July Visitors!

While my project in Washington somewhat dragged on, I had events starting to pile up in Ridgway that I needed to get back for. My boss started calling to set up some summer meetings but more pressingly, Cindy had purchased plane tickets months ago and Katie was coming out for hanging out with people during the Hardrock100.

Since Cindy was only in town for a couple of days, we went out hiking on Sutton Trail. Although it’s steep, the views of the amphitheater are amazing. Plus, we got mixed up in another group of hikers that were actually a ton of fun. After our hike we drove over Red Mountain to Silverton and then headed back to my place for lunch and some wine and porch sitting.

The next day, we drove up to Telluride to check out the views and ride the gondola. Apparently I only Instagram storied my photos since I don’t have any! Again, we basically meandered back to the house and found ourselves catching up with pretty mountain views as old friends do.  It was so much fun to share my home with you, Cindy! I know I’m in the middle of no where but you win the award for first friend to buy a plane ticket to come!

Katie’s visit out this way for Hardrock events slightly overlapped with Cindy which was actually a lot of fun. After Cindy headed back to the midwest, Katie and I decided to head up Bridge of Heaven. This is one of those hikes I’ve wanted to do but was sort of dissuaded from because of all its elevation gain!

We started from the Dexter Creek side and quickly attained the ridge line and then pushed our way up to Bridge of Heaven proper.

By the run down, my legs were feeling it but it was a good way to start getting in some solid elevation gain again!

Summer Roadtrip Kickoff: Capitol Reef NP

When school is out, I head out of town. I did it in 2015 with Amanda for an epic Utah and Colorado road trip in Francis Sally Jeep. I begged off work for a couple days in 2016 to acknowledge the beginning of summer. In 2017, I drove to OKC for the Women’s College World Series and had some fun along the way.

This year, I piloted Ruth XJ towards Tacoma to tackle a flooring project for my mom. Since my house is completed, it was time to take care of some family duties. But first: ROADTRIP.

As I planned my route, I had an eye to hitting up some county highpoints. In the interest of expediency, I headed north through Grand Junction before merging onto I-70 and heading west … into a giant rainstorm.

Initially, I’d hoped to hike the Sevier County Highpoint on my departure day but the considering that I could see that weather system had deposited snow at elevations >10,000′, I took full advantage of the fact that I had lots of latitude to do whatever the hell I wanted to. Instead of taking the Forest Service Road cut off from UT-72 to Fish Lake, I continued south to Loa figuring I’d find a coffee shop or something to hang out in before going to make camp. I didn’t really see anything that was striking my fancy.

On top of that, when I hiked the Garfield County, Utah highpoint, Mount Ellen, I’d found myself drawn west to do the highpoint of Wayne County, Boulder Top (sometimes known as Bluebell Knoll), which left me with an eight mile stretch of UT-24 to my west I hadn’t driven. I hate leaving orphan road segments. 

When I’d done Boulder Top, I’d passed through Capitol Reef but not done any exploring so I pointed Ruth east to catch the orphan Loa-Bicknell segment and then cruised on into the Capitol Reef Visitors Center for a little visit. Storms threatened all around but that meant the weather was cool enough for me to leave Sprocket in the car for a little trail run.

I headed up Cohab Canyon for a short adventure. I’d missed the desert. Before I’d left Ridgway, I’d been trying to get out for runs and get in better shape but the going was slow. Instead of fretting about it I soaked in the red rock awesomeness.

After my trail run (or hike or whatever), I headed to Fish Lake. I briefly entertained the idea of having dinner in the adorable vintage lodge but the menu didn’t look particularly alluring (and if I’m totally honest, Utah’s revenge of no liquor license didn’t help) so I headed out to find a camp site.

Word to the wise: the entire Fish Lake area is camping in campgrounds only. I toyed with driving far enough up the basin or back out of the basin far enough to find dispersed camping but instead I decided to suck it up and pay.

It’d been quite awhile since I’d pitched the tent and I think Sprocket had kind of forgotten how cozy it can be.

Mariners: Edgar Martinez Number Retirement

I’ve written before about my memories of my family and baseball. Most of my summer trips back to Washington wind up featuring a Rainiers game. Baseball is just part of how my family functions.

Last winter when the Mariners announced that they would be retiring Edgar Martinez’s #11, I knew that I had to make it happen. I talked to my sister and to some family members and then nothing really happened. Just before school got out for summer, I started to organize. And as a family, we ended up purchasing 13 tickets.

I am so glad this all came together. It was a fantastic day. We made a whole day of it which was fantastic! First thing in the morning, I boarded a bus to Seattle along with my mom, my sister, my aunt and uncle, my godmother, and a cousin. When we arrived in Seattle, we grabbed coffee and headed to the Mariners team store because neither my mom or I owned any Mariners gear. (I was okay with this, no one else was.)


We did a bit of touristing at Pike Place Market but our group was a bit too large to maneuver the crowds and we quickly ended up at Pike Brewing for some food and catching up.

Once we reached the stadium district we rendezvoused with the rest of our group and hung out at Pyramid Brewing. There was lots of beer and some nachos, I started a round of “What’s your favorite Edgar memory?” and we hopefully didn’t drive our nice server too nuts.

Inside the stadium, I only cried a little bit during the ceremony. But my cousins jumped in as family does and made sure to tease me a bit. I don’t think I’ve ever been at a game and watched so little of it; living so far away this was a great time to catch up with people!

Thanks family. This was definitely the event worth planning my summer Washington trip around.

Hayden Mountain Trail

Since our Dexter Creek adventure was such a great success, we immediately headed out the next day for the slopes of Hayden Mountain. I think we were both a little bit sore but the calling of the summer mountains was just too much to resist. There are no words (so I just too plenty of photos):

Dexter Creek Run

Sprocket and I inched our way out of our summer doldrums with a run-hike up Dexter Creek trail last week. I’d muddled through summer with anxiety levels that regularly crept higher and higher but I just kept pushing through and working more hours. When I reached the end of my double shifts, I knew it was time to get back on the trail.

The first half mile was a bit of a grind. It was up hill, I was tired, and it was a bit late in the morning for it to be nice and cool. After that first bit though, I found my stride, we jogged the rolling hills and hiked the steep ones. I marveled at the mountains above us while Sprocket galloped along the trail.

After a couple of miles, we came to the Wilderness boundary and decided to head back down the hill; I was well aware that we’d likely feel just this little bit in the morning.

Back in the car, on our way down the hill I spotted this lovely looking little pool. We stopped and I took a refreshing mini-ice bath before going back to town.

I’m so glad to be back on the trail. It was almost immediately that I felt back to being myself. The anxiety melted away and the joy of the mountains happened. It’s totally magic.

RIP Summer 2016

I’m sure we all know that there are never enough dollars, hours in the day, miles hiked, glasses of rosé consumed, and cuddle piles with friends in life.

Since there’s not enough dollars in my teaching contract to make up some ground on debt and move towards a house, it’s necessitated spending a ton of my hours working instead of playing outside. There’s not enough housing in this town and I need a nice stable place to call mine. It’s been a long time since I had that. Sprocket and I have managed okay although we both have missed our time in the mountains. He’s still oblivious to what’s coming down the pipe, although I’m really psyched about my progress this summer towards the big financial goals in my life.

All the work, Ouray

On the other hand, it has been a summer that has reaffirmed my choice of place. Although work has limited them, there have been a few glorious nights spent watching the mountains turn to alpenglow crowded on outdoor couches with great people and amazing conversation. There have been Thursdays at concerts in the park with picnic dinners and dancing. My shed has been complemented with a patio and garden beds. I’ve woken up in my cozy shed bed to the sun rising behind the Cimarrons.

I go back to school tomorrow and my students will join me next week. It hasn’t been a #summitsummer but it’s been an important summer all the same: it’s been one that is making me incredibly excited for my next steps.

Mt. Rainier National Park: Reflection Lake and Pinnacle Peak Trail

My sister and I had been scheming to get the boys out hiking during my trip home for months. When the day finally came around we had two of the three boys and got a much later start than we’d hoped but the webcams were showing absolutely gorgeous bluebird skies at Mount Rainier National Park so off we went.

Once we drove into the park, I woke up both boys from their naps so we could start looking at the views as we drove up to Reflection Lake. Will, the youngest, continually exclaimed “Look at the huge mountain!” This was not reserved for the grand dame, Rainier, but also bestowed on craggy Tatoosh Range peaks, and wooded unnamed peaks. His excitement was adorable and we all happily spilled out of the car and ate our sandwiches looking at Reflection Lake.

After a few photo opportunities, we headed up the Pinnacle Peak Trail. I never dreamed we’d make it to the saddle (okay, I dreamed about getting there and then ditching Emily and Kevin with the kids while I summited) but I was so impressed with the boys for making it almost a mile up the trail. 3 year old Will lead the charge up the hill on his first hike ever!

Rainier mostly was out of the clouds for us and it was pretty hard to not just stare instead of climbing. Thankfully, our whole (tired) way down, she was in our faces.

I waved at Pinnacle putting it aside for another day with different goals. Today was about being outside with family.

Kevin Jr. and I even got in some bonus “scrambling” while we waited for his younger brother to descend the trail.

After the hike, we headed to Paradise for a quick swing through the visitor center and gift shop. Settled back in the car, it was clear that all five of us had enjoyed our day. There was hand holding hiking, exclamations of joy, and laughter disproportionate to our less than two miles traveled.

Ouray Hiking: Abrams Mountain

Abrams Mountain is visible from Ridgway, perched right above the town of Ouray. At 12,801′, it is disproportionately prominent in the skyline to its size when compared with other peaks in the Sneffels range. I’ve been up to the Brown Mountain ridge a couple of times but I’ve never hiked it all the way out to the summit of Abrams. (Abrams’s summit it hidden by the tree in the left third of the photo below.)

After work yesterday, Sprocket and I went to the river so that he could frolic and swim. I threw the stick for him and laughed as my retriever would get the stick out of the water but would not bring it back to me. He, on the other hand, would come dripping wet and look at me expectantly. Eventually, I noticed there were hardly any clouds in the sky and it only took me a second of deliberation before we were headed back to the house to get Ruth.

The climb from the Brown Mountain jeep road up to the saddle between 13er Brown Mountain and the ridge to Abrams is steep. It took me 25 minutes to attain the ridge in just a half mile (maybe I can improve on it another day when I head to Brown?). Our light was fading rapidly but there was still enough light to make our way along the sometimes rocky and sometimes grassy ridge.

The ridge was more complex than it had looked on a map and I made a mental note to stay on the absolute crown of the ridge on the way back to the Jeep. Heading downslope too early would be a huge mistake since only one drainage would take me back where I needed to go, any others would either cliff me out or drop me far from my car.

As we made our way out to the summit, I chuckled a bit at myself. I was functioning on four hours of sleep and by all logical measures, where I should have been was in bed. Instead, it was 9:30 and I was still hiking away from the car. I’d already decided, however, that addressing my mountain deficit was way more important than my sleep deficit.

Sadly, my iPhone was no help in capturing the beauty that was hiking the last bit to the summit in the almost total dark. We summited without headlamp and without a moon as the last streaks of sunset faded over the Sneffels Range and Log Hill Mesa. The wind was blowing but it was warm and I briefly regretted not having a sleeping bag to stay and wait for sunrise. Sprocket and I just sat together as the darkness became complete. I finally felt like I was breathing easy. We could see the lights of Ouray, Ridgway, and all the way up to Montrose. The Milky Way was coming out.

Knowing that I had plenty to do in the coming days and a long hike back down the ridge plus the drive down the mountain, we didn’t linger too long.

I regret nothing.

Green Mountain Trail Run (Hike?)

I’ve been working my tail off but last week, I didn’t work until early evening so Sprocket and I headed out to savor summer a little bit. It was warm but not near as warm as it’s been this past week so we headed to the Stealey Mountain Trail to do some exploring. The start of the trail was pretty flat so I made a bit of an impulsive decision to start running.

Less than a mile from the car, the elastic fell off my braid so I was rocking the long hair down which was hot. Sprocket seemed to be enjoying the run so we kept on going.

We took a little bit of the long way around which opened up views to the Sneffels Range and Uncompahgre as the trail trended downhill.

As we doubled back to the east, Courthouse mountain dominated the skyline. Our pace slowed a bit as we started to move up hill but we were totally just out enjoying the day.

The highlight of Sprocket’s day was crossing a couple of streams that were low enough to allow him to just splash around and cool off a bit.

We tried to find a pack trail that was supposed to take a very direct route up to the saddle but it just seemed to be gone. It was pretty steep and starting to get hot so we just took it slow and savored the views back towards Castle Rock:

We finally rejoined the quad trail route and made the final push to the summit of Green, or Stealey Mountain. The summit was heavily treed so there weren’t a whole lot of views but the green and the sun was heavenly.

Not too shabby, SP, not too shabby:

Summer 2016: Shed and XJ Living

It’s finally summer and I could not be more ready. Last summer, I made Francis (my FSJ) my home while I explored all over Colorado feeling free (and saving a bit of rent money in the process!). Since I’m moving again this year, I’ll be rocking a similar low-budget, high-adventure sort of lifestyle utilizing Ruth XJ and my storage shed.

This year, I’ve made the shed a bit more comfortable with an actual mattress, more consistent cooking area and better thought out storage of the things that I might want during the summer. It’s definitely not set up the way I would have it if I were living it full time since it is also doubling as a storage shed for someone who is eventually planning on having a house (albeit a smallish one).

Ruth is also a huge gas mileage upgrade from Francis (although I have sacrificed a bit in the space department) which will be great for chasing some more county highpoints this summer.

This summer is going to be one filled with working (yay, Provisions!), peakbagging, friends, adventures, gardening, dreaming, and long drives.

Summer 2016, I’m so excited you’re here.