The wind is blowing, the temperature is near freezing, and I am very cold. We are camped at Apache Springs, which, due to a fire sometime in the last five years, is now very exposed
But what a beautiful day.
We slept in this morning. Because of last nights snow flurries, I expected to wake to a very cold morning. This was not the case. By the time I had crawled out of the tent, General Lee had a morning fire cooking pop tarts under the giant Gold-Cup Oak tree. The outside temperature was warm enough to shed the thermal under layer, and hike in a short sleeve shirt.
We made our one mile ascent from Live Oak springs back to the PCT, where we continued to climb in elevation. Our hike was bordering on perfect. The day was short, the temperature was cool enough to keep us from sweating, but warm enough to keep us from shivering, and the sights were unbelievable.
All day the trail was skirting the ridge line, keeping what little wind we had off of our bodies. As we gained elevation, we could see and hear the effects of last nights precipitation. Virtually every tree and plant was covered in ice on the windward side.
As we hiked down the corridor of manzanitas and oaks, you could hear the crackle of the ice, as the sun broke each leaf free of its frozen crystal coat. At times, we were passing under taller trees and small flaky ice cubes would fall between our packs and our backs, sending an icy chill down our spine.
The coulter pine trees, while coated in ice, looked like the store bought "Frosted Christmas Trees." The day had a strange sense of timelessness. Recent fires had killed many plants, and some of the deciduous trees were still leafless. We were left with a feeling that we could not tell what time of year it was.
Our plan for the day called for a scant nine miles, which meant setting up camp around one or two in the afternoon. This very short day resulted in an addition of 3.5 miles after we arrived at camp. Fobes saddle was fairly exposed to the wind and the day was still young, so we carried on to Apache Springs.
This campsite, while more exposed than Fobes Saddle, does have water, and leaves us with a shorter day tomorrow, which is good, considering we will be navigating through snow.
In the image you can see the snow/ice crystals on the pine trees in the foreground. The snowy mountain in the background is the challenge for tomorrow (and possibly Sunday as well).
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