How To Prepare & What To Bring
Adjusting to High Altitude
The Poudre Canyon and Cameron Pass are situated at a high altitude. (Approximately 5,000 feet at the base on the east side, with the summit at 10,000 feet). It is extremely important to stay very hydrated, and ideal to give your body a few days to adjust to the altitude before exerting yourself physically. Altitude sickness sets in due to the lower amount of oxygen available at higher altitudes. Signs of acute altitude sickness include: nausea, dizziness, headache, fatigue, and insomnia. If you recognize these symptoms, it is best to move to a lower altitude, rest, and re hydrate. To learn more about signs and treatment of altitude sickness, click here.
This region is notorious for quickly changing, shifting, and evolving weather patterns. Again, it is always best to check a local weather forecast, and to note that the temperature and precipitation patterns can change drastically depending on the altitude. Make note of these weather advisories for the different seasons: in winter, there can be a lot of snowfall. Avalanches are common in the backcountry. Even though it is cold, the sun is still very intense so be sure to wear sunscreen. Also, dress in layers. In spring, snow is still very common. If it is warm, the snow will begin to melt and the Poudre river may flood. In summer, afternoon thunderstorms are very likely, and it can get very hot. Be sure to leave in the early a.m. if you are planning a hike so that you are below timberline before thunderstorms roll in. Additionally, the river flows very fast and very high in early summer. If you are unfamiliar with the area, do not enter the river unless you consult with a rafting company or local expert first. Summertime also presents a risk of wildfires. In fall the weather is variable, and snow may be present as well.
What To Pack
It is important to be prepared when entering a remote area such as the Poudre Canyon and Cameron Pass. Additionally, ALWAYS tell someone your route, plan, and expected time of return when entering the wilderness (and be sure to check back in with them when you're back!) Specific gear will depend on the time of year, and it is best to always check the weather forecast before heading to the mountains, but a basic list such as the following is a good start: water (lots of it, or a reliable filter), snacks high in protein and carbs, map, rainjacket, jacket, sunscreen, ball cap, stocking cap, hiking boots, hiking poles, and a first aid kit. Also note that in most of these areas you will lose cell reception.
Wildlife & Wildflowers
This area provides the opportunity for sightings of a variety of wild animals. The larger area is home to animals big and small, from rattlesnakes, chipmunks, marmots, and squirrels, to bighorn sheep, deer, bear, and moose. Note that in the summer time at lower elevations, rattlesnakes are out. Always stay the trail and keep dogs (if they are allowed in the area), on a leash. Never feed animals, even the little chipmunks. It is not healthy for them, and only encourages them in their dependence on human food. Surprisingly, moose are very dangerous. Always use discretion with keeping distance between yourself and animals, and don't risk getting hurt just for the sake of a picture! The best time to view wildflowers at higher elevation is typically early summer. Be sure to always stay the trail so as not to disturb the natural habitat and wildflowers. Do not pick wildflowers. In fact, it is illegal to pick a columbine, the state flower.