Stay on the freaking trail!……please.

I just about lost it the other day, guys. Just about flipped my lid, gone ballistic, hit the ceiling. Lost it.

There I was, deep in the throws of a runner’s high, jogging along, minding my own business. As I stepped to the side to let a biker pass, I looked up ahead. In the distance, I saw a handful of people off the trail, down the side of a steep, grassy hill. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I thought, “Maybe someone slipped and the others were helping them out.”

I kept on running and they got back on the trail. I was getting closer and closer to this group of people and as I rounded the last turned toward the parking lot, I look to my right and find them off the trail again.  They were cutting that last little bit of trail back to their car.

Seriously!?

First of all, they literally only cut off less than a tenth of a mile. Second, THERE’S A FENCE! A WOODEN FENCE purposely put up so that people WOULDN’T cut the trail right there. Both ends of their “I don’t give a fuck”  trail, their shortcut,  is fenced off. AND, their car was at the other end of the parking lot, where the REAL trail spits you out.

I rarely have outbursts but aloud said, “Stay on the trail, people. If we keep doing stuff like that we’ll not have nice things anymore.”

The just looked at me and kept on walking through the tall grass. I wanted to say so much more, but unfortunately, I don’t think it would have made a difference and I probably wouldn’t have done it appropriately. I can’t even express how much this bothers me.

Seriously, if people keep doing this, over and over, we wouldn’t have any trails or beautiful grass fields to hike and run through. It would be all one giant dirt hill and that wouldn’t be any fun. It would be boring and ugly, not to mention all the plants and animals that would be lost. This particular trail is Green Mountain in Lakewood. It is a great place to train on while being really close to work. It’s across the street from where I coach track. Talk about convenient. But just because it’s near the city, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be treated just like all the rest of the trails.

“Stay on trail.” There are signs, they are clearly visible, and there are FREAKING FENCES!

Staying on the trails isn’t just a silly “rule.” On a well-used trail like this one, it’s the only thing from keeping the whole thing from eroding out. Don’t even get me started on social trails or walking parallel to a trail when it’s muddy. (Singletracks becoming double, and getting wider and wider every year.)

This is an example of erosion at Green Mountain after people walk to the side during the mud. Before you know it, the grass in between will get worn out and it’s not twice as wide. Then the process repeats.

Walk through the mud people. Better yet, if it’s really, REALLY muddy, just stay away!

And I totally understand that some cultures just don’t have the same values for nature and our planet as others, but then again why are you even out on the trails in the first place!? Language is not a barrier when THERE’S A FREAKIN’ FENCE!

I don’t know why this makes me so mad. Maybe it’s because I can see the signs of overuse, not picking up trash, and trail cutting in the areas nearby to where I live. They have even closed down a popular Evergreen park because people wouldn’t pick up their dogs’ poop. (Oh, I could go on for hours on poop bags. You KNOW you are not going to pick it up on the way back; don’t leave it there. At that rate, just let your dog poop out in the open. That’s better for the environment than a plastic bag!)

This is not from the trail I was on. Maybe it needs to be, because clearly a fence is not enough.

With more and more people moving to Colorado and visiting every year, it’s important to educate people. Just saying “don’t do this, don’t do that” isn’t enough anymore. Deep in my heart, I’d like to think people want to do the right thing but don’t because they can’t see the effects of their actions, or out-right don’t know, they don’t follow the “rules.”

Hmm… maybe I should have stayed on the conservation biology track. Or maybe I can help out on my own through my blog, social media, and word of mouth.

Excuse me, I’ve got some brainstorming, planning, and work to do.

#SorryfortheRant

#LeaveNoTrace

Sign at a different park.

The BEST New Mexico Road Trip – EVA!

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Between all my jobs (yes, plural), I don’t get much free time. I do, however, take advantage of every spare second I can do get. My boyfriend and I regularly go climbing, running, hiking and do mini-vacations (#weekendwarriors). When we do get a chance to plan a longer break from work, we make it worth it!

December happens to be a slow time between ALL jobs (that’s lucky) so we decided to take a road trip and visit a state that neither of us has had a chance to spend a lot of time in: New Mexico! I’ve personally been to Albuquerque to run a race and Ben (my boyfriend) has visited the state a long time ago as well, but I forget why he was there. With it being super close to Colorado (and has a TON of National Parks/Monuments) it made it a perfect place us to take a road trip.

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We saved money by “camping” in my Jeep (i.e. we put a mattress pad in the back and slept in Walmart parking lots). It was free, convenient and free.  Did I say that already? Yes, we would have loved to camp in actual campgrounds, in the wonderful outdoors, but during the day we spent a ton of time in nature and it left us with extra money to enjoy other things.

Here’s the highlights of the #MostEpicNewMexicoNationaParkRoadTripEVA

1. We left late on a Monday and made our way south, first stop: Roswell! It was NOT everything I hoped it would be. Picture a dirty, run down town that has a UFO museum. There is also a free zoo, that is closed on Tuesdays (the day we were running around), Bottomless Lakes State Park (that we did check out, but didn’t stay. I bet it’s really pretty in the summer), and a space walk I read about in a travel book (but it was super run-down and gross so we didn’t do it).   Needless to say, we could have done without the stop in Roswell. Tip: They apparently have a really cool world-famous contemporary art museum that people recommended after the fact.

2. Now, time for the exciting stuff! Next stop: Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We spent three days exploring the caves and could have spent more! It was amazing, mind-blowing and the pictures can’t even do it justice. We can’t wait to come back and do more ranger led tours (we really want to do one when you free climb in the cave and have to crawl) and see the bats. Tip: Definitely do a range led tour!

3. City of Carlsbad – There is a lot to do here, and I want to come back, but we did do Christmas on the Pecos, a beautiful christmas light tour via BOAT! Houses that line the river decorate their back yards for people to see. It was such a unique way to see Christmas Lights and well worth the $30 ($15 each). Tip: They provide blankets!

4. We attempted to see Guadalupe Mountains National Park. We wanted to camp (for real) and hike the tallest point in Texas, but as you can see from the picture, that would have been miserable.

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5. Onward to Las Cruces, our favorite city of the trip! Delicious food, good beer and really nice people (seriously, everyone was really nice in New Mexico).

6. If you head northwest from Las Cruces and up the road a little, you’ll find a road less traveled (this a BEAUTIFUL drive) to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and some hot springs. We camped (for real), got a personal tour of the cliff dwellings (it was a really slow day) and soaked in the natural hot springs that came with our camp ground.

7. Back toward Las Cruces, we briefly stopped at City of Rocks, caught a quick glance and left. It was cool looking, just not much to do except look at the rocks.

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8. We spent another night in Las Cruces the started to make our way back north via a bunch of stops. The first of which was White Sands National Monument, my second favorite stop on our trip.

9. Our next night was in Alamogordo. If that name sounds familiar to you but you can’t remember your history, this is close to where they tested the first nuclear bomb. While you can’t go to the actual site (only once a year), we did go to the space museum, ate awesome frozen custard and saw the movie “Arrival” (mind-blowing) to kill time.

10. The drive up to Albuquerque involved a lot of stops. The Smokey the Bear Museum, Fort Stanton, Three Rivers Petroglyphs National Monument, Valley of Fire, the Salinas Pueblos Missions National Monument and a spectacular sunset.

11. Petroglyph National Monument is a National Monument nestled right in the city. Literally, they had to act fast in the 80’s so people wouldn’t start building where the petroglyphs are.

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12. Our last night was in Sante Fe when we found delicious food and Bandolier National Monument.

13. Finally (yet too soon) we were homeward bound:, but not with some stops at more National Monuments, Fort Union National Monument and Capulin Volcano National Monument.

Fort Union

Fort Union


Things I want to check out in the future:

-Tent Rocks (near Bandolier), the whole NorthWestern corner, Montezuma Hot Springs, Cloudcroft the city, the Cat Walk Trail, Sandia Mountain Wilderness and climb in The Oregon Mountains near Las Cruces.

New Mexico has A LOT to do! I highly recommend a road trip if you haven’t done one there yet!

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Planning it all out. My planning usually involves getting a general idea from websites and travel books. Check out the two I used:

New Mexico Off the Beaten Path®: A Guide To Unique Places (Off the Beaten Path Series)


What we spent:
-Lodging: $12 total (Gila hot springs resort and including soaking in the springs)
-Food (groceries): $80.50
-Gas: $189.22
-Attractions/Tours: $114 (this does not include admission to the national parks and monuments since we have an annual pass)

TOTAL: $395.77 (That’s all you need for the Most Epic New Mexico Road Trip EVA!)

Optional Stuff (This is all stuff you can do without if you’re going even cheaper than we did):
-Souvenirs/Christmas Gifts: $100 (most of that was gifts. My souvenirs are usually those squished penny machines)
-Restaurants/Breweries: $124 (roughly)


Disclaimer: We love to travel,  experience new things and places and enjoy the outdoors through a variety of activities. I really have a strong desire to check out every inch of this planet. Unfortunately, travel can be expensive. I am a big proponent for doing what you love and if one of those loves is travel and exploring, then you have to make it happen. I don’t have much in terms of money and finances, but I have never let that stop me from doing what I enjoy. I choose to spend what little money I do have on things I enjoy and eliminate unnecessary expenses. I’m not always the best at this, but I’m trying. I hope that through my posts now and in the future, I can give you tips and ideas to make travel happen for you, if that is your thing.

Life is not meant to be just working and sleeping. We’re not meant to just pay bills and die. Find your passion and figure out a way to live it.

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Looking back on 2016

I know it’s been awhile, but I’m just going to pick back up like I’ve never left blogging.  I just got back from an amazing road trip with my boyfriend, exploring places I’ve never been and getting good use of my National Parks pass. Be on the look out for that post (fingers crossed that I get to it before 2017) but, given that it is almost the end of year, it is time to take a look back on 2016!

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If I could sum up this year in one word it would be: “Sleepy.”  “Stressful” would also be a good pick or “busy,” or even “chaotic.” That should give you an idea of how 2016 broke down. I did a LOT of fun things, that’s for sure, but also had a lot on my plate as well.

I traveled a ton, visiting at least six National Parks, not including the National Monuments we saw, and was in about 10 different states this year!

I started a business with my boyfriend (now that’s a whole new adventure in and of itself). Check out Golden Mountain Guides if you’re visiting Colorado or live here and want to try climbing!

Meanwhile, I have kept my other jobs (minus personal training at the rec cent) because as any new business owner knows, the first year or two is TOUGH and we’ve got to eat, ya know!

At my full-time jobs, I started training as a race director and continue to coach Cross Country and Track.

Here are a few highlights from the year…..

Attempting Mt. Whitney

In January…


gmg_logo_finalIn February….


Finishing super strong!

Come March…


fb_img_1461537639502April brought…

  • My 29th Birthday!
  • and a trip to Washington for my Grandpa’s memorial service, a Mt Rainier visit and running the Run Like the Wind Half Marathon!

20160530_083942May…

  • Ran the Colfax Marathon relay with the City of Golden team
  • Watched some great running at the State Track & Field meet, many from the school I coach at.
  • I ran the Rock Hawk Trail 10k
  • and the Bolder Boulder with my Mom! That was a blast!

20160612_073233In June…

  • I became a little injured 😦 So running wasn’t that fun for me.
  • I worked a ton of races
  • And got some climbing in!

13775910_10208089233001422_8013303682547350440_n-2July was fun…

  • I went to Disneyland for the first time! (Do you like our fanny packs??!)
  • I quit doing personal training at the rec center (to have more time to spend on Golden Mountain Guides)
  • And got a new car… all by myself! Proud moment there.
  • We also made a quick road trip to Moab and visited Arches National Park!

20160820_075415August came…

  • and Cross country started again!
  • Ben and I took a mini vacation to Glenwood Springs (hiked to Hanging Lake, saw the caves at Glenwood Caverns adventure park and ate some great food).

14317326_1108122009222852_8338638971827496891_nIn September…

  • I ran the Patriot Day Race and had a great PR with an age group place!
  • I also ran the Bear Chase 10k trail race and placed in my age group again!

20161029_214857October was fun…

  • Ben and I went to the CSU v WYO game
  • Halloween happened…
  • We took the girl’s team to the Colorado State Meet Cross County meet (with a podium placer!)
  • I worked A LOT!
  • Ben and I had beautiful hike in Rocky Mountain National Park and heard the elk bugle.
  • We (as in Golden Mountain Guides) started teaching the kid’s climbing at the rec center and going on outdoor field trips.

img_0709November flew by..

  • The weather in Colorado stayed warm and we got more climbing in.
  • Went to the Dan + Shay Concert with one of my best friends
  • and Thanksgiving was delicious as always.

And now we’re in December….

  • I spent a view days visiting another best friend and her baby in North Dakota
  • and had the #MostEpicNMNationalParkRoadTripEVA!

It is also time to check up on the goals I set at the beginning of the year….

Running:

-I desperately want to get back into Half Marathon Shape!  I did not get this far in my training. Yes, I ran a half, but was very under-trained!

-Cruise the trails! I want to run at least one NEW trail a month! (And write about it!) I’m 90% sure I ran on over 12 new trails this year, but I did not keep track, nor did I write about them.

-Run my first TRAIL race! YAY! Check that off a few times!

-Run more miles than I did last year (733 was last year’s totals). Yeah, I stopped keeping track for many reasons, more on that later, but I don’t think it was that many miles. I’m not that bummed about missing this goal. Running was super strange for me this year.

-Check off a race in a new state! CHECK! Washington

Other fitness:

-Start a strength training program back up. Yikes. My strength training was non-existent this year.

–Climb 5.10’s consistently and confidently. I climbed one, once! I’ll just be re-adding this to 2017’s goals…

Career:

-Just keep working hard and learning more about working in the running industry. I am a race director in training!

Blogging:

– So, my goal is to post at least once a week.  Whoops.

Other:

-Visit at least TWO places in Colorado that I haven’t gone to before. Check! I did some different hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park and some trails in Breckenridge!

-Visit at least FOUR new places OUTSIDE of Colorado that I haven’t been before! Check, multiple places in California, Mt Rainier, Twin Falls, Idaho and all over New Mexico. Way more than FOUR places!

-I HAVE to knock off a new 14er this year. YAY! Torrey’s Peak – in the snow!

-Get a little bit out of debt… I definitely eliminated some things, but still have more goals in mind….finances STRESS ME OUT! Did you know that 40% of millennials don’t have current plans for retirement, and 73% don’t know their net worth! I DON’T!


Oof! I’m exhausted from writing all that! How did your 2016 shape up? I hope you are all having a great Holiday season!

Getting ready for the holidays and cutting our tree!

Getting ready for the holidays and cutting our tree!


 

Happy Birthday, National Parks!

Hiking to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo Credit: my friend Katja

Hiking to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo Credit: my friend Katja

(If you’ve been following me over the last few weeks, I have been doing a series of National Park Posts. It’s all culminating to this one post, celebrating the Centennial of the National Park System and showing my National Park Pride! Official turning 100 this Thursday, August 25th, I wanted to write about them to show different ways you can enjoy the parks.

Through my posts, I took you Hiking in Rocky Mountain and Arches, Climbing in Joshua Tree, Wandering in Death Valley and Exploring in Mt. Rainier.

I absolutely love and respect the National Park Service and when Cotopaxi reached out to me to help show my National Park Pride, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to write about them. I want to encourage you to find your closest National Park and explore, learn and discover what nature has to offer.)

Christine Falls in Mt. Rainier National Park

Christine Falls in Mt. Rainier National Park

When I was younger, I used to take yearly road trips with Mom or Dad. Many of these road trips were around Colorado and some were out of the state, but a lot of them ventured into National Parks.

Picture from my scrapbook...Yellowstone National Park with my Mom.

Picture from my scrapbook…Yellowstone National Park with my Mom.

As I’ve gotten older, my love for the outdoors and exploring has grown exponentially but it has only been in the last couple of years that I have had a lot of opportunities to get out and travel more; many times into National Parks. I’m super grateful that I had met my boyfriend, Ben, who shares an equal love for adventure and travel.

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Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park

This year alone, Ben and I have ventured into five national parks! We’re also in the process of planning out a New Mexico/Texas road trip for the end of the year that will check off another two National Parks (Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe National Park) and several other National Preserves and Monuments (in addition to going through Roswell, NM…. yes….aliens!).

There’s a TON of National Parks all across the country, and I bet there is one close enough for everyone to get to.

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There are a million ways for you to get out and enjoy a national park…. Climbing, hiking, driving, camping, running, star-gazing, canyoning…… the list could go on and on!

2013, Acadia National Park! Explore by myself before my best friend's wedding.

2013, Acadia National Park! Explore by myself before my best friend’s wedding.

I know what some of your are thinking….”All that travel is expensive! Plus they raised their prices for National Parks! BLAH!”

Exploring in Arches National Park

Exploring in Arches National Park

Well, thankfully, the money does go to a good cause (ya know, like preserving the place) but there are many ways to travel cost-efficiently. My boyfriend and I bought a season pass and it has saved us literally hundreds of dollars. In addition, we are very cheap travelers: we don’t eat out much, camp instead of stay in hotels (yes, even in the winter), and don’t splurge on souvenirs (I collect those squished pennies you get from the crank machines. 51 cent souvenirs!).

Now, hopefully I have sparked a little inspiration for you to start planing your National Park trip and don’t forget to wish them Happy 100th Birthday!

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Links:

National Park Centennial Information

FindYourPark.com

Cotopaxi – an outdoor gear company that cares. Check out their travel backpacks to support their fight against global poverty

I know you can get in FREE to Colorado’s National Parks Aug 25th-28th…I would assume that’s the case across the nation! 

Rocky Mountain National Park...check out that air I got! I'm on the left! Photo credit to Katja again!

Rocky Mountain National Park…check out that air I got! I’m on the left! Photo credit to Katja again!