A Glacier Hike
Updated: Feb 24, 2019
Snow draped majesty on St. Mary's Glacier near Denver for my birthday vacation
This year I elected to treat myself to a long weekend in Denver as I have several friends that live there. One of these lovely folk is an old school (as in elementary and middle!) friend that I've managed to keep in touch with over the years but haven't seen in probably a decade. Ali has lived in the Denver area for a number of years, so I deferred to her in selecting a hiking spot.
Her choice was St. Mary's Glacier, which sits to the west by about an hour outside the city just past Idaho Springs. Springtime weather (I was there at the end of April) in Colorado can be a real crapshoot - you might wear shorts one day and a parka the next. We arrived to crisp weather and sunshine, laughing as we struggled to find a good spot amongst the parking lot slush and mini snow banks.
If you aren't used to being at such high altitudes (it's not called the Mile High City for nothing and now we were even higher of course), take plenty of water and take breaks. Only ten minutes into a slippery but otherwise easy hike, I was gasping for air. And I'm fit! I hike back home and work out six days a week. I even got a little lightheaded. Ali waited patiently and we slowed our pace while I acclimated.
This can be a long or short hike - it's a mere half mile from the trailhead to the main attraction. We made it to the glacier (which took maybe 30 or 45 minutes, mostly because I needed that acclimation time), we hung around and explored the area around the glacier. I played with a dog, saw a gentleman propose (she said yes!), and we watched as a distant storm made its way across the land. It was truly breathtaking scenery. Even being mostly overcast, I was glad to have sunglasses as almost everything was snow covered and SO BRIGHT! I haven't spent a great deal of time out west, especially in snowy environs, and if you haven't either, the smell and sound is hard to describe. You haven't quite smelled crisp air until you've been in snowy mountains. It was oddly, gloriously quiet despite the fair amount of people and dogs, but every so often a bark or laugh would carry across the distance clear as a bell. I loved it!
Tread carefully heading back down: the trail gets icy as the snow melts a bit during the day and freezes back over at night. I would not attempt this without really good (and ideally, waterproof) hiking shoes. I'm fairly certain we both bit it at least once on the way back down! The whole trek, including time to just wander and relax, was around 2 hours.
No clue what I said (or did) but it was clearly hilarious, as Ali completely lost it long enough for me to get a bunch of shots between my own snorting laughter. This is what I love about being in the middle of nowhere, sans cell reception, just being pleasantly overhwhelmed by nature and connecting with truly good people. Laughter truly is the best medicine, and we both dosed ourselves heavily.
After all that hard work slipping, sliding, and giggling (guffawing?), we treated ourselves to the rest of the afternoon at Avanti Food & Beverage. It has a fabulous food hall downstairs and a rooftop (with full bar and more food) boasting a fabulous view of Denver's steel and glass. The sun was out again in full force - a perfect finish. Except that we hit another spot after, but that's another post!