Trip Reports: Lightning Disco At Blue Lakes, Colorado - September 2009
On Saturday I hiked up to Blue Lakes for a quick overnight backpacking trip in the Sneffels Range of southwest Colorado's San Juan Mountains. The alpine tundra has turned a beautiful array of autumn colors, and even a few aspens are starting to change. My pleasant evening of photography turned into a restless night as I endured one of the most tremendous lightning and thunderstorms I've yet experienced!
After a fun evening of photography, I was then treated to an freakish all-night-long thunderstorm. This lightning storm above continued full-blast for over 5 hours, and as I lay in my tent I could hear the lightning slowly moving closer towards the mountains until it eventually moved right up into the basins around me. Though I've had a few scarier lightning moments in the past, I've never before experienced such a long lighting storm with so many bolts. Lighting would flash every 2-10 seconds, and this lasted half the night!
The constant flashes of lighting, along with the terrifying booming of thunder and racket of hail and rain, kept me awake for most of the night. Even when I did finally fall asleep just before morning, I slept a fitful sleep and dreamed of plane crashes. My plans to get up for a sunrise shoot were thwarted by howling winds, so I slept in and then packed my stuff and got out of there!
Despite the weather and lack of sleep, this quick trip was a hell of an experience. It was the backcountry equivalent of watching a good horror movie!