2019 Deep Snowpack and Swollen Creeks

Trail Tip Tuesday – 2019 DEEP SNOWPACK and SWOLLEN CREEKS – April 9, 2019.

Given that it’s early April, it is impossible to know for sure how this spring’s super-deep snowpack, averaging around 150% of average, will affect The Colorado Trail this summer. But it is a good guess that the deep snow will eventually mean creeks that are swollen beyond the norm.

Kerrie Neet easily crossing Cochetopa Creek in July. Photo by Ray Kenny.

Kerrie Neet easily crossing Cochetopa Creek in July. Photo by Ray Kenny.

Swifter and higher volume creek flow could make crossings tricky or dangerous. Normally on the CT, there are 3 creek crossings of  consequence where there’s no trail bridge: Texas Creek in CW02, Cochetopa Creek in Segment 19, and a tributary of Elk Creek in Segment 24. In an average year, runoff in these likely peaks sometime in June. This peak runoff might be a little later in 2019; it’s impossible to tell. Plan to ford these. If you’re tempted to take water crossing shoes and you might arrive before the runoff diminishes, maybe this year you should bring them.

Other creek crossings might also prove troublesome in 2019 due to above average runoff. Swift water might wash out or over-top some trail bridges, for example.

If you encounter swift and high-volume flow, especially likely for those of you arriving early (like in June) assess carefully and decide whether to cross or go back. If you decide to cross, choose your crossing location carefully; it is usually best to cross where it’s wider (and shallower).

Tips for assessing the situation and how to cross can be found on the web, including at the links below.

See:
“How To Cross Rivers Safely” thanks to Backpacker
“9 Expert Stream Crossing Tips” thanks to Section Hiker