Rays of sunshine are penetrating the thin curtains in my cabin, dust floating through the air seamlessly. We were blessed with crystal clear skies this morning, so I knew I had to suit up! A bitter but assuring 17 degrees outside, freezer-like temperatures didn't seem to faze. Currently, it is a balmy 21 outside, the winds have returned in full swing. Moderate gusts of 20-25 mph at the moment, with possible gusts upwards of 40 mph! If you plan on hiking in the higher elevations today, don't bring your kite! Temperatures are expected to warm up this afternoon, but the windchill is hovering around zero degrees at the overlooks. Layering in these conditions is crucial! You want to have a warm, yet breathable base layer, and some good exterior wind protection. Many folks make the mistake of "over-layering" when setting out on a hike. This can cause you to sweat through your essential base layer, which can ultimately result in discomfort, or even hypothermia in some cases. Fortunately, with warmer temperatures on the radar for this upcoming week, hiking the mountain will be a little more comfortable. Those planning on making the climb this morning, be sure to check the status of the park roads. Highway 441 is closed at the moment due to snow/ice. That being said, Alum Cave and the Boulevard are currently inaccessible. Please use your best judgement out there! Pack some extra layers just in case you sweat on the way up, and come check out the snow before it departs!
Looking back on yesterday, the high temperature was a mere 28 degrees, with a charming low of 17. Shortly after the sunrise, thick clouds engulfed the mountain for the rest of the day. To my surprise, a fair amounts of hikers passed through the lodge yesterday! A lot of kind souls on the trail, so I didn't mind the company. Light snow fell for quite some time, starting just before lunch and ending late last night. The snow depth is just below nine inches, clocking in at 8.75" near the summit! After receiving another 1.5" yesterday, previous footprints have vanished! Common routes between favored buildings are no longer... Those who hiked up Alum Cave yesterday probably saw how perfectly the trail was carved out with foot traffic! So many folks have trampled over the snow, and it almost looks like someone brought their snow shovel and paved the way! I saw something similar leading up to Charlie's Bunion the other day. It made hiking a lot easier, but traction became an issue on certain sections! Hope you all have a wonderful day! Those exploring the park today, bring a windbreaker and a picture taker!
"The sheer sound of a 6:15 alarm, an abrupt start to an arctic morning. Bare feet on the hardwood, I knew what was in store. Hoarfrost claimed just about every living and non-living thing in sight, and the wind was blowing confidently. Bitter cold aside, the sky was crystal clear! Morning rituals behind me, I began shuffling eagerly up the mountain. Pure white snow illuminated the forest path, headlamps and flashlights were unnecessary. Catching a glimpse of the horizon, I knew I was cutting it close! Rumbling up and over the summit, I made an executive decision to start jogging down the trail. My efforts would pay off, as a truly serene scene resided at the end of the trail. Timing was everything, feeling was nothing. All sounds ceased as my date with the sun began. I crawled to a heinous perch and waited patiently; camera in hand, admiring the land. Orange hues across the horizon grew dimmer and dimmer as the birth of a new day progressed. Familiar mountain silhouettes burned blue, living up to their name. Small fragments of the past that will live on forever, one must experience the lord's meticulous work to truly understand. Trying my absolute best to put someone in my shoes, it simply can't be accomplished..."