That time I was in a Backpackers Pantry commercial.

Oh my goodness. Remember that time I gave y’all a behind-the-scenes peek at my videoshoot with Backpackers Pantry at Three Sisters Park in Evergreen, CO? Well, the final video is finally up – and it’s hilariously wonderful. I had just a great experience filming this brand piece with Backpackers Pantry, give it a gander:

Let’s all just ignore that honker of a zit on my forehead. 

Too much. And those dance moves? Yeah, they told me to “be weird and outrageous and kind of tacky” – so I basically just danced exactly how I always do. No shame, folks. No shame.

A Guide to Climbing Balms

Here’s the thing about climbers: we have pretty gnarly hands. We spend all day grappling with slopers, shredding our skin on crimps, and cranking on underclings. From sandstone to granite (and yeah, sometimes plastic), our hands take a beating on a daily basis. Our most abused body parts also happen to be crucial for climbing – so climbers need to take proper care of our hands.

During my yearlong climbing trip, and throughout my five years spent training indoors and crushing outside, I’ve tested dozens of hand care products. My relationship with climbing balm has been through bleeding flaps of skin, fingertips cracked from the dry cold, random burns from campfires, blood blisters, you name it. This comprehensive review has been a long time in the making, and I’m excited to share my thoughts on what I consider to be the top three salve brands in the climbing industry: ClimbOn!, Joshua Tree, and Giddy.

climbingbalmreview A Guide to Climbing Balms

Joshua Tree

The first time I encountered Joshua Tree products was while climbing in Joe’s Valley. I liked it, but the little sample tubes I had quickly disappeared into the abyss of my van. Kati Peters is the one who really put J-Tree products back on my radar while climbing in Chattanooga this past winter, and I have since fallen in love with their balm – but I never use it for climbing.

Climbing50 large 300x300 A Guide to Climbing BalmsHonestly, I find Joshua Tree hand salve to be just a little too greasy for use on grubby climber hands – but it comes in handy for endless other uses. It saved my life when I caught a nasty cold and ended up with a cracked, runny nose and painfully dry facial skin. I use it on chapped lips, to sooth burns, and on any delicate wounds that would be irritated by the rubbing motion required by thicker balms.

As a lip balm fanatic, Joshua Tree gains an upper hand in my book with their impressive chapstick collection. Not only do they offer a range of seasonal flavors – I have pumpkin pie – ladies can get Joshua Tree lip balm with a bit of shimmer! The real kicker for me is the SPF 15 protection. I also appreciate the slightly flattened tube design that keeps my lip balm from rolling off rocks.

Other notable products include their biodegradable body washes, arnica recovery lotion, and sunscreens featuring organic ingredients. The body wash’s fresh tea tree and mint scent was a welcome smell when I was bathing rather infrequently while living in the van – and I never had to worry about using the soap in a river.

COST: $5.75 for 15 ml

PROS: Joshua Tree hand salve is extremely versatile, gentle, and effective. If I had to pick just one product to always have on hand, it would be this hand salve (even though I don’t use it for climbing/hand purposes). It works wonderfully for chapped lips, burned skin, healing tattoos, and soothing irritated skin. I keep  on me at all times.

CONS: Honestly, I really just don’t love using Joshua Tree as a climbing hand salve. 


I’ve been using ClimbOn (aka SKINourishment) products for years – and for good reason. It was the first climbing balm I ever experienced, and I’ve since sampled just about every product in their line-up. I’m a fanatic for products like their body creme and cucumber rose facial moisturizer (which I’m currently addicted to).

33f52ed8 e4db 4934 beb0 a2ea00b16a5a 609x609 300x300 A Guide to Climbing BalmsThere is no contest that ClimbOn is my favorite salve for treating beat up climber hands. Made with yellow beeswax, it’s the perfect thickness, rubbing on easily but not getting too messy. My favorite trick is to slather it on my fingertips, and cover my hands with socks before going to bed. You definitely look a little goofy – but it’s effective! ClimbOn is great for every day skin healing after climbing, intensive flapper care, and soothing cracked cuticles.

Throughout my travels to different climbing areas and rock gyms throughout the country, ClimbOn seems to be the overall most popular choice for hand salves. They’ve built a great community, and have been the most receptive brand when it comes to tailoring products to user feedback. I’ve watched their logo, branding, and ingredients evolve over the past few years, always improving.

I would easily say that SKINourishment has the most extensive line of skin care products – Polly whips up everything from men’s aftershave to cucumber rose facial moisturizer (currently my favorite skincare product, I’m addicted). The range of their product line makes it easy to stay consistent with using good-for-you body care. Fair warning: After I started using Skinourishment products, I am now acutely aware of how awful most generic beauty products are – and it’s kind of scary to think about! 

COST: $6.35 for a .5 oz bar

PROS: In my opinion, SKINourishment’s ClimbOn! balm is the best salve for climber hands. It has the perfect consistency, travels well, and is great to use on puppy paws. Their overall product line continues to impress me, and my skin has never felt as good as when I am strictly using Skinourishment.

CONS: The only thing I have ever not loved about a ClimbOn!/SKINourishment product is the way their deodorant used to stain – but they have since changed their formula.

Giddy Balm grande large 300x300 A Guide to Climbing BalmsGiddy

Of all the climbing balm companies, Giddy Organics easily has my favorite branding and merchandise. From bright neon chalk pots to tank tops I am constantly coveting, Giddy excels at selling their company as a lifestyle.

When it comes to skin care, Giddy boasts all natural products that are 100% made in America and Fair Trade certified. Bonus points: their packaging is all either recyclable or made from post-consumer recycled materials. I love when a company aligns its products with consumer values – and Giddy does a great job of really tuning into their audience.

The Giddy Organics climbing balm comes in .5 oz tins that are easy to toss into any pack or pocket. This is easily the thickest balm I’ve ever used, which was a negative in my opinion yet heavily contested at the crag amongst my male cohorts who appreciated how aggressive they could be with it. Interestingly, Giddy was a favorite amongst the male climbers I asked to test it out. They all really enjoyed the scent and texture of the balm. The thickness of the product also made it a great choice for the hot crags of the south – it didn’t melt quite as easily as its competitors.

COST: $5.95 for a .5 oz tin.

PROS: Giddy is the most resilient balm in hot conditions, and it is the least “greasy” of the balms. Climbers can order different scents like cedar mint, lavender, and cooling mint. Bonus points: The cedar mint balm smells like mint chocolate chip ice cream if you ask me!

CONS: It’s thicker than I prefer, and I wasn’t a fan of how hard it was to open up the tin, especially if my fingers were already a little greasy from the balm.

Long story short: I think these are all great products that offer something for every climber out there. I’d recommend sampling them all and figuring out which brands works best for your body, your style, and your climbing. If you want a versatile one-product-heals-all, check out Joshua Tree. Wanna pair healthy skin with badass tank tops? Head for Giddy. And if you want to launch yourself deep into a product addiction that’ll leave your skin glowing and your shopping cart full? I dare you to give Skinourishment a gander.

*Disclaimer: I received samples of Giddy, ClimbOn!, and Joshua Tree from their respective brands for the purpose of this head-to-head-to-head review.
As always, opinions are my own. 

Get Lost on the South Platte River in CO’s Rampart Range

Here’s the thing about Colorado: there appears to be an endless supply of outdoor gems just a short drive from the heart of Denver. Choosing a new trail to explore brings out the worst in my inability to make decisions. There are just too many options! You can literally just pick a general direction and drive until you hit a trail — and that’s exactly what I did when my college friend Marisa came to visit from Key West.

We woke up, slathered on some sunscreen, filled up our water bottles, and hopped in the car with no particular destination in mind. After a quick pitstop for bagels, we found ourselves leaving Denver city limits and heading towards Sedaila. I had visited the area once before, so I looked for the only road I knew, Rampage Range Road, and started driving towards the mountains.IMG 0737 1024x597 Get Lost on the South Platte River in COs Rampart Range

After winding along intimidating drop offs and steeply graded hills, the road turned to dirt and we had to make a decision: should we turn my little hatchback around, or should we cross our fingers that the road is navigable and go for it? In the spirit of adventure, we went for it. Spoiler alert: my little Scion is a total badass.

Eventually, we came upon a fork in the road, and followed the South Platte River upstream until we found a trailhead. At first, I had no idea exactly what trail we hiked — my only clue was the rickety old South Platte Hotel building that sat across the street from the parking lot. Eventually, I deduced that we hiked along the South Platte River to the Strontia Springs Reservoir.IMG 0739 859x1024 Get Lost on the South Platte River in COs Rampart RangeIMG 0814 1024x473 Get Lost on the South Platte River in COs Rampart Range

Marisa is a true island gal, so it was wonderful to take her out into the mountains. She loved every minute of being on the trail, even when I insisted that we scramble up random gullies filled with spiderwebs, or when I made her perch precariously on a rock over the river to feel the cold rush of air from the gushing waters.IMG 0866 1 768x1024 Get Lost on the South Platte River in COs Rampart RangeIMG 0769 1 1024x490 Get Lost on the South Platte River in COs Rampart Range

IMG 0773 1 1024x616 Get Lost on the South Platte River in COs Rampart RangeSure, we ended up wandering a bit further from home than we initially anticipated, but deciding to get lost ended up leading Marisa and I to a wonderful new adventure we would have never discovered otherwise. By taking a few risks (mostly our brazen confidence that my hatchback would be able to handle the dirt roads), we opened ourselves up to the opportunity to explore somewhere off the beaten path.

When is the last time you got lost down a dirt road?
What’s stopping you?

Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE

My ears are still ringing, my suitcase smells like dirty hippies, and I’m pretty sure I pulled a muscle in my foot — which means that my trip to the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE with the Nokia crew was an absolute success. Honestly, I’m struggling to get back on the grind after such an incredible weekend. I love y’all, but if I could spend the rest of my life in a Silent Disco, I’d probably never come back.

So, how was my first ever music festival experience?

WP 20140619 14 36 06 Pro  highres 1024x577 Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE

It all started with a little solo airport time — one of my favorite ways to travel. There’s just something really exhilarating to me about strutting through an airport, all wrapped up in a little bubble amongst thousands of strangers all on their way to different adventures. I was one of the last people to arrive in Philly, and had a mini-squealing session with Heidi when we reunited at baggage claim. Our Nokia crew instantly connected, and were deep in the friendship zone by the time we hopped into our van and start road tripping out to Dover.

Y’all have already given me hell about the glamping set-up we had out at Firefly, but here are the facts: it was awesome. Our little compound, set up by Solid Ground Shelters, was the perfect way to do a music festival. We got the outdoor experience, but were able to retreat to full sized beds with plush comforters every night after dancing our faces off. These tents even had power strips! WP 20140622 10 25 08 Pro  highres 1024x577 Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DEWP 20140621 10 39 34 Pro  highres 1024x577 Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE
When I try to reflect on everything that went down at Firefly, my mind becomes a blur filled with flashbacks of massive crowds dancing in dusty fields, running from stage to stage in messy darkness, and screaming at the top of my lungs whenever “my jam” would come on. (Apparently, a LOT of songs are my song. I must have yelled “Oh my god, this is my song!” a hundred times.)

The line-up at this music festival was sick — Foo Fighters killed it, Weezer brought me back to my glory days, Outkast redefined the bliss of a throwback, and the sets from Pretty Lights, Girl Talk, and Martin Garrix left me drenched in sweat from dancing. I have to admit, I was pretty disappointed by Iron & Wine. I was so excited to finally see them live, but they totally lacked energy. Or maybe I was just too psyched to get on their low-key level.

IMG 1102 1024x537 Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DEIMG 1167 1024x581 Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DENokia hooked us up with VIP passes for the weekend (thank you!), which I would highly recommend for future music festival experiences. We had access to prime viewing areas, free massages, and the cleanest toilets around. The VIP crowd was a little lacking in the energy department during a few performances, but being so close to the stage for every show made up for it.

The most impressive part of this weekend was the group of people Nokia brought together. A few of us knew a handful of other influencers prior to the trip, but by the end of the festival we were all heartbroken to be saying our goodbyes (Danny Williams, I’m talking to you!). I have no doubts I’ll be reuniting with these folks again. It was a hodgepodge of photographers, entrepreneurs, beauty bloggers, tech dudes, and a little dash of the outdoors — and it was perfect.  WP 20140620 005 1024x576 Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DEIMG 1200 1 Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE

I have never danced so much in my whole life.

Before flying out to the east coast, I was a little nervous about being able to let loose in front of total strangers — but it turns out, Nokia put together a group of influencers who enjoy rocking out as much as I do. I knew I was in for a good weekend the moment my new buddy Juan busted a move at camp without any music playing. Add a few shots of whiskey to the mix, and we all dropped our inhibitions by the time we made it into the festival gates.

Have you ever been to a Silent Disco?

If you have, high five! If you haven’t, you need to. Picture this: you walk into a thicket of trees, someone hands you a pair of wireless headphones, and you slip into a reality where all that exists is music, movement, and whoever happens to be grooving beside you. There are two DJs, and your headphones can switch between their respective channels. It’s pure euphoria in there. Drew from Selfmade Threads and I stumbled upon it one night, and we ended up spending as much time as possible there for the rest of the weekend. We ditched performances early, rounded up the rest of the crew, and even closed it out on the last night.

If I could spend the rest of eternity in the Silent Disco with the #ListenWithLumia crew, I’d gladly ditch the real world. It’s seriously that good.photoc 1024x638 Trip Report: Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE

*Sigh* What an adventure. I used to be such a hater about music festivals, but I get it now. It’s not just about a bunch of people doing drugs and getting dirty — it’s a life-changing experience (for me as a first-timer at least). I have never felt so alive and so free in my entire life. Bonus points: hanging out with three gorgeous men who blinded me with muscles inspired me to get back to training for climbing. Game on!

Next time someone invites you on an adventure with one day to book flights and pack your bags, you should absolutely say YES! I’m so glad I did.

Full disclosure: Nokia sent me on this wonderful trip, but all opinions expressed here are 100% my own as always. Especially the part about abandoning my life and becoming a Silent Disco groupie. I’m still fully considering that life change. 

Refresh Urban Outdoor Spaces with Sierra Trading Post (on a budget!)

Moving into my new place in Denver meant I had to give up one of my favorite things about living in Florida: outdoor space. I went from a sprawling backyard with enormous garden, chicken coop, and big patio to a tiny upstairs stoop and a shared courtyard. It’s an undeniable downgrade, but I love my new city digs — the only solution is to work with what I’ve got!

When the folks at Sierra Trading Post asked if there was anything I needed to help settle into my new place, I was a little confused. How could a gear company help me with household needs? Well, I quickly came to find that Sierra Trading Post is secretly a killer place to score home goods! Crazy, right? They have everything from small kitchen appliances to decorative throw pillows — and they ended up providing the perfect solution for re-vamping my small outdoor space on a budget.sierratradingpostpatio 682x1024 Refresh Urban Outdoor Spaces with Sierra Trading Post (on a budget!)

The first thing my patio area needed was somewhere to sit. The Picnic Time folding travel table with chairs was a great choice for the main piece – it doubles as camping furniture too! The lightweight folding table is surprisingly sturdy, and the two small accompanying chairs fit perfectly in their tiny stoop nook. A seating area outside has led to new habits of eating lunch al fresco, reading in the sunshine, and taking more breaks from sitting inside all day. I have left the set outdoors for a few months now, and it’s held up well through rain, hail, and even a few late-spring snow storms.

I’m a firm believer that there is no such thing as too much greenery — so I ordered a few planters to give me an excuse to buy new plants. The matching plastic pots were quickly filled with young tomato plants (which have since all been relocated to my second-story windowsill to protect my veggies from greedy squirrels). My four little tomato stalks aren’t exactly impressive, but they still help fill the void of not having a garden anymore. I love that taking care of my plants gives me another reason to spend a bit more time outside each day.IMG 0338 e1403158224241 1024x682 Refresh Urban Outdoor Spaces with Sierra Trading Post (on a budget!)

Bonus: If you’re an addicted plant collector like I am, check your local thrift stores for cheap pots and planters — then head down to the local farmers market to snag some plants like these gorgeous heirloom tomatoes I got in Denver!

PS: How gratifying is that feeling of getting dirt caked under your fingernails while gardening? Ugh, so good.

My tomato plants all started out on the main stoop near our front door, but I quickly came to realize two things: first, that squirrels are really sneaky little sons of guns who cannot be trusted; and two, that having a touch of green in your bedroom just makes every day a little bit brighter. After Randall, our resident bushy-tailed kingpin, managed to swipe my prized baby green heirloom and felled my biggest plant, it became pretty clear that I needed to move my tomato plants off the stoop. They live in my windowsill now — and I love it.IMG 0937 965x1024 Refresh Urban Outdoor Spaces with Sierra Trading Post (on a budget!)

I wake up every morning amongst the trees — okay, it’s more like amongst four foot-tall plants that might never give me a real tomato, but I still love it. It’s like I have a little slice of nature surrounding me at all times. When you live in the middle of a big city, even the smallest touch of the wild can make you feel more in touch with the outdoors. Try it, get a plant, put it by your window, and see how quickly you fall in love.

As much as I adore sunshine and daytime adventures, I also wanted to make my outdoor space more inviting at night. The Pine Top Mounted Solar Stair Lights set offered an affordable way to add a little brightness and decorative style to the otherwise plain steps leading up to the stoop. The miniature solar panels on the lanterns provide a reliable charge and perfect little glow, but my lack of patience with proper installation (read: instead of screwing the lights into a wall, I just propped them on random steps) led to the lights getting knocked off the staircase by squirrels. I shattered two solar panels, but the rest are still working despite multiple two-story tumbles.IMG 0400 e1403182485294 768x1024 Refresh Urban Outdoor Spaces with Sierra Trading Post (on a budget!)

For less than $150 total, I managed to entirely remodel my second-story stoop, create a living space that my entire household actually uses — and now I have a badass little micro garden dangling off my bedroom windowsill. All it takes is a little imagination, a little dirt, and a little help from Sierra Trading Post. Need some inspiration? Check out Sierra Trading Posts’ Pinterest page!

Full disclosure: Sierra Trading Post provided me with the supplies to re-vamp my little urban outdoor space — but my opinions here are 100% my own, especially all the stuff about how much I hate my neighborhood squirrels. I should have never fed them those tortillas! 


Cuban Mojo Chicken Sandwiches with Garlic Aioli

My best friend from college, Marisa, is visiting from Key West this week — and when she asked me if there was anything she could bring from Florida, I nearly exploded begging her to bring me some freshly baked Cuban bread. You see, there is literally nowhere in Denver to buy Cuban bread. My favorite restaurant, Cuba Cuba, even has to fly theirs in daily from Miami. Not cool, right? So when Marisa showed up with a massive supply of Cuban bread, I knew I had to make some mean sandwiches for everyone. There wasn’t time for my usual lechon asado — so I improvised a little with chicken!

The first step to cooking delicious Cuban meat is making your own mojo to marinate it in. Our household recently acquired a really gorgeous mortar and pestle, so I’ve been going a little crazy with my mojo experiments. It’s just too much fun mashing garlic and onion and spices together — the whole kitchen smells like savory heaven!

mojocanva Cuban Mojo Chicken Sandwiches with Garlic Aioli

The other “sauce” necessary for this recipe admittedly intimidated me at first — the garlic aioli is mayonnaise-based (and I am not a mayo fan). I was worried it was going to be too mayo-ish, but mixing in the fresh herbs and tangy mojo created the perfect flavor and texture. My mayo-phobia caused me to be cautious when lathering the sandwiches with the aioli, but we all ended up going back to dip our bread in more and more sauce — it was so tasty! But back to the mojo chicken:

cubanmojo 682x1024 Cuban Mojo Chicken Sandwiches with Garlic Aioli

Here’s a little secret that I must confess: I was so diligent with taking pictures of every step of the recipe and taking notes on my ingredients — but once I plated all four sandwiches, I totally forgot to snap a photo of the final product! I improvised a bit and tried to arrange my plate so you couldn’t notice that I had totally already eaten half of my sandwich, oops. It’s the thought that counts, right? 

IMG 0930 232x300 Cuban Mojo Chicken Sandwiches with Garlic AioliThis Cuban sandwich recipe became an instant favorite. I’m finicky with my meat, so the traditional Cuban sandwich with deli ham (yuck!) isn’t quite my cup of tea. The mojo marinated chicken is lean yet so flavorful. If you want an extra Cuban kick, try adding pepperoncini or pickles to your sandwich.

Let me know your thoughts on my Cuban mojo chicken sandwich with garlic aioli recipe! What’s YOUR favorite Cuban sandwich recipe?


Cuban Mojo Chicken Pressed Sandwiches
Pulled chicken marinated in homemade mojo, pressed on Cuban bread with swiss cheese and garlic aioli.
Cuisine: Cuban
Serves: 4
  • 2 loaves Cuban bread
  • two heads of garlic
  • sliced swiss cheese
  • 2 lbs. chicken tenderloins/breast
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 limes
  • 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  1. Prepare the homemade mojo: Finely dice the garlic and onion. Mash together with salt, pepper, and oregano. Squeeze the juice from the limes and orange, and mix together. (I use a mortar and pestle, but any other method will suffice.)
  2. Prepare the garlic aioli: combine one part chopped parsley, one part mojo, and three parts mayonaise. Add additional mojo to taste.
  3. Pour the mojo over the raw chicken -- then marinate in the refrigerator for one hour.
  4. Over medium heat in a large cast iron skillet, cook the chicken in the mojo juices. Once the chicken is cooked all the way through, use two forks to shred the chicken in the cast iron. Continue to cook until the chicken lightly browns. Remove chicken.
  5. Prepare the sandwiches by slicing the Cuban loaf in half. Spread aioli on one side, add a thick layer of shredded chicken, a slice of swiss cheese, and a few slices of avocado. Butter the outside of the sandwiches.
  6. Melt a teaspoon of butter in the cast iron, then add the sandwiches. Using a large, flat pot cover, firmly press the sandwiches as they heat up. **If you have a few bricks easily accessible, you can use them to keep the sandwiches pressed.
  7. Enjoy!


The Art of Fresh Starts

freshdefinition The Art of Fresh Starts

I was always warned about the aftermath of my year of adventure: returning to the “real world” after extended travel is rumored to leave you with a nasty case of post-trip blues — but I never really admitted that it was happening to me. After my year of the van, life kind of started happening really fast. I spent a month back in Florida, abruptly packed up everything and moved to Colorado, settled into a new life, and fell into a funk. I’ve been in Denver for almost three months — and I’ve only climbed once (but it was awesome). I stopped writing, and fell out of love with my website and social media in general. It sucked, but I needed it.

It was difficult to cope with all of the change at first, and I felt like I was selling out in a way — after a year of being the adventurous girl who lives on the road, it didn’t feel okay to become someone who spends most of her time getting outdoors by way of rooftop patios, city parks, and my little second-story stoop. Would everyone think less of me? Wouldn’t it be shameful to admit that I wasn’t out hiking or camping every single weekend? I was pretty unsatisfied with it all initially, but I’ve come to realize that this is all just part of the process. This is just a new chapter of adventure in my life — and hopefully you still want to join me for it. 

Taking a hard, cold look at what I do and don’t love in life, what makes me happy, what I miss when it’s gone, and where I want to go ended up teaching me a lot. And after semi-accidentally deciding to change my blog’s entire look, I fell back in love with everything. I re-vamped my workspace, and dove into the task of bringing The Morning Fresh back to life in a way that I adore.

So much has changed since my life has gone from living in a van in the woods to waking up every morning in the heart of Denver. Adventure doesn’t always come quite as easily, and my priority list now includes things like keeping my tomato plants alive, cooking big Cuban meals for my housemates, and finding satisfaction through my work. Finding adventure will always be a huge driving force in my life, but I just have to work a little harder to find it now. And I’m up for the challenge! 

What do y’all think about The Morning Fresh’s new look?

PS: Seriously, go look at this site on a smart phone — it looks so good now. 

Behind The Scenes: Backpackers Pantry Video Shoot in Evergreen

When an email from Backpackers Pantry showed up in my inbox inquiring about casting me for a video shoot, all it took was the words “we’re shooting at Three Sisters Park” to instantly grab my attention. I was in.

I arrived in Evergreen a few minutes before 7:00 AM, and loitered around the dirt parking lot until the rest of the crew arrived. I instantly knew it was going to be a fantastic day as three bearded fellas hopped out of Subarus, and two spirited ladies pulled up with pups in the backseat. We shot a bit of footage out in the parking lot to establish the scene, then quickly hit the trail. photo53 e1401730606745 819x1024 Behind The Scenes: Backpackers Pantry Video Shoot in Evergreen photo51 1024x385 Behind The Scenes: Backpackers Pantry Video Shoot in Evergreen

The first scenes were shot in the parking lot, establishing the dichotomy between the two characters. My persona was the “expert hiker” – a know-it-all, done-it-all gal who knows every trail in Colorado like the back of her hand. My counterpart was played by Patrick, who did an incredible job portraying a novice hiker. Throughout the day I was constantly impressed with his dedication to his character. He smeared sunscreen all over his beard, sprayed himself straight in the face with bug spray, snapped tent poles, threw himself into a river – you name it, he was down to try it.

The shot below is a little peek at one of my favorite scenes for Patrick. It opens with him looking like he is dangling off a cliff – but you quickly realize he’s just trying to summit a small boulder.

photo54 1024x682 Behind The Scenes: Backpackers Pantry Video Shoot in Evergreen

As for my character, the crew kept encouraging me to channel my inner Patrick Swayze (in Point Break, to be specific). I ran around the trails doing push-ups on logs, karate-chopping dead tree limbs, and high-stepping like a hotshot. I frankly made a total fool of myself – all while rocking’ the most ridiculous neon green headband – and I can’t wait to share the footage.

One of my favorite parts to shoot was the “camp” scene. I happened to have my favorite Teton Sports tent in my car, and it ended up creating the perfect contrast between the experienced hiker and the novice.  I set up my tent in less than 10 seconds, while Patrick’s character spent minutes fumbling with fabric and snapping tent poles – and everyone on the crew is now dying to get their hands on a Teton Sports tent like mine. photoa3 e1401730617798 819x1024 Behind The Scenes: Backpackers Pantry Video Shoot in Evergreen

It’ll be a few weeks before the footage is all edited and goes public, but I’ll be sure to share it with everyone as soon as it goes live. Big thank you to Backpackers Pantry for casting me and to the film crew for keeping me on my toes all day. (And thank you to Elaine, who took those photos of me!)

The Best Part of Spring? It’s Almost Summer!

I’ve been struggling with a case of seasonal blurring lately. A few months ago, the clear lines separating winter and spring began to run together. Weeks of sunshine were littered with days of spontaneous snowstorms that dwindled in frequency until there was nothing left but warmth and wildflowers. It’s easy to distinguish between winter and spring – but where do we draw the lines between spring and summer?

According to the calendar, summer doesn’t start until June 21st this year, but I don’t necessarily agree with that deadline. In my world, a transition period exists between the two defined seasons – and it’s the best part of the entire year. The weekends are full of cookout invitations and outdoor adventures; I got my first sunburn at the Five Points Jazz festival; rooftop patios are the place to be; and farmers markets are coming into season. It’s warm enough to spend a day sunning on a blanket at a park, but not hot to the point where you can’t stop thinking about air conditioning. It’s just perfect.

Need further convincing? Here’s why is the best time of the year:

Everything is in bloom.

Up in the mountains, the wildflower blooms won’t be in full force until much later in the summer – but down here in the city, blossoms are pushing up from from every garden patch and crack in the sidewalk to bask in the sun. I never knew so many varieties of tulips existed until I took a stroll to my neighborhood coffee shop last week. Bulbs planted long ago have sprung to life, and every sunny morning beckons neighbors to roll up their sleeves and dig into a little urban gardening. I even have my first tomato growing on my little patio plants!photo11 e1401207475286 768x1024 The Best Part of Spring? Its Almost Summer! photo12 1024x768 The Best Part of Spring? Its Almost Summer!

Afternoon rain – ’nuff said.

As a southern gal, there is nothing I love more than a good afternoon storm. In Florida, they come like clockwork during the warm seasons. A cloud appears, thunder rolls, lightning strikes, and rain pounds like the pavement – and then an hour later, the sun is shining again. It’s one of the things I miss the most about the south, but Denver has been delivering all sorts of stormy satisfaction lately.

I mean, I could have done without the tornado sirens and quarter-sized hail – but beggars can’t be choosers. (No, seriously, I was taking a very long, relaxing shower last week when my housemate started pounding on my door saying “Uh, I think we need to GO” – trying to plan out your this-is-the-end strategy while running around in a towel is not very relaxing y’all.) Bring it on, Colorado! photo2 e1401207391315 1024x682 The Best Part of Spring? Its Almost Summer!

Cookouts and Farmers Markets

Here’s a little secret: there is nothing I love on this planet more than food. If my physical being reflected my inner foodie, I would triple in weight immediately – and probably get diabetes. I adore eating, cooking, growing vegetables, and buying fresh produce. As spring collides with summer, the season for outdoor cookouts, spending weekend mornings at farmers markets, and eating lunch out on the stoop is officially upon us.

Food is one of my favorite elements of city adventures. You can tailor an entire day around edible explorations. My favorite food-centric weekend adventure goes a little something like this: wake up, cook a homemade breakfast with all the windows open, stock up on veggies at the local farmers market, invite a herd of cohorts over, spend the afternoon grilling in the backyard. Wham-bam, baby.photo14 1024x682 The Best Part of Spring? Its Almost Summer!

Everything is Outside

No, really – everything. This perfectly in-between season is the best time of the year to do everything outside. I don’t work in an office, and turning your kitchen into a cubicle every morning gets pretty monotonous – so when the weather strikes that delicate balance between breezy and warm with sunshine, I like to move my office outdoors.

I am actually sitting outside on my third-story stoop right now – I’ve been doing this for weeks. My yellow snapdragons are exploding with petals, Sylvan Esso and songbirds are making music, and my creative energy is way more inspired than when I was sitting inside. Why would anyone work inside when they could do this instead?

photo4 e1401207404694 1024x682 The Best Part of Spring? Its Almost Summer!  

Work isn’t the only typically indoor activity you can move outside on sunny days – everything from dinner and boardgames to afternoon naps are better enjoyed out in the fresh air. The key is to make your outdoor space functional, comfortable and inviting. I recently transformed the small, cluttered stoop on my third-story house into a wonderful little nook, and now I am constantly outside. (I’ll be posting a how-to later this week!)

If you aren’t outside at least once a day to soak up this mid-season glory, you’re seriously missing out. Take it outside! It won’t be long until summer settles in, and just the idea of being outside all day makes you start sweating. Take advantage of every opportunity to put a little dash of the outdoors into your day.

* This post is part of my annual series celebrating nature with Nature Valley. Compensation for this content was provided by Nature Valley. Opinions expressed here are strictly my own.  

A Summertime Comeback – and The Morning Fresh’s 4 Year Anniversary!

Whoa – hey, hi, hello!

Has it really been a month since my last blog post? It appears that I took a little blogging (and social media) hiatus in May – without directly intending to. It’s important for writers to step back every once in a while, let the creative juices recharge, focus on other pursuits, and explore what really matters. So that’s exactly what I did.

For the past month, my life has been traveling down a slightly different path than usual. I haven’t been getting outdoors as much, I haven’t climbed, and I haven’t been focused on The Morning Fresh. Instead, I spent my afternoons cuddling with Amble, my mornings drinking coffee on the patio, and my evenings binging on True Blood (there, I admitted it). I’ve walked down to Sweet Action Ice Cream on a shamefully frequent basis, and even dabbled in online dating. And for those of you who missed it – Amble went back to Florida to spend the summer with Niko. I know, it’s heartbreaking.

photo41 e1400778745319 1024x819 A Summertime Comeback   and The Morning Freshs 4 Year Anniversary!

It felt great to take a break from it all and just go with the flow – but when I realized that this month marks the four year anniversary of starting my blog (how crazy is that – here’s my first total-amateur-hour post), I was overcome with a reinvigorated creative energy. Let’s do this, folks!

During my monthlong break, a few big things happened: first, I changed my social media usernames. My primary accounts are now all @katieboue. Why did I make the switch? Well, I realized that my ‘brand’ is even bigger than my blog, and I’m working on a ton of non-blog projects that I want to share. So now @themorningfresh on Twitter is strictly blog-related, and @katieboue is everything. Make sure you’re following both!

I also have a heaping pile of kick-ass adventure coming up – and I don’t just mean the kind of adventure that involves dirty boots and muddy trails. I have been diving into a few projects that are really challenging and inspiring me professionally, but you’ll have to wait to hear more about that.

Since my life would be incomplete without outdoor explorations, next week I’ll be heading to Three Sisters Park in Evergreen to shoot a little video with Backpacker’s Pantry! They cast me as the “expert hiker” for a playful promotional project that I can’t wait to share with everyone. And in case you missed it, I rejoined Sierra Trading Post’s Team Sierra for another season of adventure.

There is so much to catch up on, so many trip reports and gear reviews to be written, piles of photos that need to be edited, and a whole lot of adventure to fill my plate with. I have a book to write, a 45-minute presentation to perfect for my speaking session at Peaks Foundation’s Women’s Leadership and Adventure Summit in July (ladies, go apply for it!), plane tickets to buy – this summer is going to be incredible!

Bring it on, summer! Are y’all as stoked as I am?