Celebrating 27 – City to Creek to Camp to Climb

The week approaching my 27th birthday was, frankly, a bit humdrum. I had been so busy with ‘life‘ and work that I hardly even registered it was my birthday week until someone else pointed it out. “Oh well, 27 isn’t a big deal–let’s just go with the flow on this one,” I figured, and decided to not sign myself up for any crazy climbing birthday challenges or big trips. We had a fly-fishing clinic scheduled as a work outing on my actual birthday, and that was groovy enough for me.

Every outdoorist should have an ‘adventure bug out bag’. You know, that one pack that always has your outside playtime essentials ready to go at a moments notice. In my evrgrn Kickback pack, you’ll find a Hydro Flask, my trusty notebook + pen, my Nikon D7000, an extra scarf–because autumn is upon us, chapstick, and a spare $20 in case I find a taco stand in the middle of the woods. You never know.

Photo: Mehri Russo

Photo: Mehri Russo

As it turns out, I’m a much better photographer than I am fisherman. The time I spent along Boulder Creek with a rod in my hand primarily consisted of me trying to perfect the flick of my wrist and then spending 10 minutes untangling the line. I did catch something though: a rock. The lack of freshly caught fish for dinner didn’t deter me though–I tossed my pack into the car, hauled from Boulder to Denver, and caught up with some of my favorite people for a latin feast at Cuba Cuba.

The next morning, I realized that a birthday weekend can’t just go to waste–so Mcgoo and I grabbed our packs, tossed our down comforter into the back of his Subaru, loaded up on cheese and kabob ingredients at Whole Foods, and headed towards the mountains. We ended up at West Magnolia Trailhead near Nederland, miraculously finding the perfect campsite at 3:00 PM on a Saturday. There were rolling mountain views, sprawling fields for Amble to plow through, and plenty of forest to explore. We played, relaxed by the fire, and I even got a jumpstart on my birthday resolution to start writing more snail mail. I’ll let the photos tell the story:

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Getting weak, growing up, and getting back in the game.

It’s been 2015 for exactly one month – and so far, I’m pretty psyched about this year. I’m absolutely smitten with my job running social media at Outdoor Industry Association, my calendar is full of travel, and I’ve been making fairly good on my resolutions.

But here’s the thing: I am so over winter. I haven’t been climbing outside since December when I went to Indian Creek for a weekend – and while it was a fantastic weekend of sandstone and desert landscapes, it just wasn’t enough.

Bouldering at Indian Creek. Photo: Kyle O'Meara

Photo: Kyle O’Meara

Love the view from Big Bend boulders in Moab!

It’s basically impossible to get out to Utah or anywhere I want to climb (my hatchback is not snow-worthy), and a weeklong bout of the flu during Outdoor Retailer knocked me off my training game. I want warmth, and sunshine, and camping weather! Winter bogs me down, and the two weeks of training I missed during my sick phase knocked me off my groove. Coming back to the gym on leg day didn’t help either – my thighs are still on fire!

Well, maybe 2015 isn’t going as smoothly as I thought – yet. I finally recovered from weeks of sickness, which led to me also finally catching up on e-mails and turning my training plan into posts, cleaning out my pantry, and updating this blog. Tomorrow kicks off a solid week of training and climbing. Next week, I’m heading to Florida for my cousin’s wedding. March is quickly filling up with climbing trips to Utah and a possible adventure down to Tallahassee for the 5th annual Save The South bouldering competition.

And it all leaves me with 55 days to get in shape – or at least that’s what I’ve decided.

Two months of solid training ought to provide the perfect jumpstart to the spring climbing season. I chose the 55 day path because it leaves me (hopefully) in crush-mode right in time for the climbing comp at Tallahassee Rock Gym. It’s been so long since I’ve been back to my old home, so it’d be killer to come back in proper form. The plane ticket isn’t finalized, but even if this falls through I’ll hit spring ready to get outside and collect some new projects.

I’ll start sharing my training weeks/routines this week, in case anyone else out there wants to stop being such a winter couch potato and get back on the path towards climbing righteousness. It’s almost spring, y’all! My training all happens in the early mornings with my ladyfriend Heather, who thoroughly enjoys kicking my ass with new workouts. Oddly enough, I love waking up before the sun to go do some fitness – I get to start my day with cotton candy sunrises from Movement Denver.

A signature Denver sunrise seen from Movement Denver.

And I promise I’m going to get back to writing and playing on social media. It’s been a lot of work, work, work – and I honestly put some thought into cutting back on blogging all together. As much as I love putting all my creative energy towards my new job, I realized I still want to keep doing some of this for myself too. (And I’ve gotten a ton of e-mails that are going to make for some sweet Q&A posts!) So thanks for reading, and thanks for miraculously not letting my page views drop during my monthlong absence. You rock.

 

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The Ambitious Art of New Years-ing

I adore the holiday season – but there’s one particular reason for celebration that shines the brightest in my world: New Years. The festivities, the sentiments of new beginnings, the air of hope and possibility. It’s the best.

2014 was a year of transition for me. My yearlong trip ended, my long-term boyfriend/co-pilot and I broke up, I moved my life out to Colorado on a whim, and I spent months regrouping, reorganizing, reprioritizing, and revamping. Towards the end of the year, things finally started to fall in place. I moved into a gorgeous house built in 1904 (with original hardwood floors!), and started a new job with Outdoor Industry Association.

And now I’m here – a few days out from 2015 and already eager to start a new year.Photo: Katie Boué

Resolutions are great, but a fresh year offers so much potential beyond making declarations like “I’m going to stop drinking soda!” (let’s get real, I’ll never stop drinking soda). I like to treat each new year as an opportunity to focus on becoming who I want to be.

This year: I want to get strong. I want to travel to new places. I want to kick some major ass at my job. I want to train harder, work harder, and play harder.

Here’s a peek into my New Years-ing:

  • Training: I’m starting to train, every day. Whether it’s a morning workout on my yoga mat or a session at the rock gym – doing something to improve my climbing every day. I want to climb my strongest year ever, so I have to train harder than ever too.
  • Letters: This year, I want to spend more time with pen + paper. I’m starting by writing notes to everyone who profoundly impacted my life in 2014. As it turns out, I have a lot of letters to write. The first one was to my mailman, because he’s a badass and trudges through wicked snow so I can get my holiday cards delivered.
  • 2015 Word of the Year: I like to choose a theme word each year – last year it was “focus.” (Which I both did a good and horrible job of embodying.) For this year, I chose the word “create.” I want to write more (again, pen + paper, baby), doodle and draw more, craft more with my hands. I want to build, connect, imagine, and make messes more.
  • Simplifying: 2014 was the year of me trying to pile as much on my plate as possible. It was fun, challenging, and exciting – but this year I want to really focus my energy where it matters the most, and cut the rest of the distractions.

The universe has handed me a set of perfectly aligned stars to start 2015 with, so I’m going to roll with that and make this the best year of my life (so far, anyways). I thought nothing could beat the year I spent living in my big yellow van, but 2015 might just be the one.

I’ve got a brand new Moleskine, a cute dress to wear when the clock strikes midnight, and more ambition than I know what to do with. Let’s do this, 2015!

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Why you should just take a rest day today.

When is the last time you took a real rest day? I’m talkin’ no agenda, no training, no trips. You woke up, and spent the rest of the day within a half mile of your bed. There may have been some whisky-spiked coffee involved. Mine usually include long socks and napping with pups. You know – a real, bonafide rest day.

Rest days seem pretty hard to come by.

This is what my rest day looks like.

I find that outdoorsy people (climbers, I’m looking at you) seem to struggle with the idea of taking rest days. We’re always on, always planning, and constantly feeling like we need to maximize every opportunity to be out on an adventure. It’s a travesty to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon not on a trail or halfway up a cliff. But why? Continue reading

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Chasing Summer: Puerto Rico

Every time I return to the sea, I am reminded how essential it is to my being. My short trip to Puerto Rico was no exception. From the moment I inhaled the sticky sweet island air, I was enamored.

Honestly, I accomplished pretty much nothing I intended to do while visiting Puerto Rico. There wasn’t any climbing, nor did I get my drink in a pineapple, nor did I even so much as set foot on a trail. But I had a wonderful trip.

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Why I Still Drink (Just One) Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks

This morning, I woke up and it was suddenly autumn. An evening storm cooled the air down to a crisp breeze, and my open windows let the chill drift beneath my blankets. I’ve never been so excited to shiver. Something felt different – special somehow – but I couldn’t put my finger on it until I noticed that today is basically a national holiday: pumpkin spice lattes are back! I immediately put on a beanie, flannel shirt, and leather boots, then skipped my way to the nearest Starbucks.

Enjoying my first (and only) Starbucks pumpkin spice latte of the season!

Here’s the thing: I know Starbucks isn’t the best. I am fully aware there’s no pumpkin in their lattes. I also understand that in lieu of pumpkin, they pump their flavored lattes with cancer-causing, questionable ingredients – but for the duration of this grande pumpkin spice latte I have in my hands, all bets are off. (After today, it’s back to my homemade pumpkin spice latte recipe, with real pumpkin).

So why did I spend $3.26 on a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks this morning?

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What’s in my pack? #FLtoCO Road Trip Edition

In exactly 12 hours from this very moment, I’ll be on a red-eye flight down to my hometown, Miami. I’m heading south for a few reasons: I am in desperate need of some sea-time, I’m celebrating my little sister’s graduation, and we’re embarking on a cross-country road trip to move her out to Denver! Instead of the usual two-day haul I usually struggle through during drives from Florida to Colorado, we decided to make an adventure out of it.

First, we’re heading up the Florida coast to Tallahassee to see my pup, Amble, and climb at Tallahassee Rock Gym. We’ll visit my sister’s friend in Atlanta before heading to Chattanooga for my favorite part of this trip: climbing at Stone Fort and a visit to the Tennessee Aquarium! Then we’ll jet westward, stopping to visit family friends in Kansas City and exploring along the way.

Since my sister will be bringing everything she owns in her little sedan, I’m trying to pack as light as possible. I’m only bringing my Topo Designs Klettersack, and my new Keen sling I picked up at Outdoor Retailer last week. Here’s a quick peek into my #FLtoCO road trip bag:

What's in my pack? Miami to Colorado edition. #FLtoCO

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The Next Big Adventure(s)

I’ll be honest: when my yearlong van trip ended, I felt a bit of an adventure void. My epic climbing journey was over – so now what? For a while, I just recovered in the comforts of city life. I planned a two-week trip to Spain with my family, but other than that, my adventure agenda was wide open.

Somewhere over the last month, my adventure planning has taken a sharp turn – in a very positive direction. I got invited to backpack Conundrum Hot Springs, committed to road tripping out to Salt Lake City for OR Show, booked a ticket down to Miami, and then my old climbing friend Libbi called.

Libbi started saying things like: Puerto Rico, climbing, Spain, flights, Venice, trains, Australia let’s go.

And then I was all: YES.

When all was said, done, and booked, I realized that I’m only going to be home for 12 days from now until the end of September. My summer adventures quickly went from local playtime to hardcore exploration. I’m going to be climbing, hiking, surfing, road tripping, and writing all over the world for the next few months. My climbing + training is definitely going to kick up a notch in preparation. Let’s do this!

As you know, I’ve renewed my sponsorship with Teton Sports for another season, this time as part of their Mountain Adventurers project. I’m stoked to use their gear to haul my life around in a single pack while I travel abroad. You’ll also continue to see my photos and stories shared through Nature Valley’s social channels, and on the Sierra Trading Post blog!

The Morning Fresh hits the road towards the jetset life.

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The Art of Fresh Starts

via the morning fresh.

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. 

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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. Filming with Backpackers Pantry in Evergreen at Three Sisters Park. Filming with Backpackers Pantry in Evergreen at Three Sisters Park.

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.

Filming with Backpackers Pantry in Evergreen at Three Sisters Park.

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. Filming with Backpackers Pantry in Evergreen at Three Sisters Park.

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!)

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