It's a beautiful, clear morning up top. The high yesterday reached 39 degrees. The overnight low was 28 degrees. It was 36 degrees and clear at 7am observation. The mountain received no new precipitation and there is patchy snow remaining up top. The trails still have quite a bit of ice. I would recommend Microspikes if you intend to safely reach the summit. Get out and enjoy this beautiful day!
My weekend was a study of contrasts that perfectly illustrates why I love living up top. On Saturday, my friends Ryne, Kyle and I ran out the Boulevard trail, turned right on the AT and then ran up the Clingman's Dome road. The trail conditions were surprisingly ok, with plenty of hard packed snow providing traction in sections of the Boulevard. There were a few icy sections along the both trails, but nothing worth putting our spikes on for. We were able to carefully pick our way from rock to rock, which helpfully slowed us down and allowed us to enjoy our pace moreso than if we'd had perfect trail conditions. Once we crossed Newfound Gap, things were expectedly quiet on the closed road. We took our time, walking the steeper sections and marvelling at the ice formations on the roadside cliffs. We reached the gigantic, empty parking lot and walked the steep, paved trail to the always larger than I expect concrete monolith at the summit. We enjoyed the views, snapped a few photos then proceeded down the road. Newfound Gap was a zoo when we got back, but things quieted down after a mile on the trail. We enjoyed the solitude of the rolling Boulevard, smiled at the summit of LeConte and had a nice, easy jog back into camp. It was a joy packing so much stimulus into one day. I've always looked at Clingman's from Cliff Tops and wanted to get there and back in one day. Grace was kind enough to make us some mountain top pizzas while we played, so we enjoyed those and went to bed at 8 or so.
Yesterday, Grace and I relaxed around camp. We did a few chores, then quietly read our books and enjoyed the sunny serenity. We did not realize that the road had closed. By the time it opened, I guess most people were getting ready to enjoy the Super Bowl, so we only heard a few small groups up top. It was a day of great leisure and recovery. My deep fatigue made the peace and quiet about as joyous as our riotous explorations of the day previous. Between those two days, somewhere, lies a steady contentment.