Labor Day Weekend in the Snowy Range

Over Labor Day weekend, I went backpacking with my neighbor and friend Dave in the Snowy Range in Wyoming. This area is noted for being both spectacular and accessible. An extensive network of official trails and unofficial herd paths blankets the range. Our plan was to traverse the front side of the range on Saturday, circle around to the back on Sunday, and climb up and and over Medicine Bow peak on Monday. Saturday was in the upper 50s and windy, but wildflowers were still everywhere (looked like late July), and the scenery was fantastic.

In addition the photo above, I’ve also posted a small album of images.

Saturday’s weather wasn’t bad, but if you look carefully at those mountain shots, you can see the starts of clouds over Medicine Bow Peak… At around 4:30 the thunderstorm hit, and it dropped 15 degrees in 15 minutes. We made it another mile and set up our tent in a lull between storms. It was a decent camp next to a small pond at 10,600’. We ate dinner in a 40 degree drizzle. I started shivering uncontrollably while waiting for dinner to cook- that was a new one for me. Once in the tent we were fine, but it more or less rained ALL night. In the morning we ate breakfast in a 40 degree drizzle, then retreated into the tent to read for awhile to see if the rain was going to blow through. Oh yeah, still 30-40 mile per hour wind gusts. The rain didn’t really stop. Instead, the temps dropped and mixed with snow.

We were still committed to moving on, but as we stuffed the wet wet wet tent into its stuff sack, the cold caused us both to lose feeling in our hands. We finally gave up, hiked to a nearby (different) trailhead, and I hitched a ride back to my car. The sun came out as I got dropped off at my car, covered with 2 inches of snow. It had “warmed up” to 34 degrees.

It sucked to bail on day 2 of a 3-day trip, but Saturday night’s shivering really freaked me out. Most of stuff was wet or at least damp, and as it turned out temps dropped quite a bit on Sunday night (based on Centennial, we estimate low 20s for the high country). We made the right call. When we got home, I literally wrung out my tent. (Dry inside when I packed it up, but…)

Monday we went to the pool. Gotta love Colorado.