St. Mary’s Glacier, near Idaho Springs, CO
Base elevation: 10,300 ft.
Vertical Climb: 470 ft. over ¾ of a mile
Geographical coordinates: West of Denver, less than 1 hour from home
God’s finger must have touched Colorado when He created Earth. The mountainous drive to St. Mary’s Glacier will take your breath away. For me, the altitude got me. The steep, hillside parking lot cased me to reach for my asthma inhaler practically before the climb started. The initial ascent is quite steep over large, loose ankle-buster rocks, but I was encouraged by the short length of the hike. In retrospect, the brevity of the hike was perhaps the only disappointing aspect.
Once at the base of the glacier, the view is outstanding. Especially if you are fortunate enough, as I was, to have nine or 10 Indian people from India standing in front of every desirable photo angle. But I, wearning patience as my armor, waited them out. Their reason for lingering was so that they could Skype every person in India to share the moment.
St. Mary’s Glacier is listed as a semi-permanent glacier, and it was not as immense as I thought it might be. I walked on the glacier, and the top layer was slick but soft, like Italian ice. A large rock made a perfect seat for a picnic lunch of beef jerky, Goldfish crackers and water. Before leaving, I did sip water from a glacier stream. It might be the purest water I’ll ever taste.
I didn’t climb all thew way to the summit of the glacier. From the mossy perch below, cold air currents occasionally cursed the warm air on it’s way down the mountainside. Next trip, I’ll make extra time to visit nearby Loch Lomond and Chinn’s Lake.