Sunday, May 31, 2009

Snow Storm in Charleston

On Saturday (5-30), I attempted to lead 18 hikers to Fletcher Peak in Mt. Charleston. It started out as a warm and sunny day. As we arrived at an overlook of the canyon we just hiked up, it started to rain a bit. It was still warm and the next part of the hike traveled through a wooded area that somewhat protected us from the rain.

Once to the saddle that lies between Fletcher Peak and the North Loop trail, things had changed drastically. The rain had turned into the sleet and hail. The sunny skies replaced with dark clouds with flashes of lightening. The sleet and hail replaced with cold, wet snow.

I made the decision to bail and get off the mountain as fast as possible. We retraced our steps down slippery slopes and through wet trees. Everyone by now was cold. My hands were gone... no feeling in them. We pushed on and eventually drop below the snow line. Once we reached the trailhead I looked at the thermometer in Kenny's car. It read: 48 degrees. I figured it was in the mid-thirties at the saddle, some 2000 feet higher.

What lessons can be learned from this?
1. Always have a rain jacket with you when hiking in higher elevations.
2. Be smart and descend when you see lightening.
3. Don't panic.
4. Fletcher Peak does not like me. Last year I got sick after eating some poison pineapple (inside joke), but I did get sick.