Ok, I know it’s a bit late for putting out trail information that is of use to someone, but sometimes I’m just not in the mood to write after I climb the mountain and then go knock off a half a mile of kick-boarding in the pool in order to stretch out afterwards.
So I’m posting too late to be of any use to anyone, but I can promise that I’ll try and post a more recent update on the trail after I climb it tomorrow.
I confess however, that I did figure that the conditions would only improve over the week and by this weekend, most if not all of the snow would be gone or reduced to a few corners of the switchbacks.
Last week however, was a little different story, since on Tuesday we got rain and snow in the area. I think that the snow line was somewhere about 9,000 feet or better, because by Saturday, that’s were I found the first traces of snow.
I actually figured that so much snow would have melted that I did not take my slip-on ice spikes, but I did have my good carbide tipped hiking poles which ended up being most helpful. The weather at the start was glorious and I hiked in shorts and a t-shirt until the trail entered the shadows of the mountain at the metal sign. At that point it appeared that there was about 1 to 2 inches of fresh snow, and it was actually a bit tacky and not frozen over like I would have suspected.
I’ve added a full sized image here in case you’d like more life sized look at the trail in one of my favorite sections. Even using a wide angle lens I ended up stitching two images together in order to complete what you really see in this section of the trail.
This section of the trail comes out at the edge of a boulder field and this marked my first attempt and success of the season of cutting the switchbacks and heading straight up the boulders.
This image looks a bit up and to the south. I put together another panorama of the boulder field here, which shows the trail at the very right edge of the image. The trail crosses the field about 4 or 5 times before you get to the edge of the boulders. It turns out that generally it takes me about as long to go straight up as it does to do the switchbacks, but I don’t like those switchbacks.
I finished in just under 4 hours, which means that in order to get back to my best times of the season, I’ve got to drop 50 minutes from the climb, and that’s in the season when the flowers return.
There is really only one way to do this, and that means getting back to the gym on a regular basis, or getting out early and hiking instead of going to the gym. Either way, the weekend warrior thing just is not enough to really get one into shape.
Although the upper reaches of the trail probably picked up another 6 inches of snow, someone had packed it down with snow shoes and it made a great covering over the ice that had to still be about 1 – 2 inches thick in places. I’m not quite sure what possesses people to try and climb in March and April in tennis shoes, but just like the last time I climbed, there were two people on the trail slipping and sliding away in their tennies.
It’s an alpine environment folks, prepare for it.