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Old 03-16-2010, 03:47 PM
 
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Lot's of good suggestions in here, my favs are:

Telluride
Aspen
Crested Butte
San Juan/Silverton/Ouray area

Timing is tricky, even in the summer you can get monsoon rains at higher elevations but the wildflowers will be amazing at many of these areas. September is usually a really good time, you could get unforgettable aspens during the peak leaf changing time.
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Old 03-16-2010, 08:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edog80 View Post
Timing is tricky, even in the summer you can get monsoon rains at higher elevations but the wildflowers will be amazing at many of these areas. September is usually a really good time, you could get unforgettable aspens during the peak leaf changing time.
Edog is right, but one thing about timing you summertime hikes... It's a lot less tricky if you plan to start at first light and finish or take cover at noon.
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Old 03-17-2010, 10:26 AM
 
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I would have to second the idea that the San Juan mountains in southwestern Colorado offer the best in both scenic beauty and solitude in the state, especially if one stays away from the stupid, trendy, yuppie resort towns.

Now, the big caveat about hiking. First, by any national standard, all of Colorado is high altitude. The lowest point in the state, at the Colorado/Kansas border near Holly, is around 3,350 ft--higher than highest point of probably half to 2/3's of the 50 states. With the exception of the lower Gunnison and Colorado River valleys of western Colorado, all of Colorado from the Front Range west is above 5,000 feet elevation, and much of it above 6,500 feet elevation. Of course, the "high country" is high--7,000-14,000 feet plus.

Getting acclimated sufficiently to be able to comfortably hike at those elevations will take several days for someone coming from near sea level--even if they are in very good physical condition. People with any health issues related either to breathing, heart or other "risk" factors --asthma, allergies, smoking, overweight, etc.--may take much longer to acclimate, or they may not acclimate at all. Some people who are even in perfect physical condtion may suffer from problems.

Failing to acclimate properly or to overexert for one's physical abilities at altitude can lead to altitude sickness, which is unpleasant enough, but far more dangerous is if one goes into High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), which can be potentially fatal in a few cases.

Info here:
https://health.google.com/health/ref...ntain+sickness
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Old 03-17-2010, 10:51 AM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
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I'll say it again, hiking just about anywhere west of the front range in Colorado will give you a long, and fondly remembered adventure. My personal favorite hiking area in Colorado is Crested Butte.

Here is a list of states and their high points of less than 3350 ft ( the approx low point of Colorado per jazzlovers post above ). The elevation of the highpoint is also given:

Florida 345
Delaware 448
Louisiana 535
Mississippi 806
Rhode Island 812
Illinois 1235
Indiana 1257
Ohio 1550
Iowa 1670
Missouri 1772
New Jersey 1803
Wisconsin 1951
Michigan 1979
Minnesota 2301
Connecticut 2380
Alabama 2407
Arkansas 2753
Pennsylvania 3213

The highpoint of Colorado is Mt Elbert with an elevation of 14433

Only California ( Mt Whitney @ 14494 ) and Alaska ( Mt Denali @ 20320 ) have higher high points

Click here, then scroll down to to see the list of highpoints in all 50 states
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Old 03-17-2010, 02:24 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treedonkey View Post
Edog is right, but one thing about timing you summertime hikes... It's a lot less tricky if you plan to start at first light and finish or take cover at noon.
I would elaborate on this as follows.

Depending on what elevation you're at, you don't necessarily have to finish at noon. If you're above treeline, then you should head below treeline. Once below treeline you can continue hiking, as long as you avoid being in exposed areas during lightning. Hiking in rain or hail is no big deal. If the hail is too large, just take cover under a tree and wait it out. Afternoon thunderstorms are brief, temporary things.
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Old 03-17-2010, 02:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by 80skeys View Post
I would elaborate on this as follows.

Depending on what elevation you're at, you don't necessarily have to finish at noon. If you're above treeline, then you should head below treeline. Once below treeline you can continue hiking, as long as you avoid being in exposed areas during lightning. Hiking in rain or hail is no big deal. If the hail is too large, just take cover under a tree and wait it out. Afternoon thunderstorms are brief, temporary things.
Getting below treeline does not eliminate lightning risk--far from it. I have had some pretty hair-raising ecnounters (a couple of them being that literally) well below treeline when I was overtaken by fast-moving summer thunderstorms. I personally have known four different people struck by lightning in the Colorado mountains, one of whom was killed instantly. He was well below treeline at about 8,000 feet elevation and happened to be in an "unexposed" area, but just a very wrong place at a very wrong time. I'm a long-time amateur climatologist and I love storm-watching, but I have serious respect for lightning, especially in the mountains of Colorado and the Southwest.
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Old 03-18-2010, 10:13 AM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
Getting below treeline does not eliminate lightning risk--far from it. I have had some pretty hair-raising ecnounters (a couple of them being that literally) well below treeline when I was overtaken by fast-moving summer thunderstorms. I personally have known four different people struck by lightning in the Colorado mountains, one of whom was killed instantly. He was well below treeline at about 8,000 feet elevation and happened to be in an "unexposed" area, but just a very wrong place at a very wrong time. I'm a long-time amateur climatologist and I love storm-watching, but I have serious respect for lightning, especially in the mountains of Colorado and the Southwest.
I personally take this risk. I don't like finishing my hiking day at noon. Plus this is impractical when I'm out backpacking and camping. So what I do when there's a lot of lightning crashing is find the biggest tree and sit on my backpack underneath it until the storm passes. The reason I sit on my backpack is because "supposedly" this insulates you from ground conduction. I don't know if that's true.

Anytime there's lightening there's a risk of getting hit. In fact, the theory is that if you can hear thunder, you can be hit because lightening can travel sideways up to 10 miles. So if you can see lightening on the horizon, theoretically you can be hit by it.
Supposedly the exposed areas (above treeline) are more risky. But I'm not sure I believe it. It seems to me the rare chance of getting hit by lightening can be anywhere.

I avoid the exposed areas because it makes me feel safer. Whether or not it actually makes you safer I don't know. I think being hit is simply a matter of being at the wrong place and the wrong time.

The statistical risk is low enough that I don't alter my behavior (except to find shelter under trees).

It's probably the same statistic as having a bad encounter with a bear. The woods are full of bears but the likelihood of seeing one or having a bad experience is very remote.
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Old 03-18-2010, 10:25 AM
 
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80skeys wrote:
It ( getting hit by lightning ) is probably the same statistic as having a bad encounter with a bear. The woods are full of bears but the likelihood of seeing one or having a bad experience is very remote.
Once you've had your tent torn up by a bear with you in it ( that happened to me while camping near Atlin-BC ), you just no longer take statistics too seriously. You start thinking, if it happened once, it can easily happen again. When I hear thunder or see lightning, I start looking for cover....hopefully away from the bears.
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Old 03-18-2010, 10:33 AM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CosmicWizard View Post
80skeys wrote:
It ( getting hit by lightning ) is probably the same statistic as having a bad encounter with a bear. The woods are full of bears but the likelihood of seeing one or having a bad experience is very remote.
Once you've had your tent torn up by a bear with you in it ( that happened to me while camping near Atlin-BC ), you just no longer take statistics too seriously. You start thinking, if it happened once, it can easily happen again. When I hear thunder or see lightning, I start looking for cover....hopefully away from the bears.
I should have qualified by saying here in the southern Rockies. Canada's a different ballgame because there's a lot more bears (and grizzly) up there.

Although basically the same statistic applies. If it happened to you once, you should actually breathe easier from that point forward because chances are slim it'll happen again.

Anyone who's victim of a rare event tends to instinctively and understandablly think it's bound to happen again.

I knew a man who did not work and spent a year of his life hiking a different mountain peak every day. This was throughout the Rocky mountains in the states. He told me he never had any bad bear encounters and only had three close encounters with bears. In each of these, the bear either sauntered off or stayed put staring at him but wasn't aggressive.

Again the chance of seeing bear in the lower 48 is less than Canada or Alaska, but nonetheless you probably can expect the same situation in both.

Last edited by 80skeys; 03-18-2010 at 10:44 AM..
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Old 03-18-2010, 11:03 AM
 
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Fortunately for me,my bear was not agressive...apparently just curious about the funny smell.

It's not that I think it's bound to happen again, but rather that it could happen again. The odds haven't changed...if it happened once it could happen again, regardless of the odds. Having something occur once doesn't change the odds of that same thing happening again. EG: if you flip a coin 100 times and get 100 straight tails, the odds are still 50-50 that the next flip will once again come up tails.
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