It was a beautiful day yesterday. The high was 35 degrees. The low was 24 degrees. It was 34 and clear at observation. Today looks like it'll be another stunning day to be in the mountains. Be wary of black ice - there will surely be some on Alum.
I had some beautiful hiking over the last two days. I left the lodge at around 11:30 on Thursday. I would've caught an earlier start, but my friend Ryan was racing cyclocross in Belgium and I was fortunate enough to find the live feed. Watching bike races always gives me a beautiful shiver up my spine in remembrance of the pain of past races. It's a great boost of energy and helps to put things in perspective. Hiking is literally a walk in the park after watching those men suffer with their pride at stake.
I hiked out Boulevard. Even with 'only' 5 inches of snow, the drifts were pretty nasty. There were a few sections with snow that came over my gaiters. It was awesome fun. Breaking trail for the first time all winter is what I'd imagined this job would be like. Better late than never!
I made it to Newfound Gap around 2:30 and realized I wouldn't be able to make the Dome. I'll have to save it for another trip. I managed to get to Mt. Collins shelter just at dark. There were still some nice colors in the clouds as I got ready to crawl into my sleeping bag. I was up early in the morning and hiked back out to the Gap. The sun was special coming up through the red pines. Special thanks to Neil, Greg, Mark and Doug for helping me get myself and all my gear back from the mountain to the office to the trailhead yesterday.
I started back up Alum at 6. It was a perfect night for a hike. It was clear and cool. The stars felt like a pop up book. It was a great experience that is beyond my limited attempts with words or a camera to convey. You'll have to take my word for it.
Please remember that we are CLOSED for the season. If you are running out of daylight, turn around before you reach the top. One of the great virtues of mountain trekking is self-reliance. You only learn it by being prepared, knowing your limits and taking in stride the challenges that Mother Nature provides. If you expect others to bail you out, you're not just being a fool - but you're also missing out on the beautiful lessons that the mountains can teach you. Take responsibility for your actions.