June 14, 2019

What a Difference a Year Makes

As regular readers of this blog will recall, my area of the southwest United States was in an extreme drought last year.  Everything was dry, and a lot of the spring wildflowers didn’t even come up or bloom.  Now we have the totally opposite situation, where there has been a big excess of moisture in the form of snow falling in the local mountains over the winter.  In fact, there is still so much of it to be seen, that problems are starting to arise.

We are having our typical warm June weather, so the snow is melting very fast.  Our local river, the Dolores, has hit flood stage and may start breaching its banks.  Normally, I would be hiking up in the mountains at the 10,000 foot elevation level by now, but I thought I’d try a lower elevation hike yesterday just to see what the conditions were like. 

After the hike, I stopped at the Rico Forest Service Office to inquire about conditions at higher elevations, and was told that most of the smaller roads and trails are still snow covered and impassible, with many trees that have fallen onto the roads and trails.  It will take a lot of man power to clear those trees, and the snow will just have to melt on its own.  In addition to that, a lot of the hiking trails have turned into creek beds with running water from the melting snow.  Not my preferred way to hike!

So, my hike took me up the Horse Creek Trail, which is just north of Rico, Colorado.  It involves about an hour’s hike up a road, and then continuing on a foot path from there.  Below are some photos from yesterday’s hike.

This photo is looking back down the trail.  You can see a bit of the road on the left.  What looks like a big snow bank is  actually the remains of the winter snow piled up over the Horse Creek creek bed. 

Here is a photo looking at the spot where the creek emerges from underneath the snow bank.
Looking up the trail with the hiking road.
The next 2 photos show the debris from an avalanche that came down a side creek, blocking the road.  If you look carefully, you can see a waterfall in the distance.

Snow on the road.
Snow on the foot path blocking further passage.
A side creek coming out of a snow cave.

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