Should I Hike This Exposed Mesa During a Thunderstorm?
Beware the lure of a hot shower and a comfortable bed
It was the last day of July, and I had already hiked 340 miles of the 485-mile Colorado Trail. I hadn't showered or seen my boyfriend in two weeks and was planning to meet him at Spring Creek Pass, nearly 19 miles away. Unfortunately, I got a late start.
I did the math and realized I would reach the notoriously flat and exposed Snow Mesa in the early afternoon, when thunderstorms were likely.
After nine miles, I dipped below the treeline, the last sheltered area of the day. My gut knew better, but the lure of a hot shower, a cold beer, and my boyfriend led me to push on.
I reached Snow Mesa, alone and scared. A flash of lightning connected to the nearby horizon, and my metal gear started to hum. I tossed my poles as far as I could.
I hid in a gully, willing myself to be smaller. After the deluge ran its course, I slowly emerged, legs stiff and leaden, humbled and thankful to be alive.
This article appeared in the May/June 2020 edition with the headline "Trust Your Gut."