To prepare for our summer family trip to Estes Park, Colorado, I had been chugging about a gallon of water every day to lessen my chances of getting the dreaded altitude sickness when we arrived. We arrived in Denver and drove 2.5 hours (and about 3000 ft) up to the gates of Rocky Mountain National Park, and by nightfall, I was sure that I was in the clear!
Wake up call the next morning was bright and early (which wasn’t a problem because jet lag) to get a head start before the crowds on a gorgeous hike highlighting 4 different lakes. We were all feeling good, rested, and none of us had headaches so we were ready to go! We filled our camel backs and put on our hiking boots and found our way to the trailhead. The hike begins as a walk around the first lake at about 8000 ft above sea level. As South Floridians, we were in awe of the still snow-capped mountains in the middle of June.
And then, much to our dismay, the steady incline began.
We found ourselves out of breath, gasping for air with the slightest incline! We had only just begun the hike...1 lake down, 3 more to go. Or 1 mile down, 3 more miles to go! We quickly realized that our bodies, so used to living at sea level, so used to the humid 80 degrees year round, were not happy with the strenuous activity we were demanding our legs and lungs to work through. We had not taken into consideration that we were not just sitting up at 10000 feet, we were working really hard!
2.5 hours later, after too many stops to catch our breaths, we made it to the last lake. A gorgeous body of water still partially frozen in June, surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountains. Through the wheezing and the lack of oxygen from being at 10000 feet above sea level, we appreciated the magnificent beauty of planet earth. We have never been more proud of any accomplishment and the work it took to get to the end was more than worth it. We never wanted to leave! Although, I’m not sure if it was because of the beauty or because we remembered we had to return to our car...4 miles downhill.