Could use some advice on Colorado backcountry over Memorial Day // snowpack

Dos Perros

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Jul 30, 2015
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Overland Park, KS
Hi folks,

I'm headed to the Colorado high country over Memorial Day weekend to get some solitude and fresh air. I had wanted to do this trip much later in the summer to increase the scouting value, but I'll work with the time I have available. I'm saving my deer points for a hunt in unit forty-four and since I'm hunting MT/WY this year figured this would be a good opportunity to scout CO for the years ahead. I want to try to get into some high basins in there, really more for fun and to try something new since I know the animals are all down low and no antlers and the high country is all covered with snow anyway. I've only ever backpacked in the more summer months, July through September, and while I have been rained/hailed/snowed on, I know it's not like trudging over 50" of snow.

Where I want to park my truck is about 9600', and I'm fairly confident I'll at least be able to get close to that. Then it's up for about 2 miles, peaking out at 11,800', and then down. Curious on special gear I might find useful, like snowshoes or Yaktrax, or an ice axe? What might the snow be like? Will it be different in the timber vs above it? I understand the trail will be obscured so I'll have to navigate more intentionally. And of course I'll be safe, pay attention to the weather, and if I'm unsure I can always turn around to a fully stocked pickup. Thanks in advance for any advice.

DP
 

LandYacht

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Jan 25, 2014
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Alamosa
My advice would be to stay down out of the snow. Not much to be gained by “scouting” the snow covered mountain tops. You won’t see the true lay of the land with as much snow that is most likely going to still be on the mountain tops.

You’re going to be walking right past the best areas to scout...


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Poser

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Durango CO
More snow on the way over the next week in the High Country. I think it’s gonna be tough to make this a very productive scouting trip. If you’re venturing into snow fields, bring some snowshoes as postholing spring snow will have your feet wet in no time. The landscape just changes so dramatically after the meltoff that it’s hard to tell what is what.
 

Olsolitaire1

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Jul 21, 2015
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Western, CO.
Depends, but most of the high country is still deep in snow FEET. Temps are warming this week then cooling down again with rain possibly in lower elev. As posted above, you wont see much, you'll be snow blind & sun burnt.
 

wildcat33

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Feb 17, 2015
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Lakewood, CO
Any trip to the area you plan to hunt has some value. If you want to get up into the snow and snow camp, rock on. At a minimum you'll need snowshoes, gaiters, a snow shovel, a good pad, extra stove fuel for melting snow for drinking water, etc. Snow camping is a different game, not a hard one, just takes some additional effort.

Words of warning: If you need an ice axe, you're in over your head. Be very cautious going above tree line if you are not knowledgeable about snow stability and avalanches. Spring can be dangerous with warming temps.
 

pods8

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Mar 12, 2014
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Gunbarrel, CO
Same as above. Main suggestion would be scout some of the lower "backup" areas for the unit incase weather or other issues push you down during a hunt.
 

Olsolitaire1

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Jul 21, 2015
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Western, CO.
Just to update you folks that might be headed this way over the weekend. High country has been getting snow & lower parts rain this week.
So you can expect wet snow, mud, creeks & rivers raising & flowing. Be aware in canyons for rock slides.
Enjoy Colorado spring time
 

jmez

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Jun 12, 2012
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Piedmont, SD
We got over 2 foot in the Black Hills the last couple of days. Last day of school today and had a two hour late start due to snow. You aren't even going to be able to get around the Black Hills this weekend. High elevations in Co will be a real mess!
 
OP
D

Dos Perros

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Jul 30, 2015
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Overland Park, KS
It's frustrating how some offices of the same national forest are publishing updated reports, while others just on the other side of divide haven't published a status report since last summer. I assume they all flow up to the same management. Kinda ridiculous.
 

Poser

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Dec 27, 2013
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Durango CO
The Colorado Trail Foundation posted some updates yesterday which should give a fair amount of insight in the high country across the stage. They are estimating that a Southbound Thru hiker should start no earlier than July 15th this year and that the San Juan range in the Southern part of the state won’t be reasonably navigable until July 25th. *Due to avalanche debris and subsequent trail damage, sections of the Co Trail May be impassable for stock until significant trail repairs are made as it is anticipated that certain sections will be completely clogged out.
 

lak2004

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Mar 17, 2014
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SW CO
At this point I'm trying to figure out which roads/trails are open.
Best bet is to call the ranger district you are looking at, takes time to update the website but a phone call will get you answers likely.

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elkduds

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Jun 22, 2016
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CO Springs
5-10 more inches forecast for Grand Mesa, San Juans, central and southern mountains along Continental Divide tomorrow, Thursday. Soaking wet snowball snow.
 
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