Ryan’s Field Notes #31 – Unexpected Storm

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Ryan’s Field Notes #31 – Unexpected Storm
Howdy gang,
Hope everybody is staying warm and safe during this week of storms across the USA.
One of my brothers in Oklahoma yesterday sent me a picture of their snow, way more than they are used to getting in that part of the country.

The talk of storms and unpreparedness of some areas brought my mind back to a time that I was caught by a storm a little unexpected.
It was a late September morning, as the eastern skies were just starting to lighten, I stepped out of the truck and grabbed the rest of my gear.  My dad and daughter were dropping me off in an area where I was hopping to be able to have an opportunity to find some elk to observe.  They were going to go up country to explore an other area of the wilderness we were in.

September in western Colorado can be interesting, it can be crazy warm and sunny, mild temperatures, rainy and cool or turn into full fledged winter.
Up to this point in the week the weather in the area had been pretty mild if not a little on the warm side.  Mornings in these higher elevations were always pretty crisp so starting out on this early morning I had a jacket and my normal day hike gear in tow (I usually have a few of the bare survival minimums in my day pack).

Heading out across the open park I reached the mountain side that I was curious about.  Easing into the edge of the dark spruce trees I began my exploration of the area.  It wasn’t long into the morning that I realized that it wasn’t getting much lighter,  the area was blanketed in low gray clouds.  I hadn’t noticed any storms in the forecast when I had looked earlier in the week but I must admit I hadn’t looked at the most recent forecasts.  The last few days had been gorgeous.

Standing in the dark forest there was a calm, it had a silence that could be felt but not described.  Light snowflakes began to fall lightly around me.
Those who haven’t spent time in these forests don’t realize the amount of noise one can hear normally, from the squirrels running and chirping, the birds twittering, rodents moving about, insects humming and trees groaning. 
There was none of that, just silence.  It was quite and calm…peaceful.
The temperatures that hadn’t yet warmed up from the morning began to drop.
Standing in the peaceful, but eerily quite dark timber, I eased under a tall spruce tree to get some protection from the falling wet snow.
The area began to transform before my eyes, the light dusting of snow creating patterns and contrast where there hadn’t been just moments before.
Digging into my pack while I stood in the shelter of the spruce I dug out my other jacket and a pair of light gloves.  Donning them I watched for a while, observing the beauty of the area.
Many times in these high mountains we will get a short lived snow flurry that only lasts a few minutes, after a while of watching I realized this wasn’t going to be one of those.  The snow continued to accumulate and the temperature didn’t warm, it slowly dropped.
I realized that I had made a mistake, one that I knew better than to have made as I have spent many years in the high country of Western Colorado, I hadn’t went into this forest fully prepared. 
My jackets were not sufficient for the day, neither were my gloves.  Having taken a few images I felt like it was time to work my way out of this area before it became a challenge to get out of here.

Slowly and carefully I started to work my way out of the dark timber, caution had to be taken as the snowfall was making the already tricky footing slick.

After a time the spruce gave way to the aspens and then to the meadow in which I had started my journey of the morning. 

Let me help you with your project.  Check out the website.
Thanks for hanging out with me today. 
I have started posting a little bit on Youtube, a couple of aerial videos most recently.  
There are plans to start putting some more on the channel so if you want to check them out you can.

See you next week
Ryan McGehee

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