Come to the Mountains Prepared this 4th of July

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I just took a look at the 10 day forecast and we’re expecting some really nice weather. Daily highs will be in the mid 60’s and the night time lows are predicted to fall between 35 and 45 degrees. For many of you suffering 100 degree + heat this must sound like a dream come true. It’s too early to say what the weather forecast will be on the big day, but I can give you a good idea of what to expect.

For instance, last year we were blessed with perfect weather. The high temp was in the upper 70s and the skies stayed blue all day leading up to a beautiful evening with a temperature around 60 degrees by the time the fireworks started. Perfect evening for a nice sweater and a pair of jeans.  However, if rain comes we could see lower temps with winds.

Day trips around Silverton

Most off roadsters and OHVs don’t seem to care much if it rains or not, they just make sure to bring some rain gear and some good hiking boots to keep dry and they’re fine. For day hikers it’s mostly the same.  Don’t cancel your plans because you wake up to some rain.  It’s very common for morning showers to give way to blue skies by noon, and the opposite can often also be true. Sometimes we experience ‘Monsoon’ storms which build up on the afternoon heat, drop an hour or two of rain, then leave behind rainbows for our enjoyment. These are often short lived but can produce some serious lightning, so if you are in the back country it’s best to find some temporary shelter and wait them out. Lightning is a very serious threat in the high country and every year several people in Colorado alone are killed by strikes. Most of our summer weather comes in short bursts and it really does change very quickly. It would be rare to come here and see it rain non-stop for several straight days, nor is it likely that it will be sunny and 75 degrees the whole time you’re here. Usually we get a mix of all of it on any given day, from rain to sunshine and everything in between.

Camping and Fire Safety

If you’re going to be camping make sure to bring a good sleeping bag and some firewood. I would also suggest some thermals for night time and some good layering.  The temps can get pretty low at night, if your tent is set up to catch the first morning rays then you’ll likely sleep right through the cold and wake up nice and toasty. During the evening hours a nice campfire will give you all the heat you’ll need and provide for a fun way to cook up a great dinner. Also, a well hung tarp in the trees can keep you nice and dry if it rains. If you do have a fire make sure to either obtain a fire permit or make use of an existing ring at an established campsite. It is also possible that the County Sheriff’s Office will need to put in place some restrictions on fires if the conditions warrant so make sure to be aware if any restrictions apply (we will do our best to update this site with any updates.)  The fines for illegal camp fires are big because the dangers are massive, it’s best to avoid them all together.

We’ve already had a few Red Flag Warnings and, with 10 straight days of sunshine in the forecast, there is a slight potential that fire risk could be a problem. A few years ago we had a very dry spring and had to cancel the fireworks because of fire danger (everything else went as planned.) Again, this is not very likely at this point, in fact we often see years where Silverton is one of the few places that can safely shoot their display when towns like Farmington or even Durango are on fire hold. The bottom line is to pray for some rain, not too much, over the next few weeks so we can be assured of a perfect day, and a perfect show.

Back Country Safety

Lastly, if you travel in the back country make sure to have a good map and to let people know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Bring enough water and food to last longer then your planned trip and be safe. Remember that something like a twisted ankle can quickly become a life and death situation if you don’t have the proper gear to stay warm and hydrated. Wear good boots and watch your step. If your less experienced try to stick to some of the more traveled trails so your more likely to see other people. The Ice Lake Trail is a great example, it contains some of the most stunning scenery in the area and has enough visitors that you’ll likely see someone every 30 minutes or so. Whereas some of our local trails might only get a couple dozen travelers a year. By planning for the worst while sticking to well traveled areas you’re much more likely to make it home safe. And I guarantee you that trails like Highland Marry and Ice Lakes are no sacrifice, they’re popular for a good reason, they access amazing destinations that are as scenic and rewarding as any in the Rockies.

Summary

The key thing to remember is that we’re at 9318 feet in elevation and that almost all recreation options involve going UP from here. At these elevations anything can happen. Can it snow in July? Yes. Is it likely? No. But if you come prepared for ANYTHING you’ll be fine. If you set out on a 6 hour hike with nothing but a t-shirt and shorts you could end up seriously regretting it. When you pack make sure to try and plan for layering and to have rain gear so you can enjoy the great outdoors rain or shine.

 

Handy Checklist for Day Trips in the Back Country

  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
  • Extra food and water (water filtration straws are excellent.)
  • Extra layer of clothing (Cotton is bad.  Choose modern fabrics when possible.)
  • Rain gear, pants and jacket with hood.
  • Real paper map and Compass.
  • Download a digital map to your phone, some can even use GPS.  But have a physical backup.
  • Basic first aid kit.
  • Whistle
  • Multi-tool and some nylon rope (bonus points.)

If you think I missed anything important leave a comment below.

1 COMMENT

  1. Excellent post about mountains visits preparation. This article is really awesome and useful for all mountains hiking lovers. Thanks for your discussion beautifully and clearly for all information about mountains hiking. I like your article. I pleased to your great information.

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