hiking



I have snowboarded and cross-country skied Eldora but never hiked it. Today was a spectacular day of fall colors, cool mist, springy, light hail, and solid friendship along the Lost Lake Trail near Nederland, Colorado.

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This jaunt is not for the meek or for those prone to altitude sickness. But, it is a great workout and pretty scenic if you make it all the way to the top and it’s not blizzarding out. Parking will now cost you $5 at the self-serve lot, which also sports a port-a-potty for the colonically inclined. This is a good addition to the area and is worth the five bucks.

It's less windy down by the trees

The elevation starts out at 10,500 and the less-than-a-mile snowshoe to the top will take you some time. This is windy terrain, folks, and the snow gets crusted over. Still, it’s a beautiful, serene jaunt about an hour west of Denver. It’s perfect for getting your snowsports in when the snow is just not happening, like it’s not thus far this season.

You can never be too prepared for a snowshoe up a glacier. Snowshoeing will warm you up, fer sure, but bring your warmest mittens, thickest wool socks, gators, and 2-3 layers on the torso and legs. Bring a wind shell for the outer layer. It can get nasty up there.

Still a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, as my friends and I did a few weeks ago…

To get to St. Mary’s Glacier: Head west along I-70 from Denver and follow the signs. Begin to look in earnest after Idaho Springs. If you hit the Eisenhower Tunnel you haven’t been paying attention and you’ve gone too far.

It’s less than ten miles from the exit to the trailhead. And a very beautiful ten miles at that.

Read about another high-altitude adventure from SheSpoke: conquering the back bowls at Vail.


Conventional wisdom is stupid. Conventional wisdom for those of us who spend much of our time playing in the outdoors is a special kind of stupid. In order for conventional wisdom to work, the intended recipient of that wisdom is usually a dilettante or a newbie or a weekend warrior. Conventional wisdom I like to ignore:

Never ski/ride/hike/surf alone

Carry a GPS device with you

Ski/ride/hike/surf with those better than you–it will raise your game

To those purveyors of outdoor recreation wisdom I say “hogwash” and proffer this up instead:

Know thyself

Do go out alone, especially if you’re in very familiar territory and need some alone time to reconnect with nature, your thoughts, your soul, or all of the above.

Do not venture out alone if you are just getting started in this sport. The chances for injury/getting lost are high.

Do not carry a GPS device unless you are geocaching. Instead, read your maps, use a compass, or go with someone who knows where they’re going.

Do not rely on GPS devices to compensate for your lack of preparation.

Do challenge yourself by going with others who are stronger at the sport than you are. They can show you that catching that wave/riding those trees/navigating that rocky singletrack is possible.

Do not always go out with those of better abilities because you will be constantly catching up and out of breath, and this particular sport will cease to be fun for you.

That last point rings particularly loud for me. I spent most of this snowboarding season going with other folks, all of whom were better than me. It felt really good hanging with folks who are considered experts, and it did a ton for my confidence.

But I was always huffing and puffing, always wanting to head back to the lodge, always needing water. I was often grateful for the long, cold, windy lift rides so I could catch my breath. Meanwhile my present company was usually yukking it up, talking about the sick trees I didn’t dare drop into or the steep drops I rode around.

I often felt on the verge of collapse or control, and my legs were often begging me for a respite, both that day and the next (and the next). We can be challenged away from a sport if we have too many experiences like these.

My field hockey coach in high school called me a tiger. My skills were barbarous, but I could keep up with any mid-fielder, and I just went after it. I even tried to argue with her when she took me out of a game because the rock-hard ball had pierced my skin, right through my shin guards.

I love a challenge. I love brainy challenges, athletic challenges, and professional challenges. (For the record, I HATE interpersonal challenges, although I am getting better at them.) I swear I’m gonna teach myself the basics of Sanskrit grammar some day. I look forward to scuba diving and finally taking up downhill skiing. I will turn my (mis)adventures into a travel memoir, even though conventional wisdom tells us that that genre is a difficult one both to write and publish in.

So here’s to the comfort zone–the ability to have sustained confidence in your abilities because you’re going at your own speed and are staying within your limits. You look around when you’re in your comfort zone, taking things in instead of having them rush past you. In your comfort zone you can concentrate on your strengths, paying attention to the little things you do well. Getting better at the things you do well, so next time you head out with those higher up on the skills food chain, you will huff and puff less and learn and enjoy more.



Although I’ve lived in Colorado for 15 years and love snowsports, I can point to only a small handful of years where I actually went out and bought a pass. Plopping down $400 for the promise of 10 trips to the mountains just isn’t a good enough deal for me.

Ski resorts know folks like me exist, folks who value quantity over quality, folks who like diversity in their skiing.

I am always on the lookout for great skiing deals, and what I found is being featured on the front page of The Denver Examiner

Merry Christmas!


Faithful readers-

I appreciate your not forsaking me. Bouts of work, re-injury, and other necessary but boring commitments have kept me from posting for two months. That’s a record for shespoke and not one I’m proud of.

I’m back! With a new attitude and a new writing gig. This one’s for suite101, which allows me to write on a myriad of topics.

My second posting was inspired by my road trip with my mother down to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, where we had fun petting gators and dreaming of UFO landings.

More adventures to come, promise!


Even though the 1892 all-white male jury found otherwise, the circumstantial evidence against this taciturn young woman means that we find her guilty in the court of public opinion, even without the murder weapon.

Who needs a murder weapon when you’ve got erratic behavior and a massive inheritance at stake? The American legal system, apparently.

But THE trial of the 19th century, where a young woman is acquitted of hacking her parents to death, is worth revisiting. Especially on Halloween Eve.


People find out I sandboard and ask me a ton of questions, like I know what I’m doing or something. Let’s get one thing straight: I only sandboard every couple of years and only do when when my legs refuse to go on another mountain bike trip or I can’t afford to fly to some coast somewhere to go surfing.

Same thing with golf. When I tell folks I’m going golfing they always respond, “I didn’t know you golfed.” That’s because I don’t. Except on that particular day.

I’m no expert on the sand with a board. I use a cheapo plastic promotional board from Dannon and wear my Salomon snowboard boots, sweatpants, and some kind of warm windbreaker. Lucky for me the Great Sand Dunes National Park is only four (Annie leadfoot) hours from Denver and there’s some amazing hot springs at Joyful Journey on the way home.

So, I go. Last week I had the good fortune of 36 hours (pretty much) off, so I packed up Subi II with camping and sand/snowboard stuff.

I hiked up for about two hours, then sandboarded down the steepest lips of sand I could find. At one point I miscalculated, and the angle was too acute to gain momentum, and there I am, jumping up and down, pathetically trying to push myself forward. I unclipped my bindings and walked to a steeper, albeit shorter, lip.

Pictorial highlights below:

The road in from the south, near Alamosa

The road in from the south, near Alamosa

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Nature's optical illusion

Nature’s optical illusion

Optical illusion 2

Optical illusion 2

First time in my life I've been tall and thin

First time in my life I’ve been tall and thin

The Sangre de Cristos in the background

The Sangre de Cristos in the background

Tall and thin twice in one day

Tall and thin twice in one day

Grasses in the wind

Grasses in the wind

Brilliant color at sunset

Brilliant color at sunset

No, I don't own Photoshop

No, I don’t own Photoshop

Walked up that

Walked up that

Dannon and Sky

Dannon and Sky

SheSpoke poses and readies

SheSpoke poses and readies

Dannon's ready

Dannon’s ready

Steep, short, and safe

Steep, short, and safe

Boarding this lip was the day's highlight!

Boarding this lip was the day’s highlight!

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