Winter v2: Frozen Deserts

Overall, winter seems to only come in a few flavors on trail. Some such as while crossing the Inyos for this look into Saline Valley, are amongst my favorite hiking conditions, and it might be a stretch to even call them winter. Cool air, comparatively warm sun. I’ve said it before, but this kind of weather inspires big mile days more than any other.

Similar weather abounded in the desert sections of the PCT, especially after I came down from the high points near San Jacinto and Onyx Peak; where conditions dipped into another flavor of trail winter, too windy and wet to stop and fiddle with Cameras. Luckily it didn’t stay that way for too long. The overarching plan to spend winter in the Southwest is working out, almost too well. Its maybe a bit hot for me at these lower elevations.

Herein upon Muir Pass I having had a bit of this second flavor of winter, but was also determined to try to photograph my surroundings. It helped that I could hop in and out of the Muir Pass Hut for refuge as need be.

Another, more literal flavor of winter camping is while snow may not be present, temperatures are low enough that you can pack ice cream out from town for you first breakfast. I would encourage this universally, everyother non-cooked meal you eat will already be equally cold.

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Winter v1

The first snow of this fall, just south of Crater Lake. It thawed fully after two days and then we had temperatures in the 90s, but here I had zigged when I should’ve zagged and found myself on the wrong side of the mountain. Nothing a little more walking wouldn’t fix, but the real trick is how much it cuts into your night hiking ability to have frantically melting snow fogging out your headlamp’s beam.

The thaw is often worse than the freeze, and this cycle repeated itself far beyond its welcome in the upper peninsula of MI. Would’ve much preferred to cross these bridges while frozen, rather than going way up stream or balance beaming across the deep cold waters.

Right after my return to trail following the new year, I was greeted by light snow. I had skipped the mildest part of the winter and had much yet to come for the year, and not much farther ahead I would cross paths with a veritable herd of deer in the suburbs of Dayton, OH. There must have been more than four dozen of them, their tread left the ground bare of all but a few motes of snow.

From way back, atop Blue Mountain in GA only a few days into the trip and already dealing with snow. That’s what you get for starting the AT in February. This was mere hours before Nemo and I met Rescue for the first time, and he got us a ride into town courtesy of the Fire Rescue Crew.

Levity v1: Or Emoji’s in their Natural Habitat

Doubt there’ll ever be a v2 of this one, but there’s a certain levity to finding little bits of personality on the trail when you are working hard.

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Its like the trail itself is smiling on you, right before the next climb.  You pretty much gotta smile; even if you walk for a living, compared to most everyone else, you are still on vacation.

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I’m not sure what a DEhA is, but it made me cackle like a hatter when I found it. Maybe there’s something in ME’s aquifers. The humor might not translate well to text from my head.

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Whoever wrote this was at exactly the same point in their arc on the AT as I was when I passed it. In retrospect it had a lot worse to get, and whatever I was complaining about at the time would probably be a joke to me now.

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There were plenty of little bits of crank-poetry along the trail, many of which describe some of the trail personalities to a T. This one scratched my funny bone at the time and got saved, many others were lost to my camera.