Thursday, April 14, 2011

How to Avoid Mud Season and Hike at 8,000 feet

It is 7am and I’m hiking with my dogs on the trails in Granby. The sun is shining and the dogs are running around happy to be off leash for a while. We are on the trails behind my house and the birds are singing.

I still can’t identify the birds by their call but will by the end of this summer; no matter what.

I’ve been a bit obsessed with the Osprey (see Osprey post) and my biologist-boyfriend saw the first one of the season near Shadow Mountain Lake on Hwy 34. Lucky him.

He promises to show me their nests. He has yet to learn that he will be teaching me bird call identification this summer.

I think of this while hiking on top of the frozen mud and realize that this is the best time of the day to hike in April and May at 8,000 feet. I know once the sun shines for an hour the trail will be a sloppy mess.

So here are my tips to Survive Mud Season in a Mountain Town:
• All hiking and trail running must commence at first light and terminate at 9am.
• In the afternoon, hike and run on paved trails such as the Paved Fraser River Trail from Alco in Fraser to Winter Park Resort. The sun hits the pavement and dries it by noon.
• In the evening, don’t attempt to run or hike on either dirt of paved trails especially if the temperature drops. Dirt trails will be muddy and paved trails will begin to get icy. It’s best to walk on road with cars, they will be the safest.

It is this thawing and freezing that captures my attention this morning. Much like my bike ride last week with my triathlete friend, Kim. She and I biked from Granby to Rocky Mountain National Park; about 30 miles. The sun was out, thank goodness, but the air was cold. It was also windy. The wind is fierce this spring. The wind and cold air froze my toes while riding.

The melting snow made little streams of water in the road and I rode through them. The water on the shoes froze and melted continually during the three hour ride.

Why would anyone want to come to the mountains or stay in the mountains during mud season?

Great question and I have a great answer:

The solitude. It’s so quiet here. The birds and wildlife are moving around. The sage is starting to appear under the weight of snow. It's a beautiful time to live here in Grand County, Colorado.

Remember my hiking tips and you will love the outdoors during a mountain town spring. Plus, there is no waiting in lines at the grocery store or coffee shop {Mountain Grind and Bistro] or waiting to turn left.

Spend your mornings outside and cabin fever will disappear; and you’ll remember why you live here.

Soon you will be chanting: I Love Mud Season, I Love Mud Season.

To view another story I wrote about Mud Season Click Here.
I love Mud Season.
When I first moved to Grand County last year people asked me how I liked living here and I told them I loved it. Then they said, wait until winter, I wasn’t quite sure what that meant.

Now I know. This winter was tough; windy, snowy, cold.
This story written in 2008. Nothing changes much here. We all think winter is tough, windy, snowy and cold.

You can also view this story, How to Have Fun in Mud Season, a story from last year about fishing in Lake Granby.

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