Chris and Allyson Virden have managed Mt. LeConte Lodge in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for six years. Morgan Simmons of the Knoxville News Sentinel has a great piece on their lives at what has to be the highest lodge in the eastern United States.
TennesseeWife and I hiked up to Mt. LeConte in January back in the 1970s to write an article on the folks who managed the Lodge and who wintered over back then. They told us a great bear story. Seems that the Lodge stored plastic jugs of maple syrup in some sort of outbuilding, and bear broke in and quickly came to associate syrup jugs with good eating. The couple thought they had secured the door, but the bear broke in again, seized another jug, and stood up to drink his fill. This jug, however, contained Clorox bleach.
The bear evidently didn’t drink enough bleach to hurt him, but the bleach cascaded down his front and transformed his black fur to a white streak, a sort of ursine Susan Sontag. For the rest of the year, he was easily identifiable until his streak grew out. The four of us pondered–and laughed–at what the other bears thought had happened to him.
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