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! 

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#60HikesDenverChallenge – Denver: Washington Park

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(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles Denver Edition.” 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 #18 – Denver: Washington Park
Completed: 1/25/17 | Mode: Running!
Location: Denver – Virginia Ave. & Downing St.
Distance: 2 miles (I ran extra and got in 3.25)
Difficulty:  Easy, peasy
Surface: Hard packed dirt on the outer trail and a mix of concrete, asphalt, and dirt inside around the lakes and fields
Exposure: Lots of shade from GIANT old trees!

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My Experience: 
It’s well known to people who know me that I hate driving. I hate driving in Denver even more. So when I needed to run an errand for work in Denver, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. The only trail in the book that is in Denver proper is Washington Park. Now, I’ve run here before, a handful of years back on a first date with a guy I met while trying out online dating. I remember making two full loops around the park (about 5 miles total) and thinking it was a lovely run. Coming back to this park, I can’t help but reflect on the terrible online dates I had back then, but also on how in-shape I was, being able to easily bust out 5 miles on a whim. The three plus miles I did this past week was pretty exhausting, but I digress.

Wash Park (what the locals call it) is a little bit of nature amidst the busy city. While you can still hear and smell the cars, there are giant old trees around every corner reminding you just how old Denver is. The trail encircles a few ponds, large fields, and tennis quarts. This is a super popular place for summer activities. Think volleyball, running (duh),  kite flying, paddle boats, and more! A lot of races happen here as well.

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Pros
-Flat
-Lots of surfaces to choose from (hard packed dirt and concrete/asphalt)
-Can get a lot of miles in here depending on how many loops you want to do

Cons
-Can hear/smell/see cars
-Can get crowded especially on the weekends and in the summer
-Traffic around and to/from here can be a nightmare
-Limited amounts of “good” parking

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Tips
-If you’re driving into the city, I’d visit during the week when there will be plenty of parking. Side street parking gets tricky.
-Depending on how many miles you’re trying to get, you can do the outermost loop (like I did) and then add some miles by going around the little ponds to create variation.

Overall
Although I’m still unsure as to whom this book would be intended for, I’m going on the assumption that people who live in Denver would buy this book to experience trails close to home (within 60 miles). I’m not sure this place needed to be included, not would I call it a “hike.” Sure, it’s a great city escape and lovely place to run for the locals, but I wouldn’t come back, driving 30 minutes, just to run here.

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Check it out (affiliate link):

Check out some of the other popular cities:
Seattle:

Washington D.C.

San Francisco

AND LOTS MORE! 

Exploring Mt. Rainier National Park

20160426_160305(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. Check out my last posts about Rocky MountainArches, Joshua Tree, and Death Valley. Next up is this one, Mt. Rainier National Park….)

Back in April, Ben, myself and a friend of ours, took a journey to Washington. It was a trip to combine many different things: a half marathon for me, my Grandpa’s Memorial service, family time, vacation and some Mt. Rainier fun.

Photo Credit: My aunt Bambi that lives out in Washington.

Photo Credit: My Aunt Bambi that lives out in Washington.

Ben and his friend Matt had plans to climb Mt. Rainier. I had no desire (yet) to do this climb, let alone the route they chose, but went with them to the National Park. I was their communication to family and friends via the internet while they climbed. While their climb is their story to tell, this left me with a lot of free time to explore Mt. Rainier National Park, or at least the parts of it that were open in late April.

Ben and Matt started toward the summit from the Paradise parking lot. This is on the South side of the big mountain. During the winter months, a majority of the roads and entrances to Mt. Rainier are closed due to snow. Winter in this area can extend into June, we were told. We were visiting right as lot of the snow was melting, but that still only left one entrance open to get to paradise, through the town of Ashford.

Ben and Matt starting their climb.

Ben and Matt starting their climb.

After waving good-bye as they started their journey, I doddled, trying to figure out what to do and see. I don’t mind doing stuff by myself, but having company on adventures is always more fun, in my opinion. Not letting being alone stop me, I studied the map for some trails I could explore. Not a lot was open but I had driven past a couple of signs for waterfalls, and thought, “I should start there!”

Leaving Paradise, as I drove down the road, I first came across Narada Falls. At first, when you look over the edge of the parking lot you can see the fast-moving river and the side of a massively wide waterfall. There’s a trail you can take to the view-point down below. I started and was thwarted by a massive wall of snow, waist-high that came right up to the guard rail. I was super bummed as another lone-hiker came. I watched him hop right up on top of the snow and defeat this obstacle (why didn’t I think of that). So, I followed!

The trail-blocked with snow

The trail-blocked with snow

 

After getting over the snow, I realized that was the only part of the trail that was difficult. The rest was snowed on and a little slippery, but was manageable. The other traveler was in town on business and decided to journey into the park for a quick trip. We helped each other take pictures, then went about our ways.

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Next up was Christine Falls. Just a quick drive further down the road and I was there. I hopped out of the car and took in the beautiful view. There was a trail that takes you up about the falls, but I was going to save that for the next day.

When traveling by yourself, you take a lot of selfies!

When traveling by yourself, you take a lot of selfies!

After getting some rest, trying local restaurants (dinner the night before and breakfast), then talking to the rangers, day two brought some more exploring.

I drove back into the park (stopping at every view-point along the way) and did the short, flat historical hike called the “Trail of Shadows”. I learned all about the town of Longmire (a health destination in the late 1800’s for people to cure all that ails them by soaking in the once hot springs and using medicine from the native plants nearby).

View from the trail, through the trees you can see Mt. Rainier.

View from the trail, through the trees you can see Mt. Rainier.

Then I drove my way up the road again to hike the trail behind Christine Falls with the destination Comet Falls in mind. The ranger did warn me that he didn’t think the trail was passable, but I decided to try it anyway, because I’m like that.

I made it about 1.5, maybe 2 miles at the most, before the trail was blocked by a steep snow slid (see picture). With better shoes and an ice ax or walking pole, I probably would have attempted it. But looking at the bottom of the slope and my trails shoes, I opted to skip it; envisioning myself sledding on my butt to the icy river some 100 ft down. No thank you!

What I would have had to hike over to get to Comet Falls.

What I would have had to hike over to get to Comet Falls. Would you do it?

The rest of my day was spent at Paradise, staring at the slope, looking for my boyfriend to return, terrified, not knowing they were staying one more night on the mountain due to weather. That’s a whole different story filled with worry, a lot of tears and looking for a hotel at 11pm.

Top of Christine Falls

Top of Christine Falls

Getting there:

  • Looks like the only way to enter during winter is from the south/west side of the park where we did, through Asford; the snow leaving all other road impassable.
  • There are THREE total entrances during the summer. We only got to see this part of the park.
  • Mt. Rainier Website

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Tips:

  • Best time to visit: Summer – Temperatures are great, roads are open and trails are passable. (Unless you’re a mountaineer, then consult mountaineering books to find out when the best time is to visit.)
  • Skiers and Snowboards: this is a magical place! You can hike up and ski down; I wish I had brought my board!

We can’t wait to go back!

Oh, by the way; the boys made it to the summit, safe and sound (and back down again)!

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Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park

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(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. Check out my last posts about Rocky Mountain and Arches. Next up is this one, Joshua Tree National Park….)

Back in January, way at the beginning of the year, my boyfriend and I got the chance to take a two-week vacation and go on a road trip. We chose California, with the main goal to climb Mt. Whitney (because it’s my name, duh). While we did not summit Mt. Whitney (and a whole different story), we got to venture and explore some other places on our way to and from home.

Attempting Mt. Whitney

Attempting Mt. Whitney

On our way back towards Golden, CO we stopped for a few nights to camp and climb in Joshua Tree National Park. All climbers LOVE it here, supposedly. I wrote a little bit about it when I first returned home from that trip here.

Joshua Tree was a really cool place to visit. The scenery, plants and animals is so different from anything I had ever seen. I loved it and wanted to take a million pictures.

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We visited in January which meant it wasn’t that hot in the desert. In fact, it was a bit chilly which made it really hard for me to climb. (If you are a climber and are reading this, please keep in mind I am sorta new to climbing and a bit of a pansy. I don’t like cold hands).

We had a couple of days to get in some climbing but was thwarted with the cold weather, rain, and difficulty of climbing. I cried a lot of tears as we kept reaching different challenges (including a super stressful down climb).

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Climbing in Joshua Tree is old school. All the routes are way more difficult than they are rated in the guide books, the rock is rough and feels like sand paper, there are not a lot of rappel loops to get off the rock (meaning you have down climb the back sides of routes) and there’s mostly crack climbing, which is not fun for a beginner. Picture wedging your toes and hands between two giant rocks and using those appendages to pull yourself up. Yes, it hurts.

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We camped at the south end of the park which meant that we got to drive through the beautiful sights every time we went to a climbing area. Joshua tree is characterized for the giant rocks (sometimes looking like a giant kid piled them up) and for the actual Joshua Tree plants that grow there.  All of these characteristics offer great photographic opportunities (and me wishing I had a better camera).

Some of my favorite things:

-The Cholla Cactus Garden: these cool, super pointy cacti that grew only in one section of the basin in the park.

Cholla cactus

Cholla cactus

-Skull Rock: Literally as it sounds; a rock that is in the shape of a skull.

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-Indian Cove: a ton of climbing!

This is the main views of Indian Cove.

This is the main views of Indian Cove.

Getting there:

  • Enter the park from the south side off of I-10 or the north side off of HW 62
  • Park Website

Tips:

  • A smaller National Park but with a lot of things to see. If you are just a sight-seer, you could totally make a great one day trip out this place.
  • Climbers: you could spend a week (or more) climbing all that Joshua Tree has to offer!
  • Tape your hands, if you’re going to climb. 😉 (A little bit of an inside joke between my boyfriend and I. We’ll see if he catches it).

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