I was surprised by a half inch of snow, freezing temperatures and high winds in my short trip to Wyoming's Snowy Range in mid-September. The added atmospheric touches added a high awe factor to my hikes that day.
Sugarloaf Mountain - The Smaller, Less Cloudy Alternative
Since clouds covered the range high point of Medicine Bow Peak, I decided to hike up smaller Sugarloaf mountain, which somehow seemed to be on the edge of the low, dense clouds.
Up Very Windy Sugarloaf Mountain
This was the first time I could say that I saw clouds 'race' and feel it in a high speed chase sort of way. They seemed to flash past the summit. The snow was not icy but I trod very carefully up the talus.
September Sugarloaf Summit
The views at the top were restricted by the clouds but when they opened up they were breathtaking.
View from Sugarloaf: Klondike Lakes, South Gap Lake
The Clouds Lift...On to Medicine Bow Peak
Clouds Lifting in the Snowy Range
As I descended Sugarloaf, very satisfied, I saw that the clouds were lifting slightly, revealing the massive Medicine Bow Peak and its several subpeaks. Why not go further?
Up Medicine Bow Peak
As the clouds cruised past, more of Medicine Bow Peak was revealed.
Gap Lakes Between 11761 and Browns Peak
But alas, just as I approached the summit, the clouds descended.
On the top of the totally socked in summit, my cell phone chirped. I was now high enough to get cell reception from somewhere. After texting back my son Nate about our license plate registration, it started to snow like crazy. The clouds were not just providing drama, they were doing what clouds do: dump water. As I started down a few paces, the clouds added another part of their repertoire: thunder. I went down with alacrity but thankfully no electricity. In the cold temperatures I had not considered the clouds a lightning threat but now know better.
Thunder Snow Selfie on the Way Down
Well, what started as an unpleasant surprise turned into a day never to be forgotten.
After coming down the mountains and driving back to my Laramie motel, I saw the storm head west across the plains.