On the Trail: Reaping the spring benefits | AspenTimes.com

On the Trail: Reaping the spring benefits

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

EL JEBEL ” I am as sun-starved as anyone in the Roaring Fork Valley these days, but I must confess that this cool, rainy weather has its benefits.

First, midvalley residents ” at least those of us who were awake ” were treated to the first thunder of the spring on Monday morning. It wasn’t much, just a tease of things to come. The rain hitting the windows woke me up at about 12:30 a.m. and in a groggy state I saw the flash of lightning. The thunder was a long way off but a little better rumble, maybe just a grumble, sounded off a minute of so later.

On my daily (or almost daily) dog walk down by the Roaring Fork River in the midvalley on Monday, I reaped one of the benefits of the recent rain and the runoff of the Roaring Fork River. As I reached the river, I heard the first frog chorus of the spring, or at least the first one I noticed. It was one long, steady brrpppttt, brrrpppttt, brrpppttt. It was loud enough to reckon with the rushing of the river.

The frogs start singing every year so it shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it is still one of those unexpected pleas ures of spring, sort of like the finches clustering for a game of tag on a super nice day.

The warmish weather has pushed the water level in the Roaring Fork high enough to start replenishing the wet lands and riparian areas on the sides of the main channel. The mud and the ooze have apparently coaxed the frogs out for parties, courting and whatever else frogs do.

Farther along in our walk, I heard an isolated Big Mama or Big Papa frog bellow out a hearty song. I don’t know if frogs can be happy, but this guy or gal sure seemed to be spreading a song of joy. Brpppp-burp-burp, brpppp burp- burp over and over again.

The wetlands are bound to get wetter. The Roaring Fork is ripping. The flow near Aspen on Monday afternoon was 126 cubic feet per second. The median for May 4 over the past 44 years is 80 cfs.

Down at Emma, the Fork was flowing at 951 cfs. The median over the past 11 years is 519.

The snowpack is disappearing fast. Less than two weeks ago the snowpack at 10,600 feet in elevation east of Aspen was about 125 percent of average, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Monday it was down to 94 percent of average for that date. The snowpack for the Roar ing Fork basin overall was 91 percent of average Monday.