Clingman's Dome   Will Blozan
  May 14, 2002 17:59 PDT 
Today, 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 Park....