Ya gotta be aware in the mountains. I’ll give you an example. At 4:30pm I decided to take HappyDog for a mile and a half hike on our almost private hiking path. A bit away from the house I get a good 360 view of the sky. A few clouds are building over the mountains to the east. A small cell to the west. Another to the northwest. Nothing impressive. Winds are coming from the southeast so I can ignore all but the southeast clouds.
We continue our walk. Another 300 yards and the clouds look a little bigger. Sure. Sure we can get back before the possibility of rain. The desert is right down the hill. We get moisture falling from the sky about six times a year. Usually the clouds build up, get my hopes up, and wastes itself within spitting distance. What I’m trying to say is that it just doesn’t rain very often here, so I’m loath to cancel a walk when it looks like it may rain. I’ve been disappointed too many times.
By the time we turn around, the strong southeast wind and a weak west wind are slamming together a mile or two from the house and the result is a wet angry cell. It sweeps down the canyon towards us.
The air temperature has dropped twenty degrees to mid 50’s. A stiff wind is kicking up dust and pollen. We don’t lag. The first drops are pinging on the carport as we step onto the porch. I run around closing windows then watch drops slam into stuff. I catch a handful of drops. Definitely colder than the air. In fact, it’s not unusual to get sleet with the rain any time of the year.
So glad I wasn’t on a trail south of Cloudcroft which is much higher. Hypothermia is no stranger to the area. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C). Hypothermia (hi-poe-THUR-me-uh) occurs as your body temperature falls below 95 F (35 C)”.
I was careless because I didn’t pack my rain gear. I must repeat the following mantras fifty times, “Rains in the mountains can come quickly and from any direction” and “Carry rain gear”.
So remember when you decide to go hiking in the mountains. Rain clouds build with amazing speed. You don’t want to be caught in storms without the proper protection.