Good Morning All,
We’re off to a picture perfect winter day atop the mountain. Currently 23° under clear skies and after a stunning sunrise. Still about 0.5” of crunchy snow underfoot. Yesterday’s high reached 38° and our low was 17°. Today looks to be much the same in the way of temps, with the possibility of increasing clouds as the day progresses. Hopefully these conditions inspire a little more melt.
US 441 (Newfound Gap Rd) is still closed because of ice and snow on the roadway, and rightfully so. It’s easy to overlook the fact that the sun is at its lowest angle this time of year, which means some areas of roads and trails just don’t see any sunshine. That can also mean a staggering temperature difference between sun and shade, enough to keep some places iced up. Such is the case on US 441 and the trails ascending Mt. LeConte. Alum Cave has icy sections from top to bottom, which would mean all the trails can be treacherous, so traction devices are imperative for the time being.
When approaching the bluffs yesterday afternoon, a VW beetle-sized ice sheet sprang free from the ledges above, concluding its straight line dive in a thunderous thud amid a million fragments. Trying to quickly navigate the ice covered steps through the bluffs while keeping a fixed gaze upward for falling ice proved to be an awkward task, but fortunately one was able to pass through unscathed. Hopefully the sun takes care of the remaining ice missiles before anyone gains access to the trail.
It’s beautiful out there, but as always, proceed with caution!