It's a warm, foggy morning up top. The high yesterday reached 46 degrees. The overnight low was 36 degrees. It was 42 degrees and foggy at 7am observation. The mountain received .12 inches of rain last night. The trails are completely clear, without even a smidge of ice on the infamous Rainbow/Alum junction 'glacier'. Get out and enjoy this wildly warm weather!
I had an impromptu adventure yesterday. I was planning on relaxing around the lodge and stretching, doing yoga and reading my birthday away up top. However, I discovered that with my current drivers' license expiring (yesterday!), I still had time to order a new Social Security card in person. Long story short - I am headed to Puerto Rico after the season and can't fly with my expired license and need to stockpile copies of other legitimate forms of ID. At 11:30, Grace and I hiked down and went to the Social Security office in Knoxville. I was able to get a new SS card mailed up north, so that I will have every kind of identification available to a boy with no permanent residential address. I guess this is the inconvenience I get for not paying rent since July 2011! It wasn't the most exciting birthday of my life, but I will get to celebrate in Puerto Rico after the season! It was a great relief and it felt like I floated up the trail afterwards. We started up at dusk, just around 6:20pm. I strapped on my headlamp, my little running pack and started off at a swift jog. I was full of excitement. It is that time of the season where everything shines a little brighter with the end coming so quickly. Instead of just being another trip up Alum, it felt like one of my last few opportunities to savor this trail I love so much in the pure darkness. As I picked my pace up Monotony Ridge, I was able to see some headlights driving down the 441. Occasionally, I get frustrated by the visible lights up here, but tonight I just thought about how lucky I am to experience the pleasures of the park on two feet. I reached the top with adrenaline coursing through my veins, saw two beady eyes on the homestretch (bear or deer?!?), clapped a bit and my fellow nightwalker ran into the woods. I took a few deep breaths at the top of the staircase, turned off my headlamps and looked up at the stars. I took a slow, dark walk down the main staircase and got settled back into my cabin. I still can not believe my good fortune - it is a gift to live in this park, even in the lightest winter on record. Adventure is what you make it.