Moving to Colorado was an intentional lifestyle choice on my part. People always ask, WHY?
I no longer enjoyed the monotonous life I was living in Chicago, I craved more adventure than what was available in the city.
Rather than dressing in fancy, glittery attire for the begin of the New Year (as I would have done in Chicago), a couple of friends and I decided to tackle 14 miles of the backcountry in snowshoes. The beastly trail that took us to the 10th Mountain Betty Bear Hut was certainly the toughest trail I have ever hiked. After 1 mile, I was all “are we there yet…??”
After hiking 6.5 miles up the mountain in >10 degree weather, a wave of altitude sickness (that ended up lasting all night) swept over me. After hiking 7 miles up the mountain, I could hear friends in front of me celebrating, they’d found the Betty Bear Hut that we would call home on New Years Eve night. I can’t describe the amount of relief I experienced in that moment.
The views in the backcountry are unlike anything you will see elsewhere in the world, you’ve got to put in work in order to lay eyes on that unobstructed beauty. If you can manage it, it is largely worth it, even with a severe case of altitude sickness…
2015 ended rough for me and 2016 began the same way HOWEVER I have once again recommitted to living the life I want to live without any apologies to anyone. Hiking up to Betty Bear (we call her the Bitch) revealed a confidence that I didn’t know existed within myself. I only admitted to no one but myself how nervous and anxious I really was to hike up that mountain. My lower back is equivalent to or worse than an 80 year olds, I suck at cardio, I lack stamina, we feared an avalanche, and although sunny, there was a chill in the air that kept our bones tight – this hike was tough but I I did it. I DID IT.
At the top of the mountain, not only were we greeted with breathtaking views, but an amazing, well-stocked, cozy-as-hell hut big enough to accommodate 16 people. Enough firewood to last an entire winter, sleeping pads and pillows, buckets to collect snow for melting down, and a rustic kitchen were just a few of the amenities that made our overnight stay comfortable.
Over the holiday season, I lost faith in some people and gained mad respect for others. I am tremendously proud of the women and dudes that hiked to the top of this mountain with me and encouraged me to laugh and have fun along the way. Camaraderie is one of the main components that made it possible for us to summit and visit Betty, and camaraderie is exactly what each individual shared along the arduous hike.
What happens after 7 miles you may ask? Celebration, wine, lots of wine, a group-prepared and devoured dinner, yoga & stretching, cabin clothes, relaxation, snow collecting, sledding, laughs, s’mores, sleep, and preparation to wake up the next morning and make the trek downhill….
I have not lived my life the way I planned to when moving. Regretfully, my intentions and purpose were obstructed by love, fear, and anxiety.
On this last day of the first month of the new year, I am thankful for the Coloradical life I live and I am thankful for the beautiful land and people that surround me. I am committed to more of that from this day going forward.
Snowboarding season is over (for me)! Sigh of relief. We ended the season at Telluride, on the second to last day of closing, with very little snow on the ground -it was basically slush. Although I only got out on the slopes 3 times this year, each run was crucial in my growth as a snowboarder. Based on all of the emotion that I experienced during the process, I’m not sure I could have handled any more time on my snowboard this year, it was tough.
Frustration, exhilaration, anxiety, excitement, defeat, and growth are all emotions that I experienced throughout each moment that I spent learning to snowboard. There were times all I could think about was “this is bullshit! why am I even doing this?!” and then there were times when I screamed out “I’M SNOWBOARDING!!” with the biggest smile on my face and it was like the coolest thing I’d ever experienced.
On my last run of the last day snowboarding this year, I took a hard fall that caused some pain and tears. Because I could feel myself improving, I got bold and tried to make some moves that I wasn’t quite ready for. Immediately, I knew that would be the last run of the year for me but I was thankful to have had that experience because “now I know”… After that fall, I got back up and snowboarded down to the bottom of the mountain without another fall. Confidently, I’m ready for next season and I’ve already purchased my season pass!
Here are a few lessons that I learned this year:
1. TRY SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING BOTH
A few years ago, I tried skiing in Lake Tahoe. I took lessons and I went out for a few days on my own. I SUCKED at it and I wrote it off as something I never wanted to do again. When I made the move to CO, I knew I wanted to get out on the slopes, but people told me that snowboarding is much harder than skiing so if I couldn’t ski then chances are I wouldn’t be capable of boarding. Screw those people, I am way better on a snowboard than I am on skis. Good thing I didn’t give up until I tried both.
2. TAKE A LESSON
I took a lesson the first time I skied and the first time I snowboarded – I also watched several videos on YouTube prior to going out. Had I not taken lessons, and just freestyled my first time out, I’m not sure I would have gone out a second time. The lesson is well worth the money spent, you have to trust me on that.When I went out for my first snowboard lesson, I went alone. I didn’t feel like a burden to friends and I only embarrassed myself in front of people I’ll never see again. And yes, it IS embarrassing when there are kids flying by flawlessly, and I, the adult can’t keep my balance (and I’m screaming like a little girl as I face-plant).
3. GO OUT WITH SUPPORTIVE FRIENDS
Luckily, I have the most supportive and patient boyfriend a girl could have. Although he may have preferred to be playing on more challenging (and fun) runs, he assured me over and over again that he enjoyed helping me and watching me improve, he never left my side on the slopes. I have a few snowboarding friends that I’ve asked to go out with or have considered going out with, but they felt like I would be a burden to them as I learn. Had I gone out with them, I would have probably felt discouraged and lonely – I’m glad I never did.
4. BE PREPARED TO FALL DOWN AND GET BACK UP AGAIN
Getting on a snowboard for the first time feels silly. Getting on a snowboard for the second and third time feel silly as well. I thought I was well-balanced (daily yoga) until I got on a snowboard. Mentally, you’ve got to be prepared to fall because it will happen a lot. I learned quickly that when you fall, you have to get right back up again, and again, and again, and again, I had a little breakdown on my last day snowboarding this year due to high emotion and nervousness. I only allowed myself to cry for a few seconds, I knew I had to get my ass up and get down that mountain. I think I felt more determined after the embarrassment of that breakdown, because I showed improvement. It’s ok to have a breakdown (I’ve talked to several people who have during the learning process) but it’s not ok to let it keep you from pushing forward.
5. GEAR UP
During my snowboarding lesson, I used rented gear. After that lesson, I knew that I wanted to pursue the sport so I began shopping for gear. I did a lot of research, I visited several retail stores, and I spoke to several different snowboarders before I made my purchases. I purchased a board that is ideal for beginners but will still serve me after I’ve gotten better at the sport. After I had my board, I took recommendations for bindings and boots that would work well with my board. I’ve heard horror stories from people who purchased the wrong size boot or a board that was “cheap” so I have no regrets spending the money I did and waiting to do so until I felt like I’d gathered enough knowledge. It doesn’t pay to jump in to a purchase (if you don’t believe me, you can ask my friends who did)
6. STAY LOOSE
Nervousness and anxiety can cause your body to tense up. On a snowboard you must be flexible in the mind and in the body. Things happen quick when you’re on a board – one second you’re sailing down the mountain, the next second you are face-planting. You may only be comfortable with easy runs but find yourself caught on a more difficult run – you’ve got to be prepared for the possibility. You’re going to fall (for sure!) so you’ve got to keep your body in a position that will allow you to take the most safe fall possible and you’ve got to be mentally prepared for it to happen, don’t allow the fear of falling to hold you back. Practicing yoga and/or stretching before snowboarding is helpful and most ideal – it’ll prepare your body with flexibility to use muscles that you didn’t even know existed.
7. HAVE FUN
I once inquired why it is that people become obsessed with snowboarding. I got an answer from someone who has experienced the exact reason why people become obsessed with it, but I haven’t experienced it yet so I’m not really sure how to explain what he explained to me. The few times I was able to “snowboard” down the mountain conjured up sublime emotion and exhilaration, I can only imagine how that will be amplified when it doesn’t end with a face-plant. Snowboarding is fun, and even though the learning process is frustrating, every time I’ve walked away from the mountain, it was with a huge smile on my face.
This year was a year of discovery and growth for me. Next year should be a year of improvement and pure amusement. I can hardly wait.
In Colorado, we hike 4.5 miles uphill (at 8000-10,000 foot elevation) for a beautiful reward- Ypsilon Lake, which sits high up in the mountains at Rocky Mountain National Park.
When we got up to the lake, we perched on a rock that sits out in the middle of the lake and we ate our packed lunch, rested, relaxed, and soaked up the crisp mountain air.
After lunch, prior to our 4.5 mile hike down, we hung out on a large rock right in the middle of this beautiful waterfall.
I consider myself to be somewhat in shape, but this hike made me question that. This hike KICKED MY ASS. My friends referred to this hike as being “moderate” but when I googled it after the fact, I see that it is considered a strenuous hike (which made me feel a little better about myself – ha!). I was pretty beat up for an entire day after this hike, my body was achy and my knees were fragile- it was so worth it though.
I mean, this view. You can’t take a bad photo up there in that mountain even if you try your hardest.
“Where are we??”
“What are we??”
….a chant that was articulated between a yoga teacher and 2000 yogi students (including myself and a lucky PLQ giveaway winner) several times this morning….
By 9:30 AM this morning, I felt accomplished. I had already practiced yoga at Red Rocks with 2000 other yogis and hiked the Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks. Oh, I’d also collected several free samples that Whole Foods was giving away for the Yoga On The Rocks event.
I learned today that Red Rocks is the ONLY naturally-occuring, acoustically perfect amphitheater is the world – no wonder it has attracted the attention of musicians for years and years and years. Musicians plan years of their lives around the opportunity to play at this spiritual, emotional venue.
Yoga, on the rocks, was nothing short of an emotional experience either. During practice this morning, the instructor insisted that the students open their eyes and really LOOK at the surroundings. Beautiful rock formations, blue skies, and a bright, sunny sky.
Practicing ancient, meditative body movements (yoga) in an ancient, naturally formed venue is an experience I will never ever forget. Upon entering the amphitheater this morning and during my yoga practice, I had an overwhelming feeling of emotion and energy.
There were 4 sessions of Yoga On The Rocks this year and I only got to attend 2. There is no doubt I will try my hardest to attend all 4 next summer.
Corepower Yoga is the host of Yoga On The Rocks and I’d like to extend gratitude to them for inviting me to YOTR, gifting me with a yoga mat and super sweet sunglasses, and allowing me to gift a reader with an unforgettable experience.
My Colorado Life keeps getting better and better….
Yesterday, I climbed my first fourteener. I had no idea what a fourteener was before I moved to Colorado, but everyone here talks about them – there are 53 of them in Colorado. A fourteener is any mountain or peek that is 14,000 feet or higher. I climbed to 14,256 feet yesterday with with some great friends.
I was nervous to hike this trail, especially knowing that I was doing it with people who have hiked several fourteeners. What put me at ease is that the Mt. Evans trail is only 2ish miles long, some of the fourteeners can be 10-13 miles long – and remember they are AT ELEVATION – it’s hard to breath up there! It was quite an intense hike, but doable with several resting sessions. This was considered one of the “easier” fourteeners, but it almost kicked my ass!
Thankfully, this guy (Patrick) helped me gather the correct gear for the hike. I thought it’d be warm up on top of the mountain at some point but it was pretty chilly – in the 60’s (if I had to guess) and very very windy. There were a few times I thought the wind could catch me and whisk me right off the mountain.
The photo above is the peak of Mt. Evans, the final destination. It’s just about level with the clouds, as you can see.
Notice, there aren’t any trees in these photos. Trees stop growing around 11,000 feet and we were above the treelike the entire hike. It was super cool to drive up the mountain past the tree line it was a very distinct line. It looked like you could jump right from the road on to the top of a tree. Ha!
Every now and then we stopped, found a comfy place to sit, and marveled in amazement at the scenery. It was incredible. (although, we DO live in CO, about 1 hour from Mt. Evans, so we get to see these mountains on a daily basis – it’s surreal to think about.) It was also necessary to catch our breath – hiking at elevation is exhausting!
We were pretty excited to find an easier trail to descend from the summit until we learned that the entire trail was composed of loose rock and mud, we basically slid the entire way down. Ouch, made my knees hurt – but so worth it.
My friends did but I didn’t capture any photos at the top of the mountain (the summit)… I was busy caching my breath and enjoying the reward that I well deserved. Anyway, photos don’t do it justice – you just have to be there….
These photos were taken over the weekend during our climb in Boulder Canyon (BoCan).
(followed by a trip to the Boulder Farmers Market, it turned out to be a perfectly awesome day)
I couldn’t not share these photos (taken on my iPhone) for 2 reasons:
1. They’re awesome. (….that gorgeous Colorado scenery….)
2. I learned that I can use my iPhone Panorama Camera VERTICALLY. These photos were (obviously) taken with the panorama camera, vertically. (I never even considered the possibility until this day.)
You can’t tell much in the photo, but HOLY COW that is a steep hike up.
step, step, step, stop, huff, huff, breeeeeathe. step…
On Monday, Memorial Day, we conquered North Table Mountain, you can see in these first few photos that the day started off beautiful, sunny, and clear. In the last few photos I took, you can see the storm clouds set in. We got off the mountain just in time for some fierce rain. It was crazy because as we were coming down, we saw people just making their way up. Surely, they got caught in the storm…
Do I live in the “Wild, Wild, West”? Finding these cowboys atop the mountain made me question whether I was living in a dream or if it was in fact, real life. These photos prove real life, don’t they? So Cowboy #1 rode his horse at full speed towards me to offer a photo op. Uhm, yeeeah….
Cowboy #2 + dog + a fierce view of Denver, if you look closely.
The yoga-pose-atop-a-mountain that was bound to happen. I’m sure there will be more of where those come from. You don’t live in CO as a yogi and not….
A pretty decent yoga pose from Nate… even though he’s not a yogi.
There are the storm clouds I mentioned…..
After a vigorous hike through the mountain, we rewarded ourselves with ice cold beers in downtown Golden.
I could tell you a million things that I love about Colorado – well, how about just a few? Mountains, mountain men, Red Rocks, mild weather, accessible rock climbing, snow sports, fun stuff, more fun stuff, everyone here is super laid back, and…. there are WATERFALLS. Seriously, do I live in paradise? How GORGEOUS are these waterfalls that we accidentally stumbled upon while cruising up the mountain??
We didn’t stop for long…. but long enough to breathe in the crisp mountain air and experience the pure river water.
Mom caught me taking a selfie right there with the falls… I was so happy at that moment…..
and overwhelmingly obsessed with my Colorado life….
It’s my birthday weekend and I ((obviously)) chose to celebrate in Nashville/Tennessee/Chattanooga. We flew in to Nashville, rented a car, and took a quick overnight trip down to Chattanooga before coming back to Nashville for some honky-tonkin and good eating. We’ll continue celebrating in Nashville all weekend long.
can’t stop, won’t stop, can’t stop, won’t stop.
Can I say that I am in LOVE with Chattanooga? It was nothing like I expected it to be. It was prettier, more scenic, and had way more things to do than I would have guessed. The city is surrounded by mountains so no matter where you are in that city, there is always a beautiful view. We hiked through some trails on Signal Mountain, had dinner downtown, had cocktails with the locals (who are super nice by the way), and sought out some food trucks. I love love love love loved it. 24 hours was no where near enough time in Chattanooga, we definitely want to go back. If you are planning a trip to Nashville, do yourself a favor and drive the 2 hours down to Chattanooga for a night. If you need convincing, check out these photos.
^^one of the many beautiful views from Signal Mountain^^
^^these photos were taken just north of downtown, so you’re looking towards downtown from the North Shore. there was a doggy festival of some sort going on in a little park just north of the river. I could be wrong about the doggy festival, but I know there was a little fest, and there were a lot of dogs. cute, right?^^
^^the North Shore neighborhood is adorable, we found shopping, and art, and good food, VEGAN food!! Who would have guessed TN to be vegan-friendly? there are more options than I would have ever assumed there to be.^^
^^Wednesday through Friday, you’ll find the Chattanooga Street Food Project happening in Center Park, which is right downtown. There were only 4 food trucks there, but they were all awesome. Clearly, we LOVED the Mountain Waffle Wagon… Those waffle sandwiches that we are eating are made with a combination of peanut butter, chocolate, graham crackers, honey, marshmallow, bananas, powdered sugar, and other sinful items of the sort. DAMN they were good.^^
^^These photos were taken during our hike on Signal Mountain. In addition to the beautiful hiking trails, you should see all the beautiful homes and real estate up on that mountain…… The most outstanding was a Flying Saucer Home. (google it!)I loved it up there.^^
^^selfies, just before going out for my awesome birthday dinner…^^
^^we had dinner at a place in Warehouse Row, Public House. we chose the Public House because they use seasonal and local produce, plus they have a lot of menu options for vegetarians. we had a GREAT meal here and quickly labeled this as one of our favorite restaurants EVER. I loved my meal because I got to eat kale AND arugula – my two favorites! follow that up with an amazing homemade peanut butter mousse pie and that pretty much makes up the best.meal.ever.^^