Have you ever said to yourself, “What on earth did I get myself into?” Yeah? Me too!
I certainly said that to myself multiple times this Sunday during my first mountain hike in Colorado!
My cousin and three of her friends invited me to go hiking with them up in the Cache la Poudre Canyon. I was itching to get out and experience what the wilderness has to offer here. So, of course, I was on board! I jumped on that wagon so fast!
My cousin sent me the link for the trail information. The trail they picked was called American Lakes Trail. It stated it was 7 miles round trip. Not bad in my book; I’ve done longer hikes.
So, the night before, I laid out my clothes and hiking shoes, and packed my snacks in my backpack. I also made sure I had TWO water bottles! I was prepared! …or so I thought.
I met up with the four other ladies, and we head out-of-town. As we were driving up the canyon I notice a sign that says we were at 9,500 feet elevation.
I didn’t even bother looking at the elevation we were going to be at! It’s not something that even crossed my mind!
So, I look again at the trail information and it says the trail head starts at 9,825 feet and ends at 11,360 feet!
I have never hiked at that elevation before! I think the highest elevation I have hiked to is somewhere around 5,100 feet.
We had just driven almost two hours to get there, so there really wasn’t an option of turning back!
So, all five of us suit up and head on over to the trail head…
The pain started almost immediately! Ha! Partly because I am not in tip-top shape, partly because the trail started with an incline, and partly because of the elevation.
As we kept climbing higher, though, almost all the pain was from the altitude – that I was not at all used to being at, let alone hiking at!
My head was pounding, I’d get really light-headed from time to time, and my chest felt tight, and my lung capacity felt like it was half what it normally should be! A few times I felt nauseous and like I might pass out.
The girls told me it was altitude sickness. Minor, but definitely altitude sickness!
But, I am the kind of person that pushes through pain and discomfort just to prove to myself I can do it! (not just physicial pain either!) I am all about perseverance! I literally kept telling myself over and over and over again, “You CAN do it, Marissa! Keep pushing! Just make it to the next shady part!” And, that’s basically how I made it to the top!
Plus, I knew the views at the end were going to be magnificent!
And let me tell you what!! They were anything but disappointing!!
I couldn’t focus on taking photos on the way up, so all my photos are on the way back down! I saw all the creeks, rivers, and wildflowers! So beautiful!
We made it to the end of the trail, and I can’t tell you how proud of myself I was for pushing through and not giving up! The mountain vistas above the tree line were incredible!!
That’s a good lesson for all areas of life, really!! When things are challenging and difficult – that’s usually when we grow the most. That’s when we learn about ourselves! Don’t give up when things are hard; push through the pain and get to the other side! You’ll be so proud of yourself when you conquer the challenge!
And even though my body is still sore, and I have mosquito bites literally all over my body, and I have horrendous blisters on my feet – I wouldn’t change the experience of my first Colorado hike for anything!! Now I know I can hike at higher altitudes, and the more I do it the easier it will become!
“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Edmund Hillary