Starting Elevation: 10,423 Ft
Highest Elevation: 11, 023 Ft
Trail Length: To the base of the glacier and back it is 2 miles round trip
Trail Uses: Snowshoe, skis, snowboards, cross country skis
Degree of Difficulty: To the glacier easy to moderate
Bathroom: Yes – there is a well used port -o-potty in the parking lot
Fees: $5 a day.
2 weeks ago we won an all expense paid trip to Estes Park… I am so excited and will tell you all about as soon as we get to experience it! Because of that, I decided that a break from Rocky Mountain National Park was due this past weekend. I thought it might be fun to try a more advanced snowshoe since the weather was supposed to be pretty awesome on Saturday and St. Mary’s glacier was the one I wanted to do. To be honest snowshoeing to the Glacier isn’t advanced but going up the glacier to James peak is. We had no desire to summit James Peak we just wanted to go to the base and back to enjoy the amazing views on what was supposed to be a perfect day. I had great expectations for the day….
Then I got a crown on Thursday and that 3rd shot hit a nerve, it was almost comical at how quickly my whole left side of my face swelled up, I could see my cheek like it wasn’t my cheek. What wasn’t so great was the pounding headache I had on Friday that forced me into bed all day. Saturday morning it was kinda ghosting around so we went ahead and stuck to our plan.
The drive was lovely, no traffic jams on I 70, dry roads and breathtakingly blue skies. When we got to the parking lot around 7:30, we were super excited and then we open the door ….well I tried to open the car door…. the wind was BAD.
Not easily deterred, we suited up and headed up. It was a super beautiful every where we looked and what a huge contrast from the summer when it was different beauty:
But when the wind hit, we just sort of stopped and stood and waited until it finished up. We were still optimistic we could make the journey we originally planned.
As the Glacier and its surrounding peaks came into view our optimism died, the snow blowing off and around it never stopped or slowed. We saw snow funnels on the slopes… tall ones. I had never seen one of those before. But deep down there was still HOPE and we had not yet put on our snowshoes so we took a bunch of pictures at St. Marys Lake and headed to the glacier.
We got over to the trees to put on our snowshoes and that is when I discovered you put a bizarre amount of pressure on your jaw when putting snowshoes on while wearing a backpack … My headache went back to raging once they were on.
We headed up the glacier not once, not twice but 3 times. Each time we would get in the middle of the winds and try to go a little further and then just get freaked out and turn around. Again if I had more Avalanche training I might have approached it differently but we could not see anything in the windy snow and we could not even look at the mountain ridges to see what the cornices looked like or see what was coming at us from in front or even where we had just come from.
We were out of our comfort zone on a beautiful Bluebird sky but windy day. My head was pounding worse with each attempt and after the 3rd one, I called it. We headed back down and home where I crawled into bed after taking some Alieve.
I felt so lazy later when I was feeling better, so Sunday we hit North Table Mountain ( Hike Details here) to get extra mileage and climb in for the weekend. The day was beautiful but I forgot my camera!
Directions: Take I70 west and exit at Fall River Road ( Exit #238), turn right on to Fall River Road take it up 10 miles past the town of Alice. Look for the Glacier Hike sign on your left; 100 yards past the sign is a public parking lot. $5 to park.