Hello again to all of you High on LeConte readers. This is Nathan back filling in for a while as Allyson enjoys some down time. Most of us have returned to the mountain following our LeConte Games Victory Tour. Since a ticker-tape parade flies in the face of our anti-litter policy on Mt. LeConte, the benevolent prime minister of LeConte gave all crew members who earned gold medals eight days off to journey anywhere in the world on a no-expenses paid goodwill tour. Of course, the prime minister of LeConte is so generous that I'm sure the same offer would have been made even absent the stirring victory in the LeConte Games earlier in August.
I chose to venture out to some ranches where I'd wrangled in the Front Range of the Rockies in Colorado and in Yellowstone National Park. I rode a little, cleaned up plenty of manure and enjoyed swapping stories with my friends. My only regret is the time flew so fast (and having to spend the night in the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport--my bed on LeConte ranks a far sight better). I took a hike in Grand Teton National Park in between. I also got to see Old Faithful put on a show and watch sunset at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone beside the corral where I rode my wonderful horse, Raven, last summer. I saw every animal in the lyrics to "Home on the Range" and added a handful for good measure.
However, after having my views obscured by wide-ranging wildfire smoke from California in parched Colorado and Wyoming, I flew back into Knoxville and saw the verdant Smokies. I was reminded of what this Tennessee boy has known for a long time--Great Smoky Mountains National Park is no one's consolation prize and plays second fiddle to no one.
Plenty of people have asked about how Hurricane Isaac might affect LeConte. According to the National Weather Service's forecast early this morning, we have about a 30 percent chance of showers Thursday and Friday. If we see any remnants of Hurricane Isaac (and we may not), it would be toward Sunday when the rain chance bumps up slightly. As always, if you're headed up to see us, please bring rain gear regardless.
On Wednesday, we had a high of 67, low of 53 and measured a scant .02 inches of rain (or a heavy dew as one crew member said). The low of 53 marked our warmest morning in three weeks.
We really need some rain, as our spring is looking a little sad. Cajoling our water system through the dry weather is adding hours to our work day. Until our .02 inches of rain yesterday, we had 10 days without measurable rain--an eternity on green LeConte. In July and August, the first two-thirds of each month were quite wet. However, the spigot turned off in the last third of July and August. In July, we received measurable rain in all but three of the first 24 days of the month, while only registering one rainy day in the last seven days of month. From Aug. 1-19, we only had four days without measurable rain. From Aug. 20-29, we've only totaled .02 inches of rain.
What does that mean for the current forecast and early September? Ask a good meteorologist, I have no idea. I will say that September tends to be one of the best times of the year to visit LeConte. So, come on up and see us.
Thanks for reading. Happy trails.