Summertime and the Snowbanks Are Melting

One of the many wonderous things about living in Boulder Colorado is that no matter how hot it is here in town it is always possible to day-hike to the snow. This is because of our proximity to the Continental Divide.

Boulder's Snowcapped Vista

So when the temperature topped 90F/32C last week I decided to make the trek towards the Divide until I was in the snow. I started in a warm meadow filled with poppies and iris right off Flagstaff Summit Road near the Flagstaff Summit trailhead (40.00321,-105.304143)… 

A Warm Boulder Meadow

My snow quest took me north on US 36 to Left Hand Canyon, through Ward and into the entrance to the Brainard Lake Recreation area (fee area). Here less than a one hour drive from that warm summer meadow are several trails to (and over) the Continental Divide. Those snow-capped peaks are much closer now… 

Brainard Lake

I took the trail to Mitchell Lake, about 1mi/1.6km from this trailhead… 

Mitchell Lake trailhead

Where I am soon welcomed to the trail by these hearty Mountain Avens (Dryas suendermannii)…  

Mountain Avens (Dryas suendermannii)

I can see that Mitchell Creek is high from snow runoff. This whitewater may be a sign that my quest is near and unfortunately it may also be an indication that climate warming and dust may be accelerating spring snow melt … 

The Raging Waters of the Mitchell Creek

A short distance from the trailhead I encounter my first snow bank… 

Snow Banked Trail

Trudging through the snow I arrive at my final destination on the snowy banks of Mitchell Lake at 10720 feet/3267 meters (40.089235,-105.592775)… 

Mitchell Lake's Snowy Bank

Here’s what it looked like 3 weeks later…

Mitchell Lake 3 Weeks Later

Soon all the snow will retreat to Isabelle Glacier. The  abundance of moisture released by this snow melt will  turn this area into a carpet of wildflowers

Wildflower Carpet - 22 July 2009 11:00am @ 40° 4'28.06"N 105°35'14.99"W

But on this day I could slowly sink knee deep into the snow rather than sweltering in the City…what a magnificent place this is!

4 Responses to “Summertime and the Snowbanks Are Melting”

  1. Madelane Coale Says:


  2. Boulder Subalpine Wildflower Alert! « Tales from the Trails Says:

    […] Subalpine Wildflower Alert! By richwolf The snowbanks have just about  melted in Boulder’s Indian Peaks Wilderness area. Soon the snow will retreat to the glacier.  High […]

  3. Relieve Boulder’s Heat By Adding Feet « Tales from the Trails Says:

    […] more Summer flora and fauna from this unique area see Boulder Subalpine Wildflower/Wildlife Alert!, Summertime and the Snowbanks Are Melting and Continental Snow Cone. Share this:EmailFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

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