Rinse and repeat. The rain clouds have gotten quite familiar with the summit this past week, and we still have a few more days of that atmospheric intimacy in store. Some good old fashioned gully washers unloaded on the mountain yesterday, so trails are going to be a saturated slog in a number of places. These are also prime conditions for wet weather drainages to form and unbridged creek crossings to run high, so plan your routes and gear accordingly to navigate trails safely and comfortably. Temps will spend much of the time in the 50s and 60s this weekend, courtesy of a nice cool down. Winds will be light and variable unless a pop up storm rolls through following a mighty gust front.
Overnight guests have the luxury (rustic style!) of knowing a warm dry cabin awaits them during such turbulent weather. It’s an experience they’ve invested in, so proper planning comes inherently. Unfortunately, the matter of guaranteeing pristine skies and vivid sunsets on a daily basis for all 247 nights of a season is well beyond our control. Which is why day hikers need to be especially diligent about planning an adventure into the backcountry in such conditions. Day hikers are 100% responsible for doing the research about what to expect when visiting the Smokies, and they are 100% responsible for executing any kind of plan. This most certainly includes weather, traffic tendencies, operating hours, and services provided when and where. There is no investment handcuffing a day hiker to climb the mountain the exact moment when weather conditions can be at their worst, it is entirely that individual’s choice. The same as it is their choice to neglect knowing when it will rain or snow, understanding temperature variances between differing elevations, and denying that it is more honorable to turn around early and try again another day than to keep climbing under duress. Too many times do we see individuals and groups (parents with kids!) forging on in wretched conditions without rain gear or warm layers, then arriving at times too early or late in the day when services aren’t being provided. Odds are these types of folks don’t read this blog. But if any of you that do happen to catch an example of the aforementioned during one of your treks, whether on Mt. LeConte or elsewhere, please share some common sense and infinite wisdom. You might just be sparing someone from an unfavorable Smokies experience or worse. Thank you.
Stay dry and have a great weekend.