We had a light lunch and soon headed south for the fifteen mile journey to the Auto Road. The valley temperature 54 degrees, the weather partly cloudy, but we could see the top of the mountain, a good sign for viewing the vistas
|Rime Ice with Helen and Monique|
The drive up the auto road starts upwards abruptly with hardwood forest surrounding the winding road. A glimpse here and there of the valley appearing lower and lower as we climb pass the two mile marker. The eight miles to the summit does begin to get very scenic especially after the four mile marker. The “Mountain Ash” berries were now the only color visible. The bright red clusters seem to jump out. This invited us to stop for a few seconds to take a photo. I’m doing the driving and Rich is doing the shooting with his new digital SLR camera. The “Oos and Ah’s”
|Me and brother Rich enjoying|
the scenic views!
At the three quarter mark, a noticeable difference! There is a slight trace of rime ice on the shady side of the granite rocks. This was a change from our visit a couple of weeks ago with our friends from Miami. The temperature was balmy then compared to a colder wind of today. The summit was now in view and the parking lot was not as crowded as before. I made a passenger drop-off at the very top, to keep my passengers
from climbing the many stairs.
The top today was completely different from two weeks ago. The rime ice covered everything on the Northwesterly side.
rime 1 (rm) n. 1. A coating of ice, as on grass and trees, formed when extremely cold water droplets freeze almost instantly on a cold surface. The rime ice made intricate patterns on just about everything. The temperature was now down to 38 degrees. Richard soon was on his own capturing the rime ice formations. Helen, Monique and myself worked our way towards the television antenna to capture the ice in that location. We strategically stood in locations to scale objects and rime ice in the photos. It was a new experience for Rich and Monique as well as for us.
Ironically, this day had just as many people on the “Rock Pile” as two weeks ago on our last visit. It seemed that there were more hikers on the summit than auto road customers. The weather was definitely colder, but this is nearer to the end of the season weather wise. We found out, later in the day that this would possibly be the last day that the auto road would be open for the public. They do use the road to resupply the guys who stay at the weather observatory year round. Of course, they only come up in the “Snow Cat”. This machine is designed with large two foot wide lag tracks that grip and climb like a bulldozer. They rotate the observatory crew every two weeks, weather permitting.
It was time to start down the mountain and depart on this final tour of the season. This time, I followed the auto road guidance and descended in low gear all the way down. The brakes didn’t heat up all and again we made it down safe and sound.
That is what we did and saw!