A Backpacking Adventure…

So I have had a crazy summer filled with lots of adventures and there is one kind of hilarious one that I have been dying to share.

One of my close friends from college came out to  visit me during one of my last weeks living in Colorado. We did lots of local hiking but she really wanted to do a several day backpacking trip during her visit. We planned to do a three-day, two night backpacking trip about 45 minutes west of Boulder. We chose the route because it was close and my sister had done it last summer with her friends. Hessie trailhead (Indian Peaks Wilderness) was our start and we were going to hike the trail that runs through the Indian Peaks Wilderness, up to the Continental Divide and down to Rogers Peak Lake and then Moffat Tunnel. I included a map of our route because it is a great one to do if you are looking for a relatively low mileage but beautiful trail in the Boulder/Denver area.

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The first day was a beautiful hike up through the trees from Hessie trailhead (past the town of Eldora). Once we gained enough elevation the trees cleared and the views were amazing. There are also lots of small lakes up there that are great for fishing (we met several fishing groups along the way!). King Lake is nestled just below the divide and was such a gorgeous place to break. If I do the same trip again I would get a permit and camp near that lake (you have to get a permit during the summer for Indian Peaks Wilderness but not James Peak). We hiked up above the lake and onto the divide where we walked to the parking lot and down another trail to Pumphouse Lake. We had planned on hiking further, to Corona Lake, to camp but the site at Pumphouse was so beautiful so we decided to make camp there. The afternoon included some naps, reading and Indian food on the MSR. The real story started around 10:00pm once we were about to go to sleep.

I hadn’t really thought much of the bear warning sign at the trailhead since I have camped and hiked in Colorado a lot and never seen a bear. So we piled our food away from our tents and covered it with pots, pans and our crazy creeks (this has worked well for me in the High Uintas but was a big mistake here). We just turned the lights out in our tent when we started to hear noises outside. It sounded like something throwing things and rustling bags. It was literally terrifying… sitting in our sleeping bags listening to something rummage through our food and not knowing what it was. It was at least 30 minutes of freaking out. We didn’t wanted to go outside because habituated bears can be pretty dangerous and neither of us were about to confront a bear. When it seemed quiet we got out and did some investigating. Whatever it was had somehow taken most of our food but left our pile covering the food intact. We put everything back, got into our tent and started hearing noises again. Instead of sitting there freaking out in the dark we turned our lights on and listened to a podcast/music (not sure this is the best practice but it worked for us). The next morning we were making tea and saw some marmots on the snowfield across the lake… it was probably marmots although a bear definitely makes for a better story.

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They only food we had left was our snacks (trail mix and a few Cliff bars) and a jar of peanut butter. We probably could have finished our trip as scheduled however we would have been super hungry hiking out on the third day. After some though we decided we would keep going and try to hike what we would have done in two days in one day (i.e. hike out to the trailhead). In order to get picked up we had to get service somehow. Luckily we were going straight up onto the divide which was in clear sight of Winter Park. This hike up on the divide is around 4-5 miles and is absolutely gorgeous. The 360 degree views are stunning. We started our decent back down the East side of the divide just before James Peak. The decent is so steep and pretty long (coming up would be pretty rough). There are several lakes nestled into the mountains just below the divide (at tree line). We had intended to camp here (at Rogers Peak Lake) and it would have been beautiful. There were so many incredible wildflowers and great camping spots. We continued around 6 miles down to the Moffat tunnel were my sister picked us up.

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My piece of advice regarding food on backpacking trips is: do your research! The safest thing is probably a bear barrel or hanging your food however if you are in an area with NO grizzlies it seems people generally leave their food inside packs.

Such an adventure!

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Erin

Backpacking CO Route 2018

Pink & Faux Fur

Hello everyone!

I hope this week is off to a good start. It has been a little slow for me so far but the rest of the week is very busy so I am excited to get going. This is one of my favorite date night/ night on the town outfits for winter. I found this jacket at a thrift shop for such a good deal and I couldn’t resist. It is so warm and comfy and I love the vintage-movie star look. I was super into thrifting and finding great deals while I was home because there are some really great pieces out there that would be so above my price range at full price. I also really love these heels, which I wore on New Year’s Eve and have been searching for places to wear them. The color is my favorite and I really like the style with two little buckles.

Aiden and I went on a fun little date up to the local bakery and I decided to take some pictures for this outfit. As a side not that bakery is amazing if you are in Boulder (Lucky’s Bakehouse).

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Jacket vintage (similar), Watch Cluse, Bag Zara, Jeans similar, Blouse DIY St. James (replaced buttons for pearl ones), Heels Lord & Taylor

Erin

Around the Web

This post is definitely a bit late but I really wanted to get a New Year post and a reflection up first. I was also on vacation all last week so it is taking me a little bit to get back into the swing of things. I am very excited for everything to come though! Here are several things I have found over the past week or so.

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A Very Memorable Golden Globes: This year will probably go down as one of the most memorable Golden Globe awards due to the great presence of campaign Time’s Up. It is all about standing up to sexual harassment in the workplace. Oprah’s speech really drove things home. It is so worth checking out the campaign!!

Artful Blogging: I walking into Barnes and Nobles with my mom this weekend just to browse a bit and I found this magazine. It has gorgeous pictures and some really great, inspirational stories.

Fashion Hacks: These are all such useful tips on how to keep your clothes looking like how you bought them. Using a pumice stone on pilling sweaters is one I hadn’t heard of but will definitely try out.

Ski Prints: I think I am super into anything with skis/skiers on it since we just got back from our Steamboat trip. Part of why I have loved being home is how much I have been able to ski. It used to be an almost daily part of my life during race season in high school and I definitely miss it.

Clothing Company: So I have never heard of this company (Bungalow 123) before but they have some really affordable but cute stuff on their website. I have not ordered anything yet so I really am not sure of quality right now but I had to include it since the tab has been open on my computer for literally the whole week.

Zara Sale: This is such a great sale with so many great styles. Seriously it probably has the most items to chose from. I love it and seriously need to watch my spending. So there are still several other great sales going on. The Abercrombie sale is really great right now and I am loving some items in the Madewell sale section. The other great one is the Anthropologie Winter Tag Sale.

Cozy Sherpa: This looks like the comfiest shirt/sweater right now. It just makes me want to curl up with a good book. Since I have made a few purchases in the past week, I am going to wait and hope it goes on sale for right now. But if you are looking for something cozy, it seems perfect.

Tips for Appreciating Life: So I am adding this late, but I was just journaling for today and realized that I had wanted to include this article from Carly the Prepster because I was just so inspired by Maxie’s tip to write down what I am grateful for. I am adding that to my list of 2018 goals/changes. I just think being more appreciative will help my mood so much.

Anyways definitely check out the Time’s Up campaign if you haven’t already and have a wonderful week!

Erin

A Plaid Thanksgiving

I am loving this outfit for the Thanksgiving holiday. I am planning on wearing this dress for our big Thanksgiving meal because it is the perfect blend of unique and classic. The plaid is thin making the pattern a little more subtle. I might dress it up a bit more on Thursday with some low heels and tights, depending on the weather. Also, I have been so into tying bows in my hair. Even just some ribbon around your ponytail can go a long way.

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Dress Zara, Jacket similar (also this one has great bell sleeves), Boots Hunter, Bag similar (also similar), Necklace Rocksbox

Erin

3 Beautiful U.S. Backpacking Locations

Happy Friday! This is definitely one of those weeks in which the weekend couldn’t come fast enough. I really need to get some more sleep this weekend and do some organizational things to get me ready for the next month of craziness.

I really wanted to continue adding a couple more posts on backpacking so I decided to write this one on some of my absolute favorite locations around the US. I am going to list three states however in my descriptions I actually explain exactly where within the state I recommend doing some backpacking (or at least hiking).

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Colorado: I am very biased since I am from Colorado but I absolutely love it. There are so many beautiful places to hike that this was by far the hardest to choose one backpacking location. Maroon Bells is a beautiful area and many people recommend a trip there, however I am going to talk about the Steamboat area (Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area) since I have personally had the most experience here. It is a very beautiful area and the perfect place to go to get away from the crowds. I have usually gone in August and rarely see other people/groups on the trails. The views are truly breathtaking and the lakes are freezing but clear and beautiful. I recommend getting on the continental divide and taking a route either north or south. This allows you to stay high and enjoy those views. The downside to this area is that it is very high in elevation and you have to gain a lot of elevation in the first couple days in order to get onto that trail (be cautious if you are from out of state or are not experience.

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Virginia: Western Virginia was the first place I ever backpacked. The Appalachian mountains are absolutely beautiful, so basically the entire tri-state area (North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee). I include this location because the fall foliage is definitely a highlight of any place I have ever been. Mid to late October is the ideal time to enjoy the prettiest trees in the US. I just picture walking up a mountain covered in reds, oranges and yellows and it makes me so happy! The mountainous landscape combined with the perfect colors makes for an amazing experience. This is definitely the most accessible location. There are trails everyone can do and you can go for however long you want. Just doing a day on the Appalachian Trail is very worth it!

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Utah: Although I am from Colorado and hold it very dear to my heart, Utah is my favorite place to hike. There are so many incredible national parks and landscapes and features I couldn’t have ever imagined. As far as backpacking goes, I have done several longer trips in the Uinta wilderness, which is a east/west mountain range. It is very beautiful but can be quite a challenge as there are many passes and peaks that you must climb in order to reach some of the pristine lakes and trails. There are some more populated areas with great fishing, shorter trails and interesting rock features (eg. Red Castle lake). I highly recommend this area! For a shorter trip (but pretty challenging) climb Kings Peak, the highest mountain in Utah. The last mile to the summit requires you to boulder the entire way, so allow for extra time!

Thanks for reading!

Erin

Colorado 14er’s for Beginners

For many people Colorado is seen as an outdoorsy, hiking destination. The mountains definitely live up to their reputation and probably exceed it. Many hikes are incredibly difficult especially on the well-known 14,000 foot mountains scattered throughout the state. There are a few however that are very suitable for beginners both in length and difficulty. I would note that these are the hikes that I have seen lots of people get altitude sickness on. If you are traveling from out of town (or think you might get altitude sick) be especially cautious when designing your itinerary and remembered that it is always better to turn around if a member of your group is very sick, even if that means you will not reach the summit. Here are the two best 14,000 foot mountains, in my opinion for beginners:

  1. Mount Bierstadt. This Colorado mountain sits at 14,065ft tall and is located just south of the mountain town Georgetown (about an hour west of Denver). This is easily the shortest hike of all the 14er’s I have climbed. This is a shorter hike because you drive so far up, starting at a much higher elevation but beware because parking here can be difficult. Because it is easy and one of the most accessible it is very crowded, especially on weekends. I would say as long as you start early (which is necessary on a fourteener anyways due to the variable weather) you will be totally fine and stress free. The climb itself is steadily uphill since you start so high. It took our group about four hours to do the whole thing and spend time at the summit.11703110_10205811172870262_7791701265273261792_n
  2. Grays and Torres. These are separate 14,000 foot peaks but most people do them both together since they are very close together, separated only by a short saddle. This hike is definitely longer, taking us around six hours to do both peaks. It is a total of 8 miles from the trailhead up and back down. This one can also be crowded depending on the weather so I again recommend getting an early start. The other great thing about these mountains is that they are also relatively close to Denver with an hour and half drive to the trailhead.                  11753656_10205811157909888_1404692817955476857_n

Both of these hike are incredibly beautiful with amazing 360 degree views of the mountain ranges. I highly recommend climbing one of these peaks if you are up for the physical challenge because those views are definitely worth the challenge!

Erin

Summer Goals

Happy Memorial Day! It is definitely the holiday that marks the beginning of summer. It is a tradition in Boulder to go to the big Creek Festival during memorial day weekend and run the 10k through our city. This year I am not running due to an injury but I definitely will be hanging out with friends at the festival. For some reason this weekend has always marked the beginning of summer, probably because school has just ended and warm weather has finally set in. Barbecue season has begun and the reds, whites and blues are in true high style.

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Blouse American Eagle (on sale!), jeans Just Black, shoes Target

Here is my list of things to do this summer:

  1. Hit the beach: Yes I feel like I somewhat already accomplished this in the Bahamas but I do love going to the beach so much and I am hoping to go once more before the summer is over.
  2. Road trip: For some reason this has become a summer staple for me! Last year Aiden and I drove around Colorado, exploring my favorite places and parks and this year we are doing a girls trip to New Mexico to enjoy some pool side sun bathing and gorgeous views. There are an endless number of road trips all over the US and they are so great because you can truly tailor your trip to what you really want to be doing.
  3. See friends and family: Although I will be working for part of the summer, this is the first chunk of time I have had at home for several years and I am super excited to catch up with old friends and see family.
  4. Go sailing: Although Colorado is not the most nautical place I grew up sailing on the east coast and have a love for it even though I am very landlocked. This year the best chance I have will be on the Boulder Reservoir in a sunfish but that will have to suffice. We also have ample opportunity for paddle boarding and swimming.
  5. Hike a mountain: Getting outside always makes me feel better about myself. It is just incredibly freeing, no matter how high the mountain or how low the valley. It is also a great activity to do with friends because it gives so much time to really talk without the distractions of the outside world.

I am sure there are many more but these are my top goals for the summer! I am very excited for all this time in the sunshine after a grey Indiana winter.

Erin

Road Tripping Colorado in a Week

As we start to plan ahead for spring break and the summer months it is time to think about the much anticipated road trips that ensue. They are definitely not for everyone, however they can be a cheaper way to have an amazing and beautiful vacation. This trip was so much fun and it’s a great way to see Colorado (and even some of Utah) from all sides in a fairly short amount of time. On this particular adventure I was highlighting my favorite parts of Colorado for someone who had not been before!

It is also a trip that definitely could be extended if you have several more days. Here is the overview:screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-6-18-07-pm Day 1: Drive from the Boulder/Denver area to Angel of Shavano Campground. This is such a beautiful drive through the mountains! Leadville is a great spot to stop for food, antique shopping and enjoying the view. It’s a small town with lots of character and it is one of the highest towns in the country, sitting at over 10,0oo ft above sea level. We ate lunch at Tennessee Pass Cafe (I also recommend High Mountain Pies and City on a Hill Coffee & Espresso). After setting up camp we drove back to Princeton Hot Springs for a nice evening dip. If you aren’t into camping Mount Princeton Hot Springs is a great place to stay the night! This area is also an incredible place to hike with multiple 14,000 ft mountains all in close proximity. The town of Buena Vista is also incredibly pretty and attracts many kayakers and rafters.

Day 2: Drive from Angel of Shavano Campground to Great Sand Dunes National Park (then on to Cortez). We left the campground super early and drove to the dunes where we spent much of the morning. I highly recommend camping here however getting a reservation can be really tough so book well in advance. The dunes are especially hot during the heat of the day but dune jumping is incredibly fun and it is pretty amazing to see a feature that seems so out of place nestled in a great Colorado valley! There is also a river that runs through right before the dunes, so bring a bathing suit (river levels definitely depend on the season and yearly precipitation so be sure to check!). Instead of camping we pushed on all the way to Mesa Verde so we could spend more time at the National Park. We stopped and ate great Mexican food for lunch in Del Norte and stopped for frozen yogurt in Pagosa Springs. Pagosa is another town I highly recommend spending more time in, there are natural hot springs along the river as well as a great resort, many hiking trails and fun little shops. This was a pretty long day but in the end we made it to Mesa Verde before the park’s closing time in order to get tour tickets for the next day. It is definitely a must to get tour tickets the day before because they tend to sell out in the summer and getting a tour when the sites are still shared is a much smarter idea. For the next two nights we got a hotel in Cortez, which is only a 15 minute drive from the national park.

Day 3: Going on tours of the anasazi ruins is undoubtably the way to visit Mesa Verde. This is because most of this sites cannot be explored up close if you are not on a tour (tours are fairly cheep and you definitely learn a lot!). It is best to get an early start to beat the heat! This whole day was spent going on two tours of different ruins and exploring other parts of the park. It is really a beautiful place with some amazing history. Cortez has some decent restaurants as well!

Day 4: Drive from Cortez to Moab (and on to Dinosaur National Monument). This is, once again, a place that I would definitely break up a little more. We had a limited time but, Moab is such a great town and would be a great place to stay a night and get some more hiking in. The national park also has a campground. Arches has so many amazing features and great hikes! We did two shorter hikes in order to see some different features. We tried to spend as much time here as possible so we did not get to the Dinosaur campground until 7:30ish (also, make sure you go to the right entrance of Dinosaur National Monument). This is one of the darkest places in the country, at night, so on previous visits I have seen amazing stars!

Day 5: Dinosaur National Monument to Hayden/Steamboat Springs. We spent 5-6 hours in Dinosaur just visiting the homestead, looking at the many fossil features and swimming in the river. This park has great programs for kids and has a good variety of things to do. It does get extremely hot here so hiking in the middle of the day was not smart on our part! We drove on to Hayden, CO from here (close to Steamboat Springs) where we stayed the night at a family member’s property. I have been to Steamboat Springs many times and highly recommend it! The town is very beautiful and there is always something going on (Rodeos, festivals, kayak races etc…). When we drove through the next day the annual Rocky Mountain Mustang Roundup was in full swing. It is also a great place for horseback riding, biking and hiking. Check out Strawberry Hot Springs for a great place to stay!

Day 6: Steamboat Springs to Estes Park. We did some hiking and swimming in lakes in the morning before driving to Rocky Mountain National Park. Driving up Trail Ridge Road can definitely be quite terrifying however it gives way to some of the most spectacular views. There is also lots of wildlife including elk, moose, bighorn sheep and many birds. We stopped several times for some prime photos but drove to Estes Park to meet my family, walk the town and eat delicious food. Estes is very busy during the summer but it is definitely worth it. This night was spent at some beautiful cabins just outside of Estes.

Day 7: Estes Park back to Boulder! Most of our last day was spent hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. There are so many hikes of all levels and ability making it a great place for everyone. The drive back to Boulder is fairly short but definitely check out more of the restaurants before heading back!img_2135

Thanks for reading and happy road tripping!

Erin

Budget-Friendly Winter Fun

Budget-Friendly Winter Fun in the Colorado Front Range

I always get incredibly excited to go home to the massive rocky mountains… especially in the wintertime when snowflakes fall, sun still shines and the people are fired up for some powder skiing. Now that I live away from the mountains the buzz is just that much more exciting when I do come home. One of the greatest things about leaving this place has been that every time I do go back I am always planning adventures and remembering the fun places I like to go, in order to make the most of my time. This winter I came up with some of my favorite things to do around the Boulder area in the winter. But these are definitely transferable activities to many other place!

 

  1. Go ice skating downtown. The outdoor rink this year is right next to the gorgeous tea house on 13th Street so dinner and skating is very convenient and extra special. The city also definitely out did itself on the lights this year. Nearly every tree was covered, even in the park, and the rink looks right out at the park, so going at night is a must.IMG_4665.jpg
  2. Take a tour of the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory. This is definitely a must for both locals and tourists. Celestial Seasonings sells its tea throughout the country and even overseas and it’s based in the outskirts of Boulder, CO. It’s great because the tour is entirely free and you get a tea sample as your tour ticket. There is also a great cafe and shop. The tour itself is actually pretty interesting. It is definitely way better if you go while the factory is working (a weekday usually) because it’s pretty amazing to see the robots at work and the huge scale of it all. While you wait for your tour you can drink as much tea as you want.
  3. Ski (downhill and backcountry)!! Definitely a given as many people come to Colorado to do just that. Where you definitely depends on skiing/boarding experience and on the amount of money you are willing to spend. It is definitely an expensive sport and becomes that much more expensive when you have to find lodging and rent gear. So how do we make this one budget friendly? There are definitely some ways to make this more affordable however it is definitely the most expensive adventure on this list. First, choose the ski area wisely. Places like Vail, Beaver Creek and even Breckenridge and Keystone are definitely more expensive. They are definitely bigger but individual lift tickets cost way more than the small areas like Arapahoe Basin or Eldora. Unless you are getting the Epic pass it gets so expensive with tickets along at the big areas. The nice thing about the smaller places (A-Basin, Eldora, Ski Cooper) is that their cheaper and they are not resort ski areas which means everyone stays in the towns nearby which may seem inconvenient but will save you lots of money! The last way to save some money is to check out rental companies before you go. Most of the time there are way cheaper rental options further away from the ski area, so if you plan on renting for several days at a time, this may be a much better option for you. Backcountry is also a great alternative, if you have experience and want to save money. With big snows people backcountry ski, even in the foothills.