O spring! Weeks ago my heart leapt at my first sighting of flowers – a cluster of purple crocuses (croci?) with stunning stigmas of saffron. Every day the parade of flowers grew…. forsythia, daffodils, magnolias… and now even the prized cherry blossoms are abloom. But snow? Seriously! Spring officially began a week ago! I can handle the rain when it’s warm. I can handle the cold when it’s sunny… but please tell me we’re done with the cold+wet combo!
9/17 – 9/20 – It was thrilling to finally be in the San Juans – almost 200 miles of stunning scenery. As we set off for 13,000+ that morning the mountains on the next ridge blushed a deep salmon and the sunlight sparkled on the water of alpine lakes. Much of the time we were in the Wemenuche Wilderness, Colorado’s largest, which really did feel wild. Much of the other wilderness areas in Colorado seemed small, since you were still coming across roads, hydro plants and other signs of civilization a few times a day. Here in the San Juans, though, we went days without seeing anyone and the vistas were just like looking into a shark’s mouth – row upon row of jagged peaks fading into the blue.
- Views of the Grendier and Needle mountains
- Skinny dipping in an alpine lake
- The Window and Rio Grande Pyramid
- Walking the knife’s edge
We were very fortunate because we had excellent weather for all 6 days we were out. We did have 1 insane but brief afternoon thunderstorm but thankfully we were able to take shelter in some trees… much of the trail is on exposed ridges where you would NOT want to be caught in a storm. We did wake up one morning to find the mountains beheaded by low ominous clouds but as the morning progressed the clouds lifted. I can’t imagine how the NoBos struggled through deep snow in the San Juans in June, it was tough terrain even without snow. We were regularly doing 7,000+ feet total elevation gain in a single day. But I have to admit I was disappointed to have NO snow at all. Snow adds so much to the scenery. In autumn everything seem as if it was in “sepia” mode, or as if you were looking at a photo from the 70s. Everything had a mustard yellow tint to it, separated by a blue banner above and splashes of bottomless blue lakes below. But I’m not complaining! Just making excuses to return and see the San Juans in other hues!
Joker joined Team 3D and we enjoyed three days of ridge walking, mostly in gentle rolling hills reminiscent of the Yorkshire Dales (complete with cows in the lowlands). But the most remarkable thing about this section was the weather. Montana truly is “Big Sky” country and the sky is always doing something. We had intense cobalt blue skies, stratus clouds, cumulus clouds, cumulonimbus clouds, rain, wind, hail, sunshine and often all of the above at the same time. There were times when the sky became so dark and ominous you thought a tornado was on the way, only to the clouds lift 5 minutes later to unleash weather hot & humid enough to be Virginia. We had apocalyptic thunder and lightning storms that whipped tarps down and snapped stakes (but not the Hubba Hubba), we had plump rain drops fall under bright sunshine as vibrant rainbows shimmered. The sky is always doing something and we learned that usually that something is whatever you least expect.
July 2nd we arrived in Helena, the capital city of Montana. The whole day was soon eaten away by chores… this was supposed to be our first ZERO DAY ( a day when you walk 0 trail miles) but it sure didn’t feel like one when we walked about 5 miles around town. So we decided to stay at our quirky Lamplighter cottage one more night. Plus the other group had arrived in Helena too and their hotel has a hot tub!
Spring Lamb – 2007 BBC Countryfile competition winner. Originally uploaded by Richard Peters
I feel I must share my joy with you that: a) I have experienced a pleasant Spring day in England where sunbeams warm my back, and b) I got to watch the most adorable little lambs play and jump the other day. I could have watched them for hours. I want a pet lamb! My mother-in-law had one when she was a little girl and would take it to the shops on a lead. That is, until it took a wee on the floor of the hair salon. Opps! But really, lambs are so dang cute! Sheep, on the other hand, are so… round and inmobile and uncute. What happens, I ask you? But for now I will focus on leaping lambs and be content knowing that Spring has finally sprung.
It’s just another typical spring day in England. Beautiful blue skies one minute, hail the next. During a 30 minute walk today I experienced sunshine, snow, sunshine & snow, snow, hail and then clouds. Only the daffodils console me. I’m ready for warm weather already!