In early August our Hike for Discovery group hike took us on Pawnee Pass, which starts from Long Lake in the Brainerd Lake Recreation Area near Ward, Colorado. About a mile into the hike we stopped and from that point moving forward were timed for how long it would take us to hike the next mile which is used to help place us for our final hike.
This next mile got us to Lake Isabelle where we stopped and had a brief clinic on lightning safety as storms could easily move in on days like this. As we left the spot we started to climb towards Pawnee Pass on the Continental Divide.
Once at the pass we stopped for some lunch as it was just before noon. Enjoying the nice skies we decided that there may be some rain coming in soon but nothing to be too worried about.
We thought about the next direction to go with those in our group and instead of heading up to Pawnee Peak, it was down to Pawnee Lake. The trek to Pawnee Lake is less than two miles with about around 1500 feet of elevation loss.
I drew an arrow above where a fellow hiker is in the image along the trail. As I wasn’t feeling up to it, I started to head back up towards the Pass after just going shy of a half mile to try to meet with the other hikers who should be there by that time. We also started to notice at that time the clouds were starting to move in and being at the divide it was hard to determine what was happening exactly since we couldn’t see the east side. When I started up back towards the pass, I radioed down that it was getting dark and the other hikers were starting to head back up by that time as they noticed it as well.
Crossing back over the pass the darkness was aparent, and what was troubling was upon starting to head off the peak other hikers not in our group were still coming up to the pass. Not the brightest decision based on the skies.
Anyways, I got about a half mile from the pass and it started to rain, and within 5 minutes it was pouring all the way back to the car. With the uncertaintly of lightning in the area, I started moving quickly and grabbed one of my trekking poles out of my pack to help going over the slick rocks. I had also thrown on my rain jacket, but didn’t stop for the rain pants. Close to four miles later I was beyond soaked and miserable like a lot of others I met back at the parking lot from our group. Within 15 minutes the rest of the group showed up and were all safely back, but it was quite ironic earlier in the morning we had lighning safety.