May has not been dry. Colorado has instead been fortunate, compared to the majority of western states this past winter and the current spring. Snowpack closer to home has remained strong – keeping constant, or even, continuing to build. The snow-water equivalent is on the verge of its annual plunge, while the streams are historically two to three weeks away from spiking.
I needed another trip. The forecast for the mountains near home would see guaranteed moisture. I looked west to the desert. I only had a solid two days, so a short drive was desired. I was prepared for a second straight outing to the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness. As the date drew nearer, the forecast looked more and more bleak. The entire state of Colorado forecasted either rain or snow.
When I reached the dirt and clay road leading to my destined trailhead, I saw that heavy rain had deluged the entire Glade Park just hours prior. Small patches of snow lined the bank of the road. I didn’t come all this way not to try … Fifteen minutes later I had turned around, headed back to pavement.
First gear, around 4500 RPM. My small front wheel drive vehicle getting tossed from one side of the road to the other, while repeating, “don’t stop … don’t stop … don’t stop”; A nervous smirk on my face. It was a blast, most likely because I didn’t get stuck.
As I drove back east towards home, dark clouds had broken and sunlight had dried the landscape. I stopped at a hidden, but familiar place I hadn’t been in years: Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area.
First a call back home to relay my changed plans, then a short walk to the bank of Jerry Creek to set up camp for the evening.
Vast cactus flowers in bloom on the Main Canyon floor.
The following morning I slept in and awoke to progressing rain splatter the tarptent. Grey clouds enveloped the entire horizon. I packed up my wet shelter and headed home.
The day after I was content to enjoy what had fallen from the sky.
Backcountry skiing Uneva Bowl just inside the boundary of Eagles Nest Wilderness.
Around 10,700′ many of the deeper tree wells are gone and small streams begin to reveal themselves.
Number two lap
On top the rain crust was a solid three to four of fresh fluff that carved like butter.
Not all had been lost during a weekend in May.