At 7 a.m., it was already 60 degrees. Today would be hot.
Pulling into the parking lot, I spied my two hiking partners and pulled up alongside of them.
I tucked my gaitors and traction devices into my pack.
“Do you think we’ll need snowshoes?” she asked.
“Probably, but I’m not sure I want to lug them along.”
The notion that we would need snowshoes seemed utterly ridiculous. The sun beat down on us. I wondered if I should off the legs of my pants.
Good thing I brought plenty of water and sunscreen.
The first two miles of hiking were uneventful. Copious amounts of water running down over the trail clued us into what lie ahead. Otherwise, it felt like a typical summer day of hiking.
A half-mile later, a blob of white appeared in the woods — snow! As we continued on, we encountered melting humps of snow that we clambered over.
“Good thing we brought our trekking poles!”
Within ten minutes, snow covered the ground and the trail. Feet of snow, sometimes five feet high blanketed the forest. We continued to follow the footprints in the snow until they abruptly came to a halt.
We peered at the map, then the GPS map on someone’s phone.
“Looks like the trail is over to the left somewhere. I see some rocks lined up over the like it’s marking the trail.”
For a moment, we once again found about ten feet of trail which quickly came to an end. Now we had truly lost the route.
Again consulting GPS, we tried to reason it out, how to make it to Crater Lakes. We followed what we thought was the trail which came out a creek. A creek that pulsed with melting snow, pouring water over rocks as it rushed down the hillside.
The thought of trying to cross that creek was enough for me.
“I think we should turn around. I don’t see any way to cross that creek, and I certainly don’t want to fall in.”
“Yeah, it’s probably the best thing. I just can’t get over how much snow there is.”
As we encountered people heading up, we apprised them of the situation.
“Are you aware of the snow conditions? There is up to five feet of snow and the trail is completely covered. Unless you are confident in your route-finding, I’d advise you to turn it around when you hit the snow.”
Everyone seemed incredibly surprised. How could there be that much snow when the temperature was forecast to hit 98 degrees in Denver?
If you’re thinking of hiking in the high country for Fourth of July weekend, come prepared. Make sure you wear good Gore-tex boots, consider bringing gaitors, microspikes and trekking poles. Map and compass and/or GPS is a necessity.
Despite the hot weather outside, there is still a lot of winter hanging around in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.