It was a grey day on the mountain. It felt like an October day. The high was 44. It hovered around 40 all day. The low was 34. The mountain received .46" of precipitation. If it was snow, I'd be jumping through the ceiling. The trail up Alum is still very slick in sections, so be sure to use the proper mix of courage, caution and traction devices.
This morning feels much like yesterday. From 8am-6pm it looked almost exactly the same as it did the hour before. Days like this make it easier to grant Descartes his famed doubt of an external world. My perception of the outside world fells much more limited in such an unvaried environment. Our senses are unreliable, unwilled and our minds are the only thing we truly know. That, or I'm just spending too much time reading in my cabin.
This then remains: Remember to retire into this little territory of thy own, and, above all, do not distract or strain thyself, but be free, at look and things as a man, as a human being, as a citizen, as a mortal. But among the things readiest to thy hand to which thou shalt turn, let there be these, which are two. One is that things do not touch the soul, for they are external and remain immovable; but our perturbations come only from the opinion which is within. The other is that all these things, which thou seest, change immediately and will no longer be; and constantly bear in mind how many of these changes thou hast already witnessed. The universe is transformation; life is opinion. Marcus Aurelius
It was another mild day on Mt. LeConte. The high was 34. The low was 18. It was clear in the morning, then cloudy much of the day. The ice on Alum was the worst that I have seen yet. Be sure to use extreme caution or bring your traction devices. It's very foggy right now and the forecast is calling for more rain on the weekend.
If you're as curious as I am about where all the snow went, my friend Dick sent me this link. My head trusts NASA, but in my heart I'll still doing my snow dances and hoping February turns into a 100 inch snowpocalypse.
As I watch the sun set, I am forced to reflect on whether this is reality or a projection of all my minds' wants & desires neatly met in some kind of alternate state. When I finally determine that this is indeed reality (old habit), I wonder if I can store up this kind of beauty. I hope that I can pull it out of my back pocket at a time of desperation, gather strength and equanimity from it; learn to be a better man when I remember the gifts that the universe has given to me and somehow return them in kind.
We had a sunny day up top yesterday. There was some great inversion all day long. I got too many photos so I'll be posting sunrise pictures today and sunset tomorrow. The high was 29. The low was 15. It was 19 and clear at observation.
Yesterday morning after the sun rose at Apollo Overlook, I took a quick little jaunt down the Boulevard trail. The days with inversion always feel like the mountain is my own secret. Everyone in the valley inquires how cloudy it is up top. I have to force back my smile when I tell them how majestic it actually is. As I hiked along, I gradually lost elevation and descended into the mystic I'd just photographed from above. I was in an omnipresent haze that both my and the sun's progress seemed bound to preserve. Eventually, I let the sun win out and climbed back up to enjoy my sanctuary above the clouds. This great seat is worth leaving only so long as to quench my daily wanderlust and no more.
PS: People have been asking me what they could bring up if they drop by... I've been going through my books pretty quickly and here are a few that are still on my reading list. I'd really appreciate it!
Wallace Stegner-Big Rock Candy Mountain
Johann Wolfgang van Goethe-Faust
Seneca-Letters from a Stoic
Plutarch-Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans
Anything by Hermann Hesse or Barbara Kingsolver.
It was a mild, rainy day yesterday. It drizzled much of the day, then came down a bit yesterday evening. It was in the high 30's much of the day, then the temperature dropped overnight. The high was 40 degrees. The low was 15. It was 15 and clear at observation. The mountain received .32" of rain and it most of the snow has melted off.
Safe hiking, everyone.
It was a windy, yet mild day up top. The high was 36 degrees. The low was 30 degrees. It was 35 and windy at observation. There is still quite a bit of ice on Alum. It is at it's worst about a mile from the top. Be sure to bring traction devices or extreme caution! Special thanks to Dick K. for hiking me up some fresh produce and reading material!
On my hike down Alum yesterday, Jacob and I saw more Bobkitten tracks scattered around the trail than I'd seen yet. Bobkitten is my favorite and most elusive neighbor. I can't wait until we finally meet. George Sheehan says that first, we must be good animals. I've often thought about how much I could learn from Bobkitten by being able to watch him/her for a day. Bobkitten has to be ever present in each moment of his/her life as a matter of survival. There are no distractions, just an eternal fight to stay ahead of the elements. It is a noble and simple life lived according to the dictates of nature. I wish I could be more like Bobkitten.
It was a beautiful day on top yesterday. The high was 33, but that came after a warm front pushed through overnight. For the majority of the day, it was in the 20's, yet it was calm and sunny. The low was 10 degrees. It was 32 and clear at observation. There is still quite a bit of snow up top, but many of the trails have been packed down. The lows have been low enough to keep from melting and refreezing, so the trails aren't too dangerously icy.
In light of some recent events, please be sure to be prepared for the conditions. If you are not prepared, there is no shame in turning around. The mountain will continue to be here, you will not if you use poor judgement. NEVER go off trail in an attempt to take a shortcut. It will most certainly turn into a disaster, as there are a select few with the gear and expertise to traverse this park in the midst of winter. We are very fortunate to have the ever diligent Park Service there to help with these near-catastrophes.
Also, special thanks to Sheldon for bringing me up some ibuprofen and pecan brittle!
It was a chilly day on the mountain yesterday. The high was 21, but with some cloud cover and wind gusts it felt colder for much of the day. The low was 6. It was 12 degrees and cloudy at observation. It looks like we'll have another clear day today, with warmer temperatures. I came up Alum yesterday without using my Microspikes. The crowds have broken up much of the most dangerous ice and the snow provided sufficient traction. Be sure to take your time on the way up and if you are not up top by 3pm, TURN AROUND!
As I hiked up with my pal Jacob yesterday, I thought about how joyous it is to share this place with friends. Tolstoy said that happiness is only real when shared. I disagree, but it is undeniable others help put things into perspective. Like altitude, I let myself become acclimated to the beauty up here at times. It was like seeing the mountain through new eyes to stop and hesitate at Hesitation Point, watch the widowmakers crash down near unsuspecting tourists and marvel at the hardy vegetation that survives in the rock crevasses up top.
PS: A special shout out to the MLK Masochists, who just stayed in the Mt. LeConte shelter on brutal January nights for the 20th straight year! That is both awesome and insane. Way to go, guys.
Standing there, gaping at this monstrous and inhuman spectacle of rock and cloud and sky and space, I feel a ridiculous greed and possessiveness come over me. I want to know it all, possess it all, embrace the entire scene intimately, deeply, totally, as a man desires a beautiful woman. An insane wish? Perhaps not - at least there's nothing else, no one human, to dispute possession with me. Ed Abbey
It was a bitterly cold, yet stunning day yesterday. The low was 1.5 degrees. The high was 13. It was 6 and clear at observation. There is still 4-6 inches on the ground. It's pretty fluffy, so the drifts are deep in spots. Bring gaiters if you want to keep your feet dry!
Breaking trail on the way out to Myrtle Point, out of breath with primal excitement, I've been moving past my normal pace to keep warm. I stop suddenly at Apollo Overlook, taking myself out of my walking mind, blood rushes as I am able to take a moment and absorb my surroundings. Take a moment or take a year, it doesn't matter on days like today - as long as you don't mind frozen nose hairs. Looking towards Newfound Gap, the familiar glint of cars in the distance is not present today. 441 is closed and I have the park to my wildlonesomeself. The sense of wonder has not worn off.
As I woke up at 6:53 this morning, the tender glow emanating through my loft window could mean only one thing - snow! SNOW!!!! SNOWWWWWW!!!!!
Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. There is finally snow on Mt. LeConte. My snow dances (set to soul music) have finally worked. As Etta sings, at laaaaasssssssstttt...
There are 4 inches on the ground this morning. The high yesterday was 34. As the front pushed through, the temperature dropped steadily. I went to bed at 6 and it was 27. It was 2 and cloudy at observation this morning. The low was 1. It doesn't matter though, as it is as pretty and majestic as a degree can be. Thank you, winter. Better late than never.
441 is closed as of posting, but it sounds like the Park Service is working diligently as usual to get it cleared. You can follow their twitter feed for road closure information. Here is the link.
A belatedly happy winter to everyone. Looks like I can't wear my Tevas around camp today :)!
"I was after neither time or money, but life - not life in the pathetic meaning of the poor health-seeker, for I was perfectly well and a trained athlete; but life in the truer, broader, sweeter sense, the exhilarant joy of living outside the sorry fences of society, living with a perfect body and a wakened mind... I am an American and felt ashamed to know so little of my country as I did, and as most Americans do." Charles F. Lummis
We had yet another mild, rainy day. The high was 42. The low was 30. It was 31 and hazy at observation. For a bit yesterday afternoon, there was some sleet coming down. There was 1.10" of rain yesterday. Be prepared for some wet trails!
I sat in my rocking chair with a cup of coffee and watched the morning develop. According to the weather forecasters, we were due our first taste of clear skies in 3 & 1/2 days. I was due for a show. The early tones of day resembled yesterday - macabre visions of grey slowly giving way to what must be considered morning by default. At 7:48, there was a parting of the clouds and blue skies rang true. They seemed bluer than I remembered.
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