15-May-2015 -- Suffering through a winter of confluence withdrawal, I felt it was finally warm enough to attempt my first mountain confluence of 2015. It was the last day of the spring semester at Colorado State University (where I'm a PhD student in atmospheric science) and I was able to leave work early to head to the hills. From the west side of Fort Collins I drove north of Redfeather Lakes on County Road 80C up into the Laramie Mountains where ominous skies and drizzle turned into wet flakes of heavy snow. I didn't pass another car for an hour as I continued westward along supremely mucky roads (great Jeep driving) until hitting CR 103.
The precipitation abated by the time I turned north to head the remaining eight miles toward the CO-WY border. Just before the border I turned right on an overgrown two-track trail and parked here at 2:55 pm with a temperature of 40 deg. F, mostly cloudy skies, and a strong wind out of the southwest.
I ducked under the barbed wire fence and followed the Maggie Creek wash directly to the spot, a crow-flying distance of about a quarter mile. I hardly had time to finish my apple. Took the obligatory pictures and lingered in the cold wind for about five minutes.
On my hike back to the car I summited the ridge to the northwest of the ravine where I saw austere hills all around in addition to tall power lines in the distance to the north and a very out-of-place yellow metal watering trough pretty much right along my path. As I approached the trough I looked up to see the silhouette of an antlered pronghorn about 200 feet from me at the top of the ridge. I think he was just as surprised to see a biped out there, although he was remarkably un-skittish for a pronghorn.
I made it back to the Jeep a half hour after I had started. I ended up heading back to Fort Collins via 103 all the way south past Chambers Lake to the Poudre Canyon road (CR 14), which I followed all the way down... but not before stopping for dinner and a beer at the always enchanting Mishawaka Amphitheatre, where I sat along the Poudre River reading The Monkey Wrench Gang and appreciating the Great American West. Five cold kayakers floated by me while I was there.
I arrived back in Fort Collins to find that some of my fellow atmos friends had storm-chased in Colorado while I was driving in the snow. Tornados spotted north of Denver Int'l Airport as well as near Torrington, WY! Anyway, I enjoyed my short day in the mountains immensely and I look forward to the next confluence hunt. Onward into summer!