Thursday, July 3, 2014
Day 24: Berthoud Pass to Rodger's Pass
After a delicious breakfast at the Rise and Shine Cafe, we returned to the trailhead at Berthoud Pass. From the trailhead we worked our way up a steady climb up several ridges to Mount Flora (13,113). Several locals out hiking there commented that they have never seen this much snow linger into July.
From the top of Mount Flora we watched the thunderheads slowly gathering. We enjoyed a fun glissade down a soft, snowy slope, and pulled out our microspikes for a traverse across a hard snowfield.
Abundant wildflowers filled the valley below: violet shooting stars, red paintbrush, yellow goldenbanner (a lupine look-alike), white and purple columbine, and many other varieties.
Thunder rumbled off my right shoulder and I began to feel the first few spits of rain. We hiked on, reluctant to pull on raingear on such a warm day. Fortunately, the threatened storm lingered over the neighboring ridges, leaving us warm and dry as we hiked.
The data book indicated the creek was the last water for over 12 miles, so I reluctantly tanked up with 9 pounds of water. Then we began the climb up James Peak.
Water flowed everywhere on the mountainside. It poured down the trail, it pooled underneath the snowfields, it cascaded down the rocky hillside. With each new water crossing we joked "last water," but the extra weight in my pack was no joke.
Partway up the climb we discovered a pair of gold bricks laying next to the trail. We picked them up briefly, then set them down again quickly, wondering at the story behind two heavy bricks wrapped in gold tape.
We found a relatively sheltered camp near Rodger's Pass, although at high elevation near the ridgeline. Just as we were finishing dinner, the storm hit. Sprinkles at first, the storm quickly built to a crescendo of thunder, lightning, and pea-sized balls of hail. At times the hail pounded our tent so hard it drowned out the sound of the lightning. Outside the tent, inches of hail covered the ground like a fresh layer of snow.
The hail slowed, but the thunder and lightning continued in ear shattering crashes. After a few hours that felt like an eternity, the storm finally passed on.
Posted by Heather and Sierra at 8:46 PM