Good Afternoon and Happy Labor Day!
It feels like we’re being spoiled now, with another impeccably sunny day and comfortable late summer temperatures. It was most enjoyable to get in an evening trail run as rays faded and colors burst from the western horizon. Despite yesterday morning’s low of 39, it didn’t take long for the sun to warm things up on the mountain. We eventually reached a high of 64 degrees and the air was calm. Looking forward to a repeat performance today!
In the spirit of Labor Day, we’ll pay tribute to some of the amazing work done by groups and individuals over this backcountry lodge’s 93-year history. Through the ages, there has been no shortage of sacrifice, commitment, volunteerism, and backbreaking sweat by man, woman, and beast to make this place churn like the finely tuned engine that it is. This mountaintop is special to so many, and we’re honored to play host to the thousands upon thousands that have made the trek up to the lodge. So, an endless stream of thanks to those that have given so much time and energy into making this place what it is today.
Since 1925, the "House that Jack built" has undergone some extensive growth, but the experience and awe that come from staying at the lodge is still as invigorating as ever. Considering the longevity of a number of the structures still in use here on the mountain, it's a testament to the labor and materials used to develop and expand this backcountry lodge beginning with Jack Huff and continuing through the Herrick Brown era. In the last 40+ years, after a restructuring of wilderness regulations in the late 1970's, Tim Line has lead the operation into the future, balancing both progressive necessities while holding firm to the traditions and nostalgic qualities of the past. The goal remains the same as it ever has since Paul Adams first entertained dignitaries at a Mt. LeConte camp in hopes of establishing the Smokies as a national park...to provide visitors with a safe, comfortable, and inspiring quality experience in the outdoors.
Whereas the biggest of projects through the ages easily garner the most attention, there are so many behind-the-scenes overhauls that have really made the operation and guest experience that much better. So many of the structural improvements in recent years that visitors can enjoy, like covered porches for example, are courtesy of talented engineers and carpenters like Dave Pitts, Andrew Nigh, Crowder Construction, and many more. During the span of about thirty years, the means of providing heat to the buildings located on this mountain has shifted from wood burning until the late 70's, then kerosene through the 80's and 90's, and eventually the propane that we've utilized in 21st century, whose grand design was that of our own Al Bedinger. In the last decade, the inclusion of solar energy has allowed for certain lodge operations to adapt to the modern era, while also joining the cause for ecological responsibility. The detailed minds of gentlemen like Ron Underwood and Gary White have made this possible. Some of the most labor intensive work takes place in the weeks leading up to Opening Day during the annual Airlift, in which we are blessed to have such a fun and productive team of volunteers...you know who you all are!
And then there are the daily tasks, perhaps the most important, that take place with precision and care for eight months out of the year. The Crew. The food you eat, the beds you sleep in, the famous shirts you buy, and everything in between are all due in part to a staff that is dedicated to providing you with that memorable mountain experience. There's no forgetting our lovable llamas and their hard-working wranglers who serve as our supply bloodline multiple times every week of the season. We must certainly include all of the fine folks at our Stokely Hospitality offices and reservations who have our backs and get our guests started on the right foot year after year.
There are so many folks not mentioned here, all deserving of recognition. Today we extend our deepest thanks and appreciation for your work done to make LeConte Lodge great!
We'd like to give a special thanks to Dave Lindsay, a guest of ours who has dedicated his own time and energy during recent annual visits to re-cane some of our Dining Hall chairs. Many of them date way back, and the seats themselves every so often need a little TLC. It's interesting to watch him work and describe what would have gone into making the original chairs. Dave is a talented and humble craftsman whose efforts are greatly appreciated and the finished results thoroughly admired. Perhaps the next time you sit down to start in on some soup and cornbread, you'll be pulling out some his latest work from beside the table.
Thank you to those of you who made the climb to the lodge this holiday weekend, and also to those of you checking in on us here from other locations around the world. Have a prosperous Labor Day and happy trails!
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