I looked out the window. Small dabs of water splashed on the pane. A cool breeze flowed through the adjacent sliding door. Seconds later splotches of rain continued to increase in size. A gust of wind caused the blinds to rattle. The sky continued to darken until it was steel gray. The thick clouds dropped until the nearby mountains were no longer visible. Within no time, sheets of rain created enormous puddles on the deck. Once again, it was monsoon season in the Colorado Rockies.
As the colossal drops were pelting the roof, I remained safe within my home. Venturing out was counterproductive. There was no need to fight with nature. Soon the storm would pass. The vegetation would be greener. The colorful wildflowers would be revitalized. The dirt pathways would be muddy.
Would the afternoon storms wreck havoc with our hiking and biking plans?
Timing during monsoon season is essential. It’s unwise to walk in the wilderness or ride a bicycle on a trail when an intense storm is heading your way. Lightning is deadly and the temperature can drop rapidly. Getting an early start will usually prevent a mishap while at the same time minimize crowded trails. Following the daily weather report is the best bet. Rare early morning showers are a possibility. It’s also wise to be aware of the forecasted temperature.
Being prepared is key.
- Bring along a lightweight rainproof jacket. Mountain weather can be unpredictable.
- Make sure you have sufficient water and a light snack. Remaining hydrated is crucial. A protein bar, trail mix, or fresh fruit are nutritious options.
- Check out trails and paths on the Internet or in guidebooks. These resources will describe the difficulty level and provide basic information. It’s helpful to know the location of restrooms.
Taking a hike or a ride after a storm presents a new scenario. There will be indentations filled with water and soggy terrain. Shaded areas will dry slower and will be muddier. Despite these inconveniences, the surrounding areas will be brimming with wildflowers that stand at attention after a hard rain.
During late spring and early summer, I marvel at Mother Nature’s ability to self regulate. Without anyone planting any seeds, flowers, shrubs, bushes, and trees grow randomly in the open space. While passing through a field that was burned by a fire, I observe signs of new life. Flowers and small trees are sprouting up with total disregard to the destruction.
Other areas that were devastated by pine beetles are also starting to show signs of new life. A decade ago these forests were heavily wooded. Then several environmental factors caused the unrelenting pine beetle to take control. An epidemic occurred. Millions of trees were killed. The US Forest Service began chopping down the dead trees in accessible areas. These barren fields are being rejuvenated by daily doses of sunshine and frequent rain showers.
As I inhale, I catch the fragrance emanating from the flowers, sagebrush and coniferous trees. The recent rain makes the aroma more intense. While the nearby highway creates a monotonous humming sound, birds chirping and cooing make it less noticeable. If you listen carefully, you can hear the wildlife communicating with one another.
When I take advantage of Summit County’s mountain trails, I am constantly reminded of nature’s paintbrush. There are so many layers of colors and textures that blend so perfectly together. Even though I have traversed these paths dozens of times, I continue to be struck by the majestic quality of my surroundings. One photo after another can only capture just a small essence of this amazing beauty.
While the harsh storms limit my access to the mountains, they also bring welcomed precipitation. Moisture is restored and the risk of wildfires are decreased. Planning my journeys around impending storms is just a minor inconvenience. Each hiking and biking adventure reminds me of how fortunate I am to be a Coloradoan. If you don’t have the luxury of living in this state, consider adding a visit to your bucket list.
My memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, and the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards.