When I first moved to Denver, I was really ambitious (read: stupid). Getting wet in a waterfall is on my list of 101 Things to do this year, and I thought it would be really neat to make that dream come true with Elk Falls at Staunton State Park.
The hike to Elk Falls is 11.1 miles round trip. At an elevation around 9,120 feet.
Before I moved to Colorado, these numbers meant nothing to me. I had never been hiking in the mountains. Eleven miles isn’t really that far, I thought to myself one Saturday not too long ago. I saw the elevation and thought “ooh, I’ll get such good pictures.”
ADVICE: Don’t move to Colorado from the Midwest and think you’ll be doing a ton of hiking and rock climbing right away. Your little Midwestern lungs will not allow it. Unless you were an Olympic swimmer or marathon runner or something, prepare to be embarrassed every time you go hiking as 70-year-old couples from Boulder power past you with all their hiking and climbing gear (they will also have a golden lab who will look at you like you are pathetic).
Hiking is hard at a normal elevation with normal (read: Midwestern) lungs. Hiking at an elevation of 9,120 feet your third week as a transplant? Forget about it.
I made it 1.5 miles out, took an hour break, and basically crawled back. And then I had an asthma attack in my car.
But I did get some really pretty pictures while I sat on the ground and watched all the Colorado natives make the hike look easy.
With a little practice, I’ll be scaling fourteeners in no time. Until then, I’ll be investing in an inhaler.