Friday, June 8, 2018

trick or treat in the mountains

I refreshed the weather forecast obsessively. 50% chance of thunderstorms. It could be all right at almost 9,000 feet or it could be frightening. This spring we have had an unprecedented amount of intense thunderstorms, and I didn't relish the thought of cowering in a small tent during one. The forecast for the following day looked even more grim--90% chance of snow, 2 to 4 inches possible. Oh and to make things even better, "maybe some thunder."

When I lived in Southeast Alaska, a 50% chance of rain was a "good day". Here, not so much. And, honestly, did I really have to be a badass all the time? I feel like since social media came along, people are taking more and more risks and/or doing more epic things just so they can post them. Maybe that's a cynical viewpoint, I don't know. Luckily, only a few people read this blog (Hi! Thanks!) and I don't feel like I need to impress anyone. If a storm comes along in the middle of a trip, that's one thing, but heading out into a certain one just seemed kind of...dumb.

At some point, dithering over a decision needs to stop. Glaring at my packed backpack, I downscaled to a day hike. Grumpily I hit the trail. Stomping up the 3,000 foot climb, I had an overwhelming sense of outdoors FOMO. What if the forecast was wrong? Did I give up a precious, rare Friday off when I could be staying overnight?

The trail was pretty wet and muddy
But eventually you have to let wrong decisions go. My spirits rose as I realized that, inexplicably, I was going to be able to make it to the lake without a lot of snow. A half day outside was better than no days outside, after all.

There are a few constants about this hike to Aneroid Lake. One is that there's few places to hang out at the shoreline, since there's a private inholding with cabins on most of the prime real estate. The typical campsites were shrouded in snow. I settled for some views obscured by trees before a chilly wind sent me heading back.

There are campsites under the snow
Looking around for a good photo view point, I found this. What is it?


Unfortunately, doing day hikes instead of camping means you have to leave before you are ready. See you soon, Aneroid Lake.


There is a point on this trail where I begin to be extremely annoyed by the rocky tread. Rocks stick up like teeth, requiring ballet-like moves in order to stay upright. Some people run this, though that doesn't seem like a good time at all.  I lurched down the trail, a day hiking Frankenstein, my pace considerably slowed. Still, the woods were an intense green, and the trail lacked the powdery dust it soon would become.                         

When I skidded to the parking lot, it was half full of cars. Where those people were was anyone's guess. I'm reluctant to give up my empty spring trails to the summer people, but that's how it goes when you live in a beautiful hiking paradise.

I headed home to eat all the food and to stare obsessively at the sky, which remained impassively clear. A beautiful sunset mockingly appeared.  At the pub, Tim talked about a time in August  of 1991 when it snowed 36 inches at their camp. Though this seemed like a bit of a tall tale, I knew the mountains had their tricks. Fortunately, there's enough treats to keep us going there.



20 comments:

  1. Isn’t it funny how 50% chance of rain has a different meaning depending on your geographic location?! Here in New Mexico it means not a drop of rain. It has to forecast 80% chance to get any. (We are still here dry as a bone but no fires thankfully. So glad the forest is closed though. We leave for our new gig Tuesday).

    BTW, I always loved Aneroid Lake & dreamed of being the owner of one of those cabins!! I was always curious: were they grandfathered in? Do the owners use them?

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    1. Yes, grandfathered. The owners don't come up very often if at all. But their friends stay there. And I just saw a business advertising packing people in there.

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    2. Actually I made a mistake. Not grandfathered--it's an inholding. Private land.

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    3. Keep that info re packing people in to Aneroid....while the idea of inholding that we can't access jars a little, might be the only way I could get in there!

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  2. Have only seen Aneroid Lake from a distance -- your photos are beautiful. To paraphrase: A bad (or semi- in the woods and mountains, beats a good day almost anywhere else. Glad you got out there.

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    1. It rained a ton today, so I guess it was the right choice.

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  3. I believe that is a CO2 cartridge for bike tires.

    You know as well as anyone about unpredictable mountain weather.

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    1. Hmmm....no bikes allowed in wilderness. Very mysterious.

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    2. I was thinking CO2 cartridge for airsoft or paintball gun. Do they use CO2 cartridges for sleeping pads, raft...maybe?

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  4. Summer is such a challenge for me here in Colorado ... the heat and pollen and terrifying weather and crowds. Weather forecasts almost never deter me in the winter, but if I see 50 percent chance of thunderstorms in June, I'm reluctant to go out. I'm afraid of lightning, of course, and I've also been pummeled by hailstorms that left bruises. Also, wildfires!

    Anyway, this season sucks. I wish more people agreed with me, because then maybe trailhead parking lots would be less crowded. ;)

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    1. Ha. I love summer. But maybe not in Colorado. I am afraid you are in for it. People were so happy this winter there (not you) about the warm temperatures...well, now is when the fires begin. I would not like crowded parking lots. Whenever I start to think about wanting to drive less than 2.5 hours to an airport, or having more amenities, I think about that and stay put.

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  5. I usually err the other direction - heading out to go hiking hoping to beat the rainy forecast, only to get totally drenched anyway.

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    1. Well yes. In Sitka we did this also, or we never would have hiked at all.

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  6. The interesting thing is that chance of rain/showers/etc. varies by geographic location. At home, an 80% chance of rain means we're totally gonna get hosed. But in southern Oregon (where forecasts are made by a different set of 20 people), 80% chance means it might drip a little here and there with periods of dry skies.

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    1. I've been reading about what POP means but it's frustrating! How do you know if confidence is low or if it really won't rain? Weather, so mysterious.

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    2. Sometimes the forecast discussion offers more clues. Here's the one from your area: https://www.wrh.noaa.gov/total_forecast/getprod.php?new&prod=XXXAFDPDT&wfo=pdt

      I found this via weather.gov, typing in your location, then the link for the specific office above the current observation (Pendleton, OR in your case). That will bring you to the main page for the forecast office. Hover over the "forecasts" bar to get a drop down where you'll find "forecast discussion".

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    3. Thanks, I'll check that out. The worst is when it says 80% chance of snow so you don't backpack and then it doesn't! (Like last night)

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  7. FOMO? POP?
    I do know that the chance of precipitation means that, that percentage of the forecast area is likely to receive the precipitation forecast. I don't know how big forecast areas are, they probably vary. But it does seem like where you are geographically correlates to whether a given percentage means you're going to get hit or not

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    1. FOMO=fear of missing out
      POP=% of precip
      That is what Jerry says too about % of rain. We argue about it all the time. I never know what the forecast area really is, unless I do a smaller forecast spot weather thing.

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