Photo: This damaged bridge is along the Forest Lakes Trail in the James Peak Wilderness. Another bridge has also been damaged higher up from heavy snow and spring runoff. The Forest Service is unable to work on these until the water recedes. Please use caution. #KnowBeforeYouGo Courtesy USFS – Arapaho & Roosevelt Nat’l Forest
Mother Nature is sure being ornery. One minute it’s a foot of slushy wet snow and the next minute it’s 70 degrees and sunny. I for one am ready to leave to cold behind and enjoy summertime. The river is calling but it’s tough when the temps are in the low 40’s and it’s cloudy… We’re eager to get on those high mountain trails but over the weekend the snowline was down to about 8000 ft reported the US Forest Service. People took their vehicles into areas without thinking about the ramifications of the snowy weather and many vehicles got stuck and abandoned. After a week of sunshine, the snowline will hopefully be back up to about 10,000 ft. But that doesn’t mean the trails will be dried out enough to use. If you leave a mark, please turn back!
With all the warmer temperatures this week on top of the recent rain and snow, the rivers will be rising again. It seemed we already had peaks on rivers like the Colorado or the Yampa but the water is starting upward to new levels that we haven’t seen in years. People are still trying to use tubes and duckies on bigger water when it is suitable only for regular boats – a real recipe for disaster. The really small boats or blowup toys get tossed around but people continue to launch them saying “we did it several times last year and it was OK.” Well folks, this is nothing like last year! Please use common sense and, especially, use a life jacket when on the water! BLM says the rivers are still coming up!
The trails are already showing the effects of drainage problems in areas where the water has been running. Make sure your drainage ditches are cleared of debris. Check your culverts as there may be a buildup of loose sand or gravel that needs to be removed. Make sure they are installed properly with a good wide collection area and again a wide or well-directed runout area to take the water away. On my bike ride Monday, I noticed a newly installed culvert in a driveway in Pole Creek where one edge of a 15inch culvert was dropped into a ditch within about two inches of a straight wall of dirt and the other end opened into a one-ft diameter circle that led nowhere. In fact, it blocked the rest of the drainage ditch. Now what good was that culvert going to do? Give a culvert room to work!
If you don’t use a pipe or culvert, the same effect can be gained by creating a rolling dip to lead water across the trail. Trench the side of the trail above the tread to make a collection area leading into the dip or culvert to keep the water moving. On hillsides where the water can wash straight down the trail, try starting a channel that angles from about the center toward the downhill side at 45degrees or more to lead the water off the trail. Water does not like to change direction abruptly – make all direction changes gradual.
With all the moisture, ticks and biting lice are abundant this year. Some ticks also came from an infestation on moose last year. The ticks multiplied in the winter fur and then, when the moose shed their winter coat, the patches of hair that were left in your yard where the moose bedded down for the night left patches of ticks as well. These ticks are showing up in great numbers on both animals and people. Make a Tick Check a part of every trip into the woods or on the water and make the use of Flea and Tick treatments available at the vet or local grocery store a regular thing for your pets.
The sunshine this week is really giving the wildflowers a jumpstart. Make time this week to get outside on a trail to somewhere. Walk out the Fraser to Granby Trail, walk the Fraser River Trail up to the Winter Park Resort, walk up to Cascade Falls or around Meadow Creek Reservoir. Take the time to stop along the way and admire the beauty in nature. Take a picture with your camera or your mind. It doesn’t get much better! Just don’t pick the flowers!