Relieve Boulder’s Heat By Adding Feet

Summer in Boulder Colorado can get hot and we are breaking all heat records this month. This dry hot weather is spawning forest fires in the foothills resulting in the closure of many of my favorite Boulder trails.

Lightning Induced Flare-Up On Boulder’s Bear Peak

Local conditions motivated Mandy and I to head for the hills to find a cool hike. Thanks to our location on the edge of the Continental Divide we were able to shed almost 20°F in less than an hour by driving to Brainard Lake 4955ft/1510.28m above Boulder in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area

We Left Hot Smoky Boulder at 5345ft/1629m

We Arrived at Brainard Lake Gaining almost 5,000ft/1524m

Here’s why it gets colder when you get higher: In the lower regions of the atmosphere (up to altitudes of approximately 40,000 feet [12 km]), temperature generally decreases with altitude at a surprisingly uniform rate. Because the atmosphere is warmed by heat conduction from Earth’s surface, this reduction in temperature is caused by the increased distance from the conductive source. Called the environmental lapse rate, this decrease is 3.56°F or 1.98°C/1,000 ft from sea level to 11 km (36,090 ft). Plugging in the numbers, my little drive reduced our temperature by about 18°F.

It is ironic that the same heat that drove me up to the cool high country provoked a glorious display once I got there. This spring, wildflowers across Boulder County appear to be blooming weeks earlier than usual. Thanks to the hot, dry weather the wildflowers and insects “think” it’s later in the Summer.

Field Of Confused Wildflowers

Mandy found some special ways to cool down on our hike…

Mandy Cools Off in Long Lake as She Admires the Continental Divide (click here for 360 degree view)

Mandy Cools Off in A Summer Snow Bank as She Admires a Stick

Here are just a few of the amazing wildflower displays we witnessed on the Jean Lunning Trail along Long Lake

Shooting-Star flower (Dodecatheon poeticum)

Parry Primrose (Primula parryi)

Scarlet Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata)

Anemone (Anemone narcissiflora)

Blue Columbine (Aquilegia coerulea) the State Flower of Colorado

The Indian Peaks Wilderness is a treasure that I visit often. For 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.

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3 Responses to “Relieve Boulder’s Heat By Adding Feet”

  1. Irwin Neulight Says:

    Rich – Your photos and accompanying dialogue are terrific. Food for the eyes and the mind.

    Keep up the great work!


  2. Anne Guthrie Says:

    Glad to see another of your entries! You did a great job getting me out of the heat.

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