Weather was not one of our planning considerations. To be honest, it really never occurred to us that it could prove to be problematic. Heck, I could cross almost three feet of water without thinking twice if I needed to. As we approached the Steamboat Springs area, the storms were forming before our very eyes, as if they were begging us to enter the trail system. There was no stopping us now!
It started to rain as we entered the wilderness area and on to the trail as planned. It rained, and rained, and rained. I tuned in to the NOAA weather channel and was immediately alerted to the severe thunderstorm warning in our area. At this point, all we wanted to do was find a suitable camping spot for the night because it didn’t seem like it was going to clear up any time soon.
The first night on the trail was spent at about 10,000 feet, before the muddy areas. Did I mention that it was raining pea sized hail? About 30 seconds after I pulled the Jeep into the spot we had chosen for the night, it started to thunder and lightning, sending percussion waves through every molecule in our bodies. I must admit now that I was honestly a bit concerned.
We weren’t going any further that day, so we waited out the severe part of the storm. In between small breaks in the storm’s electricity (even though it continued to rain), I was able to unfold the tent and warm up some dinner under the ladder-supported area of the tent. My wife and daughter entered the tent as soon as it was erected and didn’t go out again until morning. The rest of the night was spent as a family watching rented DVDs on a portable DVD player.
FYI: Meals made ahead of time and then vacuum packed to be reheated in boiling water works great! When the food is gone you simply clean up by throwing the empty bag away. You can either reuse the boiled water or dump it out. Our meal of spaghetti that evening was probably the best spaghetti ever!
It finally stopped raining the next morning. The storm had been severe and the ground, as well as the tent and Jeep, was newly covered in pine needles. They were everywhere! I still expect to find them months from now in small cracks and such.
On a positive note, the sky had cleared and it looked to be a beautiful day. Since the trail was known for mud, I knew it wasn’t a good idea to continue on so I packed our campsite up and we opted to return the way we came. While I did this, my wife walked further down the trail only to return with the opinion that it wasn’t that bad and that we should check it out. I agreed, with both of us knowing that we would turn around if need be.