Today, temperatures in Boulder reached almost 90 degrees, and highs here in Nederland approached 80. It feels like we went straight from winter to summer with about two weeks of spring in between. Such is the weather along the Front Range of Colorado, where if you don’t like it, wait a day, and it will bring an entirely new season. Since moving to the mountains, my threshold for heat is significantly lower — around 80 degrees. So 90 degrees down in Boulder was definitely too hot. I’m the rare bird who almost wishes that it was winter year-round.
All that hot weather has created a flood threat despite the fact that skies are sunny, and nary a drop of rain has fallen in the last several days. There was so much snow in May above 10,000 feet, that there is lots of snow yet to melt, and that creates a risk of rivers running over the banks. A-Basin reported over 56 inches of snow in May, which is amazing, considering that 56 inches of snow any month of the winter would be considered good. One of the employees from Rocky Mountain estimated that snow is melting down at nearly a foot per day during this hot spell. We’ve now reached that 3-4 week window when all that snow in the high country is melting down fast, and rivers are gushing. Nearby Barker Reservoir is full to the brim and spilling over the top of the dam at a rapid rate.
Of course, melting snow contributes a lot of positives to Colorado’s landscapes as well. In terms of water conservation, reservoirs are storing up lots of water for use later during the year (always a good thing), which is great for Front Range cities. For nearby Rocky Mountain National Park, peak runoff means waterfalls like Calypso Cascades and Alberta Falls are at their most impressive. And though the skiing season is near its end, melting snow and rapidly running rivers create a different type of recreation — whitewater rafting. All the rivers along the Front Range are being fed by above average snow pack, which translates into excellent rafting at nearby Clear Creek, the Poudre River, and the Arkansas River down south. I’ve had the opportunity to go rafting a few times, and nothing beats the adrenaline rush and refreshment of being doused by rapids on a hot summer day.
For us, nearby North Boulder Creek provides a bit of refuge for me and our dogs during the hot spells. Out two, very furry mountain dogs, Simon and Shawnee are shedding fur at a rapid rate. Though we vacuum every day, there are clumps of fur everywhere. Who can blame them, with their thick fur coats, especially Simon, who being black and furry seems to be entirely ill-suited for any kind of hot weather. But we are fortunate to have Forest Service land just down the road with a lovely, shady wooded trail leading down to North Boulder Creek. Once at the creek, the dogs love splashing around in the icy cold water, and Simon does his best impression of Loch Ness Doggy by submerging himself into the creek for several minutes. I, in turn, will soak my feet in the creek for as much as I can stand it, until the chilly waters numb my feet to the point I must take them out. The creek is our saviour during these “dog days” of summer when the temperatures sizzle.
Fortunately, for those who live along the rivers and creeks, runoff season doesn’t last too long — usually just a couple of week at its peak. Then the waters subside, summer sets in, and the small town of Nederland sees a lot more people during the weekends, as all the front range city dwellers flee to the mountains seeking a respite from baking on the plains.