my crew and I climbed some of the last vestiges of the
old-growth Fraser fir along the slopes of Clingman's Domes, Mount
Love and Mount Buckley. We were collecting cuttings for grafting
from intact trees essentially free of balsam woolly adelgid. The
knarl factor was VERY high in some of the trees I climbed which
helped distract me from the weather.
The massive cold front that
came thru yesterday trailed high winds and very cold air behind
it. We were literally ice climbing. The trees were coated with a
3-5 inch layer of rime ice from dense fog whipping across the
summits. The wind was a 30 mph sustained with 50-60 mph gusts.
What were we doing up there? Having the freakin' times of our
lives!!! It was so invigorating to be in a super gnarly tree
plastered in ice and whipped around in intense, icy winds. Sure,
it was WAY cold (my finger tips are still prickly), but that
aspect was overpowered by sheer fun and raw, in-my-face
experience. I bet there were no other climbers on Earth in the
same situation as we were in today. Talk about KICK-ASS!!!
On the down side, hemlock woolly adelgid was discovered
yesterday in two separate locations within the GRSM National