Posted by GigaMike 07-10-06

I woke up at 3:40am from my camp spot in the backpackers camp, got all my stuff ready and was at the trailhead by 4am. Starting up the trail the weather was nice, not too cold or warm. At around 5:30 there was already enough light to see above Lone Pine lake, so I put my headlamp away in my backpack. As I was passing through Bighorn park, there was a doe eating some breakfast. I took a few pictures of the doe before continuing on my way. I arrived at Trail camp a little before 7am and took a break to refill my water supply and get a bite to eat. I started up the switchbacks around 7:30 and arrived at Trail Crest by 9. There were a few snowfields to cross before Trail Crest and they were easily negotiated with steady footing. At Trail Crest the weather was nice, blue skies with just a cloud or two far in the distance. Within 30 minutes past Trail Crest, the weather was quickly changing. More and more clouds were now starting to appear, getting closer and darker. I arrived at the summit at 10:30 with blue skies above and dark clouds all around. Within a few minutes, the clouds were above the summit and light hail started to fall. I quickly took a few pictures, signed the register book and got out of there. As I was heading back down, hail and rain continued to fall. Not wanting to get caught up in any lightning that might appear, I hurried as quickly as possible back Trail Crest, arriving in 50 minutes from the summit. As I was nearing the bottom of the switchbacks, the hail & rain stopped. Since the weather looked like it was clearing up, I took a break at Trail camp for a refill of water and a snack. As I was hiking back down from Trail camp, all hell broke loose. Out of no where, the sky turned black with thunder & lightning. It started to hail and rain hard, turning the trail into a mud river. This continued for about 30 minutes, finally stopping as I arrived at Outpost camp. From Outpost camp back down to the portal, the weather was much calmer, with just some clouds and a wet trail. I arrived back at the portal just before 3:30, packed up my camp, and had a cheeseburger before driving back home.

Posted by James Maeding, 07-10-06
That weather was almost exactly like Saturday's (the 8th). I call that hail "corn snow".
Its amazing how clear things start, then get dark and scary. Hope others read these posts as I bet the next few days will be the same.

Posted by hikerbob, 07-11-06
We did the 2 day hike starting on 7/9. Got up to Trail Camp at about 1:30, there was some light rain on the way up and some hail and lightning at the camp that afternoon, but it didn't seem that bad. But the next day was crystal clear the whole summit day until some clouds, very sparse rain and 1 or 2 sounds of thounder in the late afternoon.

What a difference one day to the next. The rangers give the same weather report everyday - "be prepared for the worst" - and rightfully so.

Posted by Cbad CC, 07-11-06
I think my nephew and I (blond lady with blue and pink jacket on) were with you when that scary storm below Trail Camp hit. Were you the guy who was following behind us as we ran down the trail with thunder and lightening all around?

This was my fourth time to the summit but this was definately the most challenging and scary. I started out with two nephews at the portal at midnight on 7/9. One of them had to turn back at Trail Camp due to altitude sickness, the other nephew and I pressed on to the summit. We almost turned around at the small snowfield below Trail Crest but were encouraged to continue by several other groups. As we crossed Trail Crest, there were only two small clouds to the west but I knew from experience that our time was short before they grew to be thunderstorms so I urged Nephew on and we made it. Thanks to all of you along the trail who encouraged us to continue to the summit, my nephew can't wait to do more hikes (this was his first mountain hike experience) and I am excited to finally have another hiker in my family!

Posted by GigaMike, 07-11-06
Hi Cbad CC, yes that was me following you two for a while. That was a pretty hairy situation we were in. I was surprised on how fast the trail became a river! I'm glade you two made it down ok.

Phil - The storm came from above Thor peak real quick, so I can imagine what it was like on the MR!