August 26, 2013
Near Lonesome Peak to Bill Moore Lake
The weather in Colorado sure has been fickle. She's a beauty, but she must know she's beautiful because she has some craziness (weather-wise) to go along with the beauty. And we put up with the crazy to be in the presence of her magnificence.
The day started off about the same as any other, some mellow hiking. A little up a little down and some walking along the divide. Just before descending from the divide there was one more big up and over to accomplish. Of course this was also when the clouds started to darken and crowd James Peak where the trail was headed. It looked like there was a slight break in the clouds so I decided to go for it. It seems that usually sooner is better than later when it comes to threatening weather. About 200 vertical feet shy of the top I heard the first humble of thunder. By that point after already climbing over 1000' I was committed and wasn't going to turn around for anything short of lightning, which I hadn't seen. I pushed myself at the fastest pace I could maintain in the thin 13,000' air. I made it up and over as the thunder sounded like it was getting closer. Not long into the descent came the rain. This wasn't a Pacific Northwest drizzle either, it was torrential rain sometimes becoming a stinging hail. As the thunder crashed all around me (I never saw lightning) and the trail turned to a brown river I continued to descend through a fog bank with only the faint appearance of the next cairn and the trail immediately under my feet to guide me. After dropping about 1500' the storm seemed to have passed by and the rain lightened up a bit. A mile or two further down another storm rolled through drenching me once again. Just before this second drenching I saw something that was perhaps more terrifying than the storm. Around a small bend in the trail I saw the back end of a cougar running down the trail ahead of me. Far enough not to be terrifying, but closer than I ever really like to be to that large of a cat.
After a couple hours without rain it has once again returned and I can see flashes of lightning and hear the rumble of thunder from the relatively safe confines of my tent. From what I remember of the forecast today was supposed to be the worst for T-storms and I'm hoping that's the case. Amazing how a thunderstorm can make me appreciate the sun. Here's hoping for sunny skies in the morning!