As part of our training for the Snowman Trek, Jon and I took a very short trip (two nights) to Denver to get in some last-minute high-altitude hiking. It was a good thing we did because we learned a thing or two that we hadn’t quite figured out during our warm summer hikes.
Though we had already done some high altitude hikes–14,000 foot Mauna Kea in Hawaii and 12,600 foot Santa Fe Baldy in New Mexico–this was the first time we were really in cold weather. It was 38 degrees when we set out at about 7 A.M.
I have to admit that I was a bit unprepared for that low temp. While I packed my hiking boots and poles (forcing me to check a bag), I didn’t have gloves. Whoops. I ended up wearing an extra pair of Smartwool socks (snicker) on my hands that Jon happened to have with him. Good thing, ’cause that really saved the tips of my fingers that were starting to get cold within the first few minutes of hiking.
I also realized just how cold it will be getting for us at 18,000 feet in Bhutan. I therefore added a couple more Merino wool layers to my wish list and made a mental note that on the trek I would need to carry my North Face jacket, Icebreaker balaclava and Gordini heavy gloves in my daybag in case I encounter such cold along the way (which I will).
Such a view, eh?
By the time we reached this peak (about 11,900 feet), the wind was blowing super hard–about 20 – 30 miles an hour. I was actually having a difficult time staying upright without my poles.
But it was a great view.
When we finished our day hike, temps were closer to the low 60s and I was much happier.
If you go
For great hotel rates, try booking your hotel through Trivago.
We stayed at The Curtis in downtown Denver. Though this is a Doubetree by Hilton hotel, it’s no ordinary cookie-cutter accommodation. Every floor has a different theme and every room is decorated to suit the floor’s theme. We were on the 13th floor, the scary movie floor, and we were in the Ghostbuster room which was complete with icky, gooey, green stuff embedded in the floor and books on how to catch a ghost.
We only had a couple of days there. One was spent sightseeing for a story I’m writing for the Expedia Viewfinder blog. The second day we spent hiking. If you’re planning a trip to Denver (5,280 feet) for some hiking, my recommendation would be to spend at least a couple of days in the city to acclimate before setting out for the higher mountains.