Saturday, April 1, 2017

On any mountain in the U.S. in August you can get into a blizzard above 9000 feet in elevation

This is something important to realize no matter where you live on earth. If you come to the United States it is quite possible (if you are above 9000 feet in elevation) to have blizzard conditions. And just because it was 100 degrees Fahrenheit wherever you just were you need to be prepared for this eventuality.

Let me tell you a story in August in the early 1980s. My children were little and we were in a friend's 4 wheel drive truck when the dirt roads were still open as high as 9000 feet on Mt. Shasta on the back side away from the little city of Mt. Shasta but closer to McCloud.

We drove up past Widow Springs up to Cold or Clear Creek then (not sure which one it was now) and then we hiked up with 3 children a few miles further up the mountain to see the glaciers which in August often then had little streams running out of them so you could see the blue glaciers inside them sometimes. Well, we were having a really great time and since the outside temperatures were 85 to 90 Degrees no one had any clothes walking but T-Shirts, shorts and hiking boots and a few snacks and water and that's all. As we left the truck and headed up to 10,000 feet or higher for a day hike we noticed 50 miles away a huge black ominous looking cloud. However, the rest of the sky was clear as a bell and the tempertures around 3500 feet where the little city of Mt. Shasta is were over 100 and then over 110 Fahrenheit or so in Redding 60 or 70 miles away from where we were. So we felt very safe. But about an hour or so later we noticed the black cloud had come over to the edge of Shastina on the other side of the mountain. Our friend who lived there said, "We better start going down in case it rains or storms up here. I don't want the kids to get cold or be struck with lightning!" So, we started down but by then we were an hours walk with children 5, 6 and 8 years old in tow who were good hikers but we were starting to get a little worried as parents that we would get to the 4 wheel drive before it rained on us.

However, it didn't rain because the winds came up and blew down from the peak 20 to 30 degrees air fahrenheit. So, then it blizzarded and blew hard on us and we picked up the 5 and 6 year olds and carried them piggy back. But the 8 year old was too big to carry safely over the large rock and shale field and he started to get hysterical because he wasn't being picked up too and was getting cold.

I had to tell him if he didn't get out on his own power he wasn't going to survive this which was a lot for an 8 year old to cope with but it did the trick. We barely made it back to the 4WD truck at 9000 feet because we were all halucinating from hypothermia by that point and all three kids had lost it. So, even with 3 adults we barely made it out of that situation because no one had ski jackets to stay warm enough to not have a problem. But, we still survived the experience and the kids became better survivors having gone through all this.

So, even if it is 100 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter outside if you are above 8000 to 9000 feet on any mountain in the U.S. in August please remember what happened to us! It is much better to put a jacket shell or windbreaker in a pack so you are ready for anything that happens than to die with your kids from hypothermia because you didn't think something like this could actually happen!

Like the Boy Scout motto: "Be Prepared!"

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