Mountain Micro Climates

Today’s lesson class is about unpredictable mountain weather. Before we begin, let’s look at the good news.

My zero in Hiawassee rebalanced my body. My left knee had been slightly sore. Now it’s fine. I also injected some healthy food and Starbucks! into my tank. Bring it on.

The day kicked off with trail magic. That’s when someone does something altruistic for you for no reason. Some one left free Gatorade at the trail head. Since the air was a chilly 40 degrees, it tasted like it was fresh from the fridge.

Big milestone today. I crossed the Georgia / North Carolina border about 1 p.m. One state down. Two if you count West Virginia. The border demarcation is Inauspicious. Had I not looked up when I did, I might have missed it.

About 1/10th of a mile further is a famous storm twisted oak a photo of which everyone takes. My only regret is that no one was around to take a photo of me reclining on it.

Now to today’s lesson.

As I left my motel room and it’s WIFI connection, I checked the Atlanta TV weather and all my weather apps. Everything said clear and sunny til Thursday. The big weather front of the previous day had moved on to rain on someone else’s parade.

Wow! I thought here we have fair weather ahead. Through out the morning-long climb up to the border, the skies seemed to be clearing with plenty of sunshine poking through the scattering clouds. The temp climbed to near 60 which is warm if you’re pulling pack full of a week’s food up hill.

Once I reached the top of Bly Gap with its view of the horizon, I noticed ominous dark clouds on the horizon. WTF! It’s supposed to be clear. Sorry Charlie. I remembered that mountains can create their own micro climates, and thus their own weather.

The black clouds rolling up from the next range over moved like a thundering stampede in my direction. The temp dropped 20 degrees in seconds while the wind gusts jumped in force. Fortunately I’d seen this phenomenon before in Colorado. I just didn’t think it occurred at 4,600 ft.

I scrambled to get on my rain gear and my pack’s rain cover. In less than five minutes we transitioned from a mild pleasant sunny day to a raging hail storm spraying pea-size hail horizontally like machine gun bullets from the west.

I through off my pack and took cover behind a convenient and rather large oak. I fished my iPhone out of my pocket to record a little combat footage. I’ll put it up the next time I have a high speed connection.

Once the microburst passed, another followed along with waves of high wind. As the temps fluctuated wildly, I pressed on to the three miles to the Muskrat Creek shelter where I am now tenting along with two southbounders.

As usually happens, with darkness the weather calmed. Amen!!! We will see what the morrow brings.

What a weather day. Class dismissed.

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