This was the last day of 2010 that the SNP staff will be working the boundary stations. I am already looking forward to the first day they are back in the Spring.
The leaves are completely off the trees and everything felt very grey. Because of the open canopy I was able to see three Pileated Woodpeckers in the middle of the Ridge Trail switchbacks. Seeing Pileated Woodpeckers is one of the pluses of the winter months. These birds have a very distintive call which can be heard on the Cornell site provided below:
The next two pictures are of a couple of the SNP employees about an hour before they would be closing up for the day and the year.
The drive back from my parents in Cazenovia/Erieville NY had me getting home to Woodbridge VA pretty late so I slept in and arrived at the mountain around 1PM. This is pretty late considering how early it gets dark these days. Not only that but between visiting with the SNP staff and using quite a bit of time to unpack and repack my pack in the upper lot I did not start up the Ridge Trail until around 2PM.
It was clear but below freezing on the mountain. Lots of hoar frost and ice flowers in the switchbacks on the Ridge Trail. At this time of year the sun is so low in the sky that the shadows are long even at noon.
Looking up the rock scramble from the slab with the first good views of Etlan.
Looking back at the first false summit.
Looking down at the first false summit from just above the Chute.
Looking out at Etlan from the slab above the Chute.
Twilight from the summit. The air was crisp but calm. About thirty degrees Farenheit and no wind.
At the Byrds Nest Shelter two very friendly hikers were preparing dinner. They shared their fire and some good conversation for about a half hour.
There is a section of the Saddle trail just after the first switch back below the Byrds Nest shelter where it is not unusual for a couple hundred feet of the trail to be completely coated with several inches of ice. This ice has started to form. It is still very small and easy to navigate around as seen in the next picture.