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LeConte

By Wayne G.


In Summer, 1966 I was visiting my friends the Bowmasters in Knoxville,
TN (after an eventful Spring following my flunking out of UT in March)
when they received a telephone call from their friends Herrick and
Myrtle Brown, the Lodge managers for a number of years.


Seems the cook at the Lodge had just quit, and they were seeking a
replacement. Happens I was a trained cook, and they hired me
immediately, to start as soon as I got to work. So a couple days later I
was on a bus to Gatlinburg wearing new work boots and carrying
everything I needed ( I hoped) in a borrowed Boy Scout pack.
Dropped off near the Alum Cave trailhead, I climbed up, taking over
three hours. (Months later, in better shape, I climbed the trail, with a
50-lb pack, in under 90 minutes).

I know of at least six trails (Boulevard, Alum Cave, Rainbow Falls,
Bullhead, Trillium Gap, and the infamous 'Phone Line - In 1966 we had a
copper wire crank telephone line connected to the outfitter's barn
below. Other than Herrick Brown's Ham radio connect (Herrick's call sign
was W4ZedZed), that was our only outside contact, and the copper line
was subject to wetness, blowdown, etc. so we had to maintain it. It
followed a very direct straight line route off the mountain.)
Herrick and Myrtle had their three kids up there with them.
Myrtle wove on the primitive loom in the main dining room.
Laundry was done heating water in a wood-stoked water heater, and line
dried.

Ol' Hugh was the pack train man, usually three days a week; he was a
bachelor and lived with his spinster sister on the flats.
Alexander "Zan" Hunter was a friend of the Browns, a student at UT, but
had originated friendship as a result of having attended Tusculum
College at one time, as had Herrick. (By the way, Herrick and Myrtle did
a camping/hiking trip for their honeymoon in the '50s)

Iva Thacher was a hiker and nice lady with four kids at Oak Ridge, and
she worked up there most of the Summer. Several others, mostly young men
(we were all 17-22 or so) cut a lot of wood; I snaked trees out of the
woods with Ben, the draft chunk we had; we hiked every minute of spare
time, climbing rock faces, etc. I got a day off a week, so maybe, not
always, each two weeks I would walk off the mountain and go to town.

One trip I made was for my draft physical in September; in October I
turned 19, and several days later I received my draft notice, postmarked
the day after my birthday. But I had sufficient time to help Herrick
close the Lodge for the Winter. We took our time walking down Bullhead
that last trip, on a beautiful Autumn day.©

It's a beautiful place. I've been back once, and need to go again.

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