Tag Archives: adventure

So Ends Summer: An Adventure Photo Dump

I’m typing this a 10:30 on a Monday morning while I drink coffee. Next week at this time, I’ll be frantically putting finishing touches on my classroom, readying it (and myself) for my twelfth year of teaching. I report back to work on Wednesday of this week, and kids come on Wednesday of next week, and so here we are: the end of summer. It’s been a darn good summer, though, and I’m lucky to have the flexibility to enjoy summer so thoroughly. I’ve blogged very little this summer, choosing instead to enjoy every moment as much as possible. I feel that a photo dump of my summer adventures is the best way to catch you up, so here we go!

The first week of summer was packed with fun. Summer started for me on Memorial Day weekend. Graduation was Saturday, so Jordan and I hiked up to Bridal Veil Falls outside Rocky Mountain National Park on Sunday:
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The next weekend was the Skirt Sports ambassador retreat, culminating in the Skirt Sports 13er, which I won!
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The following Thursday, my friend Kelly and I climbed my first 14er, Quandary Peak, Words cannot do its beauty justice, so check out these pictures, courtesy of Kelly:

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There were so many mountain goats, and they were not shy at all.

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Kelly and me at the summit

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I went from 14,000 feet to 0 feet in just over 24 hours, heading to Cabo San Lucas that Friday for a long weekend with my college girlfriends. A lot has changed since we met at age 18, but when we get together, it feels like no time has passed at all. I’m not posting any pictures of us except the snorkeling one, because in all our pictures, we’re wearing swimsuits, and as adults with careers, we don’t want that stuff on the internet. So take a look at the ocean instead:

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My girl Sam and me snorkelling in Cabo. Confession: I was so seasick getting here that I nearly puked in my snorkel mask.
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Ocean: I am beautiful! But I will make you vomit allllll daaaay.
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It wasn’t all seasickness. This is where we spent most of our time, swimming and talking. Not a bad place to spend the weekend, right?

My adventures slowed down a bit after that first week, but I still got to spend a lot of time in the mountains. J and I camped, hiked, and rode our bikes in RMNP and Estes Park:

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Our spot in Moraine Park campground
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Jordan making the turn from Cub Lake to Fern Lake
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Fern Lake
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Outrunning (outbiking?) the rain in Estes Park

I won my age group in in local 5k on the Fourth of July:

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I ran a lot of trails and made new friends along the way:

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Before a 6-miler at Bobcat Ridge Open Space with Skirt Sports sisters Lynette and Becky
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Running in the Rawah Wilderness with the Gnar Runners from Fort Collins (Photo credit Ed Delosh)
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Near the top of Clark Peak in the Rawah (Photo credit Ed Delosh)
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Yep, we’re going UP that! (Photo credit Ed Delosh)
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Solo run at Devil’s Backbone
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Gorgeous wildflowers near Eccles Pass
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On the other side of Eccles Pass. Colorado is so beautiful.
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Making friends from Ultra Dirt Divas and frolicking in wildflowers near Eccles Pass
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Solo run in RMNP

We visited my parents and grandparents on the Western Slope, and I didn’t take pictures because I’m the worst.

We camped in the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness with my family to celebrate my dad’s birthday (and I didn’t take a single picture of any family members, just this one of myself,  because I’m narcissistic like that):
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And I celebrated my birthday and the end of summer with an epic day in the mountains with some more new friends. (Just this one picture today, because this run deserves its own post):

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Odessa Lake in RMNP

Yep, summer has been good to me this year. My trail marathon is September 15, so I still have a few trail days in the coming weeks, but these will need to be more focused, on-a-time-crunch training runs — probably no more full days in the mountains, jumping in alpine lakes and taking long photo breaks. But that’s okay: I’m looking forward to meeting a new group of students and trying to make year 12 the best one yet!

 

What has been your best summer adventure so far this year?

When does summer end for you? Are you on a school schedule or a real calendar?

 

 

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Southwest Colorado Adventures, Days 2-3: Mesa Verde

For the first part of this story, read this post

After lunch with my cousin and her boys in Bayfield and a quick stop for ice in Durango, we headed toward Mesa Verde. As we drove, green hillsides and winding roads greeted us, and then we saw the Mesa projecting above us, and we knew we’d arrived.

We started at the Visitor Center, where we bought our tour tickets for the next day and lingered a while, enjoying yet another stunning vista. Then, we drove up another winding road to Morefield Campground, the only campground in Mesa Verde National Park, where we checked in, then slowly circled, searching for an available spot with a decent bit of shade.

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Once we found a shady campsite, we set up camp, built a fire, and made dinner (this recipe — so good!). After we ate, did dishes, and drowned our fire, we headed over to the two-mile (round trip) Knife Edge trail, which the ranger at the VC had told us we had to hike at sunset. He was not wrong. All along the trail, the entire southwestern corner of Colorado — and beyond — is visible. Distant mountain ranges mark the horizon, smaller hills and mesas dot the landscape below, and unique geology lines the trail and the hills beyond. As the sun sank, its brilliant, then softening, light cast a glow over the entire valley, turning the rocks yellow, then orange, then pink.

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Knife Edge was a short and easy hike, but that view made it one of our favorites of all time. Neither my words nor my iPhone pictures can really do it justice.

We could have stayed at Knife Edge until the sun disappeared entirely, but we also wanted to catch a ranger program at the campground’s amphitheater, so we headed back down the trail as the light faded. The program was focussed on storytelling. It was just okay — the ranger was new and had some kinks to work out in her presentation — but it was fun, and stargazing as we headed back to our campsite and to bed was a perfect way to end a wonderful day.

The next morning, I was woken early by birdsong outside our tent. (Okay, I was woken by a full bladder, but then I heard the birds). When I got back from the bathroom, Jordan and I lay in bed –er, sleeping bags –and chatted until about 6:00, when I rolled out of bed and went for a 20-minute walk-run around the campground. Just down the hill from our campsite, I came upon five deer — four bucks and a doe — nonchalantly munching their breakfast beside the road. They were pretty tame, as National Park deer tend to be, and this one posed nicely for a picture before I headed on my way:

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He posed nicely, but apparently I can’t hold a camera still, so he’s all blurry.

When I returned from my little jog, we ate a quick breakfast, then headed out for another day of adventure, starting with a tour of Cliff Palace, the enormous dwelling that you probably picture when you think “Mesa Verde.” The ranger leading our tour was excellent, teaching us facts and theories about the history of Cliff Palace and its inhabitants.

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Jordan doing the Cliff Palace thing

After Cliff Palace, we drove over to Balcony House, billed as the “adventurous tour.” Of course, I can’t resist anything that claims to be adventurous, so I was really excited for this tour. We again had a delightful ranger leading the tour — he was knowledgeable, interesting, and funny. Even if he hadn’t been leading the tour, Balcony House would’ve been fascinating, sparking my imagination as I tried to picture how people had worked and lived there one thousand years ago. And the “adventurous” parts — the 32-foot ladder and narrow tunnel — were pretty fun, too.

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The remnants of what gives Balcony House its name (and a bunch of other tourists)

After Balcony House, we headed over to the Chapin Museum, where we refilled our waters and ate our usual vacation lunch of PBJs, sitting in the shade overlooking Spruce Tree House. This  was as close as we’d get to Spruce Tree this trip, since it was closed due to a rockslide. Darn.

After lunch, we headed out on the Pictograph Trail (which we learned is misnamed, because it leads to petroglyphs, not pictographs). We were quite hot, since we started the 2.4-mile hike at 1:40 p.m., but we had plenty of water, and the scenery on the hike was well worth a little sweat. The trail is steep in some places, with narrow sandstone steps, which made the crowd thin out after half a mile or so, leaving the trail mostly to us.

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Squeezing through a narrow part of Pictograph Trail

The petroglyphs were interesting, and we were glad we’d picked up a trail guide at the trailhead, as it explained some interpretations of the etchings. The ‘glyphs weren’t the only interesting part of the trail, either: remnants of walls, interesting geology, and unique plants dot the trail, too.

After the hike, we took respite in the air-conditioned museum for a bit, watching the movie and reading all the displays because learning is fun. The only thing left to do on Chapin Mesa then was to drive the Mesa Loop and look at the ruins along it. We did, of course, and while the stops were interesting, they didn’t make for very interesting pictures. Use your imagination.

We returned to the campground sweaty, dirty, and tired — the best way to end a day of vacation. Although it may not really seem “camping-ish” to have showers at a campground, we were pretty grateful for them that day. We ate dinner, showered, and collapsed into our sleeping bags, ready to get a good night’s sleep and do it all again tomorrow.

Have you been to Mesa Verde? 

What’s your favorite National Park?