Staying in our little cabin last night was pleasant. Or at least it was as pleasant as a drafty, unheated cabin could be.
The roof didn't leak and snow didn't blow in. I slept warmly and soundly, so I had no reason to complain. Bluejay seemed to be in better spirits this morning, as well.
|Date||Monday, September 30, 2019|
|Weather||Mostly cloudy with a mid-day snow shower, then becoming partly cloudy and warmer; temperatures range from upper 20s to mid 40s|
|Trail Conditions||Snow-covered until the last five miles|
Based on the last forecast I looked at, which was two days ago, I was expecting to see an improvement in today's weather. Temperatures were predicted to rise into the 40s.
That turned out to be correct, but the improvement came much later in the day than I anticipated.
When I left Donomore Cabin a few minutes before 7 a.m., the air was frigid and still. It felt as if frost crystals were suspended above the snowy ground.
The cabin stood on the edge of a large meadow. Some cattle were walking across the field as I left. I wondered if these were the same steers I had met on the trail yesterday.
The first 1.4 miles of the trail went mostly downhill, dropping to about 5,300 feet above sea level. That was the lowest elevation I had been at since leaving Ashland.
I thought there wouldn't be any snow at the lower elevation, but there was plenty.
Still, when I saw a patch of blue sky opening above me, I hoped for a fast warming trend.
Clouds appeared to be evaporating in the sunlight. The only warmth I was feeling, however, came from the exertion of walking. The temperature remained below freezing.
Once the trail finished the descent and began to climb, it didn't take long to see my hopes of a sunny day were premature. I was entering a thick layer of clouds.
The trail went up nearly continuously for the next 4.8 miles. In all, it went up 1,800 feet.
By the time I reached the top of the climb, I had passed through the cloud layer and was now above it. Small gaps of blue sky began to appear around me.
The sun was still filtered by a higher layer of clouds, but I was glad to see it after two cold and cloudy days.
Despite the sunlight, the snow didn't soften much. The temperature was a little higher but remained in the low 30s.
This part of the trail had received about four or five inches of snow. It wasn't difficult to walk on as I followed Bluejay's fresh tracks.
As the trail descended again, it took me back into the cloud layer. Shortly before noon, snow began to fall. At first, I thought what I was seeing might just be falling from tree limbs, but there was too much of it for that.
Later, as I began to think about stopping for lunch, I decided to look for a big tree. I was hoping for some cover from the falling snow.
When I found the perfect tree, I discovered Bluejay was under it. She had the same idea and had stopped to eat her lunch. Fortunately, there was just enough room for the two of us.
I didn't know it at the time, but she was the only hiker I would see all day until I reached our campsite.
The snow continued to fall after lunch. When it stopped after 1:30 p.m., the sun came out. This time, it was real sunshine, not filtered by high clouds.
The snow began to melt almost immediately. I could already see snow-free areas about 1/4-mile away in a valley.
Within two hours, the snow was nearly melted. A few small patches remained here and there, but the trail was mostly clear.
The last three miles were a steady drop of 1,400 feet. With no snow on the trail, the descent was easy.
Our campsite was just past an intersection of two dirt roads and was entirely snow-free. Some section hikers were already set up there when I arrived at 6 p.m. Bluejay had set up her tent away from them and saved a space for me.
After setting up my tent, I followed a side trail about a tenth of a mile to a piped spring. The water flowing from it was barely a trickle. It took me about 20 minutes to collect enough so I wouldn't have to come back for more in the morning.
Bluejay and I were heading tomorrow to the small community called Seiad Valley, which was nearly 15 miles away. A diner was located there, which closed at 2 p.m. We decided to wake up extra early tomorrow and try to get there before it closed.
No self-respecting thru-hiker ever misses an opportunity for town food.