Jack Frost is finally giving me a break! It is 35 degrees at the moment with some light clouds, and no wind. Feels great to get a break from the bitter cold. It will make outings more enjoyable, and not as dangerous! Today is a great day to be on the trail, moody skies offer incredible visibility! Highway 441 opened just after 1:00 pm yesterday, so all trails are accessible! Be aware, all routes leading up to LeConte are coated in thick ice towards the top! Spikes are a must during conditions like these. If you are caught without spikes in an icy and dicey situation, there is almost always a way to avoid it. Whether it be crawling off the trail, or crawling on your hands and knees, you should be able to pass safely. It's better to stop and take a little extra time maneuvering the ice patches, that way you don't take a painful spill. Upper Alum Cave is really dicey, slipping near the steep drop offs could be fatal. Ironically enough, I dropped my microspikes on Alum yesterday night! Coming up the last mile of the trail was very slow, each step was precise and gentle. If you happen to pick up a pair of Kahtoola microspikes on Upper Alum Cave trail, please reach out to me. I am going down to get them now, I talked to a woman that spotted them on Monotony Ridge (about 1.5 miles from here). As always, be safe and use your best judgement. Also, take note of all the ginormous icicles along the way!
Yesterday's high was a blistering 30 degrees, with an inviting low of 2! Single-digit temperatures combined with decent wind gusts made for a very cold start to my day. After I got a sneak peak of the valley below, I was in awe. Heavy blankets of white spread across the park, but no snow up top?! An odd phenomenon, I was dumbfounded seeing all the snow beneath us. Seas of cloud have blocked the valley floor for the past day and a half, I had no knowledge of the snow! Walking down our beloved Alum Cave trail, I didn't see any snow for the first mile. As I progressed down Monotony Ridge, white powder slowly appeared along the trail, getting deeper and deeper with each stride. Common measurements around the top would read anywhere from a dusting to 2 inches. Oddly enough, the same goes for the bottom of the trail too! The most snow occurred right in the middle (just past the cave bluffs), coming in at 3-4 inches in some spots! Wind gusts blew the delicate powder of the trees constantly, looking almost identical to fresh snowfall. Crystal clear blue skies and bright white snow fair well together. Beams of sunlight parted through the sea of clouds about halfway down, giving me a view of the surrounding land. A thick, reflective layer of white was spread across the entire valley before me! This was one of my personal favorite walks down the mountain. To top it all off, I saw a Red Fox near the bluffs! I followed his tracks for about half a mile. I came around a sharp curve in the trail, and it was standing in the middle of the pathway. Never seen a fox in the park, a true first for me!
"The pine stays green in winter; wisdom in hardship..."