For me, there is nothing better then a good backpacking trip. Being in the middle of nowhere with usually no connectivity is heaven on earth. The air is clean, I’m not on an airplane flying to work, not dealing with difficult clients or trying NOT to lose my shit because of a flight delay. My frenzied, somewhat chaotic life slows down and that’s what I need to keep my sanity.
I try to go at least once a year – two times is truly ideal. Our backpacking season is so short in Colorado, one weekend is generally the best I can do. Sometimes I’ll fly to another destination in April or October to get my fix. Just depends on all of the other adventures we have planned. I don’t know what I’ll do when my body gives out and can’t backpack anymore. Knitting is not an option. (no offense to readers who are knitters!)
One of our favorite places to backpack is in the Holy Cross Wilderness – outside of Minturn, outside of Vail, Colorado. Oh man, the scenery up there is just incredible. The wildflowers are beautiful, the hike up is manageable. We camp near an alpine lake inside a box canyon. The lake is stocked with trout, so fishing is in order! There is not one draw back to the location or the wilderness area.
Last year, the terrain was sooo dry – there was a fire on the other side of the ridge. Burning ash was blowing into our campsite – all I could think of ALL NIGHT, was that our campsite was going to catch fire. I plotted my escape and slept in my clothes in case we needed to pack up and run down the mountain. Irrational probably, but man, wildfires last year were insane.
I’d share the name of the trail, but I would have to kill you! I have been sworn to secrecy not to divulge the trail name on the blog. However, if you march down to REI and grab a topo map of the area, there is no doubt you will find the most amazing place to explore. If you are so inclined, there is a 14er in the area fittingly called Mount of the Holy Cross – it is most definitely one of my favorite 14ers in Colorado.
If anyone needs encouragement to get out and at least try backpacking, I’m your girl. It’s been a life saver for me!
So, I’ve had a Standup Paddle Board (SUP) for a few years now. Sadly, it’s been used maybe 5 times in the past 3 years? Partly because we only have one, and it’s not fun for 2 people if both don’t have a board. So, we bought a second one. I cannot WAIT to use it!! Sean finally agreed to the idea given he was able to fish off the board we currently have and really enjoyed it. We paddle on lakes and reservoirs only, not rivers unless they are lazy!
How did we choose a SUP? There are so many brands out there to choose from – many people like NRS, however, the Life Bus is a huge fan of Hala Gear. Mostly because the brand is out of Steamboat Springs which is one of our favorite places in Colorado and we like to support local, small businesses. My requirements weren’t too crazy unusual – the Hala Hoss and the new Hala Rado ticked all the boxes:
Big enough for me and a pup (turns out they are big enough for Sean, me AND a pup. The three of us paddled around Bear Lake in the Flat Tops Wilderness this summer.)
Ability to pack a tent, sleeping bag, etc. for paddling across a lake to camp (I have yet to do this BTW – but it’s still on the list of things to do).
Stability – not interested in a board that wants to tip over every time I move! Why am I fearful of falling in, it’s just water for gods sake!!
Inflatable – mostly for storage and the potential requirement to travel with it.
Now that we bought a second board, we need to figure out where we are going to paddle together! I thought I would do some research and use this forum as a way to capture ideas for us to refer back to and also share information with others.
I scoured a bunch of websites and whittled it down to the list below – it covers the entire state, btw and is not meant to be exhaustive by any stretch. The picks were based on lakes/reservoirs where there are no motorized boats allowed (or very little activity), amazing views, and good, clean water. I stuck to 10 options – anything more than that gets overwhelming to digest!
Brainard Lake (near Nederland) – We hike and snowshoe up that way, but have never thought to paddle-board up there. I am sure the views are breathtaking!! Nederland is a cool, funky town too – great pizza, BBQ and coffee shops. Also close to Boulder, which is a super cool town.
Evergreen Lake (near Evergreen) – I can confirm this is a great place to paddle-board. The town of Evergreen is close by and has a pretty cool vibe. Tons of great hiking and mountain biking in this area as well.
Monarch Lake (near Granby) – Some friends just posted facebook pics from their Sunday funday here and it is a beauty! We have backpacked up in this area and it is one of our favorite spots. There is a ton of fish in this lake so you can bring a fishing pole, go on an incredible hike and possibly see a moose or two while you are at it!
Lake Dillon (near Frisco) – This truly is a beautiful place to SUP and is in the heart of Summit County – close to Frisco, Dillon, Keystone, Breckenridge and Vail. The views of the mountains are absolutely gorgeous up there. You can paddle to different islands within the lake and picnic or take a snooze. All the neighboring towns offer so many fun activities, restaurants, bars, music, etc. One of the best parts of Summit County in my opinion.
Trout Lake (near Telluride) – I added this one because we will be in Telluride for a music festival in the fall. If it’s not too cold, I’d love to check this out. Anything in this part of Colorado is amazing! The lake is supposed to be pretty calm and good for beginners.
Gross Reservoir (near Nederland). This spot is wonderful!! There’s no swimming allowed, though, so if you go overboard, get back on the board STAT. Additionally, you’ll have some rules: stand-up paddle-boards have to be labeled with the owner’s name and basic information (address and phone) and all those out on the water must have a life jacket and a whistle or horn for safety reasons.
Twin Lakes (near Leadville) – These lakes are beautiful!! They are tucked in a scenic valley just 20 miles from Leadville. You can find some great dispersed camping in this area and hike a 14er while you are at it. If you are there at the right time, you may experience the Leadville 100 foot race! Yep, these people run 100 miles through the mountainous terrain in this region.
Lake San Cristobal (near Lake City) – I love, love, love Lake City. It reminds me of a town you might find in Alaska. Supposedly the lake is full of trout so you can fish off the board! It too, is supposed to be great for beginner paddle-boarding. There are a couple of great 14ers in the area as well! Lake City itself is simple and adorable.
Any of the Lakes and reservoirs in the East Flat Tops Wilderness (near Steamboat Springs) – We loved it up there – lots of fishing to be done at the same time, so bring a pole if you are so inclined. Hiking shoes, mountain bikes and tents need to be included in the adventure!
McIntosh Lake (near Longmont) — We checked this place out last Sunday. It’s great! Paddle boarders and kayakers only and not that many to boot. It’s supposed to be great for spotting wildlife, but honestly, I am not sure this is possible given it’s in the middle of a neighborhood.
Alright, alright, I think we are ready to get out there and explore some really good options.
It’s hiking season in Colorado! Well, mostly. We still have a ton of snow at higher elevations, so anything above tree-line right now may be wet and very muddy. In fact, on the way up to Smith Lake recently (on our list of faves), I biffed it on a mud patch – that wasn’t so much fun, but the Alpine Lake at the top was incredible. You may want to consider micro spikes, or snowshoes if you are planning to hike at high altitudes right now (and probably for the next two weeks).
Below is a list of favorite hikes through-out our fine state – compiled from my friend Debbie who is an avid hiker and a few of the Life Bus faves as well (18 years of experience!)! There are so many, but we decided to keep it at 25. BTW, these are not prioritized by our feelings – these are all adored!
Rather than describe all of them, I would look to the AllTrails app for descriptions, distances, trailhead locations, trail conditions, etc. If you find yourself in Colorado, we hope you give a few of these a go! Feel free to comment with your favorites as well – we THINK we know all of the hotspots, but I am SURE we left a few off the list!
Grey Rock (out of Ft Collins)
Devils Causeway loop (out of Steamboat)
Smith Lake (out of Steamboat)
Fish Creek Falls (out of Steamboat)
Devil’s Head Fire Tower Lookout (out of Sedalia)
Missouri/Fancy Pass Loop (out of Vail)
Booth Creek Falls (out of Vail)
Gore Creek Trail (out of Vail)
Pawnee Pass (out of Brainard area)
Copper to Frisco on the Gore Range/N Tenmile Creek Trails (out of Frisco)
Mount Sneffles (14 er out of Ouray)
Ice & Island Lakes (out of Ouray)
Blue Lake & beyond (out of Ouray)
Aspen 4 Pass Loop or any segment of the loop (out of Aspen)
So, I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Boulder, Colorado trying to focus on this blog post rather than stress about my keys lost in one of 20 shops I visited in the last two hours!! That will be a fun treasure hunt when the time comes. UGH.
Back to the point of this post…..As everyone should know by now, the Life Bus is obsessed with camper vans – retro in particular, though all vans pretty cool. I have fantasized about owning one forEVER and have spent HOURS and HOURS scouring the net looking for deals on VW Vans. Mind you, I have never rented one or know anyone who owns one. With that, what business do I have even thinking about buying one?!! I figured I needed to actually experience the retro van life before jumping into such a large investment. So, Sean and I broke down and rented a 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon (Pinky) for a week over 4th of July.
Photo: Meet Pinky 🙂
We loaded Pinky up with everything you could possibly want or need – our sweet pup Yogi, fishing poles, mountain bikes, speakers, paddle boards, puzzles, games, solar string lights, adult bevies – and food – lots of good food. I wanted this experience to feel like home on wheels, to see what it would be like to travel like this more frequently.
Photo: Poor Yogi was buried in the back – sweet pup!
We thought it was a great idea to have all of our future wants and needs at our finger tips, until we realized we could only drive 20 mph (literally) up the mountain passes on I-70 West outside of Denver, Colorado. Yep, we were one of THOSE people. We were going so slow, people were passing us on the RIGHT side – the actual shoulder of the freeway. That part was not so much fun, I thought Sean was going to have a heart attack. One can only assume he was mad at me for putting him through this – but – as sweet as he is, he never said a word and went along with my fantasy adventure. (I forgot to mention, the van broke down right out of the parking lot when we were leaving the rental office AND there was no A/C. Yep, it was starting out to be a real dreamy experience. They replaced the battery and off we went not really knowing what was going to happen next.)
Photo: Sean remaining patient on our 6 HOUR drive to the Flat Tops – love this guy!
We FINALLY made it to the East Flat Tops Wilderness (EFW) – Southwest of Steamboat Springs. The whole ride took us nearly 6 hours – any other car would have taken a little north of 4. Not only was the van a little bit of a challenge, I had no idea where we were going to land – this part of CO was untouched, at least by me and I had no idea what to expect. Sean took a huge leap of faith to trust me on this one!
Photos: Our hikes did not disappoint!
We found a great campground that didn’t take reservations – Bear Lake Campground – those always scare me a little, because you can’t tell if something is going to be open when you get there. Turns out, there aren’t many people who make their way to this part of Colorado. Probably because there is no connectivity what-so-ever and there are no stores around. You have to know what you are doing to spend more than 2 days out there. Pinky fit right in. She was small enough to fit anywhere we took her, with little or no fuss, nothing unwieldy to maneuver, not obnoxiously too big. We hung our solar string lights on her every night so she could shine when the sun went down – she was a beauty!
After a few nights in the campground and getting to know Pinky pretty well, we decided to try a different camping experience. We jumped on our bikes found the perfect dispersed camp spot over looking the valley with the winding Yampa river below. The views were outstanding, with the swirly orange/purple sunsets and stars filling every inch of the sky at night (there is a song that says stars are really angels taking their cigarette breaks at night – I love it!).
No-one was next to us, so we could play music as loud as we wanted and could dance like crazy people! We backed her up with her tail facing the valley so we could wake up every morning with the most beautiful views. We stayed in that spot for 4 days…it was magical.
The only thing un-magical about it were the dang mosquitos – good lord, there were seemingly millions of them. Luckily, I had bought some citronella candles that managed to keep them at bay. Only regret is the natural insect repellent – what a bunch of junk – no less then 50 bites on each leg and arm. I say go for the deet – what harm could it be to use it just a few times a year?? I’m at home right now swatting at my arms – PTSD from the swarms of mosquitos!
Photos: Our beautiful campsite
Even though Pinky didn’t have AC, she stayed pretty cool all day long as we kept the tent flap up and open all the time – a nice breeze was always present. We would come back from the days’ activities and she was very comfortable and inviting. The bed was easy to set up and pretty comfy – we brought some cozy blankets and sleeping bags with us, and our favorite pillows to keep our heads comfy. We spent a TON of time inside – more than you would expect – playing games, reading, napping, eating, etc. and we loved every second of it.
Photo: Nap time!
We kept most of our food and bevies cold with the solar powered fridge inside the van – but we also had our Yeti cooler – that thing is badass – kept everything fresh for at least 4 days. We met a really sweet gal who brought some ice back for us from Steamboat – she saved our bacon as the fridge in the van worked great – but wasn’t large enough to keep ALL of our stuff cold. The only challenge we had with food, was that we did not have a bear box outside the campsite, so we had to bring all of our dry food into the van at night. This is fine, but we kept losing stuff trying to keep everything organized – as stupid as that sounds – Pinky was just not that big to accommodate all of our stuff at all times!
Photo: Look at that pile of stuff to manage – too much? I think not.
After 6 wonderful nights in Pinky, we decided to head to Steamboat Springs, Colorado – about 1.5 hours from where we were in the EFW. Lunch and exploring the town was in order as it was Sean’s first time there. We spent our time laughing about all of our favorite things that happened over the past week – our nighttime music and dancing, all of our gorgeous hikes, catching trout, playing games (Sean kicked my ass at Yahtzee every time – how is that possible? Its a DICE game), paddle boarding around Bear Lake with Sean fishing off the front of the board, mountain biking at night with our headlamps on with the star-filled sky… the list goes on and on….Once we were done, we jumped back into Pinky ready to head back down to the front range for one last night with her….then it happened…
She broke down AGAIN. Sean put the key in, nothing… Mechanics came to look at her…no luck bringing her back to life. It took us several hours to sort through all the madness and find a rental car and a tow-truck to take all of us back to Denver. A few things about this – yes, it was stressful and pretty much ruined our last day with her, however, we didn’t lose her in the wilderness where we had no connectivity, we had a great day in Steamboat, and we didn’t have to drive 20 MPH uphill on I-70. The owner of the van felt so bad about it all, I’m pretty sure he started to tear up when we said our goodbyes. He loves Pinky and wanted us to love her just as much as he – we did, we fell in TOTAL love with her.
Photo: Goodbye sweet girl
In the end, I am glad we had the experience we had – it was FANTASTIC. I learned a few things in the process – vans ROCK and are a super fun way to travel. However, without knowing how to fix mechanical issues, etc., sadly, a retro van is probably not in my future – I’m glad my obsession with this idea is over! I am good with renting for a while – buying a van of any kind right now probably doesn’t make sense. Retirement is on the horizon – maybe then… Until that point in time, we will think about Pinky every day, and miss that girl – maybe we will see her again :-).
Here’s what rush hour in Evergreen, CO can look like. As is fitting, this prolific elk herd is making its way over the road towards Elk Meadow Open Space. Elk Meadow is one of several terrific open space trail systems that can be found in Evergreen, CO. Additionally, Evergreen is the town in which the mountain search and rescue team, for which Todd and I both volunteer, is located. As a result, we spend a great deal of time in this little mountain town. You’re not far from Denver but you feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the city. (The one photo I couldn’t resist because a baby in the herd stopped in the middle of traffic to nurse.)
In thinking about the Favorite Place challenge, I thought immediately about this humble little place in the Rockies. The roots that bind me to this little old miner’s cabin near Boulder, CO run very deep. My father’s family has been in the Boulder area since the 1890’s. My dad was born in Boulder, in 1933, when the hospital building was just a house. My grandparents bought this tiny cabin somewhere in the 1950’s. It’s only about 1200 square feet but it has so much character and historical charm. It’s made out of the original log and chinking dating back to the 1920’s. The cabin does have electricity, rigged by my grandfather, but is not winterized. When we were little kids we still had to use the outhouse. I remember having to run in the pitch black of night outside to use the outhouse. To a small kid, the blackness of the night made the distance to the loo feel like it was a mile from the cabin. In reality it’s about 20 yards. The porch screen door has that familiar slam I’ve heard for the forty plus years I’ve been going to this wonderful place.
Growing up, we visited our grandparents at the cabin frequently. The back bedroom was the kids room and the beds in there were jammed together so it was like one big mattress. With the cool mountain nights, we had lots of blankets piled all around us making it so cozy, it felt like camp. The primary feature of the cabin is a giant river rock hearth which roars with a huge fire and heats the place so warmly. When we were little we used to play pick-up-sticks in front of the fireplace and roast marshmallows. We still have those same pick-up-sticks and still play in front of the fire.
Our porcini crop
Columbine – the CO state flower
Historic old buildings in town
Daisy surveying her happy place
Another old cabin in town
I learned to tie my shoes here on a water tank which. As kids we would go to the creek and bring back big buckets of water from which my grandmother would then boil the water on the stove. This was very often our drinking water. My father’s relatives, would come up and we would all go on long hikes into the Indian Peaks Wilderness where we would fish and mushroom hunt. Pam, Todd, my nephew, and I all spent a recent Halloween up there in the pitch black night watching scary movies. My favorite memory, however, is when my best buddy in life, Todd, and I got married there. Sixty-ish of our best friends joined us under the pine trees for a very simple ceremony. It was the perfect spot!
The flyspeck of a village where my family cabin is, is part true ghost town, part eclectic community. There is only one stop sign in the town and 2 dirt roads. The mushroom hunting is pretty great, last summer we saw a moose every weekend we were there, and the darkness of the night and stars on display is mind-boggling.
This is the place that makes me the happiest. There isn’t any internet or TV in the cabin, only a DVD player. I love waking with the sun, going to bed when it’s dark, watching the hummingbirds at the feeder, going for hikes, hearing the roar of the creek, having the neighbor dog, Saber, come over to great us when we roll up to the property, coffee on the big back deck, and just being in the moment with nature all around. No matter where my Life Bus rolls, this is where I always want to come back to.
Somehow we were bored yesterday morning and couldn’t think of anything fun to do. So, I suggested a field trip to the Garden of the Gods, about 55 miles (ish) South of Denver in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It’s one of my favorite places to bring visitors, especially if they have kids. The red rock formations are beautiful and the kiddos can run around and climb on some of them. The mixture of the red rocks and snowy Pikes Peak is pretty spectacular. You can also bring pups on leashes too, which is always important for our household!
There are dinosaur fossils, all sorts of hiking trails to explore, and you can rent electric bikes or Segways if that is what you are in to. I am not sure if a Segway is such a great idea unless you are a pro at them. We were leaving the park and noticed a woman (in a mink coat of all things) in a ditch on the side of the road. I am not a proponent of fur coats, but I hated to see her flat on her back holding her head in agony. I can only assume she got spooked by a car and lost control.
If you are a road cyclist you can ride through the park in designated bike lanes – only recommendation there is do it in the morning when there are fewer people out and about. If you are a runner, there are some great fun runs in the summer – a 10k and a 10 miler. This park has a tendency to get really HOT in the summer, so if you happen to be in the area during that time, bring some extra water and a snack. I say snacks, because you can lose track of time and end up further away from your car than intended!
Explore Colorado Springs’ paradise in one magical stop. Garden of the Gods Park is a registered National Natural Landmark. Imagine dramatic views, 300′ towering sandstone rock formations against a backdrop of snow-capped Pikes Peak and brilliant blue skies. This world-class Visitor & Nature Center and museum is the most visited attraction in the region with all new interactive exhibits. Learn how the amazing red rocks got there with the NEW Geo-Trekker theater experience, shown every 20 minutes. Delight in one of Colorado’s most photographed views while eating in our glass-enclosed café or from our terrace overlooking Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods.
After dinking around the park we landed at the Broadmoor Hotel for a glass of vino. It turned out to be a wonderful day!!
Enjoy the Pics – click on an image for a larger view! See if you can find the climber!
So I signed up for a trail run in Salida, Colorado – a half marathon to be exact. Fellow Life Busser, Lynda, ran the marathon (she is an ANIMAL). She is training for a 100 miler this summer so this was a training run for her. I know, I cannot relate either – hope she posts about it this summer!
I thought it was a good idea at the time the fee was paid in early December…and really, it ended up being a great idea regardless of the pain and agony felt today – tomorrow will be worse – boo. The run is called “Run Through Time” and takes you up about 1,600 feet on mostly single track, dirt trails for the half marathon and about 4,200 feet for the marathon. Yep, my legs are toast today and can hardly walk, but it was a beautiful day, a beautiful course and I feel accomplished! Extra bonus: no blisters were formed and no hips were broken.
I carried a bunch of stuff with me “just in case”. I didn’t bring the poles, but that Patagonia Houdini jacket was a life saver. Super light and it kept me warm when I needed it!
Views from the trail – heavenly….
Salida is a small, artsy mountain town Southwest of Denver, Colorado – population ~5600. The starting elevation here is 7,000 feet. It’s not your typical touristy mountain town, which is why we love it so much. No glitz, no glam, just a bunch of people enjoying the outdoors!
Kayaking, Rafting, mountain biking, hiking, hot springs, skiing and fishing are the favorite things to do here. The Arkansas river flows through edge of town, which makes for some beautiful scenery.
If you are into art, there are tons of galleries or if climbing 14er’s (14,000 foot peaks) is your bag, it’s a great place to be as there are at least 6 or 7 close by.
This is a no frills city so if 5 star accommodations and restuarants are preferred, this may not be a great option for you!
Where to Stay:
Because Salida is a small, no-frills town, lodging can be a challenge. There are tons of airbnbs, but Sean and I decided to stay at a renovated 1950’s motel called the Amigo Motor Lodge. The minute I saw the photos on line and read their story, I was in love with this place. It was equally as charming in person.
I have a huge appreciation for attention to detail – everything is perfectly placed here. From the bathroom, artwork, bedding accessories, glassware, to the free coffee, yogurt and fruit in the morning, and the quotes on the marquis outside. They invested in this property and they did it right. The rooms are small as you would expect from a motel, but that didn’t bother us. Humor is a large part of their brand – which is a huge attraction!
More humor……he he
Bonus – they allow pups!
A place to chill for breakfast or any other time you’d like more space!
Nature survival instead of a bible….that’s a first!
They loaned us a 50’s cooler for some celebratory wine – another very nice touch!
Where to Eat favorites:
Our first night in town, we wandered the streets looking for carbs. We came across the town staple for Italian food – Amicas – which has been around for 10 years or so. It’s an excellent and mostly locally sourced Italian restaurant with my favorite – wood fired pizzas. Great beers on tap too. We had a simple pepperoni/mushroom thin crust pizza and a local IPA from Soulcraft brewing – delish. The only unfortunate thing was listening to the guy next to me giving advice on how to buy running shoes. It’s akin to me telling someone from Alaska, what to do there. UGH.
Breakfast x 2:
When you find a gem, sometimes you cannot stay away from it. We stumbled on a place called The Little Red Hen Bakery. Everything is made from scratch and sadly they only sell their amazing bagels on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Had I known that, I would have hoarded some for my freezer. Apparently, they sold out in 2.5 hours on Saturday morning, so I feel grateful we were able to experience the crispy on the outside, doughy on the inside bagels from heaven. They rotate the menu every day which keeps you coming back for more. The second time we were there, I picked up some cherry granola and a loaf of cinnamon bread – I didn’t need it mind you, but couldn’t help myself.
After reading this post, I am pretty sure we didn’t burn all of the calories we consumed. Looks like I will befriend the treadmill this week. Something like every day for the next year. Ha!
Hope everyone had a great weekend! We had a wonderful time in Salida!
If you are ever in the Boulder area looking for a good local hike, pick Mount Sanitas. It’s about a 3.3 mile (ish) round trip, STEEP hike that takes you ~1,000 + feet to the top. The challenging parts about this hike are the deep steps that will make your calves and hammies scream, as well as the large boulders you have to navigate!! I generally traverse the trail in a clockwise direction, mostly so I can run on the smooth trail at the end – finishing strong is always a good thing.
Once you get to the top, the views of Boulder are pretty nice – you can see forever.
Key tips: Bring water and snacks for the top, wear solid hiking shoes (as mentioned, you are scrambling over boulders and scree in some parts), and lather on the sunscreen (you are in Colorado closer to the sun). I don’t recommend hiking poles, only because of the scrambling components of the hike. They would probably get in the way and possibly create a hazard. The trail can be icy in winter so be prepared – bring Yak Traks or Micro Spikes so you don’t break a hip! People bring their dogs up there, but not sure I love this idea. I saw a woman whose pup got freaked out on the boulders and could not hike out – not quite sure how she got past that issue. Don’t worry about being alone on the trail as it is usually pretty crowded. Don’t let this bother you, there is plenty of room!
What to do after the hike?
The best part of this hike is going out for beer and tacos (or just beer or just tacos) after. Let’s face it, you earned it, so go for it. We recently found a cool, little spot called T|ACO. The food is super fresh and the beer is cold. Sunday afternoons they offer $2.50 tacos and $3.50 beers. Just awesome.
A few other favorites in town – born and bred in Colorado:
There is a new location on Pearl Street in Downtown Boulder – great vibe, great beers. They do serve food – general bar food – not much to write home about, but it’ll do. They open doors when the weather is nice . Dale’s Pale Ale is a Colorado staple!
Yes, it finally happened!! I successfully competed in my first trail triathlon. I consider it a success because I actually got up that morning and went forward with the plan. Even though everything inside of me was saying let’s just have coffee and forget about this triathlon nonsense, I actually showed up at the start line. I also consider it a success because, as my husband said, I didn’t leave any DNA or DNF on the course. (DNF meaning Did Not Finish.)
To my good fortune, I had roped fellow LIfe Buser and Alpine Rescue teammate, Lynda, into doing the race with me. If any of you have followed her posts on the Life Bus you know that Lynda is about as dedicated to self-torture as it gets and definitely not a quitter. At about 4 AM I told myself that if Lynda answered the phone on her way to the race I would have to do the race too. Of course, Lynda answered the phone. In a very cheerful voice, one that belied it was 4 AM, she said she was on her way . With that, I knew I was stuck … I would have to do the race. In all honesty, I’m so thankful Lynda did answer the phone. Participating in my first triathlon with a dear friend was a great experience.
Back in May I wrote a post about my training for the Lory State Park Xterra Triathlon. I was diligently training in the snow, freezing water, rain, etc. The race was originally scheduled for June 1st, 2013. Imagine my chagrin when, 3 days before the event, racers received an email stating that the race was rescheduled for August 10th.
Earlier in the spring, Lory State Park suffered quite a bit of damage from a wildfire. During that fire many bridges on the trails were burned. These bridges were critical to the triathlon course. Apparently, the park ran out of government funding and couldn’t rebuild the bridges before the originally scheduled race date. Racers could either get a refund or opt for the rescheduled date. I went with the latter. I thought it’s summer time, I’ll be exercising and able to keep up my training regimen. Nothing could have been further from the truth. My interest in training began to wane and I went on a 2 and a half week European vacation where it was hard to focus on training instead of eating my favorite foods such as German pretzels with butter, chocolate, croissants, cheese, schinken, German pastries, gelato, etc.
And so it was, that I found myself at the start line on the morning of August 10th with only 2 weeks of training in the last 2 months. Despite the fact that I was wearing one necklace that said carpe diem and another in the shape of a horseshoe, I was in need of some true inspiration. Lynda came through for me. While we were standing around waiting for our swim heat to go, I asked her why she participates in all of these tests of human will. Her response was what I needed to hear and the motto of a true Life Buser. She said she does these because she likes to test her fears, to push herself beyond her boundaries, and to try new things. She said you will be a different person on the other side. It was just the Life Bus motivation I needed. I was mad at myself for briefly forgetting these values.
The race was hot and hard and challenged me. There were surprises along the way. The event I feared the most, the mountain biking portion, turned out to be my best. I felt emboldened on that course and not fearful in the least. The run, which is usually my best event, spanked me. Primarily because it felt like 100 degrees outside and the first 2 miles climbed 600 feet in elevation.
I was thinking of quitting during the last mile or so because I was so hot and miserable. All I could think of was I will never do one of these again. I knew, however, I couldn’t quite. My husband would never let me live that one down. Once I was across the finish line I knew Lynda was right, I was a changed person. I stepped out of my comfort zone, faced my challenges, tried something new, and most importantly believed in myself. Carpe diem!! Will it surprise you to know I’ve already found two new Xterra triathlons that I plan on doing next summer.