St. Mary’s Glacier: On top of the world!

Hiking St. Mary’s Glacier has been a tradition in our family since I moved to Colorado almost 12 years ago. But this year was my favorite yet because we pushed the boundaries and went higher than ever before.

And because we didn’t run over Hadley’s foot with the car. Or have our friend’s daughter get sick and then their car wouldn’t start.

In June, we went on weekly hikes with our hiking group but July was a lot of boating and hanging out with grandparents, which means both my kids are out of shape. Though St. Mary’s Glacier is only about 1 mile to the base of the glacier, it is a steepish, rocky mile through a high subalpine forest and the 10,000+-feet elevation can sometimes be problematic. Bode got an altitude headache early on but recovered fairly quickly. His whining about his tired legs was another matter.

Hadley started out slower than usual, “wow, I really am out of shape!” but quickly regained her strength and was blazing up the trail as usual. She has been begging to climb to the top of the glacier for years (a slippery, steep, arduous climb) and we’ve been putting her off because we knew Bode wouldn’t make it. I figured this year would be no different so we took our usual pictures at the base of the glacier.

But then something amazing happened. Hadley and I started climbing on the glacier, followed by Jamie and a reluctant Bode. And they didn’t stop!

The base of the glacier is bottle-necked with crowds but as we hiked the masses cleared and we had that entire river of ice to ourselves.

Looking down.

It was awe-inspiring as we snaked our way up one of the largest moving objects on earth. Bode and I had a blast holding each other as we slid down, shouting “1, 2, SLIIIIDE!”

Hadley reached the top of the glacier first and upon finding a trail announced she was going to keep going. Climbing the glacier was one thing; continuing higher to the Continental Divide Trail was another. I instructed her to only go as far as the next ridge because there was no way we would convince Bode to go higher.

But that day, we went just high enough. How proud I am of my little clan.

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