Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are, Part Four: Oh, Hail, It's Hopelessly Raining!

Our next adventure took us into the town of Allenspark, where we would depart from the aptly named Allens Park trail head on an eight mile out and back hike to Finch Lake. Again, this morning, a mostly sunny sky turned mostly cloudy as we drove to the trail head, but all of our past hikes had been pretty decent (except that one), so we were not too worried.

We hiked a few hundred yards up into the park before noticing that a hummingbird was stalking one of our party. Red circles on her pack attracted the bird, and, despite the fact that it must have quickly discovered that there was no nectar in the pack, it made persistent strafing runs at her back and hovered for long seconds in her vicinity. The hummer also noticed a similar color on my pack, as it buzzed and hovered around me, as well. After a few minutes it realized the futility of its actions, and whizzed off to find some real sustenance.

We climbed on, through some lovely pines and aspens, eventually coming to an intersection known as "Confusion Crossing," where two trails meet in an X, with a wide central space. I am not sure what is so confusing about this crossing, since a) all four of the arms of the X are distinct, and b) there are clear signs delineating where each destination one might wish to wind up might be reached. At any rate, we had no problem finding our way beyond this ominously named nav point.

At the crossing, we ran into a troop of campers coming down from Finch Lake, our destination. We passed the time of day with them, particularly discussing the weather, since they were on a multi-day outing and had been dealing with the downpours directly and constantly. At least we had the comfort of our periodically powerless cabin to keep us dry. Leaving our trail brethren and sisteren behind, we proceeded farther along the trail, hoping that our discussion of rainy weather wouldn't jinx our hike.

Unfortunately, our hopes were not realized, as, withing minutes of our passing the trail junction, the skies began to drip. We put on our rain gear, but one of us was still unprepared. In a moment of selflessness and shared misery, one of our party gave his rain gear to the unprepared one, hoping that the rain would be light and short-lived. But, it didn't work out that way.

It rained, and then it rained hard. And then it hailed, and then it hailed hard. We took cover under a stand of trees, waiting out the storm. The hail subsided, we trekked on. The hail resumed. The hail intensified. We took cover again. The temperature dropped into the low fifties (I would guess). The wettest member of our party was feeling pretty cold. We waited for the storm to subside. It didn't.

This was a tough moment, since we estimated that we were only about a half mile from our destination, but the temperature and the hail and the driving rain prompted us to decide to scrap the hike for the day. We waited for an opportune moment to take a break for it.

Our wettest member lit out for the trail head. He plodded on, not waiting for the rest of the party, and waited in the car for everyone else's return. That evening, we were mostly bummed by the weather, our low internal temperatures, and the growing realization that Longs Peak would probably have to wait until next year.

However, as hopeful as ever, we discussed possible hikes for the next day: would we go for a challenge, a long, climbing hike? Or, would we take a warning from the recent weather and choose something more docile? We saved that decision for a brighter day ahead.


Laura said...

confusion crossing was confusing. trip was SO great

ATR said...

I've already petitioned Heat Miser and Cold Miser for better weather next year, so we're all set!

La Fashionista said...

I'm glad you included the hummingbird's antics along with the rest of the day's adventures. Bummer, indeed, on the weather.