It’s early. It’s early to expect to reach the higher peaks in the Flat Tops Wilderness or the Mount Zirkel Wilderness on a day hike. The limiting factor? Big, deep snowdrifts that are soft and punchy. What is the best strategy? Leave early while the temperatures are still pretty cold and the snowbanks are firm. Pick south facing trails that have tons of sun beating on them to melt the drifts. And keep your expectations on the lower side.
Of course, you can do none of the above and turn your day into a slog-fest.
Yesterday we chose a south facing trail in the Flat Top Wilderness. Left at the crack of brunch. Punched through countless snowbanks up to our knees and thighs, soaked our socks, and enjoyed our day in the mountains immensely. It’s great when your only agenda is to see what happens and call that perfect.
If you are looking for some local day hikes for right now – look for lower elevation trails. Silver Creek and Sarvis Creek Trails in the Sarvis Creek Wilderness East of Steamboat Springs will be great. Hiking around Emerald Mountain will be dry but watch out for mountain bikers. The Mad Creek Traill and Red Dirt Trail north of town is mostly dry but you’ll run into snowdrifts eventually the higher you go.
The Uranium Mine Trail off Fish Creek Falls can give you the out of town feel without going to far and that trail is dry.
Short of going to lower elevations around the Colorado River, Buena Vista, Salida, or further points South, or to the desert… Hikers will have to digest a few patience pills as we wait for those high peaks to open up for us. Typically, late June or early July is the beginning of peak bagging season but it may come sooner with our lower snowpack this year.
Until then, get those socks soggy, wash and dry ’em, and repeat!