|Cirrus and Stratocumulus clouds over the High Peaks|
By Tyra Olstad
Even if never truly called Tahawas the “Cloud Splitter,” Mt. Marcy often does slice a hole in the sky, catching precipitation and channeling it into “Lake Tear of the Clouds.” In fact, all of the Adirondack mountaintops mingle with the clouds, affording spectacular views of atmospheric strata (and sometimes direct experience of thick grey mist.) Alpine vegetation is well-adapted to heavy fog, intense sun, damaging ice, high winds, and other climatic extremes typical of places that are closer to cloud than to earth, but hikers (and summit stewards!) need to anticipate and be prepared for conditions up on the high, exposed peaks, where temperatures are lower, wind is stronger, and storms stir up in a matter of hours. Although it’s best to check weather forecasts before beginning a hike, it also helps to pay attention to what’s happening overhead: with a little practice, you can learn to appreciate cloudscapes not just for their natural beauty, but for their role as meteorological indicators as well.