A Walk in the Clouds
2018-05-29 12:38:57.000 – Ben Seleb, Summit Intern
It’s going to be hard to follow up the tear-jerking blog posted by the resigning observer Caleb. As a new intern, it’s impossible to match the kind of emotional and moving experiences he was able to write about. Nevertheless, I will try to provide something entertaining.
For the last few days, fellow intern Zach and I have been trying to do a short hike before dinner each evening. We’d like to visit some nearby peaks, but until we have more time we’ll be staying near the summit.
Taking photos on a recent hike as we crossed over the Cog Railway, before heading to the edge of the Great Gulf.
Occasionally the weather up here doesn’t permit these evening hikes, but we didn’t let yesterday’s thick cloud cover stop us. Our hike started by leaving the Observatory tower and following the edge of the Sherman Adam’s building until we found the head of the Nelson Crag trail. As we headed down the trail, over both the Cog Railway and the Auto Road, visibility got even worse.
Photo taken about 50 feet from the Auto Road (the sign is planted just off the road)
A couple more steps down the trail and we were completely surrounded in a shroud of fog. The region of trail between the Auto Road and Ball Crag is quite flat, which added to the disorientating effect. Everything looked the same in all directions, and I got a surreal feeling that I could be in an expansive rocky plain with no beginning or end. We could only see as far as a single cairn ahead of us, and we were happy to have them. Without them we would have probably walked right off the trail and down into the Alpine Garden. We didn’t follow the cairns very long before a looming figure jumped out of the fog ahead of us!
As we got closer, we soon recognized the crag and laughed about how it had appeared so suddenly. We took one last look around and started the short ascent.
A small pool of water at the base of Ball Crag, probably filled over the last few days of wet weather.
As we got to the top of the ridge the winds increased immensely (probably to 40 or 50 mph), and we noticed for the first time how wet we were. All jokes aside, the water vapor from the clouds had condensed on us and left our clothes and hair nearly dripping.
Following the ridge, we couldn’t tell how far it continued, or how far the drop-off was on each side.
We continued for a while along the ridge and down the trail before deciding to head back for dinner. By this point, we were blinking the condensed water out of our eyes, and probably looked like we were crying. If it had been below freezing, we would’ve been sporting some incredible ice masks. Upon our return, we were greeted by another looming object. This time it was the Sherman Adams building. On our way back into the Observatory, we agreed that the experience had been almost supernatural, and that we should probably towel off before dinner. For myself at least, the hike provided an enlightening lesson on how the weather can completely change an experience.
Note: I’m not suggesting anyone to hike in bad weather! Always check forecasts and conditions first, and prepare yourself accordingly.
Ben Seleb, Summit Intern