Misty, Foggy and Warmer
Cleared At Sunset
While there were no views for most of Saturday, Old Rag mountain produced a pleasant muffled fog draped mood.
There were still plenty of icy conditions on the trail but it was much easier hiking then last weekend. This week's exposed rock surfaces were mostly wet and free of ice. Last weekend everything was coated in a quarter to half inch of clear ice that was so hard my microspikes would often not gain a good purchase. This Saturday the ice was mostly found only on the top of the trail's remaining snowpack and was of the softer white variety. My microspikes easily grabbed solid purchase in this weeks ice.
It is amazing how quickly conditions change on the mountain in winter. We did an up and back to just above the chute. On the way back down it was obvious that lots of snow and ice had melted since we had traveled upward earlier in the day.
On our way back down the sun had just dipped below the horizon and the fog was lifting when we hit the first false summit.
As the fog lifts it is not unusual for the ground-hugging, wind-driven, wispy, smoky, clouds and fog to provide the most exquisitely mesmerizing exit dances before they disappear into the clear dry air.
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Much further and later the twilight had passed and the skies were a deep clear crytaline black. As clear and dark as I have ever seen it on Old Rag. At one point we took a break sitting on top of a large boulder. The stars were so abundant, crisp, and bright that we laid back and just took in the wonderous night sky for about ten minutes.
With warmer snow free days in the forecast it will not surprise me if the mountain is mostly free of ice and snow next weekend. Then again, it will only take a few hours of colder snowy weather to plunge everything back into a winter wonderland. When the temperatures are rapidly fluctuating across the 32 degree boundary the mountain can take on totally different personalities in just a matter of an hour or two.
Plan, prepare, have fun, be safe.