Bullhead to Leconte  9/1/12

A very under rated route to the top, Bullhead provides a steady climb with thrilling views.

Reverend Grady sports the design of his new hiking sponsor.  Because he is a legendary hiker.

You see, as I was taking a break about halfway up the mountain, waiting on Grady and Super Dave for about 40 minutes, I heard their approach.  Unbeknownst that I was perched atop a rock outcropping fully prepared to assail them with a satchel full of stones, I paused to eavesdrop.  And what I heard will assume a position next to the halls of Highlandery aside the time we caught Toad on Cumberland Gap.  I will issue the text of that conversation with quotation marks below.

Grady,  "Yeah Dave, when I first started hiking with these guys several years ago, I used to dust them all.  I was in pretty good shape.  As a matter of fact, I could pretty much do it right now, I'm just taking my time.  I could've already been at the top of this mountain if I wanted to."

You can imagine the disappointment when he rounded the corner and was greeted not only by a large stone at his feet but my grinning face. 

There are scenes along this route that elude most who ascend Leconte via the popular paths.

There are scenes that Grady wishes he could have missed on this trip.  He did beat me on the way down, though.  I notice he lost his sponsorship hat.

It began raining as we made our 4.5 hour climb, as usual.  And I started before noon this time.  I am the storm crow, what can you say?  It rained off and on throughout the evening.  We had two ranger visits and these guys showed up out of the blue.

It is Stephen and Ernie.  We met Stephen at Kephart back in the Spring.  Apparently, Will Howe told them we were coming up.  Unfortunately, Will Howe no showed, along with Ricky Bobby and George.  Which led to a proclamation by President Sally Dumplin.  He at first proposed that we make it a mandatory ass whipping for the next Highlander or non Highlander who no shows a reserved backpack.  Then Mike came up with a better idea.  Let's charge them 20 bucks for not cancelling within 48 hrs.  I prefer the money option because it gets split amongst those of us who do show.  If they don't bring the 20 bucks on the next trip, then they get an ass whipping and still owe 20 bucks.  I think Mike and Dave are effective problem solvers.  The proposal passed by a quorum of Highlanders in attendance.  We have named it the George and Will clause.  aka Pansy Money.  And they get to wear the pink fleece.

I mean, GD Jack even made it up in the rain.  Rain is no excuse for a true Highlander.

GD Jack sets about greeting our celebrity guest who was celebrating his birthday atop Leconte with a cast of Highlanders.  His agent discreetly contacted us for a spot on our next outing provided we kept his identity and presence in the strictest of confidence.  He just wanted to hang with the cool kids, given his history of legal troubles and Jack is seen getting an autograph.

  That's right.  It's Con Hunley.    Celebratin his bday.  Happy 80th Con.

How beautiful is this wildflower?  Very.  Do you know what it is?  It is a delightful and somewhat elusive species.  I find them quite beautiful.  First one to identify it on the guest comments gets a waterproof Highlander bumper sticker.  Update:  Rob Cameron correctly pegged this as the Grass of Parnassus.  Great Job, Rob.  You get a sticker!

In summary, we had a delightful evening atop Leconte, enjoyed catching back up with Stephen who managed to get up to the mountain from Warner Robbins Georgia when members of our own clan couldn't drive 20 minutes to the trailhead because of rain.  Con serenaded us and offered to autograph our bare chests.  All but Dave declined.

In closing, lest you have been living under a rock this past week, you no doubt received an email from me with the legal brief we filed on behalf of the Southern Forest Watch and presented to Dale Ditmanson and all the NPS bigwigs as our form of a Labor Day Present.  It is a masterpiece of legalese that has been months in the making by Myers Morton.  We were proud to hand deliver this document to Congressman Duncan's office, as he asked us to do.  It has been mailed to over 100 people affiliated with the GSMNP.  No doubt, you may have opened the first page or two and not read the last two pages.  I strongly encourage you to skip down there and read pages 12 and 13.  I can assure you, it will be worth your while.  Then do me a favor and forward it to potentially interested parties.  Reason being, the national press is interested in the allegations involving two former TN governors.  I think you will be too.   Myers Letter     Click the PDF icon on that webpage.  You will be hearing about this soon.