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Mount of the Holy Cross

Spending the night hunkered down on this high plateau just below the summit of 13,237 ft. Notch Mountain presented a significant challenge. A harsh wind was blowing relentlessly at 60-70 mph throughout the night with the wind chill reaching about twenty below. Actually, I would have been considerably warmer if I had stayed home and spent the night in my refrigerator - or even my freezer for that matter! I figured I'd be rewarded for my suffering with a nice sunrise, but the radiance I witnessed far surpassed anything I had previsualized. Several atmospheric phenomena occurred simultaneously to make this a magical moment. The red cast on the 14,009 ft. Holy Cross summit was caused by light from the sun, which had not yet crested the horizon behind me, being reflected down by ice crystals in the atmosphere. The pink band in the sky is called the anti-twilight arc, and the blue band below that is the Earth's shadow on the atmosphere. The shafts of light that appear to fan out from a point to the right of Holy Cross are known as anti-crepuscular rays. Grooves called couloirs in the mountainside prevent the sun from melting the snow, causing the remarkable cross pattern.

  All materials © copyright by Joseph Thomas