By News Sentinel staff
A helicopter replaced llamas during last week’s historic snowfall on Mount LeConte to resupply staff and guests at LeConte Lodge.
The 32 inches of snow and 7-foot drifts made it impossible for llamas to make the trek up the 6,593-foot peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
On Friday, LeConte general manager Tim Line secured special permission from the park service to enlist the services of Great Smoky Mountain Helicopters to airlift items that were running low, according to a news release from Stokely Hospitality Enterprises, which operates the lodge.
The helicopter made three trips, carrying laundry and food items, such as eggs, bagels, bread, cheese and other staples.
Staff and 11 guests remained on the mountain for two days awaiting weather conditions to clear so they could hike down, according to the news release.
“Everyone made the best of the situation,” Line said.
“Resident managers Chris and Allyson Virden and all the staff did a great job of taking care of our guests and making sure everyone was happy. The conditions did not seem to have a negative impact on anyone…everyone remained in good spirits and seemed more excited than anything.”
LeConte Lodge is the highest overnight accommodations located east of the Mississippi River and is only accessible by foot.