I arrived in Colorado on November 23, and started work the 24th. I anxiously waited for Thanksgiving, not for the mouth-watering turkey leg and cornbread dressing, but for the simple fact I would have the day off and could be in the mountains. I was up before the sun (not hard to do in November) and headed to RMNP. When I arrived at Bear Lake, I noticed people putting these odd contraptions on their feet. Me? I was romping through the snow in by duck boots. Yes, the snow did crest over the top and into my boots, but I didn’t care. I was in the Rocky Mountains! (Insert very large smile here!) I asked a group what they called the weird footwear, a young lady said, “Snowshoes.” “Snowshoes? Those don’t look like oversized tennis rackets!” They smiled when they saw my Alabama car tag. On the following Sunday, (my one day a week off) I headed to REI in Ft. Collins and purchased a pair of snowshoes and trekking poles. I couldn’t wait to try them out!!!
One of the first things I do when I arrive in a new place is scope out the various “Meetup” groups. If you don’t know what Meetup is, it’s an app that connects you with other people who have the same interests that you have. The different groups will organize various activities and you respond as to whether you care to participate or not.
One group that sparked my curiosity was named, Northern Colorado Adventurers. They had scheduled a snowshoe/cross-country skiing adventure the following Sunday. I immediately signed up, but received an email back that I had to be approved before I could join. I corresponded with one of the group organizers who invited me to meet up with the group that was going snowshoeing and have breakfast. Deal!
OK, let me tell y’all a little something about myself. When I decide to do something, I go ALL in. There are no reservations, it’s all or nothing with me. I asked Mark, the organizer of this event, what I would need besides the snowshoes. Mark stated, water/wind proof snow pants, waterproof hiking boots (check), water/wind proof jacket, warm gloves, hat (check), goggles and a Camelbak (check). DAMN! Ok. The Friday before the hike I drove to Jax in Loveland, to buy the gear. That took a lot of folding money! (But has been worth EVERY penny.)
Sunday morning, December 14th, could not get here soon enough. I arrived at the restaurant in Ft. Collins and met part of the group. After a fat boy breakfast, we met the rest of the hikers, a total of 20, at the Jax in Ft. Collins . Brief introductions were made then we headed west up Hwy 14.
The two-hour drive took us to an elevation of 10,200 feet at Cameron Pass. The snow was deep and the wind was whirling as the snow continued to come down. I 100% looked like Lloyd and Harry from “Dumb and Dumber” trying to get everything on and realized I should have made a trial run before now.
One piece of advice I was given was to blow the water back down the tube into the Camelbak because I didn’t purchase the insulating sleeve for the tube. I thought to myself, “I’ll wait until we cross the street.” Bad mistake. Very bad mistake. The temperature on this day was 18˚, now add the windchill. The water that I refused to blow back down the tube had frozen solid by the time I crossed the street. Brilliant Nanette, just brilliant. I didn’t say anything, I didn’t want to look as dumb as I felt at that moment. What a newbie!
The hike starts. Now remember one thing, I have been in Colorado for three weeks. THREE WEEKS! And my dumba$$ self decides to do this hike! I am sucking wind! I can’t breathe! But I didn’t stop (for long.) Lucky for me and unlucky for Gary, the person who stuck with me, they never leave anyone alone. After a couple of miles, Gary, who is a very experienced hiker, asked if I have had any water to drink. I now have to admit I hadn’t because it froze a few miles back. He had me slip the tube in my jacket so it would thaw. Now I feel dumb. Obviously the altitude affected my ability to solve problems as well as my ability to breathe. Half a mile later I had water to drink, and I couldn’t get enough!
The snow was “falling” horizontally, and the wind was biting my face. The rest of me was sweating like I was running on black top. In Alabama. At 3:00 p.m. In August. Gary asked if I was getting too hot. I wanted to stay tough and say, “Nope, feeling GREAT!”, but it was obvious by how red my face was that I was quickly approaching the boiling point. Gary then showed me all of the “venting” zippers on my pants and jacket. Yup! Here’s your sign! Feeling even dumber now.
As we continued to hike up the mountain, my right hip flexor was becoming more and more painful. By the time we reached 11,500 feet the pain in my hip was excruciating. I am now dragging my right foot, it is too painful to pick it up. Yes, you guessed it, I didn’t want to say anything.
The descent down the mountain was just as painful as going up, but I had no choice. I didn’t want to end up like Jack Nicholson in “The Shining.” I was completely spent by the time we (I) made it back to the vehicle. I couldn’t get out of my gear fast enough and into my vehicle so I could sit down. At that moment I was wishing I wasn’t one of the drivers!
I talked with Ben, my trainer at the gym, about what I was doing wrong on the hike to cause me so much pain. He told me I was walking wrong in the snowshoes and showed me the correct way of walking. Something I will have to make a conscious effort to remember and do correctly next time.
Being the “Type A” personality that I am, and the simple fact that I never give up, I will go snowshoeing again. I WILL have this sport 100% mastered before I leave, if I ever leave…
(Before you send me emails about the quality of the pictures, let me say, they were all taken with my phone and I didn’t have my glasses to check for blurriness. Plus, the camera on my new phone stinks!)