Channeling My High School Self

I am a total and complete sucker for “getting to know you” surveys.  I blame it on being a teenager in the early days of email when your friends would send you surveys all the live long day.  Come on-don’t pretend you don’t remember.  I saw this on Ashley’s site a few days ago, and I couldn’t resist playing along.  So, without further ado, here are 25 things about me!

1.  I’m happiest when I’m with John.

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2…..especially if it involves being out on the trail.

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3.  I’ve always wanted to live in the mountains.

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4. My family and I have this thing about Colorado.  I am not the only one obsessed (although my obsession is the strongest!), and I totally come by it honestly.

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5. I was a terrible math student.

6. My first job was at Burger King.  How cool was I?

7. I could probably eat ice cream every single day.

8. I stole a boy when I was in high school.  Not my finest moment.

9. I was born on the same day as Ozzy Osbourne, Amanda Seyfried, and Julianne Moore.

10. My all-time favorite film is When Harry Met Sally.

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11. I do a pretty mean southern accent.  Oh, wait, that’s real.

12.  I’m still mad I quit piano when I was younger.

13. I met my husband in college.

14.  I always knew I wanted to live in the mountains.  Dream will become a reality someday!

15.  I’m not afraid to try new things. I will pretty much try anything once!

16. I make the best lasagna.  Ok, it’s not restaurant quality, but I love it!

17. I have almost no singing ability. Seriously, it’s embarrassing

18. I always cry when people find out they’ve been picked for Extreme Weight Loss.  They’re so happy, and you can just tell they know their lives have changed forever!

19. If pressed, I root for the OU Sooners and the Texas Rangers because that’s who my family loves, but, honestly, I’m not that into following sports.

20. I spent 4 years with a crush on John before we finally got together!

Friend zone days!

Friend zone days!

21. I wish my folks lived near me!

22.  At 8, I was deeply in love with The Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley Twins.

23. I believe if everyone had a dog the world would be a better place.

24.  I can’t stand when people are self-righteous.

25.  Whenever Gilmore Girls is on, I’ll watch it.

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See, wasn’t that fun?  Now you guys play along and answer a few in the comments.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Essential Gear For The Beginning Backpacker

Hi guys!  I hope everyone enjoyed your weekend, and your week is off to a great start!  John and I are actually looking after his boss’s house while they are exploring Ireland (yes, I’m jealous!) so we had the opportunity to soak up some sun by their pool.  It was like a little vacation without leaving town!  I could definitely get used to it.

So my assistant superintendent and her family have recently decided to get into backpacking.  This makes me all kinds of happy, and we’ve talked about almost nothing else every time I’ve seen her the last few weeks.  I’ve been getting random text messages asking about pots and sleeping bags and whether or not they should get a little lantern.  Backpacking and what trails we are exploring next are always my favorite topic of conversation, and discussing it with her lately has taken me back to when I was a  new backpacker.

I remember how daunting it felt to figure out what I needed/wanted to pack for that first trip.  What was absolutely necessary?  What would make the trip more comfortable?  What can I do without to cut weight?  It can definitely be an overwhelming process.  Luckily, John loves research and set us up pretty nicely!

But, for those of you who don’t like spending hours at a time in front of a computer, I’m going to boil down the few things that are must-haves in my book to make your first trip comfortable (relatively!) and successful.

1.  Backpack

A proper backpack is a top priority because it will be the vessel that carts around extra weight for the whole of your trip, and, believe me, they don’t all fit the same.  We are a Deuter family all the way.  John and I both have two Deuter’s a piece so we’re prepared for both short and long trips.  My brother-in-law used an Osprey over the summer, however, and really liked it.  Whatever you choose, make sure it fits properly on your hips.  If you’re completely unfamiliar with the way a backpack should work, I highly recommend going to a specialty store like REI.  They can definitely show you the ropes!  Tip:  You might think about buying your backpack last.  The type and size of the other gear you buy will determine the size of the pack you need.

Caite wore my small Deuter on our trip!

Caite wore my small Deuter on our trip!

2.  Sleeping Bag & Pad

This is definitely where quality matters.  Where it might be tempting to go for the $30 bag in your local Wal-Mart outdoor section, I can promise you’ll regret that decision the first night it drops below 45 degrees in the high country.  Sleep is precious on the trail, and sleeping on the ground can get old even among those of us who wished more of our lives were spent in a tent.  A sleeping pad that states inflated and keeps you off the ground along with a well-rated sleeping bag can make all the difference.  Also, it’s not all about comfort.  Getting caught in frigid temperatures without proper cover can become a safety issue.

3.  Tent, Tarp, or Bivy

So, technically, you can sleep under the stars and it’s something I’d like to try someday, but, all in all,  a form of shelter is an important piece of equipment.  We hike almost exclusively in the mountains where weather can be volatile and unpredictable so it is essential that we have somewhere we can take shelter.

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4.  Hiking Boots or Trail Shoes

When people talk to me about getting into backpacking, I always tell them my number one rule-take care of your feet!  They are you’re only modes of transportation, and in can be a game changer if something happens to them.  Even something as minor as a blister could develop into a serious problem if you’re fifty miles from your car.  At the very least, it will be a long, painful walk back so it’s best to avoid all that by finding a pair of boots or trail shoes that feel good on your feet.  Try several different pairs on, walk around the store, take them home and walk in them exclusively for a few days.  It’s important to really get a feel for a pair of boots before you take them into the backcountry.

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5.  Water purification system

Water is one of your biggest needs out on the trail, and, unfortunately, it isn’t safe to simply scoop up a handful of it out of a nearby creek and take a sip.  Even high mountain streams can contain serious, harmful bacteria so you’ll need something to ensure your safety.  There are all kinds of products on the market that can accomplish this, and I’m going to simply tell you to get one of them.  You can use something as basic as iodine tablets to cut weight or pack in a water filter for a little bit better taste.  There is even a new product called a Steripen that is lightweight and uses ultraviolet light to purifiy your water in about 90 seconds!

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Basically, what you need for backpacking is the same things the pioneers needed-transport, food, water, and shelter.  Of course, there is a ton of other gear to consider when taking your first trip, but these items  will serve as the foundation and get you ready for your first trip in no time.  Before you know it, you’ll be an old pro!  Happy trails!

Thru-Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

Two posts in one week?  I must be getting back into the school routine!  I haven’t felt like coming home and lying comatose on the couch all evening this week so I must be starting to adjust.  I remember when I first started blogging I felt pressure to post every day.  Honestly, I can’t even imagine trying to keep up that schedule anymore.  I’m glad I’m over that ;)

Before we left on vacation, I discussed the pros and cons of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.  If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know that my number one passion is backpacking and being in the mountains.  That being said, thru-hiking one of the giant long distance trails in the U.S. is a dream of mine that just won’t die.  It will probably have to wait until retirement, but I definitely want to attempt it someday.

But which one?  There are three hiking trails in the U.S. that have well over 2,000 miles.  Many people attempt these trails each year, but far fewer finish.  Some brave souls even hike all three in their lifetime, earning them the coveted Triple Crown title.

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In today’s installment, let’s look at the Pacific Crest Trail or the PCT.  This long distance trail stretches for roughly 2,650 miles from the Mexican border to the Canadian through California, Oregon, and Washington.  The trail was officially finished in 1993, and since then it has become a Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts.

So why would you want to hike the PCT?  Here are some of the pros to this particular trail, but remember these are definitely my opinions!

Pros:

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Scenic Views

You definitely won’t be short on views on the PCT.  You’ll have more than enough wide-open vistas to keep your eyes occupied on the PCT.  You’ll start your hike in the desert, move into the Sierra Nevadas which are some of the most beautiful in the country, and head up into the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Mt. Whitney, Yosemite, and the John Muir Trail

You’ll have the opportunity to see all of these American icons while on the PCT.  Mt. Whitney is accessible as a day-hike from the PCT.  The trail will take you through Yosemite allowing you to view some of the most beautiful natural landmarks in North America, and the PCT overlaps with the John Muir in many places.

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The best of both worlds

When embarking on any thru-hike, you have to give serious consideration to resupply.  Obviously, you can’t carry everything you’re going to need for five or six months!  That means mailing resupply boxes to towns you’ll pass through or hitting up grocery stores to find staples for the trail.  One of the main unappealing aspects of the AT (for me!) is that the trail is never far from civilization so it’s a little harder to get that isolation I crave in the backcountry.  The PCT strikes a great balance.  You will certainly experience long stretches between towns, and I’ve read accounts of hikers not seeing anyone else for days on end.  However, there is just enough access to towns in strategic places to make planning a thru-hike not quite so daunting.

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Cons:

Desert

A majority of the first part of this trail is desert hiking.  After all, you’ll be hiking through southern California!  That means brutal temperatures and creepy crawly things that I want nothing to do with.  Many people enjoy desert hiking so it wouldn’t be a problem, but I am definitely not one of them.  I was just telling someone yesterday that in my perfect world it would be forty degrees all the time!  This is such a major hurdle for John and I that we would probably skip the desert section.  We wouldn’t get a true thru-hike, but we’re all about quality over quantity!

Water

Because of the desert conditions, water is a huge problem.  Many thru-hikers have to cache their water before starting the trail, and others rely on the kindness of trail angels to make it though the dry sections.  In the face of the brutal conditions, water has to be at the forefront of your mind so it is a problem not to be taken lightly.

Honestly, those are the only two major cons about the PCT, in my opinion.  I think it combines the best aspects of backpacking a long distance trail, and it’s probably the right fit for John and I when we finally have the opportunity to do one someday.  However, there’s one more long distance trail I have left to talk about, and I just might have saved the best for last.  Stay tuned!

In the mean time, have a great weekend, and I’ll see you next week!

Currently: August

Hello, friends!  As you can tell, I’m back at work, and busy, busy, busy which is why I was only able to check in once last week!  Today marks the start of our second week of school so things should settle down into a semi-normal routine fairly soon.  I’m glad!  I miss writing in this little space of mine.

I’m working on my second installment of the pros and cons of the three major long distance trails for later this week.  In the mean time, I thought it would be fun to do a mid-August check of what’s going on currently!  Enjoy!

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Current books:  I try to read as many YA novels as I can to keep up with what’s popular with my students so I picked up Period 8 by Chris Crutcher the other day.  I love all of Crutcher’s books, and he has such a talent for relating to teens.

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Current music:  One of my students gave me a page and a half long list of song titles/artists that I need to check out.  I know a total of one person on the entire thing!  Anybody ever heard of Johnny Flynn, Tom O’Dell, or Bastille?

Current guilty pleasure:  Here’s my confession-I have let my Diet Dr. Pepper habit get out of control this summer, and I feel like such a hypocrite when I preach healthy habits to my students.  I’m stating my commitment right now to go cold turkey until October 1st.  Please feel free to tweet me to hold me accountable!

Current nail color:  Remember last month when I was inspired by Hazel Grace?

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Well, I took the paint off right before we left for vacation, and I haven’t painted them since.  98% of the time my nails are naked, but I’m feeling the mood to paint them coming back to me!  Maybe this month I’ll go buy some black so I can actually model Hazel!

Current drink:  We’ve already discussed by Diet Dr. Pepper addiction so for the foreseeable future it’s going to be strictly tea and water!

Current food:  I have finally developed a taste for plain yogurt.  I have to put a little stevia in it, but I’ve really started enjoying the heck out of it and almost would rather have that than the flavored stuff.

Current favorite show:  Still gotta go with The West Wing.

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One of my best friends, Hayley, lent me her DVDs of the entire show, and John and I have been working our way through it.  We’re currently a little over halfway through season 4.  I get to see her next month, and I hope to have them all done by then.

Current indulgence:  Lately I’ve become obsessed with genealogy (blame the TV show Who Do You Think You Are!), and I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on Ancestry.com.  I’ve been indulging this passion quite a bit in the evenings lately.  It’s addicting!

Current blessing:  The blessing I’m thinking about right now is a truly wonderful senior class.  I’ve been this class’s sponsor for the last two years, but I really got to know them when I started teaching government their sophomore year.  These kids are a truly special group.  They’re thoughtful, kind, intelligent, and there’s not one in the bunch that I don’t like.  I don’t talk a lot about my students here because I know it’s not the place, but I want to brag on these guys a little bit.  I really love every one of them, and I don’t even want to talk about them graduating in a few short months.

Current outfit:  Teacher clothes.  Oh, teacher clothes.

Current excitement:  Um, Christmas Break?  No, in all seriousness, back to school for me always means fall is just around the corner.  Cooler weather, beautiful leaves, pumpkin and apple everything, and way better clothes.  Sign me up!

Current mood:  Missing this part of summer just a tiny bit…….

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Current link:  My blogging buddy Corrie just announced some very exciting news!  Please head over to her blog and congratulate her!

What are you feeling grateful for currently?  

All Good Things: Colorado 2014 Day 6

Well, it’s that time of year again.  This morning I’m headed back to school to prepare for the 2014-2015 school year.  The students will walk through the doors on Wednesday, and I have quite a few things to do before I’m ready for that to happen!

Although I don’t hate the beginning of the school year, I’m still a little sad to say goodbye to my freedom for another ten months so today I’m going to focus on happier times!  I’ve finally come to the last day of our backpacking trip recap so let’s finish the story, shall we?

We spent the last night on the trail at Divide Lakes which is definitely in the running for one of my favorite camp sites.  We had the pristine mountain lake all to ourselves that night.  In fact, I believe we only saw three other people during Day 5!  That is just par for the course while hiking in the San Juan Mountains, and that is one of the many, many reasons why it’s my favorite place in the world.

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Everyone in our group decided we wanted to set an early alarm for our last day.  By that time we all had one thing on the brain-FOOD!  We had been dreaming and discussing the post-trail food for about 48 hours at that point, and we were more than ready to get to it.

So the alarm went off at 5:30, and I detected a little more pep in our step as we broke down camp.  It was a really beautiful morning, and Caite snapped a few pictures of the lake before we headed out.

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Off we went!  Honestly, most of the day was fairly uneventful.  Most of our newbies were tired, a few of them were in a wee bit of pain (we have some gear updating to do!), and, like I said, everyone had food on the brain.  John and I, on the other hand, realized something pretty important.  Even after six days out on the trail, we weren’t ready to come in!  Don’t get me wrong, I was as ready for real food as anyone, but I could have happily stayed out for another week.

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Since this trip was a lollipop, Day 1 and Day 6 were identical just in reverse which means that most of that last day was downhill or mostly flat.  Until the very last mile.  The last mile was all climbing to the trail head with switchbacks that seemed like they wouldn’t end.

They did eventually, of course, and we reached the parking lot with some mixed feelings (at least for me!).  There were no mixed feelings on the part of some of our group.

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They made it!

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We all gathered around the trail head sign one more time for an “After” picture before making our way to the cars for the trip back into Pagosa Springs.

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All in all, it was a great trip!  I was so excited to share my passionate for backpacking and the great outdoors with my family.  We learned a lot, laughed a lot, and made so many irreplaceable memories.  And, for the record, most of them have forgotten the pain, and are ready to head back out!

As for John and I, we’re already planning next summer’s adventure.  In the mean time, you’ll find us on some of our local hiking trails just as soon as fall hits, and that can’t come soon enough.  After all, home is where my tent is.

Day 6

Trail:  Weminuche Trail to Posion Park Trailhead

Miles:  Just over 9

Elevation Gain/Loss:  +1161/-2100

Trip Recap:

Directions to Trail Head:  Turn west on Hwy. 160/Piedra Road and follow it for 22 miles.  Turn right on Williams Creek Rd.  Travel on Williams Creek Rd. for 3 1/2 miles then turn left on FDR 664.  Travel another three miles to the trail head at the end of the road.

Trails Used:  Weminuche/Pine River/Rincon La Osa/CDT/Flint Creek

Total Miles/Nights/Days:  53 miles/5 nights/6 days

Total Elevation Gain/Loss: Approx:  +7550/-8255

Who Should Do It:  This trip is best for backpackers that have some experience.  There are several trail changes as well as some bushwhacking so you need to prepared for that.  Obviously, we took first-timers on this trip.  I wouldn’t discourage first-timers from doing it, but I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND that novice backpackers go with more experienced ones.  Also, this is a pretty strenous trip.  Please make sure you are reasonably fit, and, if you have any question about that, consult a doctor first!

Maps:  National Geographic Weminuche Wilderness #140

If you have any questions or would like the Google Earth breakdown of this trip, please email me!

Abigail: Day Four & Five Colorado 2014

Happy Friday!  It is my last official day of freedom!  The summer has flown by due to all the fun that was had.  Today I’m diving back into that fun to pick up with our Colorado backpacking trip.  If you’re just tuning in, please check out Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3!

After day two, we decided to change our route just slightly to allow for two nights at Flint Lake.  This gave us all of Day 4, and, after our wrong turn on Day 3, everyone was really excited about it.

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We all slept in a little that morning which means we were up at 7:30 instead of 5:30.  Days start early on the trail!  That particular morning greeted us with a ton of fog.  The mountain views we had enjoyed the evening before were completely covered up, and we could have been on our favorite trail in Arkansas for all we could see!

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That didn’t stop us from having an extremely pleasant morning playing cards around the campfire.  Dad, Caite, and I are a huge fan of cards, and we managed to talk Alex into playing with us.  John and Justin didn’t want any part of it, but I think they were just afraid of getting smoked!

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Gin rummy wiled away a few hours for us until the sun finally started to break through the clouds.  We decided to take the short two mile hike over to Rock Lake.  John and I had crossed the pass at Rock Lake a few years ago, and it is one of my favorite places in the San Juans.  It’s a pretty high mountain lake surrounded by craggy, jagged mountains with a ton of wildflowers all around.  I was really eager for the rest of them to see it!

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After the four mile round trip, we spent the rest of the day and evening hanging around the fire, and getting to know a new friend.

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We noticed this particular deer on our first night at Flint Lake, and we marveled at how she kept coming closer and closer to camp.  She didn’t seem to be afraid of us at all, and, during the day and a half we were there, she rarely ventured far away.  John named her Abigail, and she became our camp mascot for awhile!

Unfortunately, we had to leave Abigail on the morning of Day 5.  To make up for our day off, we had a long hike to get back to Divide Lakes where we would be spending our last night on the trail.  We left camp around 6:30 that morning, and headed down the Flint Creek Trail.  Luckily, the first eight miles of the day were all downhill, and we were able to make pretty good time.

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We came to the Pine River Trail just before lunch, and, after stopping for a quick break, we started the hardest portion of the day.  We had roughly four and a half miles left to go, and most of those were uphill.  Thankfully, it was a gradual uphill, but it was an exhausting day nonetheless.  We pulled into camp around 3:30, and most of us caught a quick nap in the tents before dinner!

As expected, Divide Lakes was an awesome place to camp.  Caite and I spent some time laying on a huge boulder by the shore, and it was so nice to relax and chat.  John, Alex, and Justin did a little fishing, and John even got a little ambitious trying to catch a few.

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We were all pretty concerned that jump was not going to go well, but he landed it perfectly!  He is incredibly surefooted.  I think he may be part cat!

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We spent the rest of the evening around the fire discussing what we were going to eat when we got off the trail the next day.  Hunger for real food had definitely set in!  But, before we could enjoy the benefits of civilization, we had a nine mile hike out to contend with.  That story coming at you next week!

Day 4

Camp at Flint Lake

Day hike to Rock Lake:  4 miles round trip

Day 5

Flint Lake to Divide Lakes

Trails:  Flint Creek Trail/Pine River Trail/Weminuche Trail

Distance: 12.5 miles

Elevation Gain/Loss:  +1300/-3700ft.

Back At It

Hello, folks!  My apologies for being slightly MIA.  I’m currently in my last week of freedom before that ‘ol school bell starts to ring, and I’ve been running around like a mad woman trying to take care of all those last minute to-do’s before the real world comes calling.  My friends and I (who all work in the public school system!) were wondering the other day how people with “regular” jobs get all those errands done.  Let’s just say, I’m extremely grateful for my two and a half months off a year (even if the paycheck does reflect that!).

Today I thought I’d take a quick break from my backpacking trip recap to do my monthly check-in.  August is an especially important month for me in terms of my small, manageable goals because summer is ending and my routine returns.  I usually spend a huge majority of my summer traveling whether it be on vacation or trips to see various family members that the school year doesn’t allow.  I love every minute of it, but regular eating and exercise habits fall by the wayside.  The start of a new school year feels like a reset button to me (much like New Year’s Eve!), and I’m actually looking forward to it.  Before we get into my August goals, however, let’s check in on July.

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1.  Relax

This goal had everything to do with slowly down and enjoying every minute of our vacation.  I tend to want to pack every possible minute with stuff to see and do, and this leaves me exhausted, irritable, and in a small tiff with my husband (who does not enjoy the go, go, go!).  I’m giving myself an A for this vacation.  I didn’t plan a ton of stuff in the week leading up to the backpacking portion.  Instead, we just did what we felt like, and it was glorious!

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2.  1,000 push-ups, 1,000 squats, 1,000 sit-ups

Because of vacation, I didn’t go to Cross Fit for most of the month of July so I wanted to keep up my strength.  Not unfortunately, life got in the way, and I didn’t quite get make my numbers.  I ended up with 750 push-ups, 750 sit-ups, and 900 squats.  Not too bad, all things considered!  Plus, I think hiking and all the squatting in the woods I had to do more than counts as 1,000!

3.  Enjoy Food!

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Boy, did I ever!  We ate so much food on this vacation, and every bite of it was delicious.  I didn’t let myself get anxious about indulging or freak out about what the scale would say when I got back.  I just enjoyed the moment!  Besides, all the physical activity we did evened things out anyway.

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1.  Move the scale

I’ve shared before how obsessive I used to be about counting calories and eating healthy.  Thankfully, I’ve loosened the reins quite a bit, and I don’t get so hung up on every little morsel anymore.  That said, I’ve been hanging on to about ten pounds for the last year that it would be healthy for me to lose.  I’m not going to talk numbers because I know that can be a trigger for certain people, and I’m not going to put a ton of pressure on my self by setting a fixed number.  Instead, I’m getting back to watching portion sizes and cleaning up my diet, and, hopefully, move the scale in a downward direction.

2.  Run!

This summer has been terrible for my running.  I can blame a hundred different reasons (injured foot, traveling, etc.), but, the bottom line is, I didn’t run much and I now have a base to build back.  This week I’ve started over on this half-marathon training plan, and my goal is to stick with it and start racking up those miles.  I don’t have a specific race picked out for the fall yet (I’m looking!), but I know I want to run one so I’m starting to prepare.

3.  Cross Fit three days a week

Cross Fit has definitely suffered since the beginning of July, and I’m ready to get back into it.  I made it three times last week, and twice this week so far.  When my schedule returns to normal next week, it will be easier to get in the gym, and I am so ready!

4.  1,000 push-ups, sit-ups, and squats

I’m a counter.  I love having numbers to shoot for, and last month I got a little thrill every time I was able to add to the note in my cell phone where I was keeping track.  So, naturally, I want to try again this month, and actually get all of them.  Since I’ll be back at Cross Fit, it shouldn’t be too difficult!

So that’s what August will look like for me.  You know, in between forming the minds of the next generation.  Wish me luck!

What goals do you have in mind for August?  What fall races are you training for?

Wrong Turn: Day 3 Colorado 2014

Good news-I can move my legs again!  I took three weeks off of Cross Fit due to traveling, and I just started back on Monday.  I had totally expected to be sore, but I figure it would be my upper body.  I mean I spent six days in the backcountry doing nothing but using my quads!  So, imagine my surprise, when I woke up Tuesday morning and could barely get out of bed.  And, let me tell you, going to the bathroom was an entirely complicated experience.  I’m feeling better today, and Dad and I have plans to go for a little run later so that should help get the rest of the soreness out.  The two of us are spending a few days at my grandparents’ house.  They live about five hours away so I don’t get to see them nearly enough!

So now it’s time to tell you all about Day 3 of our backpacking trip.  If you’re just joining us, please check out Day 1 and Day 2.  We climbed out of our tents around 5:30 that morning because we were headed up and over the Continental Divide Trail that day.  One thing you must absolutely be aware of when hiking in the mountains in July is weather.  You can set your watch by the thunderstorms that roll in during the early afternoon hours, and you definitely do not want to be caught above treeline when it happens.  Lightning is a real concern so it’s best to getting miles done up high out of the way early.  Plus, we all knew that Day 3 was going to be a low-mileage day, and everyone was excited to have a long afternoon in camp.

We left camp around 6:30 and almost immediately started up.  We knew we had a pretty good climb to get up to the Divide, but were looking forward to smooth sailing after those first few miles.

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We made it to the Continental Divide Trail after about four miles and around 9:00, and it quickly became my favorite part of the trail.  There is nothing quite like the view from 12,000 ft.  I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it.

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We followed the CDT along the ridge for about two miles, keeping one eye on the sky the entire time.  There were a few ominous looking clouds, but, luckily, we didn’t have any problem with the weather.

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The six of us made it to the other side of the ridge, and (thought we spotted) Flint Lake, our destination for the day.  We continued down the trail for a little bit, and soon came to what appeared to be a dead end.  John knew from studied the trail that we were going to lose the trail until we got to camp so know one was particularly worried.  At first.

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It soon became abundantly clear that we weren’t where we thought we were.  As it turns out, we had come off the ridge at the wrong spot and were actually looking at Ute Lake instead of Flint.  This is where things got interesting.  There was a ton of discussion, staring at the map, and bushwhacking that went on for the next hour and a half.  After what seemed like forever, we finally picked up the right trail and arrived at Flint Lake around two that afternoon.  It wasn’t quite as early as we would’ve liked, but we made it!

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It didn’t take long before we all set up our tents and crawled in them for a short afternoon nap!  We had arrived in our two-night campsite, and we were excited to stay awhile!

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Alright, it’s time to get ready for that run.  I’ll be back next week with the trip wrap-up.  Have a great weekend!

Day 3

Horse Camp near Rincon La Osa Valley to Flint Lake

Trails:  Rincon La Osa Trail/CDT

Miles:  7 (But since we went off trail, we probably did more!)

Elevation Gain/Loss:  +1380ft./-1015ft.

Wildly Remote: Day 2 Colorado 2014

Monday, Monday.  Only two more of them before they start meaning something to me again!  Summer is rapidly drawing to a close, and I, of course, am still dreaming about the mountains.  I actually started making a photo book of our trip last night, and, after looking at the pictures again, it’s taking a good amount of restraint not to pack the car and head straight back.  What can I say?  I’m a mountain girl living in a flat lander world.  Sigh.

The second best thing to actually being on the trail is talking ad nauseam about it, and, lucky for you guys, that’s exactly what I intend to do today! This post is going to cover day two of our six day backpacking trip through the Weminuche Wilderness in southern Colorado.  If you’re just popping in, you can catch up on day one here.

Day two dawned with clear skies and good attitudes thanks to a good night of rest in a particularly good campsite.  We knew we had a roughly eleven mile day ahead of us so we ate breakfast, broke camp, paused for another group picture, and we’re on our way.

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Less than a mile in, we made it to Divide Lakes, and all of us were impressed by what a beautiful spot it was and a little sad to have missed out on camping there the night before.  We knew we’d being coming back by on the last night of our trip, and all of us were set on making sure it was our last campsite.

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Not far from the lake we came to the Weminuche Trail/Pine River Trail junction where we turned northeast onto the Pine. We stayed on that trail and followed the Pine River throughout most of the morning.  It was fairly easy route with some small rolling up and downs, but nothing terribly strenuous.  Of course, there were more than enough wonderful views to keep us entertained.

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Around noon we came to Rincon La Osa Trail Junction, and we paused to have lunch on the banks of the Pine River before heading northwest up the Rincon La Osa trail.  And I do mean up.  We spent most of the remaining miles of the day on steady incline aiming for the Rincon La Osa valley.  As a side note, as soon as we turned on to the Rincon, we saw a group of ladies out for a backpacking trip.  They were the last human beings we would see until around two the next afternoon.  One of the many things I love about this area of Colorado is the wild remoteness of it.

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As our watches ticked closer to five o’clock and our bodies begun to feel the wear of the long day, we started to get very anxious to get to camp.  After a long day of going uphill, we made it to vast open valley and hoped we were where we needed to be.

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We walked off trail just a little bit to a really beautiful campsite, but, after much discussion, decided that our actual destination was, once again, about a mile up the trail.  At that point, however, the clouds were looking ominous and everyone was tired and hungry so we decided to take advantage of the nice campsite we had found.

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We were all exhausted and Caite and Alex were feeling a bit peckish that evening so everyone turned in early that night.  The next morning we had a very early wake up call so we needed the rest!

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And, since that was a big day with lots of pictures, I’ll save that for later in the week.  Day 3 was one of the most beautiful we had on the trail so you don’t want to miss it!

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In the mean time, I’m off to school to get some work done.  It’s time to get back to reality!  Have a great day!

Day 2

Outfitter Camp to Horse Camp just short of the Rincon La Osa Valley

Trails:  Weminuche Trail to Pine River Trail to Rincon La Osa Trail

Miles:  10

Elevation Gain/Loss:  +1600/-280ft.

Summer is Waning

I decided to break up the recaps, and interrupt this broadcast to join in with Amanda’s Thursday Thoughts!

Thinking-Out-Loud

1.  We are getting to that point in the summer where every single day is precious because there aren’t that many free ones left!  In all honesty, however, I really never mind school starting back up.  September through December is my absolute favorite time of the year, and school starting back means it’s right around the corner.

2.  I told you I’ve been reading like crazy since vacation, and I just finished What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.  I heard about this book some time ago on some blog (maybe Julie’s book club?), and I thought it sounded like a neat concept.  It’s the story of a 39-year-old woman who bumps her head at the gym and wakes up thinking she’s 29 again.  She has absolutely no memory of the last ten years and all the things that have changed (and gone wrong!) in her life.  Hilarity ensues.  It was a great read, and I’m going to the library today to find some more by the author.

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(source)

3.  John and I are still obsessed with The West Wing.  It is such a good show, and if you like quirky, witty humor and truly brilliant writing then you must watch it.  I have just one question.  When are Donna and Josh going to get together already?  No, no, don’t tell me.

4.  I missed these little guys so much while we were gone!  They were definitely happy to see us, and they were incredibly glad to see each other.

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Yes, this is the best picture I could get of the two of them, and it’s a perfect representation.  Gus loves his big brother!

5.  Did I mention the temperature is inching close to 100 today?  Take me back to the mountains please.

6.  Look what my sister did with some of our vacation pictures.

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I wish I had an inch of her talent!

7.  My European History class officially got put on the class schedule for next year.  In addition to some other school stuff, I need to spend some time next week in front of my computer developing some of the first lessons.  I am so excited to teach this course, and, yes, I understand how nerdy that makes me!

8.  And just because they’re too beautiful not to share….

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Have a great weekend everyone!  I’ll be back on Monday with Day 2 & 3 of our trip!

What’s your favorite time of year?  Read any good books lately?

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