Spring Snow

Along the Colorado Front Range, the mountains affect our weather in many ways and, at times, offer an escape from shallow upslope rain and fog. This morning, faced with low clouds and drizzle, I decided to head for the hills, hoping to get in some hiking and birding above the unpleasant conditions. Unfortunately, the cloud deck was thicker than I had anticipated and, after winding slowly through the dense fog, I encountered snow above 8000 feet; while the skies may have cleared higher in the mountains, I elected to play it safe and detoured into the North Fork Valley from Pine Junction.

Below the snow once again, I got in some exercise at Pine Valley Ranch Park, elevation 6900 feet, and then headed east along the scenic North Fork of the South Platte, where giant slump blocks, dippers and fly fishermen were spaced along the river. Curving north on Foxton Road, I climbed out of the valley along Kennedy Gulch and made a second stop at Reynolds Park, another good spot for foothill birding and one of the better places to find northern pygmy owls and three-toed woodpeckers.

May snowfall is common in the foothills and mountains of Colorado and is not unusual along the urban corridor; indeed, tonight's low in Metro Denver is forecast to be in the upper thirties. Of course, the highest elevations of our State may get snow during any month of the year and the growing season above timberline (11,500 feet at our latitude) is less than 60 days.