Hidden pockets of winter are a privilege Colorado residents enjoy this time of year.  In my humble opinion, the most refreshing way to spend a hot summer afternoon – aside from sitting in a beer cave – is heading up to Saint Mary’s Glacier.

A short drive from Denver transforms my bustling, urban reality into the evergreen forests that inspired air fresheners.  The T-bar at Eclipse Snow Park, though closed in 1988, serves as an iconic backdrop for the beginning of the trek.  I turn off at this landmark, pay $5 to park, follow the road to the trailhead, and wade through a path of glacial rock beneath the aromatic conifers.

Half a mile up the trail, I’m gazing at a panorama resembling the front cover of an REI catalogue.  Cliffs rim the far side of a glacial lake and offer thrill seekers an opportunity to cannonball into water so cold it makes Coors Light tingle with jealousy.  However, my attention is fully fixated by the glacier, which stands out like a Canadian tuxedo  at a black tie event.   Following the path to the right of the lake, I soon meet the base of the glacier.  I channel my inner Jon Krakauer while ascending the glacier, digging my feet deep into the snow and my mind into the surreal setting.   Bringing skis allows me to keep the streak of skiing every month alive (11 straight), but a lot of people also sled, penguin slide, butt slide, or run and tumble down the glacier.

It’s a good ride no matter what your method.  Making turns in the middle of summer always feels good because as Coloradoans, we are naturally children of winter.  Get after it.

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