Thursday, February 8: Horsetooth Rock and Celebratory Climbaversary

Inhale

I am Free

Exhale

This silly mantra of mine had me almost literally skipping down the side of Horsetooth Rock today with a giant smile on my face. Breathing exercises are hugely underrated but this shit has been so good for me since the beginning of the year. For real, even when I am hiking I sometimes say this while breathing to, well, make sure that I’m taking full breaths and actually breathing. I use it when I’m climbing, when I’m stressed out at work, or when I’m going to bed for the night. It’s amazing what breathing consciously can do for you and your mind.

ANYWAYS, breathing recommendations over, moving on…

I went for a hike up to Horsetooth Rock today to break in my new trail running shoes. Sigh, I wish there was a 6 3/4 shoe size, but custom made shoes aren’t quite in the budget yet. They still worked great, and were properly broken in on snow, ice, mud, dirt, and rocks.

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They made it to the top!

The start of the hike was warm (it was 60 degrees in Fort Collins today!) with a snowy trail. It got chillier the further up I went, but it was still beautiful out. I booked it to the top. I don’t actually know how fast I went because Fitbit started to track the hike on the other side of the reservoir, nowhere near the actual start of the hike (so weird, maybe the wind had an impact on it?). But, this gave me time to sit at the top, take my time, and enjoy the view. I had a lot of fun climbing up on the rock. It’s the first rocky hike I’ve been on since I’ve been climbing at the gym and it was a lot of fun to picture the rock as the climbing wall and figure out where my feet and hands should go. Once at the top it was pretty windy, but still enjoyable to sit, relax, and snack.

 

 

The way down was also a lot of fun. I ran some of the sections that weren’t slick to test out the new shoes, and it was pretty exhilarating to build up momentum going down. In the end, the hike was about five miles (even though my map said differently). It went by pretty quick, but it felt great to get out, push myself, and enjoy the fresh air.

 

 

I was also reminded of how freaking grateful I am to have so many amazing people in my life, and to have been lucky enough to be able to catch up with four of them in person throughout these past two months even though we live spread out: Fort Collins, Milwaukee, Greeley, and Panama. So, here is a group picture of all of us from a sunrise hike we did up to Horsetooth during our last month of all of us living in Fort Collins circa summer 2013.

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Taking life too seriously so early in the day, love these four ♥

BONUS ADDITION!

This week is my climbaversary! In January I took a climbing 101 class at a local gym, met a fellow badass lady, and we’ve been keeping up with climbing ever since. It’s been a blast to push myself, play around, and learn how to trust a climbing partner and my own self. Today we messed around (our shits and giggles routes) on 5.9s, which is harder than what we’ve tried so far. It was physically challenging but so much fun. I belly laughed while trusting my body many feet in the air. It’s been so good to play around with heights, with strength, and with trust.

 

 

 

Happy trails, my friends.

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January 20-22: Seattle, Washington

Okay, this trip never involved me getting out my actual hiking boots and lacing them up, but I did wear some boots, and there were some serious miles covered while on this trip! For real, Seattle is much hillier than I was expecting. In the end, there were a little over 22 miles walked, and about 55,000 steps taken.

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Mountains seen from the plane on the way in. We were also able to see Mt. Rainier as we landed in the city, so pretty.

My cousin, who is now living in Israel, was back in Seattle for a few days on business. The tickets were cheap, so my mom and I decided to make a quick weekend getaway for my first trip to Seattle to catch up with some family while enjoying the city.

We landed Saturday morning, just in time to share the train with crowds of people toting their amazing protest signs and their pink pussy hats on the way to the women’s march. It brought me back to January 2017 in D.C., where the trains were FULL of people, heavy feelings, and lots of uneasy laughter and love.

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The view along the waterfront trail

My uncle met us at the Westlake station, and we headed to Eggs and Plants for a quick lunch (that included french fries- which will unfold as a theme of the trip, but really, of my life). After that, we dropped our bag at the Travelodge Seattle “by the space needle,” and headed out on a walk towards the Pike Place Market and the water front. We walked through the market, down to the water front near the aquarium, and then along the path that took us past the Olympic Sculpture Park. We eventually turned off the path and headed back through the city blocks towards our hotel. We caught the tail end of some of the rallying going on surrounding the march, and saw a lot of great signs that people created.

 

We then took the E line down Aurora Avenue to Bongos Cafe, a delicious Caribbean/Cuban restaurant with amazing yucca fries and plantains. Jeff met us there, and it was great to have a chance to catch up with him after… thirteen years. No photo was taken with the two of us in it, but I promise it happened! Later that night, we stopped by Kerry Park and took in the views of the city skyline at night. It was beautiful, but I was told it was even more impressive on a clear day when the mountains and Mt. Rainier were also visible, alongside the bay and the skyline. By the way, the space needle looks way more impressive from afar than it does up close.

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View from Kerry Park

We started Sunday off with breakfast at 5 Spot. Their current theme was New Orleans, so obviously we ordered a bag of beignets to get our meal started. I also ordered Bananas Foster French Toast, which I did impressive work on.

 

After we were filled to the brim with amazing food, we headed out for a walk in the Queen Anne neighborhood. We stopped at a local board game and puzzle store, where I scored Bohnanza The Duel, and my mom and uncle picked out the most inconveniently boxed puzzles for carry on luggage. We continued walking, going up and down some, again, surprisingly intimidating hills. We made it back to Aurora Avenue, where we walked out on the bridge over Lake Union, but not far enough to see the troll living underneath (for real). We saw a lot of lush greenery along our walk, which was refreshing.

 

We Orca’ed our way back to the trusty Travelodge “by the space needle!” to rest for a bit before heading back out for a walk towards REI’s flagship store. REI does a good job with their stores, and this one had a fireplace outside, a bike trail to test mountain bikes, a rock climbing wall inside, and a bunch of gear and outdoor clothing that I would have loved to bring home if money weren’t a thing! It was fun to see the store, though.

 

We continued on our trek back towards Pike Place Market, where we were meeting more family for dinner at the Pike Place Bar and Grill. It had been rainy in Seattle, but it really started to pour, so we ducked in to a Starbucks to warm up with some java (funny side note, it felt comical to see the Starbucks coffee with “local product” stickers in the grocery store). After the rain subsided, we battled the wind on our hilly trek to the market area. We enjoyed a good meal while catching up with family that I hadn’t seen in twenty-three years, there IS a photo of this somewhere out there in the digital world, so maybe I will add it one day.

Monday was our last day in Seattle, and we started it off right with some hand-forged doughnuts and coffee from Top Pot. From there, my mom and I walked down to the water front again, this time heading in the other direction, towards Pioneer Square. It was a neat area, with old buildings mixed with new, flashy skyscrapers. Unfortunately, the Utilikilts store was closed though, which was a big disappointment.

 

My mom and I then met back up with my uncle to see and experience the new Amazon Go store that just opened, and the exterior of Bezos’ balls, or more appropriately, the new spheres that were just built and are filled with plant life, much like a botanical garden.

 

Before heading to the airport, we made a quick stop back at the market to pick up some smoked salmon and stuff our faces with delicious food one last time, this time pies from Piroshky, Piroshky.

 

It was an overall amazing trip, filled with family visiting, beautiful sightseeing, and so much delicious food, I really feel like I successfully ate my way through all of the french fries in different forms (fried potato balls, mediterranean, classic, yucca…) and doughnuts of the city. And on that note, I’m going to go eat some green vegetables now…

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View of the mountains from the Seattle airport, I hope to make it back for some mountainous hiking!

 

Also, the Travelodge Seattle “by the space needle!” serves as a Picasso museum, as well:

 

Thursday, January 11: Rabbit Mountain Open Space

Hey Colorado, you’re beautiful.

The first hike of the year is in the books (or on the blog, whatever). I used to commute from Fort Collins to Boulder for work, and everyday I would pass a sign for Rabbit Mountain Open Space on Highway 66. I thought I would finally check it out today! First of all, I can’t believe I ever drove that much five days a week. But, it’s a beautiful drive with an amazing view of Long’s Peak, even when it’s wrapped in a blanket of cloud. Even mountain peaks get chilly, I suppose.

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cloudy peaks

I started off from the trailhead along the Little Thompson Overlook Trail. It was an out and back that took me to, well, the overlook. It was a nice, rocky climb up with some nice views at the end.

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The Overlook

I then connected to the Eagle Wind trail, which was a loop that provided beautiful views of the mountains. Plus, I only briefly got lost… on a loop.

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Eagle Wind Loop

All in all, it turned out to be about a 6 mile hike, and even with a bit of a wind, it was still a beautiful day to do the 2018 inaugural hike!

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Happy new year!

2017 Hiking: A Year in Review

I saw a lot of “best nine” on Instagram at the end of December, people reflecting on memorable moments of 2017. I’ve been thinking a lot about this, of how to parse out what was real and what was not, and what was actually good and memorable, and how to process that and begin to heal. Hiking was a big part of 2017, as the first day of the year was spent on a warm, sunny hike at Rocky River. I want to be able to look back at all of the beautiful places I got to go to and hike at and be able to remember them for what they were, amazing hiking experiences in the outdoors. I believe there is a lot of peace to be found in the outdoors, and on hiking trails. Nothing heals quite like time spent in nature. So, here is my 2017 hiking year in review. Enjoy!

Cleveland area hiking, at various Metroparks and CVNP

 

 

Camping trip out west, including Death Valley, Valley of Fire, Red Rock Canyon, Hoover Dam, and Zion National Park

 

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Sunrise at Red Rock Valley campgrounds. One of my all time favorite photos.

Colorado hiking

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Overlook in RMNP

 

 

So, here is to all of the beautiful hiking in 2017, and to all of the hiking to come in the new year!

Saturday, November 25th & Sunday, November 26th: Mount Margaret and Eagle’s Nest Open Space

David flew in for a visit over Thanksgiving, so we made sure to make time for some outdoors! On Saturday we headed up to Livermore, CO, near Red Feather Lake area, to stay with family for the night and hang out. Before settling in for the day we headed up to the Mount Margaret trail and set out for a beautiful hike on a sunny November day.

 

The way out was relatively easy, and it was really enjoyable seeing snow-capped mountains in the distance. The total hike was a little over seven miles (although my phone died so the entire hike wasn’t tracked correctly). We took a break at the end point and climbed up on to some of the rocks near Mount Margaret to enjoy the views.

 

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We then headed to my relatives’ house for the evening and enjoyed lots of tasty food, drinks, and company. We puzzled, played games, and watched Christmas movies while enjoying the beautiful views from their house.

 

The next day on the way home we stopped at Eagle’s Nest Open Space for a shorter hike. In all, it was a little of three miles but it was HOT outside with an intense sun, which we were not prepared for, so it felt like a much more challenging hike than we were expecting. It was still a neat hike though, with views of the foothills, red rocks, and open fields with horses, while also leading us down to the Poudre River.

 

January 2015: Hocking Hills, Ohio

Happy throwback Monday! For no specific reason, I feel like reminiscing about the Ohio hiking that I did in my first few years there. In January 2015 we went to Hocking Hills for a weekend. We rented a cabin (with a hot tub!!) near the hiking trails and spent the weekend hiking in the hills, playing games (Bonanza!), and cooking with friends.

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I don’t remember all of the trails that we hiked in detail, but I know that we hiked to Ash Cave, Rock House, Cedar Falls, and the Gorge and Rim Trails in Conkle’s Hollow.

Ash Cave:

Rock House:

Cedar Falls:

And then what I think are photos from Conkle’s Hollow Gorge Trail and Rim Trail:

There were other photos from this trip, with views from the Rim Trail, so if they turn up I will add them!

This was an awesome, wintery getaway, and I can’t believe we’re coming up on three years since this trip. My toes were cold 90% of the time (the 10% they weren’t cold was when we were in the hot tub at our cabin), but the hiking was still really great, and the ice formations and caves were so cool!

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Random photo of Morty before she destroyed all of these plants

Thursday, November 2nd: Lory State Park, Well Gulch to Timber to Arthur’s Rock to West Valley Trail

This was a perfectly spooky hike for the week of Halloween! There was a heavy fog warning out for Larimer County when I left for the park this morning, and it did not disappoint while hiking! The temperatures were finally low enough that I felt chilly throughout the entire hike, which was refreshing. I haven’t been to Lory  State Park since I lived here the last time, so it was nice to finally make it back for a hike on the trails there. I parked at the Etluck picnic area and started the hike on the Well Gulch trail. I connected to Timber and started the climb up on all of the switchbacks.

From Timber I connected with the Artuher’s Rock trail and climbed up to the summit. Normally this provides an expansive view of Fort Collins and beyond, but today it was a sea of fog. I took a break, ate some snacks, and enjoyed the foggy views at the top.

I hiked back down on the Arthur’s Rock trail, then turned on to the West Valley trail to loop back to the parking lot. Once back, I decided to hike down to Etluck Bay to check out the reservoir’s water level. In all, the hike was a little over seven miles and was overall pretty quiet, with only a few other hikers spotted, a couple of rock climbers, and a wild turkey (gobble gobble!).