Category: Adventure

Stay in an Earthship on AirBnb Taos, NM

Earthship Community: Eco Travel in Taos, NM

What the heck is an earthship? : Travel to Taos, NM to the Global Earthship Community to find out. You’ll find the largest collection of off-grid housing grouped in one 640 acre community. An Earthship is a type of house built with natural and recycled materials with energy conservation in mind. It is designed to produce water, electricity, and food for its own use. It is a completely off-grid house that doesn’t rely on fossil fuels for living. The main features of an earthship are: Use of natural and recycled materials for construction Powered by Solar & Wind Energy Thermal Mass & Passive Solar Heating using soil Food Production (possible, with an added greenhouse) Water Collection/Recirculation of Rain & Snow Melt    The founder and creator of the Earthship concept is Michael Reynolds, who landed in Taos in 1969. His inspiration came from looming piles of garbage and pack of affordable housing. Over the next several decades, Reynolds turned trash into luxurious eco-homes by beginning to incorporate things like thermal mass, passive solar, and natural ventilation. Today’s earthships are built on a foundation of earth-rammed tires that require no foundation and provide heat and cool insulation. “Solar glazing” refers to the position of the exterior windows that allows the sun to heat the floors and walls without the use of fossil fuels or wood. Skylights provide natural ventilation to cool the home.  Earthship Community: Taos, NM Since the 1970s, The Greater World Earthship Community in Taos, New Mexico has grown exponentially. The world’s only completely off-grid community is 640 acres platted for 130 homes. The homes are certainly unique: resembling something from Star Wars. The adobe houses are built low into the ground, and camouflaged into the terrain of Taos.  The big draw of this community is an attitude of self-reliance. One resident sums it up: “You are the power company, the water company, the sewage-treatment plant and the food production.”  The Eco-chic designs are certainly unique. Earthship design seems focused on sustainability, less emphasis on aesthetics. You can experience Earthship living for yourself: through AirBnb and VRBO! I stayed in Holli’s cute eco home over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was a perfect off-grid getaway complete with fireplace, an extensive library, an old-school record player, and a scrabble board (a necessity). We used it as a jumping-off point for exploring the Taos Mountain Valley and the Rio Grande Gorge. It was cozy, unique, and a nice reset from the hustle-bustle of Denver. Interestingly, I never felt limited by the off-grid setup. The home stayed warm with the sun, the solar power was more than sufficient, and we made do with a gas cooktop (even on Thanksgiving!). Check availability for your next getaway! Next trip, I found this dreeeeamy Earthship kitchen! You know me, I love a good kitchen. This is impressive for any home, let alone an Eco-Home. Find the Famous Taos Earthship on VRBO. Not ready to stay in an Earthship, but still a little curious? Stop by the Visitor’s Center for a tour. If you’ve got some extra time in Taos, this is an interesting stop. It’s just past the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, worth the extra drive if you’re in the area. Final Thoughts on Eco Living I was so happy to learn and experience the possibilities of eco-living in an Earthship. It certainly opens my eyes to the stress that modern conveniences put on our available resources. While I’m not quite ready to fully commit, I think there are some lessons I can bring home. I’ll be more aware of water usage, leaving lights on around the house, and hopefully working towards less waste. I’ll definitely be back to Taos, and it makes me feel good to have the Earthship Global Community as an option for a home-away-from-home as needed. Stay tuned for more Taos updates (hiking, skiing, and eating). You May Also Like: Fall Weekend Getaway: Buena Vista Colorado What It’s Like to Row 150K in a Month

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Culebra Peak- 39th 14er

CO Hike Series: Culebra Peak

Culebra Peak is one of Colorado’s Fourteeners in the Sangre de Cristo Range Culebra Peak is one of Colorado’s 14ers – Mountains that rise above 14,000 feet. It is a lesser-known hike close to the New Mexico Border. Culebra is one of Colorado’s privately owned peaks, which brings up mixed feelings for outdoor enthusiasts.  This wilderness area is owned and managed by Cielo Vista Ranch. There is a fee to hike (and hunt) on the property. For me, I was happy to pay for the experience. Here’s why: The mountain is pristine and preserved due to controlled traffic. There are no trails above treeline, and only 20 hikers get reservations on summer weekend days. If you’ve spent any time on Colorado’s 14er trails, you know what a privilege this is. [I would estimate I generally see 300+ people per day on a similarly ranked mountain.] Due to the reservation system, we picked a day in late May and hoped for the best with weather. Our first choice was rescheduled due to rainstorms, and luckily we were able to secure a reservation one week later. The hike date: May 23, 2021.  This was still early in terms of the hiking season, so we knew to expect some snow coverage. Still, I was shocked by the amount of snow in the basin.  We arrived at Cielo Vista Ranch the night before the hike with plans to camp at the gate. There is a designated tent camping area just inside the fence, and flat parking for car camping. I chose to set-up camp in the back of my 4Runner- a familiar practice for me when hiking 14ers far from home.  We woke early Sunday morning to get dressed and prepped. Carlos came down at 6AM sharp to open the gate and check us in according to our reservation. We drove the short 1.2 miles up to ranch headquarters, where there is another parking lot. The ranch hand gathered all hikers there for a short safety briefing. Big things: You must be back down to HQ by 6PM. Otherwise, they begin search and rescue practices (and you get charged a fee). He also gave us intel that snow traction would be necessary, especially for coming back down.  There are two other parking areas higher in the basin. One is about 2 miles past HQ, and the final Upper Trailhead Lot is about 4 miles past HQ. Both require high clearance and 4WD. However, due to the recent wet weather and downed trees, we got the pleasure of beginning our hike from ranch HQ (…bringing the roundtrip distance to about 14 miles).  We were just happy to get the opportunity to hike! So, we started up the long dirt road at about 6:20am. The road certainly has some decent grade to it, but we maintained about a 2.5 mph pace pretty well. We had a few early morning showers, an ominous sign for Colorado as it generally doesn’t rain before noon. Luckily, we found gratitude for the cool temperature and trekked on.  Just before reaching the Upper Trailhead, we ran into significant snowbanks and donned our snowshoes around 11,000 ft. We could see a significant snow-covered incline to the ridge. The snow was hard to manage in this basin, even in the early morning. As the sun hit the snow and softened, we found ourselves sinking and stumbling over our bulky snowshoes. Once we gained a higher grade, the snowshoes helped with traction and hiking was generally straightforward.  There is a large cairn at the top of this ridge. It wasn’t as obvious as the route description makes it out to be, but we easily followed other snow prints and I never felt off-route.  I made it up to the cairn at about 10:30am and saw the infamous “snakelike” Ridgeline that gives Culebra its name. The high peak visible from this point is actually a false summit, but still provides a great vantage of where we were headed. The ridgecrest is at 13,350 ft of elevation, so there is still significant climbing from here.  We stashed our snowshoes, and switched over to micro spikes, as the snow was crusty and windblown. The traction is absolutely necessary, but flotation was no longer needed.  At this point in the hike, we were introduced to the wind. The never ending wind. I’ve never felt wind gusts like this in my life. Carrie and Avrohom (my hiking partners) described it similar to the feeling of indoor skydiving- where the wind tunnel is so powerful it suspends you in mid-air. [Note: When we got back down to HQ, they confirmed wind gusts of 40-50mph] The wind was so strong and so loud, we hiked on in without talking as we couldn’t hear each other, and barely our own thoughts. Honestly, if I had been alone, I would’ve turned around.  The ridge hike was much more enjoyable than the initial approach. It went much quicker than expected when viewing it. We did some boulder weaving, but it is mostly a straightforward walk without much exposure. Upon reaching the false summit, we got a great view of the final approach to Culebra. Beyond that, we were pretty socked in with cloud cover.  Again, the final approach seemed to go much quicker than expected, and before we knew it we were standing on top of the summit! This is an incredible feeling that never changes, no matter how many fourteeners I’ve completed. All three of us have 14er experience, and yet, all three of us got to share that euphoric feeling of “WE DID IT”. (This was Carrie’s 50th 14er!) We arrived on the summit around 12:20pm- 6 hours from the start, and about 7 miles of hike distance. We were fortunate to have a slight weather break that made it tolerable to rest on the summit for a bit. The wind was certainly still THERE, but not unbearable. We were able to get great views of the Spanish Peaks, Little

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Alaska Range in Winter from the Alaska Train

Winter in Alaska: The Ultimate Trip to the Far North

Time to plan an incredible trip to experience Winter in Alaska! Follow along for my full itinerary for a 6-day trip through the interior Alaska from Anchorage to Fairbanks. A trip north to Alaska in the heart of winter is definitely not on the TOP of most people’s vacation short lists. Winter in Alaska is COLD and DARK.   However, Alaska has been on my bucket list for a long while. So, I rounded up my warmest clothes and we set out to explore the interior Alaska in sub-zero temperatures in mid-January with hopes of catching a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).  Here’s my account of the trip from activities to food and how we pulled it off: All the hotspots we visited on this map from Wanderlog: Map courtesy of Wanderlog, a trip planner on iOS and Android Day 1 : Arrival, Exploring Anchorage I began the journey to The Great North with a connection through Seattle. This was a fun connection because I met up with my friends, Amanda and Jillian who are working in Washington State. They were both key collaborators to planning this trip.  The flight from Seattle to Anchorage was pleasant on Alaska Airlines. Current COVID restrictions mean capacity is still limited. We did pre-flight screening to comply with Alaska’s travel restrictions. The process went smooth, and we were cleared for entry within a few minutes of arriving.  We rented a car from the Ted-Stevens Airport in Anchorage, with plans to return it downtown on Saturday morning; then we headed out into Anchorage to explore. First stop: food. We settled on a highly reviewed and recommended spot, Moose’s Tooth Pizza. This little pizza joint had TONS of unique options and catered to a number of special diets. Amanda went for a veggie-loaded pizza on a regular crust, Jillian chose a whole-wheat vegan crust, and I tried a split topping on house-made cauliflower crust. There was A LOT of food. We ate half our pizzas, and saved the other half for later.  Once we were fed up, it was time to check in to our AirBnb. The Bear Tooth House was a modest spot centrally located. It wasn’t a standout, but it was sufficient for our ramblings. Having a car was useful, and we quickly got our bearings around Anchorage. The city has an eclectic mix of newer, commercial establishments and rustic, aging businesses.  We perused google for sights nearby and were intrigued by one standout: Star the Reindeer. His reviews are a mix of appalling and disconcerting. We couldn’t not go. It turns out, Star really is an aging Reindeer living in a pen connected to a house in downtown Anchorage. The most fitting review we read: “Star died in 2018.” Accurate. On the way back to the AirBnB, we found a great health food co-op: Natural Pantry. We loaded up on healthy snacks for our trail days and for the upcoming travel day. This grocer is a standout amid the chain stores in Anchorage. The early winter in Alaska sunset definitely got to us on this first travel day. We found ourselves barely able to keep our eyes open at 7pm in the darkness. An early bedtime was in order for all of us.  Day 2 : Anchorage Park Trails and a Fantastic Museum We woke up to darkness on Friday. Another odd sensation as we waited for the world to wake up around us. Cold pizza made a great pre-adventure breakfast.  The weather was mild for this time of year in Alaska: hovering around 25-30 degrees most of the day. We bundled up in a few layers and picked out a first destination to explore: Kincaid Park.  Kincaid Park is a trail system located on the southwest end of Anchorage, by the airport. We took the Coastal Trail which wound down to the beach along the Cook Inlet. From the beach, we were greeted by the sun at 9:54am. Across the bay is Fire Island and you’ll get great views of the Kenai Peninsula. Many of the other trails in Kincaid Park are skier-only. In fact, there are over 40 miles of groomed ski trails including 12 miles of lighted trails (for those dark days). We saw lots of amateur cross-country skiers enjoying the mild winter day in Alaska.  Alaskan Beach After a few hours on the groomed trail in Kincaid Park, we drove across town to Far North Bicentennial Park. This is another popular trail system for locals. Interestingly, we were among the few people on foot. There were so many fat-tire bikers!! Next time, I’d certainly try renting a bike.  In Bicentennial Park, we took the Viewpoint Trail. While the trail was enjoyable, a word of warning: there isn’t actually a viewpoint on this trail. We saw cool trees and lots and lots of snow. (I guess that’s Winter in Alaska for you) Instead of wasting daylight (you only get so much of it) on a lunch stop, we snacked on bars and jerky. I made my first stop at one of Anchorage’s infamous coffee shacks. They are all over the place! Little tiny drive-up sheds that offer a selection of hot and sugary-sweetened blended beverages. On my next trip to Alaska I’ll do a better job of mapping out exactly which coffee shops to visit. My family would love a coffee shop tour in Alaska! Next stop: The Anchorage Museum. I have to say, we were all quite surprised by this gem in Downtown Anchorage. The building is incredible. We enjoyed the permanent exhibits on traditional Alaskan cultures, Alaskan history, and Alaskan art. A rotating exhibit on Extra Tough Women of the North was particularly empowering (and a bit absurd at times). I would highly recommend a visit to this museum on a trip to Anchorage when you need a break from the cold.  We left the museum just in time to catch the sunset, at 4:00 pm. After learning about the Good Friday earthquake (the largest quake ever

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CO Hike Series: Cataract Lake

Fall hiking destination north of Silverthorne in the Gore Range of Colorado When my friend Rachel texted, “Hey wanna hike tomorrow?” I knew I was in for a good day. There are very few people who match my expectations of what it means to HIKE. Rachel gets it. We set off EARLY on a Saturday from Denver. That’s just how it is anymore. If you want to beat traffic on I-70 (especially westbound morning traffic), you’ve gotta get up before the sun on a weekend. I’ll give up my sleep for an easy drive and empty trail. As we drove up to the trailhead in the dark, we realized we didn’t have a headlight among us. Oh well. We were surprised to find a FULL parking lot before 7am. The Surprise Trailhead is a popular backpacking location, and accesses popular fall hunting grounds. The mild fall weather meant a good weekend for camping! Luckily, by the time we unloaded and laced up our hiking shoes the sun was up. For the first 1/4-1/2 mile we didn’t see anyone. We marveled at the last leaves hanging on the aspen groves. Soon we came upon a hunting camp (and pack horses). We passed a few camo-clad hunters and another hunting camp. Many hikers are not aware that most big game hunting in Colorado happens on National Forest Land (not private property). Yep, the same hiking trails that you’re on. BE AWARE in the fall, be respectful, and understand how to share the outdoors. Most of the trail was well-maintained single track that wound through dense forest. There are certainly steep stretches (we noticed these more on the way down); but largely the trail is a gradual incline. We hit a few areas that required manuevering around fallen trees. There is a significant trail split to be aware of. About 3.5 miles from the trailhead, stay left on the Upper Cataract Trail. Straight will take you along iconic Gore Range Trail. After about 5 miles, you get to a sweeping overlook. Below, you get your first glimpse of Cat Lake. Be prepared to descend into the valley below Eagles Nest Peak (and go back up). We happily down-hiked to the lake junction. Left takes you a short jaunt to Upper Cataract Lake (10,744′); right will continue to the shore of Cat Lake (10,395′). We made quick work of this 5.25 miles up to the lake. We only needed a short break for photos and a snack. Although Cat Lake was on the radar, this was a surprisingly beautiful and rewarding destination. The trail really shows its distance on the way down. We made great time, but I can tell you seeing the parking lot at the bottom was a welcome sight. Our roundtrip hike distance was around 11 miles and time was about 4.5 hours; a decent effort for a fall jaunt. Have you hiked near Silverthorne? Tell me your favorite hiking spots and mountain town restaurants! Shop my Hiking Favorites:

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CO Hike Series: Hartenstein Lake

Lesser known destination in Buena Vista, CO accessed from the Denny Creek Trailhead I was so fortunate to get a few days this fall to hike with my family. My Mom, Dad, Lucas, and Kelsey flew in to visit and we spent time in Buena Vista, CO. One of our favorite small towns. No, absolutely, our top favorite small town. We love to be on a trail and this weekend we were graced with absolutely perfect fall hiking weather! The trails were nearly empty, the sunshine was warm, and the fall colors made a breathtaking backdrop. Although we have several favorite hikes in the area, Hartenstein Lake was a new destination for us! How fun to explore a new spot in an area we’ve been vacating in for over ten years. I’ve been on the lower portion of this trail before with my mom. We climbed Yale together on my 19th birthday! It was her very first fourteener and I think my second. Great memories from that day. The trailhead is about 10 miles from the town of Buena Vista, off CR396 before you get to the top of Cottonwood Pass. The road is paved and there is a huge parking lot with plenty of room in the fall. We didn’t start our hike until around 11am on a Sunday. The initial ascent out of the Denny Creek Trailhead parking area will test your mental fortitude. Just know that this climb will ease (slightly). I enjoyed that much of this hike comprised of steep inclines followed by short reprieves of flat terrain. There are two trail splits to be aware of. The first comes about 1-1.5 miles in. Stay left to continue on to Hartenstein Lake and Browns Pass. Right will take you up to the summit of Yale. We took several breaks on the way up to search the surrounding high peaks for elk herds. It all looked so idyllic: I know there were elk in the area. We just couldn’t ever spot them! Oh well, the rest was needed after 10+ miles of hiking the previous days. Just as we were ready for an extended break and a lunch stop, we came into a flat meadow. Peaking through the trees we saw a reflection on water and knew we had made it! Shwew! You just kinda pop right onto the banks of this lake. We thought it seemed like the perfect lake for a moose. Alas, no moose. Earlier in the day, my Dad had purchased some Tamales from the Farmer’s Market in South Main. I packed them up to the lake and they were a surprisingly great trail food! We laughed about the mix of flavors and spice and celebrated a final afternoon in Colorado. The trail really shows its distance on the way down. We made great time, but I can tell you seeing the pavement at the bottom was a welcome sight. Our roundtrip hike distance was around 6 miles and time was about 4 hours; a decent effort for a fall jaunt. Have you hiked near Buena Vista? Tell me your favorite hiking spots and mountain town restaurants! Shop my Hiking Favorites:

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CO Hike Series: Oh Be Joyful!

Lovely hike through Crested Butte’s wildflower-rich valley Summer hiking is my absolute favorite. This season has been challenging. The trails are crowded. Coloradans are out enjoying our home state since there has been a significant halt on travel. I’m all for getting outside and exploring everything this state has to offer; but, man, the crowds are frustrating! My solution has been to escape to lesser-known gems and small mountain towns, like Crested Butte. I most often visit CB in the “shoulder seasons”– the spring and fall outside of peak tourism months. The spring is still *quite* chilly, and many trails are under snow. But the Fall….. The fall is magical. I love the cooler mornings and warm sunny mid-day. The leaves are beginning to change and the animals are more active. I found this hike while browsing my All Trails app and considering a quick getaway to Crested Butte. I wanted a little less elevation gain (not in the mood for a big mountain climb), but I was still seeking some high-mountain views. The Oh-Be-Joyful trail took me through a long gradual meadow, ending in a high basin. It was lovely! The trailhead is about 7 miles from the town of Crested Butte, off CO374 (Slate River Road). The road turns to dirt about a mile from the parking area, but it is accessible by most passenger cars with decent clearance. There was plenty of parking, I arrived just about 9am on a Saturday. Note that the Oh Be Joyful campground is a BLM-managed campground that takes reservations for tent spots and RVs. If I were staying overnight, I would certainly consider staying here! The trail begins across a footbridge over the river. Follow well-marked signs to enter the forest on the south side. The climb is very gradual. You’ll wind through cottonwoods, pines, and aspen groves before opening up to a large meadow. The majority of the mileage is accrued in this meadow that follows the stream. Expect lots of sunshine! You’ll come to an old cattle fence. By my estimate, this fence is about halfway to the top of the basin. Taking a breather about halfway up. As you leave the meadow, you’ll begin to climb a bit higher until you reach treeline. There is a trail split here. Left will take you into _ basin, while continuing straight goes up to Oh-Be-Joyful Pass and . I went left and pushed a bit higher before finding flat ground again as I wound through willows. Even in September, there was snow on the peaks surrounding the basin. Looking back, I could see Mount Crested Butte and a few of the ski runs of the resort. It took me about 2-2.5 hours to make it up to the basin. I took a quick break and photo op before heading back down. The walk out really showed me the distance I had gone! This full hike was about 13 miles roundtrip. However, if you’re not feeling the full effort the out-and-back makes it simple to modify. Simply walk how far you want, then turn around. You’ll still be rewarded with magnificent views! Post-Hike I set up my hammock by the creek and enjoyed a nap in the shade. I later made my way into the town of Crested Butte where it was busy with tourists! I had some amazing tacos at BONEZ. *Highly recommend* My roundtrip hike distance was around 12 miles and time was about 4 hours; a decent effort for a fall jaunt. Have you been to Crested Butte? Tell me your favorite hiking spots and mountain town restaurants!

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CO Hike Series: Grizzly Lake

My Number One Hike in Colorado Hiking has been a great passion of mine since I was young. I can remember tagging along with my Dad in the Blue Ridge Mountains, recreating memories at the Peaks of Otter and Humpback Rocks. Hiking got a lot less fun when I was “too heavy” to be carried up the mountain on his shoulders anymore. Luckily, I learned to love the experience of being outdoors and achieving a feat of tackling a peak or reaching a lookout. Colorado really reignited the wonder of hiking for me. There is just so much to see and experience- and the Rocky Mountain vistas just never get old. I feel so at peace on a trail. I am free to think and be myself (often I’m by myself), it has become my moving meditation. I get to kick-off this series with my favorite hike in Colorado. For real. My top place. Grizzly Lake is special to me. It is found in the Chalk Creek Valley where I spent my college summers on a ranch. I would most often hike up to Grizzly when my family was visiting, and have spent hours sitting on the rocks watching my brothers and dad fly fish. I sat down to consider it and I realized I’ve been on this trail every summer (at least once) for the past 10 years. Often, it is at the beginning or end of a season and I’ve reflected on the changes in myself. I learn something every time I am here- whether its a problem I’m stewing in my mind, getting to know someone new, or teaching a friend about why Colorado truly has my heart. Grizzly Lake is truly stunning- but this hike is my favorite because deep down I’m just a sentimental sap who embraces connection. SO, About the hike. This is a totally do-able hike! It starts off just above the ghost town of Saint Elmo. {A post-hike pitstop in this old mining town is worth it. Grab an ice cream while you peruse the “antiques” and collectibles in the yard, then cross the street to feed the wild chipmunks right out of your hand! It is fun for young kids and grown-ups alike.}     The trail starts along a gnarly jeep trail. *Tested* and proven to be truly formidable… just ask my brothers. Walking is a much more reliable way to actually reach the lake. You’ll take a side jaunt to the left and see an old dumpster with “Grizzly” spray painted on it. That’s it, that’s the only trail marker you’ll find. Follow the path about a quarter mile and you’ll come upon Ghost House. This is a historic 1800s home, take notice of the tin can roof. Continue up the valley for another half of a mile. This section is where the most elevation gain occurs. DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED. You’ll be out of breath, but just know that it’ll ease up. Look out upon Aspen forest to the left and peek at the shoulder of Mount Antero. You may hear jeep and ATV noise from the 4X4 road in the valley below. The two trails will intersect on the way to the lake.     As promised, the trail eases for a quarter mile or more winding through Aspens on a simple single track. There is rockfall debris to the right. As the trees thin, you’ll come out to the Jeep Road. Take notice of this turn off and remember it on the way back down! Turn right and follow the rocky Jeep road further up into the valley. Continue to climb steadily past a few mining cabins, as the valley begins to open up ahead of you. Turn around and see great vistas of Mount Princeton and the Collegiate peaks. Grizzly Lake is about two miles up the Jeep Road from the trail turn off. You’ll cross a large rockfall area and dip back into the trees for the final approach. Climb up a small hill and the lake opens out before you. There are many game trails through the willows that will bring you down to the lake for fishing and pondering.   I love to take a minute and take it in right at the top of the knoll. I think about the changes I’ve been through since the last time I was at that spot, whether its been a couple weeks or a year. I am thankful to live in Colorado and reach a place like this just by driving a few hours and walking on up. THIS is why I choose to live how I do– I need this reminder when the homesickness hits. Grizzly Lake sits at an elevation of about 11, 200 feet. It is right at treeline. Bring your binoculars and look out for Elk, Mountain Goats, and Big horned sheep. Remember that the weather is unpredictable up in the high country. It will be sunny and beautiful when you start, and you may find yourself hiking down in a thunderstorm. Always be prepared with the right gear. There is no cell service on this hike {bless}- so keep that in mind if you choose to go at it solo. The hike will take about 1.5-2 hours up and about an hour down. Plan to spend a bit of time up top, so a 3-4 hour round trip excursion. The total distance is around 6 miles (3 miles each way). The drive through the Chalk Creek Valley is incredible. I recommend coming in the fall and experiencing the “High-Color” of changing Aspens. I will keep returning to Grizzly, and keep changing with the seasons. I love having this spot with so much meaning. You are truly a special friend if I take you up here! Wanna hike with me? Come visit and I’ll show you how wonderful this valley is.       What are your favorite hikes in Colorado?  Have you ever been up to Grizzly Lake?

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Denver Spring Break Recap

Kelsey, Lucas, and Mom do Spring Break in Denver! I was so fortunate to have visitors over Easter weekend during my younger brother’s high school spring break. Lucas and My mom flew in from Virginia and my sister Kelsey flew in from Fort Worth, TX to all meet for a long weekend in Colorado. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Curabitur laoreet cursus volutpat. Aliquam sit amet ligula et justo tincidunt laoreet non vitae lorem. Aliquam porttitor tellus enim, eget commodo augue porta ut. Maecenas lobortis ligula vel tellus sagittis ullamcorper. Vestibulum pellentesque cursus risus, in ultrices odio. Morbi dui metus, fringilla quis urna vitae, fringilla tristique nibh. Donec ultrices est ut dapibus dapibus. Nunc fermentum viverra risus, et mollis ante commodo sit amet. Vestibulum eu enim nec lectus volutpat dignissim vel sit amet dui. Maecenas sodales mi non nibh egestas gravida. In in dolor orci. Mauris viverra eu enim eu luctus. Praesent vel orci pulvinar, semper augue et, interdum sapien. Pellentesque quis sodales at aliquet magna. Mauris vel nunc lobortis, imperdiet velit vel, congue massa. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae. Vestibulum pellentesque cursus risus, in ultrices odio. Morbi dui metus, fringilla quis urna vitae. Nulla lacus magna, mattis sed semper sed, tincidunt sit amet sapien. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras neque sem, congue eget iaculis eget, mollis sed lacus. . Donec ante nibh, ornare ac eros at, accumsan rhoncus lectus. Praesent finibus et quam id gravida. Donec et velit id arcu commodo tristique congue ac ligula. Proin a tempus justo. In aliquet libero ac lobortis faucibus. Quisque facilisis tincidunt posuere. Aenean finibus tortor dictum nisl semper, ac sodales odio volutpat. Maecenas ultricies hendre dignissim vel sit amet dui. Maecenas sodale egestas gravida dolor. Pellentesque quis sodales at aliquet magna. Mauris vel nunc lobortis, imperdiet velit vel, congue massa. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae. Vestibulum pellentesque cursus risus, in ultrices odio. Morbi dui metus, fringilla quis urna vitae. Nulla lacus magna, mattis sed semper sed, tincidunt sit amet sapien. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras neque sem, congue eget iaculis eget, mollis sed lacus. . Donec ante nibh, ornare ac eros at, accumsan rhoncus lectus. Praesent finibus et quam id gravida. Donec et velit id arcu commodo tristique congue ac ligula. Proin a tempus justo. In aliquet libero ac lobortis faucibus. Quisque facilisis tincidunt posuere. Aenean finibus tortor dictum nisl semper, ac sodales odio volutpat. Maecenas ultricies hendre dignissim vel sit amet dui. Maecenas sodale egestas gravida dolor.

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Rocky Mountain High

I fell in love with the mountains of Colorado the very first time I visited. I grew up with incredible family vacations- we’d pack up the car and drive across the country, heading out west for a stay on a dude ranch. The 30 hours of close quarters were exciting and bearable, knowing a week of refreshment in the rocky mountains was just on the horizon. I can remember weeks of preparation, researching and planning JUST the right activities crammed into one week. “Can I hike Tuesday morning and still make it back in time for Mexican lunch and then go horseback riding in the afternoon, but still have enough energy to SquareDance that evening?!” As kids and especially as teenagers, my siblings and I would forgo sleep in favor of making as many memories as possible with ranch friends. The weeks flew by- and there was never enough time. The drive home left us rejuvenated, a bit sad, and already thinking of the next year- What did we miss out on?…And How can we make it all fit? In college, I maximized my “vacation” by spending my full summer on staff at the ranch in Colorado. It truly was hard work, but I loved every bit of it. I’d work six days a week, and enjoy one glorious day off. Those days off made my summer. Just like as a kid, I’d spend plenty of time looking forward and planning to fit in as much as possible in that ONE day. “Can I hike a mountain, explore a ski town, and make it back for a soak in the hot springs before midnight?” There was always more to DO and SEE.. I was captivated. The end of the summer meant going back to school in Virginia. By spring, I was counting down the time until I could pack up and go back to Colorado. As I neared graduation, I made my plan to move out west. Within a week of earning my degree, I was driving across the country with everything I had—ready to make Colorado my forever home. As much as I miss my family and friends back east, I wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else. You are not IN the mountains; The mountains are in YOU. -John Muir Today, as an “adult” in the “real world” {a phrase that I still don’t feel can possibly describe ME}, I still look to the mountains for rest and refuge. When real life gets overwhelming, stressful, emotional, you name it- I find my peace on a trail. A deep breath of pine forest and the quiet solitude of mountain air immediately settles me. I experience both a sobering loneliness and a profound sense of belonging.

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