarkably normal for a person who had just hiked a Bigfoot costume five miles up LeConte. He did walk around with his nephew nearby to prevent a cheap shot from what would have been the most disgusted big-game poacher ever. He told me he was headed for Cades Cove next. And you thought a bear sighting caused a traffic jam on Cades Cove.
Sometimes it takes a Bigfoot sighting to realize that not every day is Groundhog Day on LeConte. Happy trails.
9/11/2014 08:07:47 am
Love big foot!
9/11/2014 08:08:27 am
Oh my goodness! We were up there just this past Sunday and one of the group mentioned that it would be like "Groundhog Day" up there for you! So it is very funny that you mention it in the blog. Yes, the trail is very slippery and I slipped several times, whacking my knee and at one point thought I was going to fly like a bird over the edge. Be careful out there! We had a great time on the top and we're thinking of coming up again next year :)
9/11/2014 08:20:15 am
I have a hiking question. We are going camping this weekend over to Cosby campground and hope to do some hiking from there. Has anyone hiked to Mt. Cammerer (sp?) from the campground? I was reading that it was quite steep on the ascend (approx 12 miles round trip) and was wondering if it compares at all to the steepness of Alum Cave Trail which I really like, but have we have not done much hiking this summer and feel a little out of shape. The views are suppose to spectacular at the fire tower.
9/11/2014 10:12:09 am
Its a big climb up low gap. Every bit as steep or a little steeper than alum. Good thing is its only about 2 1/2 miles to the AT. As most gaps are, low gap is the low spot between 2 hills. The AT is up hill for another 2 1/2 to 3 miles then it rolls and finally descends to the lookout trail. Fantastic views there, some of the best around. It is around 12 miles there and back. Its only a 15 mile loop if you do lower my crammerer and low gap. Go up low gap and the its all down hill back to the campground. Take the AT north to the junction with lower crammerer. There's a look off on that trail as well. Needs to be clear to get the best out of either hike. Main thing is enjoy ...
9/11/2014 10:26:56 am
We love to hike to Mnt. Cammerer, but I have to say it is one of the toughest ones we have hiked. We always joke after the hike we'll have to forget how hard that was before we try that again. Take Alum Trail and times it by two. Worth the hike.
9/11/2014 03:17:10 pm
Thank you Ric and Tony Ga. It sounds like a pretty tough trail. We will probably give it a go as long as the weather holds out and not too rainy on Sat. Good thing is, we are staying in the campground and can cool our heels as soon as we get back!
9/12/2014 02:46:29 am
Let us know how you liked it. Enjoy.
9/11/2014 08:23:47 am
I always admire someone who's willing to go the extra mile for a gag. A costume like that would be quite a weighty addition to the usual provisions required for a hike to the summit of LeConte. That indicates an admirable child-like quality that we should all embrace, from time to time.
9/11/2014 08:42:55 am
Sorry about all the wo-ha, never though about a rescue!! Good to have you back.
9/11/2014 09:10:43 am
My friend Bonnie and I stayed 9/09 Tuesday night. Another awesome trip and stay at the lodge. We enjoyed talking with Ruthie, Chris, and Nathan. Sorry I missed you Allyson. Good luck to all with your new adventures. The rest of the staff and all the guests we met were fantastic as always. Looking forward to a trip up next year. Thanks to all who make this a great experience!
tomk in SC
9/11/2014 09:17:52 am
Nathan, given your casual report, I'm guessing the bad step victim is okay, although several hours of rescue would imply more than a skinned knee. Which trail? Ascending or descending? Where on the trail? Did the hiker have poles? Hiking with a group? Age? The usual who, what, where, when, why, how stuff. Likely don't want to print the name, I get that. Still, like every accident investigation there is something to be learned by understanding exactly what happened.
High on LeConte
9/11/2014 03:57:59 pm
TomK in SC,
9/11/2014 10:24:14 am
It is good to see the daily post are back up and running. Also, I hope everyone is recovering just fine from the search and rescue. Plus, I like the Bigfoot story and costume. If they hiked up in that costume they have my respect.
9/11/2014 01:48:07 pm
9/11/2014 04:57:11 pm
We are planning a hike up next week. With the slippery issue which would be the best trail to take? We are not real experienced hikers but made it fine to Rainbow Falls this time last year.
tomk in SC
9/12/2014 01:48:21 am
Any trail will do. As Nathan stated it was just a misstep on the way down and that can happen anywhere. People have been hurt on Alum and Rainbow due to slips on descent. Likely folks have been injured somewhere somehow on all the trails. If you are really worried, Trillium Gap trail might have a small advantage, but I don't think it is enough to make a decision on. Pick a trail and enjoy your hike. If there is a lesson in any of this, it's to pay attention to the downhike. Everyone worries about the climb because more effort is required, but the larger injury risk presents, in my opinion, on the way down as your own momentum is working against you, just like on stairways at home.
9/12/2014 03:10:02 am
Roots have long been my chief nemesis on fast descents, and probably account for all the times I've nearly done a face plant. I can't prove it, but I believe their is a massive root conspiracy designed to cause me great bodily harm. I know I've seen a few them actually rise up from the trail just as I approach. (I admit, I had eaten some strange berries just before that alleged occurrence.)
9/12/2014 03:57:47 am
kent, you are funny, guess some rocks poped up too. tomk, you are right, 'pay attention' ! "i need, i need" (what about bob)
9/12/2014 02:18:51 am
I guess Allyson is off the mountain?!? My morning fix is gone.
9/12/2014 08:11:34 am
Sounds like you had a visit from Pirate!!!!
9/13/2014 01:15:19 am
who is Pirate?
Comments are closed.
Welcome to the official blog of LeConte Lodge. We hope you find the information provided here both helpful and enjoyable. Thank you for visiting the site, and we hope to see you on the mountain!