Going from a couple hundred feet above sea level to 8,010 ft will mess you up. Martha warned me pretty early on that a trip to the mountains required lots of hydration. That threat, combined with a lingering cold, kept me peeing most of the time at my office.
When I got there, my ears needed popping frequently (also due to the cold, I think), but otherwise no crippling headache. But we’re in the mountains next to one of the greatest national parks — we have to go for a hike! Which means climbing another 1,000 feet to get to the trail head to climb a couple hundred more feet. Oh yeah. Did I mention it was snowing? And that I had barely decided not to pack shorts? Sure, a hike in high altitude in a snow storm on the SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN is fabulous.
So the five of us trekked up the beginning of the trail. After about 120 feet (length, not height climbed), we all stood around panting for breath. Another 120 feet, another pause. Another 120 feet, and a sign: only .3 miles to the beginning of the trail! Wait… you mean we AREN’T ON THE TRAIL YET?
Fortunately it got easier from there. While I was still panting furiously, my legs felt fine and I knew I could keep hiking. And after the steepest part I stopped having issues breathing. Despite being pretty windy in some places, and at one point losing the trail altogether, it was pretty awesome. Definitely glad I did it.
Of course, the next day, walking up the moderate incline from the admin building to the parking lot, I got completely winded. Naturally.