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! 

#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!

Not quite halfway through the year – Updates!

Hiking at the Apex Trail

I was going to call this post “quarter year updates,” but then I did the math and realized that wouldn’t be quite right. Where did the months go? I haven’t been able to write on a consistent basis, but here’s just a random, popcorn list of what’s been going on:

Work/Career

Golden Mountain Guides
-Many of you know I own a climbing guide business, Golden Mountain Guides, with my boyfriend. We are just starting year two of business!
-The year is starting off better than last year, but not as good as we hoped.
-We’ve hired a couple new guides and we’re doing anything we possibly can to market our business (and researching new ways.)
-YOU can climb with us if you want! Check us out online or when you visit Golden, CO

3W Races
-Still going well! I have been assistant race director a few more times and we’re amping up our marketing plan.
-Our next race is this weekend, the Skirt Sports 13er/10k/5k on June 4th!

Coaching
-Track season is was kept me busy and off of the blog. I was at Green Mountain High School again coaching the long and triple jump.
-It was a great season. Many athletes made it to the state competition and I had two jumpers just inches away from qualifying for state. INCHES! Keep in mind only 18 people go to state in either competition and they were inches from it.
-With my triple jumper, she had a great jump of a distance that would have put her in state but it was disqualified due to win. My long jumper has one more year and I’ll get him to State for sure next season!

The Coach V Rap

Cross Country Season coming up…
-During track, we got word that the head coaches wouldn’t be able to coach next year. That left the head coach positions open (and the scary idea that any new person may not keep me around). However, two of my friends and fellow assistant coaches got the job. Yay!
-With the switch around, I get to stay for jumps coaching during track season and it left another spot open on the cross country coaching staff as well. I have officially accepted it and will be moving from Golden HS to Green Mountain for BOTH the cross country season and track season in 2018!
-I love this idea of being at the same school for both seasons, but it wasn’t an easy decision to make. The kids and other coaches at both schools are amazing.
-Summer running for cross country starts in June and then the season starts in August.

10Hikes.com
-I landed my FIRST freelance writing job with this company!
-I have been writing about the top 10 hikes in the Denver region and having a blast on the beautiful trails.
-I’m super excited about this and will be doing the best job I can. Follow me on Instagram for my latest hikes.

Hiking at Beaver Brook – a new Colorado fave!

Personal Running/Fitness

Running:
-Since the beginning of the year, I have been trying to get my running back up. It’s been hard, so difficult,  mostly due to motivation.
-For the first few months of the year, I was running about 2 to 3 days a week. I bumped it up and up and now I’m up to running about four days a week, on average.
-A lot of this is due to having a few goals in mind (I’ll announce soon!)
-It’s also due to finding this AWESOME app, Zombies Run! It’s a blast and I find myself thinking about when I can “play” next, i.e. run!
-I just ran the Bolder Boulder and will be doing Ragnar Trail Relay in Snowmass in a couple of weeks.

Bolder Boulder

Other Fitness:
-I started lifting again! I am training for something great and I starting lifting weights, doing plyometrics and other strength training. It’s fun, I’ve missed being a gym rat, but I’m pretty much starting over again and that is hard and disheartening.
-I do CrossFit every once in awhile (my boss at 3W Races also owns Trailhead CrossFit, so I work out there sometimes) and did the Murph workout for the first time. I have been reading (listening to book on tape actually) Lone Survivor in honor of Memorial Day and the Murph workout is in honor of Lt. Michael Murphy. It was a brutal work out and I’ve been sore for days now. Learn more about the Murph WOD here.

#60HikesDenverChallenge:
-Still going strong, although I’ve only done 14/60 hikes, I’m still trying to knock them off this year. I still have a few that I’ve finished but haven’t written about yet.

Other/Random Happenings

-I’m sure you all heard about the massive hail storm in Colorado, right? Well, I got stuck in it while driving on the highway and accumulated more than $8,000 in damage on my nice new Jeep. I miss my Jeep and can’t wait for it to be fixed and back!

Poor Ginny (yes, that’s my car’s name).

-I’ve been trying to hang out with friends as much as possible but it’s very far and few between with everything going on.

-I turned 30 somewhere back in there. I didn’t do anything too exciting, just hung out with family and a few friends. I did get a Zombie cake though and tried a zombie themed escape room! We didn’t escape but it was pretty awesome.

-I did get to have a little fun a few weekends ago for my boyfriend’s Sister’s bachelorette party! #Being30WhenEveryoneElseis25orYounger

In the limo


Now that I’m all caught up; what have you all been up to?

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Green Mountain and Hayden Trail Loop

(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 #22 – Green Mountain and Hayden Trail Loop
Completed: 4/3/17 | Mode: Running!
Location: Alameda and Union, Lakewood
Distance: 3.3 miles
Difficulty: Hard, steep climb
Surface: Hard packed dirt with a few bigger rocks in parts
Exposure: No Shade
Facilities: Port-o-potty at Alameda Trailhead, no water

View into Golden!

My Experience:
I have run on Green Mountain more times than I can count. This is the place where I had my first trail run experience many, many years ago and a place I still love to this day. This is also the place that I just about lost it when I saw some people cutting the trail. Green Mountain does get used regularly and it hurts me to see the signs of overuse or people disrespecting the “rules” of nature. In fact, I just drove by the last week and the signs  were marked RED indicating “OVERLY MUDDY CONDITIONS, use not recommended,” and yet the parking lot was still packed. Come to find later in the week, when the trails were finally dry, there was bike tire ruts baked into the trail – NOT FUN for the ankles!

I look grumpy…but I was just squinting.

Anyway, I’ve run all over this mountain, just about every trail that there is. There are all types of trails here: long easy runs, steep hill climbs, a mixture, etc. Plus, it’s close to where I work and live (I coach track right across the street), making it super convenient to get a trail run in without traveling far. About a week before I completed the exact trail from the book, I inadvertently did the trail in reverse as I just ran around aimlessly. I went back to repeat the trail from the book, just because.

Quite the challenge, going the direction the book recommends takes you up, UP and UP for a whole mile without relenting. Not going to like, it was pretty tough. I ran most of it with a little bit of walking, took in the views at the top and ran the downhill (my favorite part) back to my car.

Awesome views of Denver!

Pros:
-All types of running can be found
-Good views in the distance
-Plenty of miles of trails! The full loop is over 6 miles, but can add trails in between.
-Wildflowers for a brief season in the spring

Cons:
-Not particularly beautiful on the trails
-Some parts have really loose, smaller sized rocks, making footing super tricky
-Crowded
-Overused
-TONS of bikers!
-There can be rattlesnakes

Access Road Trail on top

Overall:
While I do really love running here and I do so multiple times a week,  I wouldn’t recommend it for out-of-towners. The trails and park itself aren’t that spectacular to look at. There are some great views of Denver and the nearby foothills, but the whole mountain is brown/yellow in color most of the year.  If you’re looking for a great trail system to get some miles on without going too far out of the city, this is the right place!

Sometimes it’s green…


Join me in my #60HikesDenverChallenge: