Monday, November 25, 2013

11-25-13 Arrival of Winter

          Mount Washington Weather Center
Summit Conditions – 6:15 AM, Mon.
W. Chill
304° (NW), 76.6 mph
86.3 mph
METAR KMWN 251055Z 30065G73KT 120SM SCT/// BKN050 BKN100 BKN120 BKN200 M24/M29 RMK ACSL ALQDS TPS LWR SCT045= NNNN
Summit Forecast – Monday, November 25, 2013
A ridge of high pressure will crest to our south today allowing for a generally sunny day across the higher summits. As the high crests, a return flow will gradually allow temperatures to rebound to above zero and winds will start to dampen. Wind chills will start around 50 below but improve over the day allowing the current wind chill advisory to expire by noon time. Overnight, clouds will be back on the increase from the west before resettling as summit fog as a weak low moves up the St Lawrence River Valley. A weak warm front will allow for a chance of snow showers after midnight then a trailing cold front will allow for occasional snow showers on Tuesday morning. Later in the day, moisture from another low in the south will start to stream northward allowing for continued snow heading into the evening. New snowfall from the low overnight and Tuesday will range from a trace to two inches; however, totals Tuesday afternoon might range higher depending on the timing of Northeaster approaching for the overnight hours and Wednesday. We will reflect these totals in tomorrows forecast once the timing of the system becomes 

This is the morning report from Ryan Knapp staff meteorologist at the Mt. Washington Weather Observatory from 6:30 am. As you can see the temperatures are all well below zero. The photo is from the observatory's web cams and is looking north. The line across the photo is the cog railway tracks. The northern peaks, Mt. Jefferson  and Mt. Adams are under the clouds. Mt. Madison is visible to the center right just catching the alpine glow from the sunrise. 

Yesterday, Sunday 11-24-13, the statistics were even more impressive with the temperature in the minus teens and wind gusts as high as 104 mph that pushed the windchill down to -58 degrees (F) at one point. Quite a jolt. Winter has arrived in the White Mountains. There is even talk of a "dump" of snow later this week from the impending nor'easter.

As I have so many times over the past three months, or so, I was planning on hiking this weekend. My plans were to go up to Lakes of the Clouds and take photos to document the lakes and the area around them just before winter begins to set in, but it was my daughter Lizzie's birthday. My efforts to get up North this fall have been stymied by a litany of things. The most notable was being brought to my knees by allergies that I've never experienced before. I've never been allergic to anything with the exception of bee stings when I was about 11 years old. I have no idea why but the allergies I experienced from late September through all of October were severe. Readers of the blog have reported similar experiences with similar types of allergies so it was a widespread phenomenon. In addition, and like a lot of you, I'm sure, I've been swept away by work-related stress. "Burn out", I think they call it and the best anecdote for stress that I know of is hiking, mountains, fresh air, and the trail.

My experience with allergies extended to a medicine I take to ease knee pain on descents called Diclofenac (a non-steroidal anti-inflamatory or NSAIS) that my surgeon prescribed for me following some work he did on both knees 7-8 years ago. I rarely take it unless I'm already in pain or anticipating pain from a long hike. On my trip up Mt. Flume and Mt. Liberty a few months ago I wrote about heat exhaustion and dehydration but I was actually experiencing a reaction to the Diclofenac. I didn't realize it was an allergic reaction until I took it a month later before a hike and experienced a severe reaction in which I blacked out for a few minutes. It was a little scary, So I am back to relying on aspirin and ibuprofen.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

11-4-13 Mt. Lafayette

Last Tuesday, lured by the scintillating light and weather, my daughter, Liz, her boyfriend, and I,  made a fast trip up as far as Eagle Lake on Mt. Lafayette. It was all the time we had allotted and we had already squandered some of our time trying to decide whether to make an attempt on Mt. Osseo, again (something we tried a few times in October without success) and decided not to because it's hunting season and there were a lot of hunters in the woods. We thought the Old Bridle Path would be safer. The photo is of very delicate ribbons of ice formed from water in the top soil that froze over night and were extruded from the ground by their own expansion in the cold night-time temperatures.

The November light was indeed stunning with its wintery tones and low slant.  November, or not, the sun was still providing welcome warmth throughout the hike. The temperature overnight had reached low into the single digits (Fahrenheit) and stayed in the low 20s into mid-afternoon.

 An area of blow downs beside the trail. This is an old disturbance going back to either Hurricane Sandy or Irene.

 At its midpoint to Greenleaf Hut the trail swings sharply to the left and then climbs on ledges before coming out of the woods and onto Agony Ridge.

Mt. Lincoln from a low point on the ridge.

 Mt. Lafayette, left, and Mt. Lincoln, on the right, on a brilliant Fall day. This photo was taken from "Thermopylae" (a nickname since the 1940s), one of several viewing points on the ridge that are distinguished by dramatically exposed, bare granite ribs and the sheer drop into Walker Ravine and Walker Book.

Looking up the ridge toward the "Agonies". The agonies are a set of 3-4 "bumps" (some people say there are 5 Agonies total) that extend up the ridge to the hut, like giant stairs. Each makes itself known by a steep rise and a grand view at its apex, the lower two, I should say, have views. The views on the upper ones are obscured now by trees. There was one we called "Tram View" that had a great view straight down into Franconia Notch and the Cannon Mt. aerial tramway. That view is currently curtained off by a wall of balsam firs.
Snow on the ridge!

And wonderful to see!

Moosilauke in the distance and the Kinsmans taken from the top of the first Agony. Lonesome Lake is just visible in the upper right center of the photograph.

 Cannon Mountain's famous cliffs. In the background on the right you can see the high mountains of Vermont. From higher points on the ridge we could see into New York and Quebec and as far south as Mt. Monadnock in southern New Hampshire.

 Eagle Lake and Mt. Lafayette from the Greenleaf Hut porch. The summit looked tempting but we had other obligations so we ate a quick lunch and headed back down. We neglected to bring traction, as in micro spikes, etc, and passed other hikers who had done the whole ridge without them, but if you're planning on hiking this weekend  (November 8th through the 10th) you'll make better time up and down with some form of traction, micro spikes or other types. On Lafayette there's ice on the Old Bridle Path in patches low on the ridge and a lot just below and just above the lake.

Another photo of Eagle Lake at sunset that I took in March 1970 while on a camping and climbing trip to Mt. Lafayette. Greenleaf Hut is on the knoll.

Another sunset photo of Greenleaf. Looks cold, doesn't it?