The snow on the lower slopes of the mountain had been packed hard by previous hikers and made the hiking easy, but the southeast wind was bone-chilling. I started the climb about 12:30 p.m. on April 30th, thinking this would be a nice Spring jaunt and another chance to test out my left knee that was replaced last year. Harp Mountain had other plans. By the time I reached the first big hump, at about 2,500 feet, the wind was gusting to about 40 miles per hour (mph).
With less than ¼-inch of snow on the trail, clear skies and temperature in the mid-20s, it was pleasant as I turned left (east) out of South Fork Valley and ascended into Hanging Valley. It was early afternoon on October 19th of this year, and contrary to my personal calendar that denotes winter only beginning on November 1st, it truly felt like winter—especially when a sudden breeze chilled my face. The trail’s scant snow covering was undisturbed, except for the tiny footprints of voles, squirrels, small birds and occasionally, that of a coyote. Moving into Hanging Valley, I entered shade and felt the temperature drop quickly by at least five degrees.