Jumping Jehosophat! This was an incredible hike due to the fact that it snowed the day before. I had planned on hiking that day, and I quickly decided on this old standby when I saw all of the blue on the weather radar. I went with my cousin and his wife, and we weren't disappointed. We walked on snow for about 70% of the hike, and the top had about a foot. The rime ice falling from one of the towers on North Peak was spectacular. The hike up was on snow after the initial 3/4 mile stretch through the trees, and the hike down was snow-free for the last 2.2 miles. The stretch from mile 7.8 to 9.4 was snow free on the way down despite being covered in the white goodness on the way up. We saw a few people on the way up and at the top, but the crowds really came out on our way down. If they had only gotten in gear a little earlier. I got to park at the actual trail head for the first time which was cool.
I also want to recognize the brave firefighters and their families for putting so much on the line to fight the Tubbs Fire. The Tubbs Fire started around 9:45 PM on October 8, 2017 just north of Calistoga, CA. Calistoga (the place where the fizzy water you may have enjoyed comes from) is at the northern end of Napa Valley. The Tubbs Fire spread downhill due to Diablo Winds (same thing as Santa Ana Winds, but NorCal style), and crossed US Hwy. 101 around 2 a.m. on the 9th.
I've always gotten a kick about seeing the sugar pines near the top of Mount Saint Helena because they seem like a relict of the Pleistocene Age. They also have the longest cones of any pine tree on earth. I remember worrying about these trees when I read about the horrifying Tubbs Fire on the morning of October 9th, and hoped that the smoke I was choking on didn't include the combusted remains of sugar pine! Luckily these wonderful trees made it through unscathed. I don't know if it was because the firefighters made a stand or divine intervention. Perhaps those are the same thing. I'd like to think so.