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Topic: Consider Time of Year, For best hiking out west< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 02 2010, 11:27 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I post a thread like this about every other year.  This is the time of year when people are starting to make summer plans and asking questions about where to go in the West, and when?  Doing this is very good.  But, some people who don't live in the mountain states do not realize how long winter snow lingers in the mountains, or how soon things get hot in canyon areas.  So, here are some general guidelines:

Mountains.
May is still a winter month in the high mountains.  I have had a foot of snow fall on the night of my band concert once on May 8th.  And, I live at only 7700 feet.  And, the mountain snow-melt makes peak river flows about a week or two into June.  So, although you will find some good day hikes in May and June, loops or trips longer than a one-nighter are hard to come by before July.  July and August are great hiking months, that also have more crowds.  But watch for afternoon thunderstorms, especially in August.  My favorite months for mountain hiking are September into October (until the first major winter snow of the season.  Mosquitoes and crowds are gone, and overall the weather is clear.

Canyons.
Likewise, be aware that canyon areas of Utah, Arizona and other states get too hot to hike already by about the second week of May.  There are exceptions, such as Dark Canyon.  But, overall avoid canyon hikes from May through September unless you like the heat, carry a LOT of water and mainly walk at the early and late parts of the day avoiding the middle.

March.
A little on the early side for canyons, especially early in the month.  But, I've had spring break in March for years and got in some great hikes in areas like Grand Gulch, Arches, Canyonlands and the Paria area.  Warm days, but it could snow.  In the mountains, it is cross-country ski or snowshoe weather.  Did the Grand Canyon twice.  Snow on the rim, and quite warm at the bottom.

April.
Perfect month for the canyons.  Mountains are still in cross-country ski mode.

May.
I consider this my "off-month."  Snow is too soft for fun skiing.  But, still way too much snow for hiking.  And, the canyons are getting too hot to be fun.  I head to places like the Sand Dunes, lower trails in the Sangres, Mueller State Park, Florrissant Fossil Beds NM, Colorado Monument, and places like that within Colorado.  Day trips only.

June.
Starting to hike.  Mainly day hikes.  But a few basecamp overnighters are good.  Using basecamps on the south sides of peaks, some good climbs can be made on sunny south slopes if scouted out properly.  Avoid canyons.

July.
Great hiking month for mountains.  Weather is pretty good, but mosquitoes are getting bad in places.  Avoid canyons.

August.
Great hiking month for mountains.  Mosquitoes are still around, but as the month progresses, they taper off.  WATCH OUT FOR AFTERNOON THUNDERSTORMS!  Avoid canyons.

September.
Best hiking month for mountains.  Crowds are gone.  Mosquitoes are gone.  Most of the afternoon thunderstorms are gone.  And, you get the fall colors on the trees.  Avoid canyons early in the month.  But, by the end of the month, they get better.

October.
Good month for mountain hikes until the first major snowfall of the year.  Could be early October.  Could be as late as Thanksgiving week.  Tree colors are mostly gone.  Cold nights, but crisp, clear air.  Canyon areas are great in this month.

November.
The mountain hiking season is usually over.  But, canyon hikes are still great.  Toward the end of the month, you'll have some cold campsites towards morning in canyon areas.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 02 2010, 11:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yup, it's that time of the year again.

How many times have we posted this ?

Problem is, we can't get a sticky at the top of our forum, and even if we did, most wouldn't read it.

I'd have to correct a few of your generalizations .

July is the prime month to visit the mountains. Sure, there are bugs, but the flowers are at peak bloom. By Sept. the frost and/ or 12" snow has all but killed the flowers leaving a a nondescript lunar brown landscape. I'd rather put up with a few mosquitoes to see the alp lands carpeted with flowers than the monotonous brown of late Aug /Sept or later


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 02 2010, 11:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(swimswithtrout @ Feb. 02 2010, 9:33 pm)
QUOTE
Yup, it's that time of the year again.

How many times have we posted this ?

Problem is, we can't get a sticky at the top of our forum, and even if we did, most wouldn't read it.

For awhile, I was posting this every year in February.  I know I didn't post it last year.  Not sure about 2 years ago.  Last time I posted this, there was talk about a sticky at the top of this forum, but nothing happened.

edit: Wow!  I just posted this reply to SWT, and it has already disappeared!


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2010, 12:22 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Blast from the past 2006  Post

If I remember right, your "Remember the Season" thread is the post that the first missing link was directed to, before the board rollover.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2010, 11:57 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I wish there was a thread, locked or not, like this in bold type or somehhow mandatory to review before posting in the Forums. Maybe Steve could pin a thread like this at the top of the forum?

Burntfoot, coming to the GYE this year?


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2010, 12:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

YMMV a little, of course, but these are good general truths.

September is best for solitude and bugs, but July is better for flowers.

I have had some awesome backpacking adventures in the Sangre (both CO and NM) in late May or early June, but it's not for everyone: you definitely have to be willing to cope with snow, which impedes travel *and* navigation, and stream crossings take an adventuresome spirit and most importantly the experience and good sense to know what is possible and what isn't.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2010, 12:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

This is a great list, Burntfoot - very nice way to help out the flatlanders, like myself :)

Personally, I'd rather see fall colors than flowers, but HYOH!


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 03 2010, 3:32 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Well said.

Maybe we need a url to refer those posts to with a standard response. Something like "See Burntfoot's facts of life, P. 1, paragraph 3".

The posts that usually catch my eye invariably are from someone from outside the region -- and nothing wrong with that but it can translate into someone without an extensive background, contacts to gain information, on how a place works or doesn't work. i.e. seasonality.

And, often it could be called, all due respect and affection, the big day dream. And many of us got started in backpacking with just such "a big day dream".

But when the big day dream of "my life would go from ho hum to most excellent  if I could just go hike Glacier, Grand Canyon" or some other iconic spot is partnered with "I can only get time off in June" or "I only have 3 days" or something similar a certain tunnel vision, or even denial, can result.

Again, I'm laughing at myself as well as others here, because I've been through the symptoms. And, thankfully pulled out of the tailspin before permanent damage was done.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2010, 12:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have a 10 day window in March, do you think I can hike the entire Colorado Trail during that time,  :p

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2010, 1:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Chuck- I have no doubt you could hike the CT that time of year, and get a lifetime of experience from it.  It may not be a long life, but it would be an eventful one.  :)

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2010, 1:42 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Somewhere out there is a super aerobic, telemarking from the age of two, backcountry animal with UL Kryptonite touring skis capable of doing it. :D
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2010, 6:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I wish this had been up a month ago! This could have saved me from asking some seemingly stupid questions.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2010, 8:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Luxer3000,

Miles of smiles, and no worries. I hope it was clear that I was funning myself as much as anyone. As mentioned, many of us got started with some pretty big ideas, and thru trial and error, they sometimes led to some pretty awesome trips.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2010, 9:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Luxar3000,  Been there done that and hoping to save someone else's vacation.

I was an "ignorant savage" myself back in early May of '74. I'd just moved here in '73 to start College at CSU and I was going to climb Gannett Peak, the highest peak in WY, as soon as school got out before I had to start work for the summer. This is one of the very common themes we see here, so I can relate to many of the requests.

I had 2 years worth of July/August trips to CO,  WY and the Wind's, but had never even considered the thought of snow in May. I actually made it 3/4 of the way to the basecamp at Wilson Meadows, it being a severe drought year, via the Glacier Trail in 2 days before getting caught in a HUGE spring storm. Luckily, I had a weeks worth of food with and it pretty much took the rest of the week to posthole back out.

On the way in------ early May '74



Oh, and Chuck, go for it. Skiing is faster than hiking. The current record for an unsupported thru hike is 14d9h30m, supported hike with food drops is 8d12h14m. A friend of mine biked/hiked the entire trail in 7d20h. The current MTB record for a self supported ride using the MTB detours around the few Wilderness areas is 4d8h45m.

I'd think a skier should be able to nearly keep up to a MTB since the trail obstacles that would slow a MTB down are buried   :D


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 04 2010, 9:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

SWT,

I'm getting a glimpse of what could be the most hilarious thread of all time here -- describing the truly memorable mistakes of our backpacking "careers". :D
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 08 2010, 1:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Seems the right time of year for a BUMP.........

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 09 2010, 9:26 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Isn't this part of your thread that's pinned at the top of this forum?
This is just another stupid question you don't want to feel obligated to answer.
Maybe you can get this one pinned up there too.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 09 2010, 2:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

No.  The thread at the top is in reference to people who don't scan this forum before asking their question.  Hence, the same question being asked multiple times.  Some people don't like to answer the same thing every week.

But, THIS thread is more related to the weather and snow conditions.  People who are not from the west simply don't realize that most of the high mountain areas are not hikable until June.  And, that extended backpack trips in the Rockies are not practical until July due to the snow still in the mountains.  Along about February each year, people start asking about where to hike in May or June, not realizing it is too early to do so where they want to go.  Also, many others also don't realize that canyon areas of Utah and Arizona are WAY too hot in the summer months to make hiking enjoyable.

So, almost every year, I start a thread similar to this one.  Yes, it probably should be pinned to the top.  But, I've tried before without success.  So, I keep starting a new one each year.

BP2GO?  How about pinning this thread to the top?  At least each year from January through May?


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 09 2010, 2:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Just this morning somebody asked about the fishing up at Willams Fork Res. (Colorado ~7,800') at one of my fishing forums.


They were overjoyed to hear that the ice is still 20" thick and could spend the weekend ice fishing   :;):



For you skiers Silverton Mountain (SW Colorado near the Weminuche Wilderness) is showing a 125-160" base. Get it before it's skied out  :;):


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 09 2010, 4:07 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Very useful post.

Thanks,

Ben


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 11 2010, 12:18 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

FYI, this is what the Beartooths looked like on June 21st, 2008.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 11 2010, 10:24 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Here is another great resource that amalgamates all of the SNOTEL data into an easy to read IMAGE form.

This is the current SNOWPACK in SW CO


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 18 2010, 11:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

this is a great post had to read it since i read ABOUT it lol!
thanx


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 30 2010, 1:35 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I just wanted to see my name at the end of this thread.... so what else is going on?
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PostIcon Posted on: May 17 2010, 6:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

One of these photos of Long's Pk in RMNP was taken in mid-May, the other in mid- August. You decide which is which.






The moral of this announcement is always plan for a blizzard, even in August, and likewise, don't plan a trip in May.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 27 2011, 9:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Bump

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 27 2011, 10:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Welcome back SWT !!!

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 27 2011, 11:24 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Del Gue @ Jan. 27 2011, 10:01 pm)
QUOTE
Welcome back SWT !!!

Ya, where you been, anyway?

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 27 2011, 11:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I usually post this kind of message in mid-February.  But, it looks like people are already starting to think about summer already.

Remember:
High mountain areas = July, August, September
Canyon areas = March, April (maybe part of May), later September, and October, November
June is the worst month to try and find much.  Too much mountain snow yet, and too hot in canyon country.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2011, 4:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

re: June. It is often primo for Great Basin mountain ranges. I've posted on this in the past and a search should kick it up. Typically the snowpack becomes reasonable, hikeable, Mem. Day or early June.

I'd particularly mention the magical possibilities in Nevada's Snake Range -- and it's northern extension, Utah's Deep Creek Range. There, miles long crests touch 12 thou (and 13 at Wheeler Peak), solitude is common, vast aspen groves and tumbling creeks (native Bonneville strain cutthroats) lead down from the summits, and art gallery like bristlecone groves dot the high ridgetops.

Great Basin N.P. occupies the South Snake Range. Mount Moriah wilderness (awesome) the north Snake Range. Further north, as mentioned, the Deep Creeks.

Also some very fine ranges in central NV, particularly the Monitor Range.

Snake Range appears to have a bumper snowpack this year, melt may be a tad late. Still, the general timelines I'm sketching above are worth considering
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