You’d think we just jumped straight into winter, as we’re feeling every bit of that Freeze Warning up here. Patches of hoar frost have covered trees and shrubs above 6,000 feet, and numerous hikers have confirmed seeing the first small snow flurries of the autumn season above 5,000 feet in recent hours. They’re sparse for the time being and way to small to be sticking, but there’s no denying their presence in this mid October day. The lodge thermometer bottomed out at 13° this morning, and continues to hang around the upper teens this afternoon. Thankfully the winds are light and variable, only driving that wind chill factor down into the single digits. Another bone chilling couple of days are ahead of us, as we might not climb above freezing until late Thursday. The clouds are holding tight to the summit, their gray veil only amplifying the cold environs. Skies should begin to clear by tonight, and a little sun tomorrow would go a long way in taking the edge off that chill. Winds could gust up to 30mph at times.
There are slick surfaces appearing on trail, specifically on smooth rocks from repetitive wet foot steps and places where thin water has pooled. It’s not widespread, but can easily catch someone off guard and dump them on their backside. Trekking poles and traction devices will come in handy the longer we stay below freezing. Warm hats, gloves, jackets, and pants are all a must for hiking in these conditions safely and comfortably. And anyone looking for changing leaf colors will only find them below 4,000 feet now, as the winds and temps have all but stripped the trees bare from the Alum Cave trailhead on up.
Stay warm and have a great rest of the day.