Word to the Wise if You Plan to Climb Mt. Garfield During Wet Weather
You can look forward to cooler temperatures this weekend, and that's ideal for climbing western Colorado's Mt. Garfield. There's a chance of rain for Friday night and early Saturday morning, and that can be a real game changer. Here are a few things to consider before you head out.
Climbing Mt. Garfield isn't something you want to do in the 105-degree heat. This weekend's highs will be in the mid-60s, and that's nothing short of perfect. Yet there is this matter of rain or snow on Friday night. Why would that affect a Sunday hike, you ask?
First of all, climbing Mt. Garfield with even the slightest amount of mud equals Mission: Impossible. You don't want to hike any western Colorado trail in the mud. It damages the terrain and leaves the trail a mess for future hikers.
Most importantly, when climbing Mt. Garfield, the first thing you have to do is get to the trailhead. The parking area for Mt. Garfield is north of I-70, and to get to it, you have to drive through a tunnel running under the interstate.
This tunnel is anything but level and water pools up at the low point. No matter how deep you estimate the water to be, you can trust me when I say it's even deeper than you think. This may not be a big deal if you're driving a full size "Mud Monster," but for those of us with economy vehicles, you pretty much need that James Bond underwater feature from "The Spy Who Loved Me" to get through the deep end.
If you attempt to get to the parking area after rain showers, there's a chance you'll spend the day scuba diving and towing your vehicle out of the filthy water.
The key to enjoying Mt. Garfield is to plan ahead. Bring water, adequate clothing, and your camera. Before you set course for the trailhead, though, you'll need to evaluate the situation. Recent rain almost guarantees a difficult time when going under the interstate. Of course, you could park somewhere else, run across I-70, and then climb. You could do that, but you'd be taking your life into your own hands.
Mt. Garfield is one of the best hikes in the valley. More than anything, simply think ahead. Getting there is half the challenge.