September 17, 2007

Aspens are Pretty, Lightening Bolts Striking the Peak you are Planning to Climb are Not

My work sent me to the Aspen area for Friday and Saturday to oversee a construction project at the county landfill. Since I was already over there and had Sunday off, I decided to make an attempt at hiking up Snowmass Mountain. I knew the weather would be questionable at best, so I realized the possibility of just going for a nice hike in the rain. As it turns out, that is exactly what happened.

I'd been hiking for about 2 hours when there was finally enough daylight to turn off my headlamp. Right about this time, I got hit with my first thunderstorm squall, where it rained and hailed furiously on me for about 10 minutes. I continued hiking up the trail towards Snowmass Lake, hiking through and hiding from several more of these squalls on the way.

Eight miles into my hike I arrived at Snowmass Lake.


Snowmass Lake with Hagerman Peak in the Background. Snowmass Mountain is hidden in the clouds to the right of Hagerman Peak, approximately where I saw two big flashes of lightening as soon as I arrived at the lake.

It was a dramatic arrival as I hiked up Snowmass Creek, came over a rise, and found myself standing on the banks of one of Colorado's largest alpine lakes. Impressive peaks surrounded the lake on all sides except for the one I approached from, the highest ones enshrouded in clouds. Within the first few seconds after beginning to take in this amazing scenery, I watched a lightening flash that appeared to come from the vicinity of Snowmass Mountain (which I could not see through the clouds). The lightening was accompanied by an almost simultaneous boom of thunder that reverberated off the steep-walled peaks for several seconds. As if this sign from above wasn't obvious enough, I was then hit by yet another squall of rain and hail, more vicious than any of the previous ones.

I spent about 15 minutes up at the lake and watched the clouds covering the peak I had intended to climb "flash-boom" once more before turning around.

As most of the hike up was in the dark, I was amazed at how beautiful the scenery was on the way down. Golden Aspen trees, abundant alpine lakes, and the steep and jagged peaks of the Elk Range surrounded me the entire way down.


Golden Aspens on the trail


Waterfall on Snowmass Creek, immediately after it exits Snowmass Lake.


More Aspens

1 comment:

Becca said...

Hi Josh!

Don't you ever do anything boring??