Lessons from the weekend: Mother Nature is the boss

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At about this time, my hope was to be standing on the summit of Capitol Peak in northern Colorado.

Obviously, since I’m writing this, I am not. The forecast for Capitol Peak right now is a 90 percent chance of precipitation with 1-3 inches of snow possible. Given the difficulties already on that mountain in the best of conditions, it’s no big secret why my group had to bail on this one.

There are just times when your best-laid plans get scrapped by Mother Nature.

It’s been a horrendous several days of weather in Colorado.  Unusually heavy rains caused some of the worst flooding along the Front Range that the state has ever seen. People have lost homes, and in a few cases, their lives. A group of school kids on a field trip near Estes Park had to be airlifted out of there by way of a military helicopter. There’s something surreal about watching little kids, with colorful backpacks strapped to their backs, running out of a helicopter like they just got off the school bus.

The weather did not stop some people from trying to get up to a summit. Further south, I know people had good conditions in the Sawatch, but up north, on Longs Peak, two women from Maine, Connie Yang and Suzanne Turrell, tried to climb the peak in the height of the nasty weather that was pummeling Rocky Mountain National Park. They got stranded in a whiteout of sleet, snow and ice somewhere above 13,000 feet and were afraid to descend because of icy conditions on the bare rock sections below them.

A text message sent out by them on Friday asked for help. They had a tent and 30-degree sleeping bags, but they were justifiably afraid they might be at risk for hypothermia.

Fortunately, they were eventually able to get down on their own. All’s well that ends well.

If anything can be learned from this weekend’s storms is that nature will do what it wants, and if you’re in the way bad things can happen. Those of us who live in Tornado Alley can attest to that, as can anyone who lives along the Gulf Coast or the eastern seaboard during hurricane season.

For hikers and climbers, the lesson becomes more pointed. So if you take nothing else from this post then please remember this:

If you decide to ascend into the teeth of the storm, do not be shocked if you get bit.

I’m bummed I lost out on my shot at Capitol Peak this year. But I’m glad I’m not stuck on its flanks right now. Maybe I can be there another day, when Mother Nature is in a better mood.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

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