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A Storm on the Downclimb? One Massive Hike, Part 4

November 16, 2011 by · 2 Comments 


Picking up where I left off in my last post, Terry and I are heading down the Mt. Massive Trail after summiting the 14,421 foot peak. Our kids are below us, hiking toward the car, Ryan having summitted, then heading back down to reconnect with his sister who had become lost after talking a wrong turn. Once we clear the false summits, which were quite rocky and progress was slow, even on the descent, we were nearly running down the mountain, anxious to reconnect with the kids. Annie, our English cocker, is with us and having the time of her life. She never has this much energy at home! Mountain climbing clearly brings out the best in her.

ViewWe are able to appreciate the scenery more on the descent, as hiking up we were quite concerned about Meghan. It is beautiful. This is why we come up here; you just don’t get these views in the city.

Posing marmot

Our posing marmot!

Very aware of our surroundings now, we pass a marmot sunning himself on a rock. When looking at my photo of him later, Ryan says he saw the same marmot, in the very same spot on his way down. He looked like he was posing for the camera!

We hear nothing from the kids for a long time, so I finally send a text asking if they are ok. Ryan responds they are ok but not at the car yet because “Meghan is hiking too slowly!” Some things never change!


Terry and Annie on a downclimb

Eventually they reach the car and are able to relax and have a snack. We tell Ryan where we are, thinking we, too, were getting close to the trailhead, but Ryan, ever the optimist says we have a long way to go yet. A little positivity would help a lot here!

As we near the treeline, clouds begin to move in. We were advised (as always) to be off the summit by noon as lightening and thunderstorms often occur in the Rockies on summer afternoons. But we hadn’t even reached the summit by noon and there wasn’t a cloud in site.

Sure enough, just after we are in the trees, it begins to sprinkle. Luckily there is no lightening. We hike on , passing others ducking into tree cover trying to wait out the storm. Not a terrific idea in any case and we are wet now, anyway. It’s better to keep going and heading down. We press on.

Of course, it begins to rain harder. We are really drenched now. Déjà vu! Just like our hike in the Taos Ski Valley. Terry finds a plastic garbage bag in his pack, makes a hole in it and offers for me to put over my head. I gladly accept!

Down climb

Before the rain

The heavy rains continue. We hear several rumbles of thunder, but thankfully, there is no lightening. Eventually, it actually begins to hail! I think Mt. Massive is trying to tell us something! The hail is small, only pea-sized, but it really stings when it hits our heads and arms. It’s as if the sky is hurtling it at us! We see other hikers behind us that have rejoined the hike rather than continue to wait it out. A wise move.

The rain and hail continue for the last 2-3 miles of our hike. In our haste to descend, I turn my ankle on the slippery hail that begins to collect on the downhill slopes. Still we press on. We finally reach the trailhead at 4:28 pm, nearly 10 hours after we started at 6:33 this morning. We are drenched, hungry and exhausted and our teenaged children are bickering in the car as they have been waiting for us for over an hour!


A joyful repast!

Just as we reach the car, the rain stops; the kids report they have had NO hail at all—I’m starting to take this personally. By 4:48 as we were driving to dinner without even taking the time to shower until AFTER we eat, THE SUN COMES OUT! Yes, I am off the mountain; it’s clearly time for good weather!

But a wonderful day and an exciting adventure was had by all! And we have a quite a story to tell! Read more about Colorado campgrounds and things to do in Colorado.


2 Responses to “A Storm on the Downclimb? One Massive Hike, Part 4”
  1. butterbean carpenter says:

    Howdy Dr. Berry & gang,
    This is a serial adventure… Better than the Taos one… Hope your ankle wasn’t sprained or chipped!!!

    Y’all are going to listen to the ‘mountain-man’ (Ryan) when he tells about distances and times!! But, if
    he doesn’t stop RUNNING DOWNHILL, someday he’ll stub his toe and get there a WHOLE LOT QUICKER!!!!!!!!!!
    I really think it is your magnetic personality that pulls the clouds to you, like a trailer-park!!

    Hope y’all are having a wonderful day and Ryan is passing ALL of his courses!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Diane Berry says:

    Hey butterbean–good to hear from you! Glad you enjoyed our series. We did as well–well, most of it anyway! Yes, we WILL pay attention to Ryan’s times and distances. He knows of what he speaks.
    My ankle was fine after a few
    days’ rest, but as for my magnetic personality…well, glad I have my boots on–it’s getting deep in here! And thanks for the thoughts about Ryan’s classes–he tells us he’s doing well. Wants to study in Germany next year, but we’ll see! Thanks for your thoughts!
    Happy travels!

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