Jan
31

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

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. 

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

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…??”

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

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.

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

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…

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

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.

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

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.

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

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.

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

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….

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

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.

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Love

Crista


Apr
08

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.

snowboard Nederlands

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! 

snowboarding Telluride

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.

Love

Crista


Feb
03

People who don’t know about Colorado think that Denver is a snowy, wintry mess and they snub it due to their lack of knowledge. Honestly, I didn’t know much about Denver’s awesome weather before I got here, and I almost don’t want to tell people about how awesome the weather is here because there are already too many people moving to this city! (LITERALLY, there aren’t even enough homes to house all the people that are moving here, it’s crazzzzy)

North Table Mountain

North Table Mountain

These photos were taken at North Table Mountain (which is about 20 mins from my new home) in January, the dead of winter.

Sure, the mountains get a lot of snow during the wintery months, but down here in the foothills we get very mild weather – a lot of 60’s and 70’s days, and on the day these photos were taken, 80’s. We were in tank tops and we were WARM.

North Table Mountain

The photo above shows the Denver skyline, from atop the mountain. 

North Table Mountain

North Table Mountain

You can see snow on this mountain, it sits on the side of the mountain that doesn’t get much sun. And sure, we get snow in Denver but it disappears within a day or two. It lasts just long enough to justify a “snow day” and hang out by the fireplace… then it’s back to the outdoors the following day.

North Table Mountain

My friend Samantha just moved to Colorado from Georgia. A she was planning her trip out here, her friends told her she needed an SUV, 4 wheel drive, and chains for her tires. It made me laugh, simply because many people really have no idea how good we have it here in Denver.

North Table Mountain

North Table Mountain

I’ve been sick the last two weeks (cold, flu, bronchitis, or a sinus infection – who knows) and I tend to avoid doctors and medicine. I just can’t bring myself to take a lot of medicine, so I don’t. Instead, I rest, drink lots of water, and allow myself some fresh mountain air. 

Although I felt much better after getting off the couch and becoming one with nature the day we took these photos, I am still waiting to kick this illness….

While many of my friends in the midwest figure out how to dig themselves out of the snow today, I’ll be out enjoying a Coloradical 65 degree, sunny day at the park with my doggie.

North Table Mountain

Love

Crista


Nov
12

A few days ago, I got an e-mail explaining the final steps of my home purchase – that’s right, I’M BUYING A HOME. In Colorado. I thought I’d NEVER buy a home simply because up until this point I was never satisfied enough to plant roots. BUT, this is Colorado. Home. It’s good here. I think I was sent here to stay for a very long time. Shit is about to get real.

When I loved in Chicago, I was in a hurry to get things done, oh I rushed and rushed until life was no fun.
((“all I really wanna do is live and die, but I’m in a hurry and don’t know why”)) 
Yeah, it’s a song. you probably know it. Relatable to my life prior to my CO move. 
Colorado has taught me to slow down and enjoy life.

Everyone asks (jokingly) if I moved to Colorado because of legalized marijuana… which is weird because I’ve had never wanted anything to do with it my entire life. When people ask me that silly questions, I tell them “No, I moved to Colorado because it’s socially acceptable to drive a Subaru there.” They get all confused and shut up then. 

Rocky Mountains

My new home is further west of where I currently live, near the Highlands area which means easier (than ever) access to the MOUNTAINS !! Literally, a 20 minute drive puts me in the foothill. Yeeeeeeeeah babyyyyyy!!!

Deer Creek CanyonRed Rocks

On top of that, Red Rocks amphitheater is only 25 minutes away. Do you know about Red Rocks? It’s incredible – it’s a musicians DREAM to play there. And it’s my dream to see all of my favorite musicians there ((which is coming true)). During the day, the amphitheater is an outdoor gym – I can hardly keep up with the fitness fanatics in Colorado, but it sure is inspiring to watch them all. Walking up the steps to the amphitheater still takes my breath away (I’ll blame it on the altitude).

yoga-on-the-rocks

Oh, and – Yoga On The Rocks at Red Rocks – 

Beet Box Denver

Beet Box is the very first vegan restaurant cafe/restaurant and I wasn’t mad about it. Do you see that cinnamon roll? Served with a side of buttercream frosting, and I’m sitting on Cloud 9. I don’t go to Beet Box often enough, I need to get there again soon. Very soon.

steamboat springs, co

Luckily I met an awesome guy in Colorado (boyfriend!), he took me to Steamboat Springs to fall in l-o-v-e. We didn’t take many photos during that trip because we were busy relaxing, napping, and bathing in the hot springs. As a bonus, Jason Aldean & Luke Bryan own a restaurant in the Springs that we (OF COURSE) went to for some pre-dinner moonshine. Couldn’t eat dinner there, steakhouse (idk).

 

Glenwood Springs, Colorado 

That same awesome guy rode took a trip to Glenwood Springs with my dad & I. We didn’t do much, besides enjoy the mountains and hike Hanging Lake. You see, living in Colorado is cool because you can take a “vacation” in your own backyard – in 3 hours, I can be in a location where people spend their life savings to vacation at.

palisade-peaches

Near Glenwood Springs is a little town called Palisade. In Palisade, there are several wineries, vineyards, and fruit trees. Some of the best peaches I’ve ever had come from Palisade. I feel like no one knows about Palisade peaches besides Coloradans. All the more reason I feel lucky to be a Coloradan.

starter plants from Farmers Market

I got all of my starter plants for the garden at the Boulder Farmers Market this year. While the Boulder Farmers Market isn’t the most amazing farmers market I’ve ever been to, it may be the most adorable. Plus, it’s in Boulder, you couldn’t ask for a better location.

waterfalls, colorado

Oh, in between Red Rocks i Morrison and this cute little mountain town called Evergreen, there are waterfalls rolling down the mountain. It’s a pretty sweet little drive between the two towns. After hiking a trail at Red Rocks, my mom and I went up to Evergreen to visit a winery …(duh)…. When I talk about these waterfalls, I feel like I’m straight up bragging – I’ve never lived so close to a waterfall in my life.

North Table Mountain // Golden, CO

Those are real, legit cowboys. On top of North Table Mountain. Seriously, cowboys. On horses. and a cute little dog. Oh, and that view. My life is complete.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

I have a friend whose family visits Estes Park a few times a year, and they spend a pretty penny doing it. I get to drive to Estes Park whenever I feel like it. I can hike all day, have a few beers at a local brewery, and still be home in time for dinner. Oh, and I don’t have to spend much money doing it. 

Mt. Evans, Colorado

One of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life is hike to 14,000 feet. It was not an easy task, however a satisfying one. On the way up, I told myself that I’d never volunteer to do such a thing again. After a few days of recovery, and reflection, I was anxious to do it again. There are 54 fourteeners in Colorado, and I’d love to climb them all (we’ll see how that goes….) and if all goes well, I’d love to climb Mount Kilimanjaro some day….

I could give you a million more reasons why I love Colorado, I’ve even blogged about some of them but I’ll stop here. I feel like I’m bragging. I can’t help it, I’m smitten with my new life.

Love

Crista


Oct
15

swan lake road / dillon reservoir

As the sun began it’s journey to the west side of the mountains, I couldn’t help but drive up to Swan Lake Road and perch myself on the side of the mountain to catch those last rays of sunshine for the day.

Beautiful, how the clouds meld into the snow-capped mountains, and allow the persistent rays of light to rigidly shine through.

dillon reservior / breckenridge

swan lake road / breckenridge

breckenridge / lake dillon

swan lake road / lake dillon

swan lake road / lake dillon

breckenridge / snowy mountains

I’m in the mountains for a few days this week, a work-related trip. I went to Aspen for the first time yesterday. The fall colors are GORGEOUS up there – the most vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds I have ever seen., I didn’t get any photos unfortunately, but I wish I had.

Today, I’m going to do a quick hike in Glenwood Springs before heading back home…. My eyes crave more candy…

Love

Crista


Sep
20

Glenwood Springs Colorado

During a recent visit from my dad and his girlfriend, we all took an overnight trip to Glenwood Springs. Glenwood Springs has been on my bucket list simply because of the Hanging Lake Trail, Glenwood must have been on my dads bucket list as well. We found an awesome loft situated just outside of Glenwood Springs on a farm to stay in for the night. Because it rained practically the entire trip, we got a lot of couch time, took advantage of the beautiful mountain views right outside our window, and stayed in for an informal pizza dinner. Despite the rain, Patrick & I got up early the next morning to hike Hanging Lake. (checked off the bucket list!)

The Hanging Lake trail is a very popular trail due to the beautiful clear, turquoise lake and waterfalls that spill in to it that is found at the top. On the weekends, this trail is packed – luckily, we got to hike it on a Tuesday, and practically had the trail to ourselves. It rained the entire hike, but it didn’t matter – it was totally worth it. Almost felt rainforest-ish, which is not typical Colorado-style. I’m not going to say much more – I’ll let the photos do the talking. 

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Hanging Lake Colorado

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Glenwood Springs, Colorado Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake Colorado

Hanging Lake Colorado

Hanging Lake Colorado

Hanging Lake Colorado

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Glenwood Springs Colorado

Hanging Lake Colorado

Love

Crista


Aug
27

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park 

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.

Ypsilon Lake //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.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park 

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.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park 

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.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

I mean, this view.  You can’t take a bad photo up there in that mountain even if you try your hardest.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park 

In case you’re as obsessed with my Coloradical as I am —> Coloradical Women’s Skyline T-Shirt (affiliate link)

Love

Crista


Aug
16

“Where are we??”
“RED ROCKS!!”
“What are we??”
“ALIVE!!”

….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….

yoga-on-the-rocks

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. 

yoga-on-the-rocks

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.

yoga-on-the-rcosk

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.

yoga-on-the-rocks

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.

yoga-on-the-rocks

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….

 

Love

Crista


Jul
13

Mt. Evans Trail

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.

Mt. Evans, Colorado

Mt. Evans, Colorado

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! 

Mt. Evans, Colorado

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.

Mt. Evans, Colorado

The photo above is the peak of Mt. Evans, the final destination. It’s just about level with the clouds, as you can see. 

Mt. Evans, Colorado
Mt. Evans, Colorado

Mt. Evans, Colorado

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! 

Mt. Evans, Colorado

Mt. Evans, Colorado

Mt. Evans, Colorado

Mt. Evans, Colorado

Mt. Evans, Colorado

Mt. Evans, Colorado

Mt. Evans, Colorado

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!

Mt. Evans, Colorado

Mt. Evans, Colorado

Mt. Evans, Colorado

Mt. Evans, Colorado

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.

Mt. Evans, Colorado

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….

Love

Crista