Suddenly, the fog above us began to lift, as a cold wind began to blow, forcing us to stop and put our coats back on. We had shed them earlier in the hike because, as usual on a steep ascent, we were beginning to sweat. Perspiration was no longer an issue as the cold wind blew through us. Walking up the last quarter mile before Low Gap, you could see the surroundings change from green to sparkling ice. The sun's rays glistened through tiny prisms of crystallized water vapor literally clinging to everything.
As we approached the top of the trail at Low Gap, bitterly cold winds blew so hard it was all we could do to operate our cameras to capture the sight. Staying for long, in spite of how much we wanted to tarry and take in all the splendor was simply unwise. Stepping a mere 15 feet down the trail and off that high point where trails meet was enough to protect us from immediate hypothermia, but that experience drove home the intense respect one must maintain for these mountains.
It never snowed or even rained on us that day, but it was the coldest I've ever been in all my hiking in these mountains. I never did really get warm again until I was home even though we still had another 7 miles or so to hike on that day.
Since that hike, I've only hiked two other times this winter. One hike was just a short jaunt into the mountains to stretch my legs on a trail I'd already hike twice before--really just an opportunity to spend some time with good friends. The only other hike happened this past weekend and there's a blog post to come on that one.