1st Half of July Updates

Like a lot of bloggers, I’d like to regularly do “updates” posts talking about what’s going on, keeping me active on the blog and doing general updates related to my blog. Ideally, weekly updates posts would be relatable for people, but that might be too ambitious for me. I have tried this in the past without much success. So, twice a month to start, I’m going to try to keep some updates including current likes, obsessions, books I’m reading, tv shows I’m getting into, updates with each job have, etc.

Kicking it off, here are some updates from the first half of July!


Where have I been?! That’s been the latest question people have been asking me. I have not been nearly as active on social media, blog posts or even emails. I have not been very good with texts, calls and being social… all for a great reason.

Right at the end of last month, Ben and I signed a new rental (home) lease! If anyone one knows us in person, you know that this has been much-needed and long-awaited. It’s been 3+ years in our grimy basement apartment and that’s 3 years too long in that place. We’ve been living with mold, asbestos coming out of the walls, rodents in the mudroom and a landlord that just doesn’t care and doesn’t take pride in his own property. But hey, you get what you pay for right?! We’ve got stories for days and hopefully, if this place hasn’t already doomed us health-wise, we’ll eventually be laughing about it.

Without going too far into our personal lives, we’ve been WANTING to move just haven’t been able to due to many factors. We have been trying and searching for a while now and finally found an opened door (literally?!?) and took a chance and huge leap.

We found a place that is both residential and a HUGE potential for our business, Golden Mountain Guides. We’re talking office, retail space, parking, storage, bathrooms for clients….it’s pretty amazing and perfect for us and in a prime location – I can literally wave to the people taking the Coors Brewery tour in Golden!

However, to make it affordable for us, we’ve made a deal with our NEW landlord to fix up the place. Essentially adding value to pay less per month. It didn’t need too much work, but due to our different personalities, the boyfriend decided to do ALL the projects at once and we haven’t been able to move our belongings over yet. Don’t worry, we are remodeling on a budget and using friends and family to help and taking advantage of the many area discount building/construction material places.

So…thats where I’ve been…every extra minute has been at the new place to get it liveable. Even in its pre-remodel condition, it was better than our old digs. We’ve been eager to get in there.

In addition to the new place, I’ve been keeping my time filled with work and a tiny bit of fun:

July, Week 1:
-Fourth of July week was pretty busy for me for the last few years because we have two races with 3W Races that we produce (job #1). I race directed the Longmont Half and we had packet pick up plus the race itself that week.
-That’s always an early morning (report time at 3am) and leaves me pretty beat for the rest of the day. But after a nap, we headed to my Dads’ house for dinner and fireworks viewing. He lives close to Mile High Stadium so the big fireworks display is easy to catch without going farther than the sidewalk out front.
-With the remaining hours of the week we spent, you guessed it, fixing up the new place.
-We did get to celebrate Ben’s brother in law’s birthday at the famous Casa Bonita!

July, Week 2:
-Sunday started off with a trip to the Renaissance festival with my oldest friend and then back to the grind of work and working on the house. That’s literally all I did that week.

July, Week 3:
-I got the opportunity to go on my first ever work conference! The running company I work for, 3W Races, use Run Sign Up for all their races’ registration platforms and we went to network and learn at the Run Sign Up Symposium in Philly!
-A got to do a TINY bit of sight-seeing and saw the Liberty Bell and ate my first ever, legit, traditional Philly Cheesesteak, with cheese whiz!
-As soon as we got back, we were in race mode as I had a race to direct on the weekend, the Summer Prairie Dog Half.


(I think my regular updates post will include stuff like the following…)

What I’m reading: I always have a lot of books on my “currently reading” shelf on Goodreads (follow me!) because I’ll start something and then get a book from the library that I need to return. Currently, I just finished “My Name is Memory” by Ann Brashares (Sisterhood of the traveling pants), a book I’ve had on my shelf from our local library’s book sale and I got it super cheap and it looked interesting. I’m also finishing up  “American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West” by Nate Blakeslee that was on the Outdoors Magazine Book Club for June (way behind). “My name is Memory” started out great, but ended very badly and left the story very open, without a sequel. “American Wolf” is a non-fiction book about the wolfs in Yellowstone National Park and the struggle between the hunters and the people trying to keep them protected. I have one chapter left and it is a fantastic book; I highly recommend it.

What I’m watching: I’ve been watching “Hemlock Grove” on Netflix. One of the original made for Netflix shows. It’s super creepy and has a lot of supernatural characters. I’m 5 episodes in and not sure if I like it! Ha!

What I’m Listening To: Every time I’ve been driving, I’ve been listening to the Game of Thrones audiobook. I’ve never read the book and reading the print version seemed daunting. I’ve only seen seasons 1 and 2 of the show and surprisingly, they’ve done a great job following the story (so far!).

What I’m loving: I’m LOVING my new shoes! Even though I haven’t been running as much, when I do run, I have been using my new Under Armor HOVR‘s that I got from being a Bib Rave Pro to test and review.

What I’m working on: The house. See above. 😉

New in the world of Golden Mountain Guides: As you read, the new house is a HUGE potential for the business. While we’ve been spending most of our time on the house, we’ve been allocating our guided trips to our employees and STILL have seen growth from last year!

New in the world of 3W: After the symposium, I feel pretty special that I got to go. I met a lot of the staff on Run Sign Up team, including the user experience staff and they asked me, personally, for my opinion on features and the appearance of the website. So cool! #geekingout

New in the world of coaching: Cross country camp is NEXT WEEK, marking the official start of the season! YAY! We’ll be up in Winter Park for four days running, talking about running, and dreaming about running with all the kiddos. I really enjoy this part of camp.


As always, Instagram is my go-to social media. So if you want to keep up with my life in semi-real time, that’s the place. Usually.

Follow me on Instagram: @RacingTheStates
Or on Twitter: @Racingthestates

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Meyer Ranch Open Space

(For 2017, I had a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Denver”  While I didn’t make it through all 60 that year, I have carried this goal into 2018.  All the specific trail details can be found in the book or online, but I’ll highlight some things about each trail in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail here. The numbers below are associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #23 – Meyer Ranch Open Space – Lodgepole Loop
Completed: 5/30/18 | Number Completed: 21/60
Mode: Trail Run
Location:  Conifer
Distance: 2 miles (I probably did ~3 with two laps around the loop)
Difficulty: Easy
Type of trail: Hard packed dirt, balloon configuration
Exposure: Lots of shade!
Facilities: Pit toilets and picnic tables. No water

My Experience:
With a free Wednesday (finally!) I decided to get another hike from my book done. With an easy 20 minute drive from my house, I reached the Meyer Ranch Open Space. This small park is right off the highway and offers a few miles of trail (about 5 miles in total). I have been working on building my fitness back up and after the Bolder Boulder,  I was feeling pretty sore so I wanted to hike/run. The trail from the book is 2 miles in a balloon configuration. After I finished the first loop, I was feeling pretty good so I decided to do another loop and then head back to the car, doing 3 miles total.

The trail starts just be the highway and you hike by open meadows before entering a lush forest. The trail winds around and up as you pass through open clearings every so often. The trail is hard packed dirt with very minimal rocks or roots. I did encounter some people on horseback that I had to wait while for them to find a spot to pull over so I could go around without spooking the horses or going off trail. The whole time I could hear the highway noise and the trail kept winding under giant power lines; not very serene if you ask me. A friend of mine said if you add the Old Ski Run Trail, you lose some of the noise, but I didn’t take that trail this time.

Pros:
-Great for a trail run; there are some fun, small, rolling hills and it’s hard packed dirt with minimal large rocks or roots.
-Lots of shade!
-Close to town.

Cons
-Too easy for an actual hike.
-Short; not many miles.
-Not very serene; the highway noise is constant and there are power lines that run right through the middle.
-Pretty busy, even in the middle of the day on a weekday.
-Multi-use with bikers and horseback riders.

Tips:
-Bring water; there is no potable water here.
-If visiting from out of town, you’re not far from Tiny Town, a fun little tourist spot in Morrison.

Overall:
I’m sure this place is great for really, close living, local people, offering a great place to run some trails, however, I wouldn’t recommend coming all this way for a hike here. The trails are short and not serene, plus the views aren’t that great. Would I have included this trail in the book? No, probably not. I feel like there are way better trails to be included. Now, would I come back and get an easier trail run in? Probably! It’s a great place to do some laps.


Park info

Get the book! 

Vegas’ Unknown Gem – Red Rock Canyon

How many times have you gone to Vegas? At least once, right? Most people have. I bet most people have never left the city, let alone the strip. Hey, I don’t blame them; it’s easy to get in a cheap and fun vacation in the City of Sin! I have been to Vegas twice (now three times) and never knew there was much beyond the strip.

Circa 2010 with one of my best friends, Amanda.

Now that I’m fully immersed in the climbing world (I own a guiding business after all), I know there’s so much more to Vegas. It’s now crazy to me how many people visit Vegas and have no idea there’s a beautiful National Conservation Area just minutes away. To each their own, I suppose; the outdoors is not for everyone!

If you are an outdoors enthusiast or looking for a side trip, just 15 minutes away from the Vegas strip (that’s even closer than visiting the Hover dam – which is still worthy of a visit) is an outdoor mecca waiting to be explored! Next time you are in Sin City, take a break from the nightly debauchery and explore this outdoor desert paradise!


Getting There:
From Vegas, take Charleston Blvd West.
That’s really it! It’s about 15 miles from the strip to the visitor’s center.

Things to do:
-TONS of climbing; literally 100’s of routes! I won’t get into climbing too much. If you are a climber, you know what resources to use to find an ideal route (friends, Mountain Project and a guidebook). Let’s just say if you are a climber and have NOT been here, you’re missing out.


-Hiking: there are a ton of trails spattered all over the place! Pick a pull out off the road and start hiking.


-Visit the visitor center: I do have to say this is probably one of the best visitor centers I’ve seen. They have a earth, wind, water and fire display (all centered around what created the desert) and it’s pretty cool.


-Look for a desert tortoise: They have one living at the visitor center but try and see if you can spot this elusive creature in the park.  Just please stay on the trails. (No, I have not seen one myself.)

-Take a drive: and pull over in every single pullout. There are some really unique views all over this 13-mile scenic drive. My favorite is the Calico Hills.

The Calico Hills during a freak snow storm

-Go horseback riding: Check out Cowboy Trail Rides.
-Camp: There’s only one campground in the area, the Red Rock Campground. It’s $17/night (I believe) and it’s first come, first served but it’s decent. It can get really crowded with dirtbags (I was one of them for a week). 😉
-Bike: You can road bike on the scenic drive and there are a few dirt trails for mountain bikers. Check in with the Visitor’s Center for trails open to mountain bikers.

Tips:
-Bring a map or a person that is really good at remembering which way you went on the trail. I do have to say, some of the trails as not marked very well and there’s a lot of braided trails all over. It’s easy to get going on the wrong one.
-If you’re camping, get there EARLY and be okay with dirtbags. There’s only one campground and it’s first-come-first-served and it’s full of dirty climbers! Many times, multiple groups are sharing one site, so it tends to be very crowded and occasionally noisy. (There are no showers, just pit toilets. There is potable water).
-The park has some pretty strict hours. If your climbing takes you past 5pm, make sure you leave a message with the rangers with your car’s info, where you’re climbing and when you’ll be out. In fact, if you are climbing, especially if you plan on being nighted; just read all the rules and regulations yourself.


We were there for about a week and got a lot of climbing in, a race and hiking. Here’s what we did:

Day 1: Visited the Visitor’s Center and then climbed a route called Olive Oil, a 665 ft, 5.7 rated route, with 5 pitches and a 2.5ish mile hike in and out. I only cried once when I got stuck in the chimney (Backstory: if you know me in real life, I tend to cry a lot while climbing. It’s getting better.) We got started a little late and ended up hiking out in the dark.

Day 2: Climbing a little bit in the Calico Hills before the storm came rolling across the desert. We didn’t get much in before the storm rolled through. We then went to the host hotel for the race to check in and get my packet.

Day 3:  Race Day. I did the Red Rock Canyon Half! Read my race recap here or find it on BibRave.com.  We took the remaing hours of the day to “rest” and walked around the Vegas Strip.

Day 4: Climbed Mescalito, a 1000ft, 5.7 grade peak with 7 pitches. The climb itself was fun and had a lot of fun features like a chimney, step arounds, ledges and some exposed slabs, but the more “fun” part was our descent. We were aiming for the hike out but ended up in this gulley with about 5 rappels and down climbing. It was miserable. We would be down climbing and then all of a sudden hit a drop off and see the rappel rings. Over and over and over. The sun was going down and we were tired. We touched the bottom of the peak just as the sun fully set, turned the headlamps on, and started the 3-mile hike to the car. Despite the hike out and down climb, this was probably the hardest full day of climbing I’ve ever expereience and I actually learned a lot and enjoyed the whole experience.

Day 5: Rest day! We found some easier climbing back in the Calico Hills and I led my first pitch!

We also camped at the red rock canyon campground for most of our nights except the night before my race. We stayed at the race’s host hotel, the Sun Coast Casino and had fun exploring the giant casino and did some bowling. It was also nice to get a shower in after the race before we had to check out and get back to camping life.

Next time you visit Las Vegas, I highly suggest taking a day trip to this National Conservation Area! It’s beautiful and so close to town!


More info:

Park hours (vary per season)
Fees: $15/vehicle (or free with a National Park’s Pass!)

Red Rock Canyon Website
BLM Red Rock Canyon Website

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Rabbit Mountain

(For 2017, I had a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Denver”  While I didn’t make it through all 60 that year, I have carried this goal into 2018.  All the specific trail details can be found in the book or online, but I’ll highlight some things about each trail in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail here. The numbers below are associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #39 – Rabbit Mountain: Eagle Wind Trail
Completed: 4/1/18 | Number Completed: 20/60 (One third done!)
Mode: Hiking
Location:  2 Miles north of Highway 66 and 53rd (north of Boulder and Longmont and just east of Lyons)
Distance: 3.9 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Type of trail: Hard packed dirt with larger rocks, balloon configuration
Exposure: Not much shade
Facilities: Toilets, Pavillion with picnic tables and a barbeque (no water)

My Experience:
We’re already in April of 2018 and I’ve only had a chance to do a few hikes. Easter Sunday arrived and I finally had a free moment and decided to check off a hike from my book. Since I was up in Longmont at my Mom’s house, I ventured to a trail not far from there. About a 10-minute drive led me to Rabbit Mountain. It wasn’t that busy and the temperature was perfect for a quick hike. I chose to do this trail this time of year because I have been warned by my family that there tends to be a ton of rattlesnakes in the summer.

Pros:
-Close to the city
-Great for families – there are a ton of benches and educational signs along the way
-Bathrooms and a pavilion with a barbeque at the trailhead

Cons:
-Not much shade
-Lots of rattlesnakes in the summer

Overall:
While I did enjoy my hike, I probably won’t be too eager to come back. Would I come here just to hike? No. Might I come here to get a run in? Yes. It’s a relatively easy trail and would be great for a trail run. I also don’t think I would come here in the warm months since I was warned multiple times of snakes and I’m terrified.

So, was it worth it the one time? Yes, but I’m not jumping at the opportunity to come back and wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for out of town guests.


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Check out the trail