Sand Dunes National Park

Sand Dunes National Park is probably my favorite park I’ve been to, so far in Colorado. The sand dunes themselves are a monstrous, incredible geological formation. If you ever go to the park (admission was always super cheap, like $7 I want to say?), I highly recommend hitting up the visitors center. Not only do they have an awesome gift shop, but they have a huge interactive museum that informs you about the science and history of the area.

Just recently I went back to the dunes with my friend Becca and we had a great time. My goal is to make it all the way from the parking lot, to the far side of the dunes that reach the mountains; however, it’s quite a hike and you definitely need to pack food/water. This trip with Becca we packed mostly mason jars of wine 🙃 I’m definitely not so sure if that’s legal but ~shhhh~ if you don’t tell, I wont.

We went in early December and I kid you not, I was wearing leggings and a thin hoodie for most of the journey. You do have to cross a very shallow, but very wide stream to get from the parking lot to the dunes, so I’d recommend wearing sandals/waterproof shoes, or just taking them off. I’m a barefoot babe so I always tend to kick my shoes off as soon as I have the opportunity.

Relaxing in the sun on a dune at Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado.

Enjoying some December sunshine

Becca getting super excited to be playing in the sand in the middle of December.

Jumping for joy! (Becca loves sand)

We had a seriously great time, even though her clutch was basically on it’s last life on this trip. Since then, Becca’s had her car repaired and we’ve already made plans to go back this summer 🙂

I highly recommend this trip if you’re looking to experience something fun and outdoors with small children. The river is a great spot to bring a cooler and lunch and stay cool on a hot summer day, and the open dunes are a great place to let kids run wild and let out their energy but stay within eyesight.

Walking along the crest of a dune on the way back to the car at Sand Dunes National Park.

This was on our way back down from the highest peak we climbed that day.

View of the Spanish Peaks at Sunset as seen from the highway

View of the Spanish Peaks at sunset

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Skiing in Colorado

So many ski days, so little time! (money…)

So far this season I’ve only been able to get out skiing twice!! It’s a travesty I know.
The first trip I took was on December 8th with my dad and brother in and we went out to Keystone Resort for the day. It was cold cold cold and conditions were poor. The mountains hadn’t received very much snow yet which is a huge bummer. Actually, thus far, we’ve had the worst snow pack in about 30 years...

I have high hopes that the season will just extend further into the spring but who really knows…

So we hit Keystone up in early December and then on January 21st I headed up to Breckenridge where my family and some friends had rented a lovely little house for a couple nights. The snow was much better now, as they got about 6 inches the night before we headed up. Y’all Rocky Mountain natives may have called the conditions ‘icy’, but growing up skiing in Michigan, I have a high tolerance for ‘icy’.

The new guy I’m seeing has an epic pass so hopefully I’ll snag some buddy passes and we’ll get out a few more times at least this year… I’m really beginning to feel comfortable on the big hills out here and would love to start skiing black diamonds with some confidence.

#PracticePracticePractice

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First day of the season out at Keystone.

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Views on the drive out to Keystone from Denver

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On my way out to hit the slopes in Breck. Got my Salomon Lux skis new last year, what a difference it makes skiing on fat skis vs. the thin, way tooooo long, hand-me-down race skis I’d always gotten from my sister….

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Definitely driving safe, eating my smothered burrito on the drive home from Breck….

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Climbing Noob

Hey all-
So one of my 3 year goals is to be climbing V5s!
I mention this because I’m going to (hopefully!) be posting a lot more about my climbing experiences, lame and beginner as they may be 🙂

If you don’t know how bouldering ratings work, basically a V0 is the very easiest rating, V17 ( I think ) is the hardest rating.

I’m currently climbing V2s, and struggling on some of them. So, you’ve gotta start somewhere right?
I’ve started seeing someone (B) and he’s just a smidge better climber than I am, so it’s fun to go together. I also took my sister with me to the gym for her first time ever and we had a blast!

So, here’s to more practice, stronger hands and a happy, healthy 2018.

-Em

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Sara, killin it on her first V1

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LOL look at how far away from the wall my body is – oops!

 

Camping at Lake Pueblo

Lake Pueblo State Park is one of the biggest hidden gems of Colorado

There. I said it. Someone had to!

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Camping there is HELLA cheap. Like $15/night. For a state park, in Colorado, with access to a HUGE recreation lake? #cheap
I’ve camped there a few times and have loved every second of it. If you ever have a chance to take a quick weekend getaway, I would highly recommend Lake Pueblo State Park.

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yours truly, terrorizing Dooey with fruit stickers

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I am eternally sad that Dooey was my ex’s dog, I miss him so SO much.

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Conundrum Hot Springs; Aspen, CO

In late summer, a friend of mine who lives in Denver (Dan) decided he was going to get a group together to trek the 8.5 miles up ~2,500′ to camp out and explore Conundrum Hot Springs. Overall, the trip is 17 miles, with a  3,025′ total roundtrip elevation gain.

Of course I was on board.

My friend Paige was flying in from Detroit, le BF at the time was on board, and some of Dan’s friends said they were game to go. As we got closer to the date, Dan’s friends bailed, so the 4 of us made up the kickass adventure crew.

The morning of October 14th, Micah and I picked Paige up from the airport in Denver, then we headed straight up to Aspen. We didn’t end up getting to the Conundrum Creek Trailhead (8,700′) until about 2pm – much later than we’d hoped to start (I recommend you get as early a start as possible, shortly after dawn).
We met Dan at the trailhead and started on our way!

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Paige rockin and rollin

 

Morale was high and the weather was phenomenal (low 50s and sunny) for about the first 4 miles. As we gained elevation, Paige was noticeably lagging, so her and I took a slower pace as the guys forged ahead of us. Coming from Detroit, MI, Paige just wasn’t as acclimated to the elevation as the rest of us, and struggled a little bit more. Aside from a few snowy/icy spots, the trail was in super good condition for that late in the season, and clearly marked.

As we got closer to the hot springs, the situation got worse and worse. The temps dropped quickly to the high teens, the sun had set completely and we were progressing at a much slower pace, now walking in the snow/ice and in the dark sans any headlamps. At this point we were probably 10,500′.  We had two lanterns and stuck pretty close together, but we all agreed it would be safest to stop and set up camp at about 9pm.

We pitched our tents in what we thought was a camp spot, ate some cold dinner, drank a little booze and went to sleep. Temps dropped to the low teens that night, and we were all sleeping on snow.

As soon as the sun came up, we opened the bottles, got some liquor in us, tore down camp and set off on the last mile or so until the hot springs.

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Dan and Paige getting breakfast ready in my North Face Homestead Domey 3 tent

We were way closer to the hot springs than we originally thought (less than a mile for sure) and got to the springs by 9:30a. There was one group of men already in the springs that had hiked up the night before, so we quickly stripped down to undies and joined them in the pool. We made acquaintances and got out the rest of the booze to share with our new friends. (side note – this was definitely an alcohol/420/nudity friendly spot)

The springs themselves were amazing – the views, the temperatures, everything was absolutely magical. We spent about three hours in the hot springs, lazily made some hot breakfast, & got nice and drunk before we got out and started the hike back down. During those three hours, a couple more groups of super chill people showed up and hung out, including some trail runners who started out from the trailhead at dawn, took a quick dip and headed back down.

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Yours truly, lookin super sober at 10am-ish

Overall – 10/10 would highly recommend! The hike was definitely not an ‘easy’ hike, but anyone with some Colorado outdoor experience would definitely be okay. We also went pretty late in the season and had some really cold weather, but I’m glad that we did because the crowd at the hot springs was minuscule compared to how many people are normally around in the mid-summer months.

Feel free to shoot me any questions you may have or share your experiences if you’ve hiked the hot springs too!!

XOXO
Em

Enjoy some photos from the adventure:

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Colorado Adventures; Sept. 2017

Nikki came to play

Sometime in late July, a friend on social media sent me a message. “Hey girl! I hope you’re doing well. So… this might be totally crazy, but I’m completely jealous and loving all your beautiful hiking pictures. Can I come visit you and go on hikes with you? Totally feel free to tell me I’m insane and no and not even feel bad about it. But, I thought I’d ask :)”
Of course I said yes!

I hadn’t seen Nikki since we were in middle school when we were both in a community theater group back home in Michigan. A few years ago we’d found each other on Facebook and occasionally interacted, but nothing serious.

After some planning, vacation requests and last minute cleaning, Nikki flew out late September, and we began our many adventures.

Adventure One: Hiking in North Cheyenne Cañon Park, Colorado Springs

Nikki adjusted to the elevation no problem so we ended up taking two summits and hiking about 5 miles on our first trip out. We had some great weather and even better views:

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Nikki taking a quick breather before some more scrambling

 

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Yours truly taking a quick breather after some scrambling

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Adventure two: Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

Later that day, we picked up my madre and took a quick trip to Garden of the Gods. Nikki was able to pick up some souvenirs for her husband and family and was able to see the splendor that is GOG:

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Adventure three: Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Golden

The next day Nikki and I packed up and headed out to Golden Gate Canyon State Park- a first for both of us! The weather was a little gloomy, but we got an early start and saw next to no one out on the trails which rocked. We were able to get some killer views of the aspen changing and because we got sort of lost at one point, we ended up going about 2 miles further than we anticipated. Nikki was a great sport and never complained once – despite some actual rain at times. IMG_4805.JPG

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Adventure four: Monarch Mountain, Salida

For this trip we packed up the doggos and headed out to Monarch Pass. We had intended on parking at the pass and picking up a trail that ran along the back side of Monarch Mountain Ski Area. This would take us past a gorgeous lake and get some good views of the Sawatch Range.

So, that was the plan anyway. First, we ended up staying on the wrong side of the highway and starting down the Continental Divide Trail. I realized pretty early on and so we turned around and headed back to the parking lot. This was a great first mistake because we saw hundreds of thousands of monarch butterflies on this trail. They were sweeping down the mountainside in great clouds and it was a truly awesome experience.

The next mistake we made was actually climbing Monarch Mountain Ski Area (LOL). We must have taken a wrong turn at some point and before we knew it, we were gaining elevation fast. We approached the crest of a hill and I saw a trail map! This was the second great mistake, as we found the views we were hoping for, and we crossed from the southern most peak all the way to Mirkwood. It was incredibly windy and extremely exposed over off Mirkwood, so we just summited quick and turned back around. I think we ended up clocking about ten miles that day.

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Yours truly, a little surprised to see a trail map!

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Raja enjoying the views from the highest point on Monarch Ski Area

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Dooey, enjoying the views from the top of the gates at Mirkwood

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Pumped to find this awesome compass at the top of Monarch – I’d skied here before and had no idea this guy existed

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Dooey enjoying the changing Aspen

 

So this was the last adventure we took together, as I had to go back to work and Nikki had to fly out the next day. Overall, it was a fabulous trip and I was so happy to have her visit! Aside from Garden of the Gods, all the trails we traveled were new to me, and the views we were able to soak up were absolutely unparalleled.

Colorado is an amazing place to live ❤

-Em

 

 

 

Let’s play catch up!

Alright alright!

So since we’ve spoken last I’ve managed to catch some killer Colorado sunsets. I’ve been spending a lot of time alone, contemplating what I truly want out of life and I’ve come up with some solutions!
I ended a romantic relationship that wasn’t right for me for starters, which as lifted a weight off of my shoulders. I’ve also set some goals for my immediate and long term future, and I’m actually using a planner to accomplish them! More specifically, a Passion Planner [http://www.passionplanner.com/]. This is super unpaid I just really love this product so I’m going to rave about how it’s literally created to help you be a better adult. This planner helps you set goals, helps you benchmark and break down the goals into attainable steps and gives you tons of space for creative freedom.

Take a peek at some of my goals moving into the new year:

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Worry not friends, the boots are faux, as is the planner cover~

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And here are some things I’m going to keeping track of as the new year progresses:

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Whether it’s with a Passion Planner or using your own method, I highly suggest that anyone reading this take a look at what they truly want from their life. What makes you happy? What are you doing to make your life better/happier/more fulfilling? We’re only on this earth a very short time, and we all have complete control over how we spend that time here.

Okay enough philosophizing, my next few posts will get you up to date with how I spent my last few months – As always, thanks for sticking around and spending time in my world!

 

-Em

Emily went MIA!

Oh my goodness my lovely followers I’m so sorry that I’ve disappeared!

Life got pretty hectic, but I managed to spend some quality time outdoors and I promise I’ll update y’all on my hikes, camps, eats and everything else! Here’s a rundown:

  • Tons of hiking in Colorado Springs
  • Tickets for illegally climbing (EEK)
  • Hiking out to Conundrum Hot Springs and camping in 10 degrees F
  • Visits from friends
  • Skiing
  • SO much food
  • Building Trails
  • Climbing indoors
  • Break ups & Move outs
  • Trips to the sand dunes and SO MUCH MORE

Pictures and more posts to come tomorrow I promise – love you all!!!

-Em

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Accidental Summit

I forgot to post about my accidental summit last weekend!

I drove up to Denver Friday night and met my friend Becca at the Historian brew pub. Had a beer and caught up with her and her pals, and then we went back to her house and crashed. 4am came quickly and we all got up and piled in her friends rental car and headed to Estes Park (Rocky Mountain National Park).

 

The drive through was amazing itself but we had other plans 😊

We were planning on just hiking to the saddle, up above tree line and having lunch but Becca’s friend was intent on summiting Mt. Ida so we (of course!) charged on up to the peak🤙🏼

The path begins in the woods but because the trailhead is so high up, you pass treelike quickly. The trail was well worn and very clear for about 96% of the hike. we saw many people on the way up&down- though not enough to make it un-enjoyable.

The wind was OUT OF CONTROL near the top but that’s to be expected. There were some places we ducked behind rocks for a quick pee or snack break

The boulder field leading up to the summit was very solid, very little scrambling. Easy to lose the trail but impeccably marked with cairns.

Overall, a GREAT 13er (12,899?) for people maybe new to mountaineering, FABULOUS views and a gorgeous hike for everyone.

Adventures at 11 Mile State Park

This past weekend I had planned on summiting a 14er with the pups but when I woke and checked the peak forecast it had changed overnight from partly cloudy to thunderstorms!
A quick search of state parks near me and I decided to go out and take a look at 11 Mile park- in Lake George.

We got there early- about 7:30 and had no problem parking in the Coyote Ridge lot on the east side of the lake. When we left at about 11, the lot was completely full.

The trails are not always labeled very well, so I recommend screenshotting the trail map on your phone or printing it out before you leave.

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We started on the Coyote Ridge Interpretive Trail, on the north side of the loop. When we met up with the Midland Trail we headed east around the wetlands.

I’ll come back with a pal and climb those boulders another time – NEVER CLIMB ALONE! Even on easy climbs that you know you can handle – it’s just not a good idea.

 

The midland Trail takes you to a peninsula at its furthest most south point, and this is where we went off trail for a while. Staying on the east side of the peninsula, we found ourselves all alone at the waterfront! We spent maybe 30 minutes there hanging out, eating snacks and sunbathing and saw one boat the entire time! Gorgeous and secluded.

When the midland trail meets with the two-trackers to the backcountry camping sites things got less enjoyable. With no clear signage, we wandered down both directions of the two tracker only to come across tons of campers.

Turns out the black bear trails and the midland trail weave through the campsites. These campsites say “backcountry” but every cluster of them have smelly bathrooms and trash areas. The rest of the hike was crowded with family reunions, fishing excursions and lots of noise. All the people were really nice but it was a little shock to the system after spending the precious couple hours in silence with nature.

There are some spots I’d love to come back to with a buddy and boulder a bit off trail- almost all north of the wetlands but there were a few good looking faces on the SE-most section of the Midland Trail.