Knoxville hosted its massive Boomsday fireworks celebration Sunday night. Our guests on LeConte had to wait until early Tuesday morning for their fireworks spectacular. Although I was off the mountain, the crew told me that Mother Nature provided a magnificent lightning storm about 5 a.m. Tuesday which rendered alarm clocks pointless.
Once the storm subsided, Tuesday turned out to be a pretty nice day with a high of 64, low of 47 and 0.02 inches of rain. When the sun goes down there's certainly a chill in the air up top, so make sure you pack appropriately if you're coming up to see us. Wednesday morning has been lovely all the way around.
The biggest item to report today was a surprise to us. The construction crew working on the upper parking lot at the Alum Cave Bluff trailhead finished its work earlier than expected. Therefore, the upper parking lot at Alum is now open.
However, the flipside to that early completion is that the construction crew moved up its timetable to work on the lower parking lot at Alum Cave Bluff trailhead. The lower (and larger) lot is closed effective immediately and should be reopened by Oct. 1.
I visited with a supervisor overseeing this project for the Park Service after I parked in the upper lot Tuesday afternoon. He said that no parking lot work was to be done during the October rush of leaf watchers. The lower lot was originally scheduled to be closed for work during November, after the crowds seeking leaf color have abated somewhat. However, the crew has a maximum of three weeks to finish the lower lot project, which could still be completed before the first of October target date. Therefore, they decided to work ahead.
I traveled Tuesday from the Gatlinburg bypass to the Alum Cave Bluff trailhead and have never seen so much road construction in the park. I didn't get held up by it much, just a minute or two here and there. It's apparent the road crews are working hard to get everything they can completed before fall brings us a multitude of visitors to the majestic Smokies.
September is a little bit slower month on LeConte, and I find it vastly underrated. In September, the family crowds of summer have been beckoned home by a new school year and the army of leaf watchers doesn't get mobilized until October. While the weather this summer has been unique, typically in September the skies over the mountain begin to dry, escorting some beautiful days of fall visibility up top while the folks in the valley are still dealing with hot days and haze.
That's all the better reason for you to come up and see us. Happy trails.