The week of March 5th began on Sunday with a sunny and warm day with highs in the high 40’s. On Monday the skies turned cloudy with only a little sun and highs in the low 40’s. The wind was blowing but not very strongly. On Tuesday early morning rain began to freeze on the roads causing most schools to delay. The temperatures rose but the rain showers continued throughout the day. The highs reached the mid 40’s. By Wednesday the rain had moved out and the sun appeared pushing the highs into the low to mid 40’s. The wind did pick up some in the afternoon with a forecast for higher winds overnight and on Thursday. Wednesday night and Thursday morning the winds howled reaching sustained velocities of 20 mph with gusts pushing 40 mph at times. Thursday the temperatures again rose into the mid 40’s but the wind continued to blow making it seem much colder. The forecast called for several inches of snow Thursday night into Friday morning with highs only reaching into the low 30’s and snow tapering off by noon. Saturday the temperatures will only be in the high teens and sustained winds of nearly 20 mph will make it feel like almost 0 degrees! When the weather conditions are constantly changing, be sure you are dressed appropriately in clothing which will wick away moisture to keep you from developing a chill in colder temperatures. Clothes that have pit zips are great and layering with non-cotton materials are a must for the varying temperatures. Keeping hydrated in cooler weather can sometimes be tricky as you do not feel as thirsty but hydrating properly will allow you to hike longer and in greater comfort. It is also time to start bringing along the spikes or crampons since the melting and refreezing can cause spectacular areas of ice on the trails. Snowshoes will be useful especially at higher elevations where snow has accumulated to greater depths and melts more slowly. Be sure to carry water with you as local water sources can be unreliable and may be contaminated. Once you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated! Remember, the weather forecast is only a prediction and always contains percentages. Be prepared and have a plan for the most likely and least likely forecast! Are you prepared to stay out overnight on a trail? Conditions in the morning can change drastically by afternoon. Conditions at the trailhead do not always reflect the conditions on the peaks! Variable trail and weather conditions are a hallmark of these mountains. BE CAREFUL AND BE PREPARED!
On Monday, Mar 6th I wanted to get in a longer hike close to home before the first spring track practice in the afternoon. Since I had been at Trout Pond and Frick Pond recently, I decided to go to Long Pond and repeat a hike I had done only once before. My intention was to hike a figure 8 loop to extend the mileage and take in some spots I had not visited in some time. I wanted to walk as fast as I could and only take a few pictures along the way. I got Sheila in the car with my gear and headed out DeBruce Road for about 8 miles to Flugertown Road where I made a left. I parked in the lot a short distance up the road on the right. It was 10:15 AM and the temperature was only in the mid 30’s with a slight breeze. I had decided to dress warmly with a baselayer both top and bottom. I had a light hat and gloves and wore my Mammut hoody. I opted to wear my Keen Glarus boots which are not insulated and I had not brought any gaiters. I had my spikes in my pack but did not expect to use them. When I parked and looked around, I was surprised to see some snow banks and a layer of ice on the trail. Continue reading
On Thursday, March 2nd I was scheduled to hike with my brother-in-law Jeff and son Kurt. Jeff wanted to hike to the site of the old Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp near Hodge Pond. He attended the camp in the 1960’s as a member of the Boy Scout troop in Monticello. I had been to the site several times and knew there were a few building still standing. When I got up at 5:30 AM, the wind was blowing at least 20 mph and I almost contacted Jeff and Kurt to offer to postpone the hike. I decided against calling them and waited to see if they contacted me. When I returned from my church men’s group at 8:00 AM, neither Jeff nor Kurt had called so I knew we would be hiking. Kurt did text me later and say he would be delayed to about 10:00 AM so when Jeff arrived at 9:30 AM we sat down to talk. Kurt showed up just after 10:00 AM and we got all our gear together and loaded my car to start out the DebRuce Road. The temperature was right around 30 degrees but the wind made it feel MUCH colder. Continue reading