#60HikesChallengeDenver – White Ranch: Blecher Hill

(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Denver”  You’ll see these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on each of the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail. The number below is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #31 – White Ranch – Blecher Hill
Completed: 4/29/17 | Number Completed: 12/60
Mode: Hiking – in the snow
Location: Golden, CO
Distance: 5 miles roundtrip, out and back
Difficulty: Moderate (very hard in the snow)
Surface: Hard packed dirt, single track to double track in parts
Exposure: moderate amount of shade
Facilities: Pit toilet restrooms

Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you should skip eye protection! It was bright that day even while it was actively snowing!

My Experience:
I don’t have a big family and the little bit of family I do have, I don’t get to spend much time with. However, my cousin recently moved to Colorado for Physical Therapy School, and even though we have a lot in common, he’s usually hanging out with his closer-aged friends. I don’t blame him, that’s what most 21 year-olds do (I mean, I did), but when your Cousin calls you up to go hiking, you go no matter the weather!

It just so happened in late April we got a freak blizzard, dumping tons of heavy, wet snow across the front range. Needing a break from studying, my Cousin Blake asked if I would like to go hiking. I warned him of the weather, but told him I’d be game. We both bundled up in the appropriate gear saying, “Bring it!” to the weather. I chose a hike from my book that I thought would be doable in the snow, and we set off, following the footsteps of a few other brave souls.

White Ranch is a local favorite for area bikers, runners and horseback riders. I’ve hiked here before with my boyfriend and doggie last fall and have always wanted to come back and explore more. Through the snow, Blake and I  trudged along the trail, trying to follow the directions of my book. We made it to the turn around and were trying to find the turnoff for the loop as described in the book.

The map in the book.

We gave up, thinking the snow was covering a less-used trail and marched back to our cars. After studying the map at the trailhead, we realized there was no such trail. I’m not sure if the trail was later removed after the publishing of the book or if the author never even hiked it and found an old map. Either way, I checked off the Belcher Hill Trail from the list!

During the fall.

The trail starts north from the trailhead and winds down to the stream. You’ll wind around, up and down. Then, about a quarter mile in, after crossing a bridge,  you’ll start ascending. Look around at the GIANT houses in the area – they are incredible! Glance behind you to see North Table peaking between the ridges. Follow the signs for Blecher Hill, staying on the main trail, not turning off. We hiked about two and half miles up, turning around just after the Mustang Trail and before the Round-Up Loop trail. There’s a few benches along the way to sit and rest at. Hike out the way you came in.

Just pass the first hills is North Table and in the distance is actually Green Mountain peeking up.

Pros:
-Beautiful views of North Table and Golden from the switch backs.
-Over 20 miles of trails
-Camping available on the North-west side of the park
-Not crowed

Cons:
-Not much shade cover in the beginning

Tips:
-Bring water. From the trail head we started at (east side), there’s no water access. I am unsure about the other side.

Overall:
A great place to be active in! I plan on going back to explore the other side of the park. Highly recommended for out of towners and well as locals looking to beat the crowds.

My cousin Blake and I


Hike with me and check out the book:

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Chautauqua Park, Royal Arch

(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Denver”  You’ll see these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on each of the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail. The number below is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #6 – Chautauqua Park – Royal Arch, Boulder
Completed: 4/12/17 | Mode: Hiking
Location: Chautauqua Park, Boulder
Distance: 3.5 miles
Difficulty: Hard, steep climb
Surface: Hard packed dirt with a few bigger rocks in parts
Exposure: Lots of shade!
Facilities: Water, restrooms, and information at the Ranger Station

My Experience:
Back in April, I headed out the door to Boulder to get in a birthday hike. Afterward, my Mom met me for dinner in Boulder and it was a great 30th birthday! As I find some free time, I’m going to keep posting about my 60 Hikes Challenge and the ones I have gotten done during the last few months.

The beginning of the hike, looking out at the Flatirons.

Found at the base of the Flatirons, Chautauqua is a well-used park. People come here to hike, climb, and to simply hang out. There’s also a dining hall, theater, and more trails just behind the Flatirons. I went hiking in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week and it was still crowded. Although, once I was past the beginning trails that go up to the Flatirons, the crowds thinned out and I was left to the Royal Arch trail mostly by myself.

This is hike is not easy by any means. You climb the whole time to the arch, increasing in steepness during the last half mile as the trail turns into stairs. Just as you think you’ve made it to the top, you realize you need to hike down a little and then back up, again, to the arch. For me, that day, my quads were taking a beating and cramped up on me after the first summit. As you round on the last switchback, the arch comes into view and all of a sudden it’s looming over you. Hike right through the arch and see a beautiful view of Boulder and surrounding areas.

Pros:
-Restrooms
-Ranger station with maps, information, and gifts
-Lots of shade!

Cons:
-The biggest con is the crowds. This is a very overused park and needs a lot of attention!

Tips:
-If visiting on the weekend, there is now a free shuttle service from New Vista High School to help alleviate the parking issues.
-When you reach the first summit before the arch, climb the rocks there for a faraway view of Royal Arch.
-Please, please, please practice the Leave No Trace Principles and STAY ON THE TRAIL! I can’t believe how many people I saw hiking off to the side on a DRY day, next to a very wide trail. #InDisbelief

Overall:
I really wish this park wasn’t abused as much as it is. It’s a beautiful place in the heart of Boulder, but because of its location, so many people flock to the trails for a dose of nature. Many of those don’t respect the “rules” of the outdoors and it is getting pretty frustrating. While I was there, I watched two people walking off the side of a trail that was literally wide enough for TWO cars! No joke.

I hike here a lot to get to the climbing areas of the Flatirons, but for just for hiking alone, I tend to avoid this area like the plague. If you’re visiting from out of town, and don’t mind the crowds, it is definitely worth the trip.  Or you can climb a Flatirons while you’re there! Hire a guide: GoldenMountainGuides.com (#shamelessplug #sorrynotsorry)


Check out the book for yourself!

(Re-Blog) – Ragnar Trail Colorado

I am about to leave for my fourth Ragnar Trail in Snowmass, CO. I have done every single trail Ragnar that as been at Snowmass! I LOVE Ragnar Relays, both the road and trail versions, but being in the mountains and camping makes the trail series all that much better for an outdoor-lover like myself. Altogether, Ragnar does a fantastic job with these events.

Every year has brought different experiences and  memories. Every year has had ups and downs. This year, I am with a completely random team, not having known anyone prior. Some of them are new runners and we are looking forward to a fun experience!

This post was originally written for Becoming Ultra when they recruited me to write about Ragnar for them. It never ended up getting published on their site and it really bummed me out. I worked really hard on it. It was also supposed to get posted on the Ragnar blog, but the employee that talked to me dropped the ball as well and she no longer works for Ragnar.

It ended up only on my blog. I am re-blogging this post because, frankly, I really liked it and thought it was some of my best work.

Here’s to trail running, new friends and the great outdoors! Cheers!


 

It all ends when I finally get home, I examine myself, taking note of what I’ve done to my body and mind.

I am very tried, about to fall asleep.

I’m dirty, literally covered, head to toe with dirt.

I smell like a high school locker room.

My muscles are sore.

I have a few blisters spread out on my feet.

There’s chafing in places only my boyfriend sees.

I’m sunburnt in various spots, showing where I can’t reach.

My hair is coated in grease, staying in a pony-tail without a hair-tie.

My eyes are dry, my head hurts, and my ears are plugged.

But I feel accomplished.

What is Ragnar Trail Relay?

Start with a 2 day and 1 night running relay with 7 of your friends on there different loops of beautiful trails. Mix in camping, music, laughter and s’mores and you got yourself a Ragnar Trail Relay.

What was my Ragnar Trail Relay?

It all started at 4am the morning before. In about 28 hours, I ran close to 15 miles between three separate runs. I climbed a total of 2,295 feet up a mountain, only to come back down, three different times. I slept less than 8 hours in total and tried to remember to eat and drink water when I needed to.

If you read the fine print, I tortured myself for almost two days straight and I called it FUN.

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I have made new friends and strengthened current ones. I watched the sun set then come back up again, all while sitting besides a giant bonfire. I ran 3.5 miles catching up with a friend of mine, four miles with just the light of my headlamp and the stars above, and 6.8 miles in the heat of the day, all while being distracted by tall, snow-capped peaks.

That is what my Ragnar Trail Relay was.

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Running is different to everyone. Some enjoy the roads and others like the trails. Some get thrills from the long run and others just run a few miles each time. Some appreciate company on the journey while others prefer to chase the miles alone. Most of us are a mix of all of these. No matter what type of runner you are, you can find your place at a Ragnar Relay.

My experience with Ragnar Relay has been three years in the making. Every time I join a team and start hitting the trails with seven other team members, I have a new experience. That’s what makes this race series unique. It may be the same three trails every year, but each year you can create new memories and experiences.

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The first year, I was chased by a sage grouse that I coined “The Velociraptor.” In year two, I desperately searched for some dry clothes to warm up in between runs. This year, my third year, I chased the sun and got to finally see the views from the red loop. I was also the last runner and was joined by my team to run through the arch at the end of my last leg. Each year has been made more and more memories.

The brilliant thing about Ragnar Trail Relay is they provide you with the essentials: Trails, music, good vibes, nutritious food, games, good products, a great host, and a campground. From that, each individual experience is unique; from person to person, team to team and year to year.

So I ask you….

What will your Ragnar Trail Relay be?

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Quote on the back of the 2017 medals when you put all eight together:

“We believe that being a Ragnarian is about more than being a runner, that misery loves company, that happiness is “only real when it’s shared”, that there is a badass inside all of us, that everyone deserves to be cheered at the finish line, that dirt in your teeth boosts the immune system, that what happens in the village, stays in the village, that adventure can only be found if you are looking for it, and that a little sleep deprivation is a small price to pay to watch the sun rise with our friends. Together we ran Ragnar trail. Together we can accomplish anything. We are Ragnarians.”

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Ragnar Relays

Five Reasons I love the Redemption Capri (gear review!)

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know that I am a Skirt Sports Ambassador. I wrote about it a while back and still love being a part of the movement. In addition to the message it sends women (#RealWomenMove) about getting out there and accomplishing dreams and goals, the products themselves are very well made and fit all body types – and that is pretty awesome! They are made for women, designed by women and the company is great about taking feedback into consideration (they even have a “sewing room” where you can submit ideas and if others like it, you’ll see it made!).

One of my favorite products is actually not even a skirt, it’s the Redemption Capri! Here’s 5 Reasons Why:

1. They are very adaptable – and work for multiple types of sports!
I love supporting and showing off Skirt Sports when I’m outside, but one of the activities I enjoy the most is rock climbing. You can’t wear a skirt climbing, even if there are shorts underneath. Frankly, it’s not safe – the skirt can get caught in so many places – and it looks quite ridiculous when you’re belaying. I CAN wear the Redemption Capris on the rock wall! No risk of fabric getting caught in an ATC (belay device).

Running in them (and other activities) is perfect as well! I am always working and coaching in them.

2. They come in multiple fun patterns
I have the Tantrum and the Safari Print. It also comes in plain black, Frolic print, and Enchanted print. See Skirt Sports to see all their patterns.

3. They slightly compress
I LOVE this about these capris! They aren’t actual compression grade capris, and it could be that I bought too small of a size, but they feel slightly compression-like and  that is great for running!

4. Not too hot and not too cold
I wear these for running when it is between about 40 and 70 degrees. They keep you warm on those chilly runs when it’s not quite cold enough for pants. They are also  lightweight enough for the hotter days. Anything over 70, they are a little too thick to wear and I get overheated. Now, if you’re just wearing them out and about, they are just fine in hot weather. 😉

5. The back pocket comes in handy!
There is a small, zippered pocket in the back. It’s perfect for keys and a credit card/ID. They do have a new product out called the Pocketopia Capri that is almost the same as the Redemption but with MORE pockets. I find my Redemption Capri just fine, in terms of pockets. If I need extra storage, I have a handy-dandy run belt from SLS3.

If you want to check out the Redemption Capri, you can find them online HERE or stop by the store in Boulder, CO!