Monday, July 2, 2018

Extremes of Weather on Mt. Evans



Every Spring my husband and I like to take a drive up to the summit of the 14,271 (4350 m) high Mt. Evans. Mt. Evans is located 60 miles west of Denver, Colorado, and the total elevation gain from the high plains on which Denver sits, to the summit of Mt. Evans, will take you up 9,000 feet! From Idaho Springs one travels south on CO Hwy. 103 to the junction of CO Hwy. 5, the entrance to Mount Evans Road, where I took the photo above. We were late this year, on our first journey up the mountain, as it was June 22, the first full day of summer.  The temperature was in the low 80's and the sky was blue with fluffy clouds.


The Mt Evans Scenic Byway is the highest paved road in North America. Because of snow, the road is only open from Memorial Day in May to Labor Day in September. You can see blogs I wrote about our journey up the mountain here and hereIf you look at those blog posts you will see that we usually have an enjoyable and scenic drive, full of wildflowers, and wildlife, but this trip was going to be very different!


As we drove the sky began to fill with heavy dark clouds and the temperature began to drop quickly.


As you can see from our car dashboard, the temperature dropped to 32 degrees (0 C) as we approached the Summit Lake elevation of 12,936 feet (3,912 m)


As we continued on the winding road the heavy dark clouds seemed so low that we could almost touch them.


Since we were now on the narrowest part of the Mt. Evans road there was nothing we could do but continue to drive. There was traffic on the road going up and down and nowhere to turn around, on this narrow road with no guardrails.


It was scary! The wind was fierce and the snow was blowing in whiteout conditions.




If you watch the video above, that I posted on my facebook page here, you can see and hear the conditions we were driving in! As much as we heard over the years that mountain weather can change drastically in just a few minutes, this was the first time that we experienced it!


We finally reached the summit parking lot area, where we were able to turn around and go back down in elevation, below the storm.


Before we left we took a photo of the iconic sign in the parking lot--you can see it has snow on it.


We wouldn't be stopping to climb the rest of the elevation to the top of the mountain this time!

As we drove down the mountain we breathed a sigh of relief that we weren't being hit by hail. We could actually see the storm beginning to pass by off to the east. This was definitely an experience we would never forget and made us respect the power of elevation and weather extremes that can happen at any time.  

Our journey down the mountain continued and thankfully improved, but that will be saved for my next post.


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33 comments:

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

That is just incredible but we've seen it in the mountains of NC too. You have to go prepared and have nerves of steel sometimes! Great photos! Happy Mosaic Monday!

Linda W. said...

Wow, that road is higher than the summit of Mt Hood! Yeah I'll bet you didn't expect to encounter winter driving conditions in June.

Teresa Kindred said...

Visiting from NanaHood.com and those pics are awesome! I would be scared!
Teresa

Annie said...

I am always just amazed at your photos. You capture such gorgeous shots.
Yup, changes so fast in the mountains. When we would camp in the Uintas and Wasatch in Utah, we'd bring changes of clothing since you never knew what would come next.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Incredible weather!

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Don't you just love those mountain roads without guardrails? **shudder**

Fun60 said...

I would be grateful that there was a car in front that I could follow with the visibility rapidly decreasing.

Ruth Hiebert said...

The scenery is spectacular, but that road, with no guard rails is enough to send my tummy into knots.

Lorrie said...

That's quite the trip. Mountain roads can be very unpredictable, even in summer. Glad you were able to navigate and get back safely. Great photos.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

We're used to mountain roads and have been up Mt Evans at least a couple of times... but this trip was scary (even vicariously!) Yikes. We flew out of Denver just a couple of days before that and our flight was delayed because of hail and tornado warnings. We had a nice sunshiny ride from Longmont to the airport, and before we'd even gotten checked in Geoff texted a picture with the same road we'd just driven on covered with three inches of hail as he drove back home! Changeable weather indeed. i'm going to visit your links for better memories of beautiful Mt Evans! Also just read about more fires ... haven't talked to Geoff or Lisa for a few days .... hope they are far away from the cities and that they are out soon. Be safe.

jesh StG said...

Can imagine how scary it was - we had similar weather changes happen on even lower elevations this last winter. A storm in the mountains is not for the faint of heart - it is so loud and severe, and temp. dropping like crazy!! Glad you guys were okay. This was certainly an experience worth to add to All Seasons! Enjoy the sunny weather at home this week:)

Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes said...

Oh my, that was scary! Terrific photos, though, to capture the experience!

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Wow, what a drive you had. I have friends who have run in the Pikes Peak hill climb who talk about perfect weather when they start out up the trail and things turn nasty and there is nothing you can do about it.

Maggie said...

What a frightening experience that must have been, thank heavens you got back down safely. Perhaps you'll go back again when the weather is less freaky? Thanks for sharing your snowy mountain adventure with us at MM this week.

Ramona said...

Quite the adventure. Nice pics!

Grammy Dee | Grammy's Grid said...

WOW! Very extreme! Enjoyed the tour up the mountain. I'm amazed the road has no guardrail. Thank you Pat for linking up at the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty 29! Shared x 4 ♥

Kay L. Davies said...

A scenic drive indeed! I love mountains, all the more now that I live on the prairie, I think! Thanks for sharing.
Kay
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Interesting experience - looks like winter!
Thanks for sharing this
Happy Summer!

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

WOW! Thanks for sharing! NEver been there, but it looks beautiful!

Pea bea said...

Thank you for visiting and linking with Pictorial Tuesday. I've driven up the mountains in Tennessee almost to top of Smokey Mountains, and even in wonderful Summer weather, I still don't like the narrow drive. Knees weak, etc. so could never make that trip up so glad you shared photos. You got some great photos. My son lived out there for a while in the 90's and brought home some great photos of the mountains although I'm pretty sure they were not from going up the mountain. Enjoyed..

Peabea from Peabea Scribbles

Jeanie said...

I'm not gong to say I'd like that storm right now or THAT cold, but I could use 20-30 degrees less here! A gorgeous drive but boy -- that would be a nail biter! Glad you made it safely.

Lowcarb team member said...

I've heard so many people say that mountain roads can be scary, and seeing your post I would agree!

Always nice to see your photographs and the first one is truly wonderful.

All the best Jan

Barb said...

Quick changes in weather are still scary even though we know they often happen in CO (especially at high elevation). Great photos of your adventure, Pat!

betty-NZ said...

It's amazing how drastic the temperatures and conditions can change on one road! It always takes me by surprise when there are even small changes as we travel over the hills and mountains.

Jill said...

Yikes! That was quite the experience. I've not driven Mt. Evans but I have driven Pikes Peak -twice- and the lack of guardrails is so intimidating.

Sally said...

I haven’t been up Mt. Evans in many, many years. I was probably a young teen the last time I went up there. I must admit that even though I grew up driving on such roads, this trip of yours made me think I would be a bit anxious to drive the road on such a day as you drove it. What an adventure you had. The views are spectacular. I must try to get up there again.

Andrea said...

The pictures are beautiful even if you are moving, but most of them really looks scary. Some of the roads look like they continue to space, OMG! Thanks God you're safe.

Lady Fi said...

How dramatic and beautiful!

Angie said...

Pat - I can really relate to this - we were at Logan Pass (only 6,646 feet) on Monday, and it was lightly snowing. We were wearing heavy clothing, gloves and hats. (Yes, Going to the Sun Road is open, but that doesn't mean it's summer there!) Glad you made it safely to the top and back down again! Enjoy your weekend!

Joyful said...

It is frightening to be in a sudden storm on the top of the mountains. I'm glad you made it safely and that you were able to take some beautiful photos to share with us.

Jim said...

Good skies.

Cathy Keller said...

We went up Mt. Evans 3 years ago when we were home for a visit! The weather wasn't quite a bad as your journey but it was cold nonetheless. Summit Lake is so beautiful. Mom and Dad would take us for a picnic there in the Fall to see the Aspens. It was always cold, and as a child, the only time I got hot coffee. So jealous. Have a wonderful weekend!

Rambling Woods said...

Oh my goodness that would have scared me to death. Beautiful scenery though ..Michelle