February 11, 2006
Finding yourself on a mountaintop on a day like yesterday is nature's way of telling you you are in the right place at the right time; sometimes you just get lucky.
Despite low temperatures (single digits at most), the bright sun and remarkable absence of even a slight breeze kept us warm even on the short road walk up 108 to the trailhead. This is normally a windy walk in winter. The snow on the lower trail was well packed and provided good traction. Above junction with the ski area, there was plenty of snow, and we were glad we resisted the temptation not to bring snowshoes. We got to Taft Lodge by 11:30, had a quick lunch in the sun on the deck, and continued up.
The Chin was a combination of loose powder, hard crust, and a little ice. Snow coverage was pretty much complete but rarely more than 2 feet deep. There was no evidence of traffic on the trail proper; we selected a route that looked like fun without excessive postholing. I was happy to let Paul do the hard work of breaking trail while I kept a leisurely pace, taking pictures.
We reached the top at about 1:00 - still no wind. We remained comfortably at the summit longer than any time I can remember on a mid-winter climb. We were surprised to find so few others on summit or the trail, either hikers using the Long Trail or snowboarders who either hiked up or hiked over from the gondola. Only later in the day, after the best of the weather had passed, did we have more company on the trail. We saw only about 7 other people on the summit during the 30 minutes or so we spent there.
We were fortunate to have another perfect day for a weekend trip.