Vail GoPro Mountain Games

When Columbia Sportswear reached out to the #omniten several months ago to ask if we wanted to participate in the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, I actually took a pass. It was going to fall closely on the heels of school getting out and I wasn’t really sure what my plans were. After Amanda headed on to Denver and the airport on a Thursday, Sprocket and I found ourselves in Breckenridge with no real plans until Monday in De Beque. As I saw Tweets from Dave and Aleya about how excited they were for the games and realized that Vail really just was on my route, I decided that Sprocket and I needed to go join the fun.

After another quick McDonald’s bathroom cleanup in West Vail, Sprocket and I started checking out the games. I occasionally tortured him with photo opportunities:

I’ve been to dog friendly events but this one really took the cake. Sprocket came everywhere with me. He met other dogs, which isn’t always his favorite as pictured here but is SO GOOD for him since most of the time it was people interaction (his favorite).

We checked out the rafting competition where SP was super sad that I wouldn’t let him swim. (Snowmelt season is a really hard time to be a lab in Colorado!) He made “friends” with this really cute photographer that I swear I wasn’t trying to take a photo of (no, really, I was trying for Sprocket and the water):

After the rafting competition, I met up with Dave and Shay. I’ve never met Shay in real life but we were both Stonewear Ambassadors at the same time and have been online friends for a couple of years. Dave and I were both #omniten Season 4 and have adventured in Park City and Jordan with Columbia plus he was part of the Ouray Ice Fest 3Up Party. Dave had signed up for the Citizen’s Bouldering Competition while Shay was his personal photographer (Check out Dave’s account of the games!). Sprocket and I were pretty much just along for the ride.

Photo: Shay Skinner, Skin Poetry Photography

After we all met up and did a bit of wandering, it was time for dinner. I doubt I’ll find myself in Vail all that often but the truffle oil tots and some super delicious margaritas at Bully Ranch did not disapoint. The restaurant (but mostly Dave and Shay) were super chill about us sitting outside in the rain so Sprocket could join. Then, because I’m an obnoxious dog mom, I kept Sprocket with us as we went to that evening’s concert. Sprocket was completely unconcerned about the commotion as long as he was safely in the circle between the three of us.

Finally, it was bedtime and Sprocket and I headed off to the parking garage to cuddle in the Jeep:

The next day, Sprocket and I were up early so we spent some time at Starbucks taking care of some blog stuff and catching up on Twitter before meeting up with Dave and Shay. We all headed to the climbing competition where we watched for awhile before hunting up breakfast.

Rain threatened but we were all having fun anyway:

A bit later, I met up with Aleya and Tori and we all rendezvoued with Dave and Shay for Happy Hour in the VIP area and then headed off for pizza. That evening, we all headed down to the concert again (I let Sprocket head to sleep that time since I’m not sure he actually liked the experience.) The next day, Sprocket got to live out his dock jumping fantasy:

He wasn’t really sure about that clear pool and didn’t quite live up to the showings he makes at lakes everywhere we go, but he certainly enjoyed himself. He even got so worked up waiting in line that he whined and barked with the best of the pros. Unfortunately, Dave and Shay were over at Dave’s climbing competition so I don’t have any photos of Sprocket and I in action but I really think he had a blast!

Hanging out with great friends is always fun and my #omniten friends are even more special. I can’t believe I almost passed up the chance to hang out and I’m so glad that I made it to hang out with this great crew:

Photo: Aleya Jean
Photo: Aleya Jean[/caption]

GoPro Mountain Games wristband aftermath:

VIP entry was provided to me as part of Columbia’s #omniten program but as always, my experiences and opinions are my own!

Ouray Ice Festival

Like many Ridgway and Ouray residents, I had a house full of company during Ice Festival weekend. There were no complaints from Sprocket and me: Dave, Aleya, and Jillian were awesome company. There was much merriment, catching up, and laughter but our common ground is adventure so we did our best do get out and enjoy Colorado especially since Jillian was all the way out west from New Hampshire!

Aleya was actually the only ice climber in the bunch but when we met up with some of her friends, us newbies grabbed some demo boots and took our turns being lowered into the Uncompaghre Gorge for our first ice experiences. It’s a little nerve wracking being lowered onto your climb and knowing you need to make it out.

Jason Gebauer Photography
Photo: Jillian of Tenders And Trails
Photo: Jillian of Tenders and Trails

I had a blast trying it out and am so happy that Jason and Jillian grabbed those sweet shots of me on my very first ice climb! On top of climbing, though, it was great to play tourist a bit. The Ice Park’s scenery is definitely not tough on the eyes:

By the end of the day we were tired, a bit cold, and hungry. We grabbed hot chocolates to enjoy while watching the tail end of the mixed climbing competition.

After we refueled with burgers at O’Briens, Dave, Jillian and I lost steam to go to the Prom party up in Ouray but we were re-energized enough to take a drive up to Red Mountain Pass for a short moonlight snowshoe adventure.

The next day, we took the ’77 Cherokee out for her inaugural 3Up cruise and explored Telluride poking into stores, sipping coffee, and enjoying the day.

I hope my guests all had fun, it was a blast to have a houseful for the weekend!!

Kristin: Birthday #tryingstuff

Today’s #TryingStuff post comes from Kristin. Kristin is a New York City based poet who also blogs at Not Intent On Arriving (where she kindly featured me as part of her Writer’s Wednesday this winter) about travel and living life.

Whenever I imagined how I would celebrate my golden birthday, I always pictured opening my 28th year in a gold sequined cocktail dress. There would be champagne and karaoke. I would be a more perfect version of myself – fancy, social, and singing in public – an elegant version of my usual down-to-earth self. When I found myself instead sitting in the chilly lodge of the Clarence Fahenstock Memorial State Park, trading out my hiking boots for a pair of cross-country skis, I didn’t look quite like I’d pictured myself, but the idea was still the same. I was a better version of myself. I was me, but adventurous.

I was about 40 feet from the lodge when I fell for the first time. I had clipped into the fronts of my skis, and was pushing myself pretty quickly along the pre-made track when I started to feel myself losing balance even as I was gaining speed. Like I always do when I’m losing balance, I leaned heavily backward into my heels to stabilize. Apparently, this is not the thing to do when you can’t stop during cross-country skiing, and maybe when you can’t stop during other things in life. Sometimes, you’ve got to lean into it. I tumbled off to the side, and embarrassingly, couldn’t get myself onto my own two feet. A family that appeared to be at the park for tubing took pity on me and between the four of them, managed to get me upright again.

Adventurous me, I had hoped, would be instantly talented at cross-country skiing, even though I’d already tried it without much luck four years ago and even though I have been instantly talented at precisely nothing in my whole life. Talk about setting yourself up for failure. As I shuffled along to where my partner was waiting for me (a fellow non-talented adventurer, he wasn’t able to turn around and help me fast enough), I decided to let go of the idea that being adventurous was something I could succeed at and cross-country skiing something I could excel at instantly, and focus instead of enjoying myself.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the two beginner trails that were open. On our previous excursion, we had contented ourselves with trying each of these paths once, and then moving on to hillier, more difficult trails. While I think it’s important to challenge yourself, I don’t remember having nearly as good a time that first trip out, and I think it might be because we never let ourselves enjoy the process in our hurry to become experts. This time, we explored what felt like every nook and cranny of the paths we were on. We did each of the smaller loops multiple times, and then made a larger loop between the two trails and the lodge twice.

The trails led us around a level field (and past some people snowshoeing – maybe that will be our next adventure!) and alongside the lake where they have swimming in the summer. Everything was frozen-over and still, and although we were often in the presence of other skiers (many of whom blasted right past us with gorgeous form), the experience felt solitary and beautiful. For the first time in a long time, things felt peaceful and I felt like myself. Not a better version of me, just me as is: struggling to keep my breath and my balance while still taking in all of my surroundings. Somehow, after nearly three decades on earth, that was finally enough.

In total, we were outside for about three hours, and as far as I can estimate, we skied about seven miles. There were more spills, my legs and arms felt sore, and I don’t think either of us ever figured out how to ski downhill without crashing into something to stop, but it was the most fun I’ve had all winter. With the freezing temperatures lately, we’ve been bundled up inside or working out at the gym, and I think I’d almost forgotten how wonderful being outside really is.

Taking in deep breaths of cold air and completely exhausting myself on something wonderful are two feelings I haven’t had in a long time, and I didn’t realize how much I missed them. Although it was hard at times and I didn’t magically become graceful and coordinated, cross-country skiing was the best way I can imagine to start my 28th year. Now I’m looking forward to what comes next: a year of trying new things, spending more time with nature, and getting more active with the person I love.

Susan: #TryingStuff x2, Dating and Climbing

Since I’m off #TryingStuffInJordan right now, I thought I’d open the floor here at 3Up Adventures to guest posts about #tryingstuff.

Susan and I met online over two years ago. I’ve loved following her during that time as she’s discovered how much more she’s capable of than she ever knew: during a tough time she turned to exercise as therapy and has become someone who runs more 5K races than I can keep track of! During some recent adventures in online dating, she was invited to a climbing gym but she’s scared of heights. I love this post for it’s honesty about what really was important about the experience.


My most recent #tryingstuff moment all started off with what appeared to be, from the outside, an innocent enough text message: “If you’re feeling bold, want to try rock climbing tonight?” Just a few words on my phone screen attached to the name of a cute guy I was interested in. But they were loaded words. And they scared the crap out of me. We had gone on an amazing first date, he’s an adrenaline junkie and I… am not. I’ve never been a thrill seeker, I’m scared to death of heights and here was this attractive man who just a few days earlier, sitting next to me over dinner, joked about how he was going to get me to jump out of a plane this summer. But it’s the middle of winter and skydiving season was months away, so I was safe.

Well, mostly anyway. If I accepted the rock climbing invite, it would mean a second date (yay!), but would also mean my feet would have to leave the ground. My feet would have to leave the ground and help propel my body up a wall with only a rope and trust in someone I had only spent a few hours with keeping me from plunging to my death (ok, I admit that might be a tad over dramatic). I’m not exactly athletic, or coordinated, so accepting the invitation was only going to lead to me looking awkward, which generally isn’t the look one goes for in the early stages of dating. And I was scared.

The beauty of it though was that I also felt like I was in a position that the only acceptable response was “sure!” because I was still very much in the wanting to impress stages of getting to know someone. He knew I was scared of heights, and here he was offering up a second date opportunity for me wrapped in the package of trying to push me out of my comfort zone. So I took to the internet with panicked words to my girl friends to ask what I should do. And was met with a handful of comments about how awesome of a date idea this was and how they were excited for me.

So I said yes… and proceeded to panic for the rest of the work day. The funny thing about getting out of your comfort zone and trying stuff, is that generally you have a really good time doing it. And I will admit it, it WAS a great date idea, and I’m so glad I didn’t chicken out like I normally would have because the really shocking thing? I want to go again!

We went to the local indoor climbing gym that’s in an old mill building. They even turned the elevator shaft into a climbing route! (I didn’t do that one.) My date walked me through the basics of how to tie the knot, how to belay, etc. He was calm and relaxed and I tried to soak that vibe in as much as I could. And then he hooked me up to a rope and told me to give it a go. At first there was only one other pair climbing so it was quiet and I didn’t feel like everyone was watching me clearly being a beginner and not knowing what I was doing.

As I walked up to the wall trying to not shake, I did have a moment of questioning what I was doing there and wondering why I had agreed to this, but then I grabbed my first handholds and told myself I WAS going to do this. I may have only made it halfway up the wall before getting stuck and not able to find a path to continue going up but it doesn’t matter. This wasn’t about making it to the ceiling, this wasn’t about impressing a cute guy with my killer climbing skills. This was about pushing my own limits and proving to myself that trying new things can be scary but can also be fun.

For the next 30 minutes or so we alternated climbing and belaying until the place filled up and got too chaotic for me and we decided to head out. I never made it further than about ¾ of the way up any of the walls, but I tried my best, at no point did I say “I can’t” without at least attempting it first. And maybe it was because I was trying so hard to not look like an idiot, maybe it was because the nature of rock climbing engages your full body and mind that there was no opportunity for me to think about the fact that my feet were no longer on the ground. But my fear of heights never kicked in. The panic attack I was so sure I was going to have never came.

Walking out of the building my date told me he was proud of me and that if he hadn’t known it, he never would have expected that I was scared of heights. More importantly, I was proud of myself. Did I love it? No. But I didn’t hate it. I can honestly say I had fun, and it is something that I would like to try again. I even looked in to it online and another local indoor rock climbing gym offers a ladies only lesson night where women climbers walk newbies through the basics of rock climbing that I would really like to sign up for. I’d love to gain some working knowledge of climbing now that I know I actually can do it without freaking out, and go again to see if I can do better, maybe even make it to the ceiling!

On a random Tuesday night in January, I learned that trying something new can be totally scary, but that it can also be a lot of fun. I said yes to something I would normally say no to and it is an experience I am so happy I got to have. I can only wonder now what my next #tryingstuff adventure will be!