It has been a summer of rain, excluding June, that is, if you happen to count June as a "summer month," which we never do because it can still snow here in Lovely Ouray, in June... and technically, most of June falls in spring anyway (Ok smarty pants English Majors, try to diagram that sentence).
I went for a bike ride from Lovely Ouray to Ridgway yesterday... on a narrow, unpaved county backroad that was originally the Narrow Gauge rail line into town. I got a late start because I was on "deadline" to finish my monthly column for the Ouray Plaindealer (why do I always put that off till the last minute, sigh). But the sun was out, with only a few scattered clouds to worry about when I departed the driveway at 12:26 PM.
Twenty eight minutes later I was sitting at a picnic table in Ridgway's Town Park, sipping Gatorade and watching skies blacken over Mount Abrams, Ouray's sentinel mountain. I thought I'd wait it out... kill some time... so I called my nephew in Pennsylvania and chatted a while. Then I saw Marathon Man Leonard, slowly strolling across the park's rain-lush lawn. I say "slowly" because he is a tad sore from just having finished 2nd in his class (tenth overall) in the Mount Sneffels Marathon... a footrace from Ridgway to Ouray, and back. I hollered him over and we chatted, watching stormy blackness swallow everything south of our perfectly sunny whereabouts.
"I gotta go." I finally said, "It's getting worse by the minute." Leonard questioned my riding into blackness, and thunder, and offered a lift in his Jeep. It had a bike rack that beckoned my Gary Fischer 29'er. But no, I wasn't going to let a little storm stop me from finishing my ride. Besides, I just retrieved my bike from the shop and it pedaled and shifted smooth as new. So Leonard volunteered to ride "clean up" back to Lovely Ouray, "In a few minutes," just in case things got dicey and I changed my mind. Off I went, into night black skies... adrenalin IV beginning to drip, drip, drip.
It sure didn't take long. Ten minutes out of Ridgway I was sopping wet, pedaling through a blinding downpour and looking over my shoulder for a silver and black Jeep. Lightning was popping everywhere with nearly simultaneous booms of thunder. Leonard. Where the fuck are you!!!! I put my pedals to the metal, more in an effort to stay warm than anything else. God. I grabbed a Mo Jo bar from my pocket, ripped off the packaging with my teeth and wolfed it down. Calories equals warmth. Still cold. Freezing cold.
It's pouring rain. The only things dry are my hip pockets, so I put my iPhone in the one opposite my wallet. I found out the hard way, after wading into a hot tub at Zion River RV Resort last November, Apple doesn't cover "water damage" to iPhones.
I regretted my impatience. I should have waited the storm out. Leonard! I thought about hiding under big rows of Cottonwoods that line the irrigation ditches of hay fields... maybe call Bobbie, who was home finishing up a couple of watercolor masterpieces. I came upon an old beater pickup, stopped on the opposite side of the road. Wipers must not work. The driver flashed me a peace sign and a big smile as I flew by. I took it as encouragement and pedaled on into rain-smacks that stung. A shiver of cold (or was it pride) ran up my spine. Forearms broke out with the most humungous set of goose pimples ever. This is crazy, I thought, but strangely fun.
Leonard never showed. Probably got caught up in conversation over a beer at the Colorado Boy. But that's ok. The storm finally outran me. I finished the ride in sun... steaming, sopping wet, mud splattered... thrilled to the bone to have escaped Thor's bolts, and the easy way out.
***********************************Now here's a little treatise on Summer Rain around our town.
Our summer rain is not like your summer rain if you are reading this from somewhere east, or even west, of Lovely Ouray. Here's the difference.
Our summer rain does not come from clouds that spout funnels... at least not the sort that touch ground and suck trailer parks into to the next county. If you see something that looks like a tornado here it's likely a "dust devil," and the only damage it will do is mess your hair or lift your toupee.
Our sumer rain has a built in clock. It rarely starts before 2:15... so you can get your daily hike in, mow the grass, maybe even paint an exterior door if you use fast a drying latex/enamel. However, you should keep in mind that Lightning generally precedes our summer rain... a "warning shot," like, "Hey Shit-for-brains, it's after noon, you're near the Continental Divide, it's about to rain! If you want to live to see it rain, watch it trail off your Goretexed body, feel it wash your face and hands, and smell the damp forest it wetted for your arousal, I suggest you get your ass off this mountain ASAP!"
Our summer rain is spotty... a six inch cloudburst on 1st Street, dry as a bone and full sun on 9th. However, you can get soaked in full sun from a little insignificant cloud way over yonder... which is totally unfair and seems damn near impossible.
Our summer rain does not read, nor pay attention to, weather forecasts. Forecasts are for losers who really don't want to go hiking in the first place. "Oh darn, 50% chance of thunderstorms today dear... guess we better stay home and watch the game." Here's a handy rule of thumb: If the forecast says 20 percent chance of rain, Lookout! If it says 50 percent, don't worry about it. The difference between a 20 percent chance of rain and 50 percent? About an hour and 45 minutes. It's going to rain in the afternoons in summertime somewhere, just like it's always "five o'clock somewhere." Wandrin Lloyd wouldn't never let four o'clock stand in the way of his "medicinal" scotch; so don't let a forecast keep you indoors.
Our summer rain is not warm. This is not Hawaii; it's Colorado. Take your rain gear with you, even if you are just going for a short walk. People die from hypothermia in our summer rain... unless it changes to hail, in which case they are knocked unconscious from blunt force trauma, then freeze to death. Hardly a day goes by without seeing a hail-dimpled vehicle roll through town. It can happen anywhere, anytime. When our summer rain turns into "golfballs" it hurts. When it turns into "baseballs," you're a "dead man hiking."
Our summer rain is prone to spawn flash floods... emphasis on "flash," Bozos. Every damn day some pedestrian looks both ways and still gets hit by a car. Same with flash floods. Before you cross a creek when it's black as night above you in the middle of the afternoon, remember this: That trickle of a creek may be the only way out for every drop of rain in a 10,000 acre basin. We have been known to get an inch of summer rain here in as little as 10 minutes. You do the math. If you hear anything resembling a jet, get to high ground... because there is a literal wall of water coming off the mountain. And just because you own an SUV doesn't mean you can Four Wheel your way across little flooded dips in the road. Four Wheel Drive doesn't work on our summer rain... unless you happen to be Jesus or Moses. That's different.
Our summer rain is not soft and drizzly nap time rain. No, it wakes you up... like a jetliner preparing for takeoff on your roof. You can't hear the TV; unpaved drives become a riverbeds; cell signals vanish... along with dish TV signals; mudslides and boulders block roads; raincoats are as useless as a Walmart made-in-China umbrella. Take shelter; it'll all be over in a few minutes and the sun will come right back out.
|After the thunderstorm... Back in sun|