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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Arapaho Glacier Trail

August 1st, 2007 · No Comments

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Today I must have died and gone to heaven. I base this astute conclusion on three indisputable facts:

1. The mountains and the lakes where I hiked were so unworldly in their beauty.

2. I was totally alone, with no one else within miles.

3. My new continuous glucose sensor told me that my levels were “below 40.” At that point people go into the hospital or die. I don’t have any memory of being in a hospital this week, so I must be in heaven.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that the sensor loses its accuracy at high elevations. I checked it against my fingerstick meter, which gave me a normal reading, but that meter is rated accurate only to 10,150 feet. When I got back home, I called the 24-hour support line for my continuous sensor, but they didn’t know about any altitude problem.

I hiked the Arapaho Glacier trail in the Indian Peaks Wilderness today. I walked about six miles (13,000 steps) from 9,965 feet to its highest point, 12,710 feet. That’s where it is most beautiful and where my meter told me to forget living.

The trail is close to my place, as high mountain trails go, and I got to the trailhead by 8:30. It’s five miles down a rough dirt road off of the Peak to Peak highway, but I never noticed the road before. I spotted it in some of my hiking guides, where they rate the hike as “strenuous,” the first such that I’ve attempted.

Since I hiked within half a mile of the glacier (as close as we are allowed to get), I know that it sounds cold, But it was a beautiful, comfortable day, and again it didn’t start to sprinkle until I got back to “Suzy” after six hours on the trail. That’s what I have been calling my Highlander SUV. I should introduce her by name, “Suzy.” In high school I knew a redhead by the name of Suzy, and my Highlander is red.

When I arrived at the trailhead, no other vehicles were there. And in all the time I was on the trail I only saw one other person, a young man who passed me on the trail as I sat on a log enjoying the sunshine. This was back country hiking at its finest!

The glacier provides much of the water for the city of Boulder. I think that it’s the only city in the country that owns its own glacier, and that is the reason why the “Places Rated” book says that we have the best water.

The beginning of the trail went through dense pine forests, which smelled wonderful after last night’s rain. I was thinking that they probably should bottle that scent. Then I realized that they have already tried. At about 11,000 feet I reached the treeline and visibility opened up. As much as I love trees, I love the visibility of the open tundra even more. It’s like the desert, which I also love in its own way. Here is one of my favorite mountain flowers.

Indian Paintbrush Just Below the Treeline

Indian Paintbrush Just Below the Treeline

The view from the top took in at least five lakes, an equal number of waterfalls, and countless mountains. The highest in view were South Arapaho Peak at 13,397 feet and North Arapaho Peak at 13,502 feet. Arapaho Glacier cradles between them.

Boulder's Watershed

Boulder's Watershed

This morning when I left home I weighed 180 with nothing on. But when I got back after my hike I weighed 203. The difference was my pack and everything else I was carrying. It’s not as much as when I backpacked 30 years ago, but my pack is certainly getting heavier with all the gadgets I’m carrying now.

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