2017 In Review

Looking back on 2017

2017 has probably been one of the worst and one of the best years I’ve ever had in my entire life.

It was most definitely one of the busiest years I have ever experienced. But it had a lot of fun moments.

It was definitely the most stressful year. But it was rewarding.

Grand Teton National Park

There were a lot of tears. And a lot of smiles.

There were times I wanted to quit everything and give up. And times that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

It was one of those years.

A lot of the bad included losing a step-grandparent, stressful home/work life balance, a tragedy within our cross country team, hail damage with a shifty, unethical car repair shop, loss of two pets, and probably more that I have repressed.

The good included a lot of travel, realizing love sees no bounds, a successful second year for Golden Mountain Guides, being part of five weddings and lots of time with family and friends.

I really am ready for a new year, carrying lessons from this year.

Here are some highlights from the past year…

January… started off slow. I started training to be a race director, track pre-season started, I started my #60HikesDenverChallenge (trying to hike/run all 60 trails in the 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Denver Book), we did a little bit of snowboarding and I did yoga challenge.

Walden Ponds, Boulder. Start of my #60HikesDenverChallenge

February…I did my first race as the sole Race Director (the Heart Throb 5k in Longmont), track season really starts, and we went to see the Mummies exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

See me in the background?? Literally holding back the flag from the wind as the race started. Sometimes race directors do some random tasks.

March…Ran the Erin Go Braugh 7.77k (my favorite of all the races the company I work for produces), and went to a Bridal Shower for Ben’s sister (which means wedding madness for the year starts).

Oh yeah, my outfit was AWESOME!

April… lots of work between all my jobs and my birthday month (wooo… 30 – that’s sarcasm in case you’re curious). But 30 did come with a zombie-themed escape room (we didn’t escape, for the record).

May… was full of the State Track & Field meet (one of my jumpers missed state by just a few inches – literally), running of the Bolder Boulder, and got hired for my first freelance writing job (10Hikes.com)

June…a ton of hiking (for my #60HikesChallenge and 10Hikes.com), a typical bachelorette party, and the first wedding of the year (Ben’s youngest sister) gets married. I also got a spot on a Ragnar Trail Snowmass team at the last second.

July… brought wedding #2 (Ben’s Cousin), a trip to Pennsylvania, lots of work (finished up my first 10Hikes project which reviewed the 10 best hikes in the Denver Region), and another Bridal shower (for my friend this time).

August...included another bridal shower (Ben’s other sister), a Trip to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, a bachelorette Pary in New Orleans, and Cross Country season starts.

September… Held wedding #3 (my friend), I race directed my biggest race yet (a 500 person 5k), and two trips to Moab with Ben (one for scouting and back again for guiding a 12-women group).

October…was wedding #4 (Ben’s other sister), I finished up my second freelance writing project (reviewing the 10 best hikes for Rocky Mountain Nation Park which is not live online yet), we did another Moab trip, we travelled to Florida and on a cruise for wedding #5 and I ran the Miami Beach Halloween Half Marathon.

November…Cross Country season had ended but work with the running company picked up for our biggest race of the year (Broomfield Turkey Day 5k/10k). Then Thanksgiving brings some nice time in Estes Park as we prepare for the holiday season.

Relaxing in Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Sprague Lake

December…here we are, in December. This is when we try and play catch up with all of our jobs. Christmas was busy travelling between all of our families and we travelled up to North Dakota to see my friend and her new baby (baby #2 for her) and on to Dakota, IL for New Years and to visit Ben’s Grandparents. We even hit up TWO National Monuments on the way!

In the beginning of 2017, I set a few goals to focus on for the year. Let’s see how I did….

Running Goals –
1. To love running again (I do enjoy the sport again, but I’m not on a meticulous plan; I’ve going a week or more between runs sometimes.)
2. And work my way through hiking/running all 60 trails in the “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles” Denver Edition (I got 17 of the 60 done. I did take on a freelance writing job involving hiking for 10hikes.com which involved hikes that are not in this book. I hiked 50+ different hikes this year. Maybe 60 was pushing it, but not bad for how busy the year was.

Other fitness –
I like to be active in general and play in the great outdoors, but I have one specific goal in mind:
3. Climb 5.10s consistently (I got ONE 5.10 done!)
3a. I guess that means I better start strength training regularly again…too. (Well, I definitely worked out more than I did the previous year, but not as much as I had hoped. I did climb a 5.10 in the gym just a few weeks ago, which felt pretty good.)

Career –
4. I would like to see more clients with Golden Mountain Guides than last year
5. Learn more about the tourism industry, in particular, marketing. (We did see more clients than last year! It’s pretty awesome to see your own company grow! And I did learn  a little bit more about tourism, mostly through our own company.)

Other –
6. Travel to FIVE new places, in or out of Colorado. (Check X5! See above and all the travel we did this year! We even made it to at least 8 National Parks of Monuments).
7.  Learn about a new topic every month. (This gets 1/4 green. We started out strong, learning about Egyptian History, oceans, and I took a month to study Jumps Coaching (track and field). But as our business got busier, we put this one hold, only to pick it up in November, studying Mayan History)

Overall, I am truly glad this year is coming to a close. I’m ready for a “new start” of sorts in 2018.

Chasm Lake – One of my favorite photos from 2017.


#60HikesDenverChallenge – Roxborough State Park

(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 this year, I’m going to carry this goal into 2018. You’ll see these posts all 2018 as well. 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 labelled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #59 – Roxborough State Park: South Rim Trail
Completed: 12/3/17 | Number Completed: 17/60
Mode: Hiking
Location:  South of the city Roxborough Park (Highway 121 until it turns into Rampart Ridge Rd)
Distance: 3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Type of trail: Hard packed dirt, balloon configuration
Exposure: Lots of shade
Facilities: Toilets, Water fountain, and picnic tables at the Visitor Center
Extra info: Park Closes at 5:00pm in the winter. Has an entrance fee, $7.00 I believe, but we have a state parks pass.

My Experience:
It had been awhile since I’ve opened up this book due to many reasons. I was grateful to have a day off a couple of weeks ago and Ben and I decided to journey somewhere we’ve never been. Roxborough State Park is about 30 minutes south of where we live. It wasn’t busy at all (given it was December), and there are a lot of quick, easy trails to choose from. We chose the trail from the book, about 3 miles long, the South Rim Trail This was a looped trail and a good option to see what the park has to offer. The rock formations here a lot like those at Red Rocks or Garden of the Gods. These beautiful reds rocks stand out against the backdrop no matter the season and color of the foliage.

-Not crowded. I’m sure it gets more crowded in the Summer, but I still feel this park is off the beaten path.
-Variety of difficulty options

-It’s not a huge park. There are only about 15 miles of trails within the park

-Bring a refillable water bottle. They no longer sell plastic, bottled water. They do have a water fountain to fill water bottles.

I would love to come back here and go for a run! It’s a great park, good for a day hike, scenic drive, and off the beaten path.

Roxborough Website

Pick up the book:

My First Freelance Writing Job (and It’s now live online!)

I’ve always liked writing. Ever since I can remember I’ve loved it. When I was in 2nd grade I used to write stories about a dog name Scruffy that smelled of cookie dough and went on adventures (If I ever find these, I will definitely show you all).

Later, I used to write stories about haunted amusements parks in a journal I kept. They were never very good, but I loved to imagine what would happen to my characters (think: the shy, smart girl gets the cute, popular boy).

In high school,  my english teachers loved my writing and one saved my re-telling of a mythology story for future classes. However, It wasn’t until I started this blog, and mainly in the last few years, that I realized how much I really liked writing and thought about doing anything with it.

I started writing some stuff for a novel and have thought of freelance writing jobs. I have submitted articles to different publications, none of which got accepted, but finally I saw a great opportunity that was perfect for me! I’m not sure where I first found out about the job, probably social media, but I applied to be a contributor for 10hikes.com

After exchanging some emails, I got the chance to write about the best hikes in the Denver region!

10hikes.com is part of 10Adventures.com,  a Canadian company (you’ll see everything listed in kilometers!). For 10Hikes.com, they select the 10 best hikes for major, popular regions like big cities or national parks. Contributors, like myself, compile the list based on experience, research and physically going out to find the best hikes. We hike them, recording the map data, take pictures and write about each one.

I get paid to hike! How sweet is that!?

My first region, Denver area hikes, is finally live on the website and I want to show you all! Check it out!

My favorite of the 10 hikes I chose is number 1 on the list, Beaver Brook to Chavez Trail.

I just got assigned the Rocky Mountain National Park region! I’m so thrilled and already started hiking them while trying to pick the 10 best ones (a very hard job).

Look! It’s me!

Follow along in real time of where I’m hiking on Instagram! 

#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.

-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

-Not much shade cover in the beginning

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

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: