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.

Have been very busy ~ out and about enjoying the greater springs area💕

Micah has been gone a lot for work, so I’ve been taking care of everything on my own… quite a lot to handle but we’re managing =)
I’ve been trying to get outside every day I can that it’s not raining.. we’re deep into monsoon season so sunny days are pretty rare anymore. Here are some of my recent adventures:

Went hiking with my beautiful babes and best friends up on MacNeil trail- a deserted trail up Cheyenne Mountain–

I say deserted mostly because we were up there almost three hours and never saw another person!

I went disc golfing with a friend at El Pomar Youth Sports Complex…
Really gorgeous views along the whole trail!

And then on Sunday I went with my pal Amanda and her absolutely gorgeous kiddos to Cheyenne Mountain State Park! It does stink because dogs aren’t allowed on the trails there, which will seriously limit my ability to go hiking there. With my new commute being so far, I’m not able to spend any time with the doggos during the day. I feel so guilty leaving them at home now when I do anything..

But the kiddos were so curious and intuitive and brave! I aspire every day to be more like a child in those ways…

I’m alive and well in CoSprings

Hey guys!! Sorry I’ve been MIA- so much has been happening!

 

Sunset at the end of our new street

Caught a rainbow mid-rainstorm the other afternoon. Also a hanging basket and part of the front yard.

I’m finally all moved in to the new house, the 40 minute commute is killing me, my parents have moved in with us from Michigan along with their two dogs.

 

Momma-bear taking an afternoon snooze with all the puppers

 

 

 

We’ve been busy planting and tending to kale, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, soy beans, eggplant, and flowers flowers flowers.

Oh yeah and raspberries!

Anyway, between unpacking and helping my parents move, I haven’t had much time for hiking/climbing/adventuring.

I have joined a fab climbing gym called Pure Bouldering and have been climbing there three times, hopefully much more frequently in the coming weeks now that things are settling down.

I’ve plans for a hike/climb somewhere this weekend- stay tuned 😚⛰

What are you looking at……

 

Views from Pure Bouldering’s outside gym

 

 

On the Move

I’ve been SO busy with packing lately- sorry for the lack of adventures!

Left our house in Pueblo and got into one up in Colorado Springs FINALLY! Very excited, even if I do have to commute now ☺️

There’s TONS of space to garden so stay tuned😁

Angel of Shavano

Hey there 👋🏼

Saturday, I went back to Shavano, this time without the pups.

I definitely felt better right out the gate, although I had gotten a late start again, not leaving the house til 6am and not getting on the trail til 9am.

On the way up I passed a gentleman who let us know if we stayed to the right of the angel we could avoid dealing with all the slick snow drifted up over the trail. We thought hey, let’s avoid some snow! So off the trail we headed 🙂

That’s Tabeguache on the far right

It was going fine, way more steep than the path (we assumed) until we got to about 12k. I don’t have a ton of pictures from this area because we were bouldering on really loose rock and we were pretty nervous and trying to avoid landslides.

What happened was we went too far north and ended up following the NE ridge towards the summit. Once we got over the false summit on the ridge, we realized it was still another 500ish feet to the summit, BUT we could finally see the path!! We had wandered wayyyy further north, and were about to approach the summit from the NE side, not the main trail that takes you up the saddle on the S side of the summit.

Finally over the false summit of the East Ridge, Micah spots the trail winding up through the valley to our South

 

About 300 feet below the summit we realized it was already 2:30pm, and we had to get all the way down to the trail still and out to the car, so we headed SE from our position and met up the trail in the valley.

(Addition: we didn’t go back down the way we came because the rock was too loose for our current gear set up and mental game.Down climbing off trail was just a bad idea at this point)

There was still enough snow to spy some ski tracks down from the top of the saddle into the valley and it had me itching to hike up and ski down… so maybe someday!
Anyways, we hit some snow on the trail back down, veered off the trail to the south this time and made it back to the car by 5.

 

The weirdest thing happened tho… as we were at the base of the East Ridge, we saw a woman peak over the top of the false summit and wave to us- that being the deciding factor in taking the ridge up. Well, we never saw the woman climber again – and we had perfect visibility of the summit ascent on the east and south sides once we got over the crest. I personally think she was the Angel of Shavano👐🏼