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! 

Advertisements

#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!

Hiking to Sky Pond, Rocky Mountain National Park

Sky Pond

Sky Pond. My phone camera does NOT do this hike justice. I am in the works of getting a new phone and/or nice camera.

(Did you know it’s the Centennial Celebration of the National Parks? It is! The National Parks Service is officially celebrating their 100th birthday on August 25th. I absolutely love and respect the National Park Service and plan on doing a whole bunch of National Park posts this month, starting with Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park….)

Starting out at 4:30am sounded rough but ended up being well worth the early morning call. I pulled into the parking lot and everyone climbed into my car. We were all sleepy-eyed but ready to make the journey to Rocky Mountain National Park.

20160806_055617

Even though the weather was predicted to be overcast and rainy, I still had a feeling there might be a lot of people trying to hike in Rocky Mountain with it being just a couple of weeks before school starts.

We got to the trailhead right around 6am, thankful that there was only a few cars in the parking lot. The five of us ladies set out to the trails.

Four out of the five of us. Photo credit to my friend Denise.

Four out of the five of us. Photo credit to my friend Denise.

Nine miles round trip, this hike is described as being strenuous and predicted to take up to nine hours! We figured, all of us being a part of 3W Races, a running company, that It shouldn’t take us near that amount of time.

Fog hanging around in the valley.

Fog hanging around in the valley.

The hike was well-marked and it’s only the last half mile that is sort of strenuous with natural stairs and a scramble up a waterfall. That’s right, A WATERFALL!

20160806_082425

Timberline fall from a distance. This waterfall is the one you climb, but off to the right of the main water shed.

Starting out on a very gently incline, you catch beautiful glimpses of the valleys of Rocky. Then, under a mile, you reach your first landmark, Alberta Falls.

Alberta Fals

Alberta Falls

As you keep hiking from there, you reach a few junctions in the trail leading to other (assuming) wonderful hikes. If you do want to hike to Sky Pond, I suggest making sure you read the map well or bring one with you, knowing where to turn. There are signs, but sometimes they don’t always say, “THIS WAY TO SKY POND!” For the most part, you stay on the main, prominent trail.

Photo Credit: Katja

Photo Credit: Katja. Check her out on Instagram.

Reaching about 2.8 miles into the hike, you get to The Loch, a fairy tale looking lake surround by enchanted forests. Maybe it was just the overcast morning and all the conversation about books, but we really did feel like we were walking through a story book.

The Loch. Photo credit: Katja

The Loch, Lisa and I. Photo credit: Katja

After completely passing the lake, the trail starts inclining a bit steeper, but still not that hard. When you’re at about 3.25 miles, you start to hike some rock stairs and get to a point that looks like the trail ends. There’s a sign pointing up and you realized you have to get to climb a waterfall. I thought this was the coolest part of the hike!

Climbing up the waterfall!

Lisa climbing up the waterfall! Denise and Susan waiting at the base.

The trail/climb is to the side of Timberline Falls, a speculator waterfall from the water shed of Sky Pond. Not an incredibly difficult climb, but super fun to scramble up the side of a waterfall. Given my rock climbing experience, this was a blast, but I could see this as being a bit scary for some.

Photo Credit: Katja

Going up! Photo Credit: Katja

From the top of the waterfall, you see Glass Lake. It was a little overcast, with clouds just hanging on the top of the surrounding peaks and ridges, but a breath-taking sight nonetheless. (I don’t have a great picture of Glass Lake specifically.)

This is by far one of my my favorite photos ever of myself. Taken by Katja.

This is by far one of my favorite photos ever of myself. Taken by Katja.

We looked around for the next cairn marking the remaining .2 miles of the trail to get to the second lake, Sky Pond. With more fairy tale stone paths through patches of bright green, lush grass, we reached the end, and gazed upon the water. I can imagine seeing the reflections of clouds on a bright, clear day, but after the 4.5 mile hike, it was beautiful.

Lisa looking at Sky Pond

Lisa looking at Sky Pond

On the way down, we stopped to eat lunch on a big rock by the Loch then continued back to our car. Now, we were seeing the masses, super grateful for starting our hike when we did, agreeing none of us like crowds.

Photo credit: Katja

Photo credit: Katja

Getting There:

  • The Sky Pond hike starts at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead in the park.
  • Easiest if you enter Rocky Mountain National Park by the Estes Park entrance (northeast side of the park).
  • It is $20 to enter the park (I have an annual National Parks Pass – saved us SO much money this year!)
  • If you do get there later in the day, there is a second, HUGE, parking lot one mile from the trailhead that has a free shuttle to Glacier Gorge. You pass it as you come to Glacier Gorge.
  • Click here for a map to the trailhead.

Tips:

  • Get there early; like all the other articles say, this hike is well travel and crowded, especially near Alberta falls.
  • Bring “grippy” shoes; the waterfall climb can be a little slick. We all hiked in our trail running shoes and did great.
  • Bring plenty of water and nutrition. It’s not too incredibly strenuous, but depending on your fitness level, make take you a little bit longer than us. (We did the hike in about 5.5 hours versus the predicted 9).
  • We went in August, and happened to be on an overcast day with wind – make sure you bring layers of clothes, sunscreen and/or a hat to prepare for any weather.  As you climb up higher, weather can change drastically and quickly. This hike reach about 10,500 feet in elevation.
  • Hiking guide.

13892109_10102946965165173_6450030411904917055_n