First adventure of 2016: COMPLETE.

Back to life, back to reality. I always repeat that song (in my head) when I get back from a vacation. Although, I have been back for two weeks and only now am finding time to finish this post.

We got back home last week, two weeks ago. It was 1am Monday morning, bed at 2am (a shower was a must after 10 days of camping), and back to the grind at 6am.

But what a wonderful adventure we had! Here’s a quick-ish view of our vacation! I would love to go in more detail on a few of our stops in some future posts.

New Years

We weren’t planning on starting our vacation until the first of the year but we decided to take an extra day and go up to Buena Vista, CO to the Mt. Princeton Resort. My friend is in a big swing band, William and the Romantics, and they were playing that night, New Year’s Eve! It was a blast! We rang in the new year by attempting to swing dance, soaking in the hot springs and hanging out with friends. It was lovely.


Death Valley

Quickly after 2016 arrived, we headed straight to bed to get up the next morning and start the long drive to California. The plan: drive as long as we can before we needed to sleep.

We made it to Death Valley! We decided to camp there since neither of us had been before. Plus, it was free! We arrived way after sun had set and couldn’t see a thing out our car window in the dark park. We found our intended camp ground, set up the tent and went to bed. We woke up the next morning to some fantastic views!



View from the campground

View from the campground

Since we were already there, we decided to venture around the park and check it out. We visited the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Artist’s Palate, and went for a short, shake out run to Darwin Falls. We even saw some coyotes!


Mesquite flat sand dunes


Artist's Palate

Artist’s Palate



Darwin Falls

Darwin Falls

Lone Pine/Mt. Whitney

With daylight still around, we decided to set up camp at our next destination in Lone Pine. The plan: to hike the mountaineer’s route of Mt. Whitney the next day.

After eating a fulfilling dinner (spaghetti before a big day, duh!), we went to bed to wake up at 2am to start the long hike.

We didn’t summit the 14er (the tallest one in the lower 58 states), but we got in a great hike and my first attempt at mountaineering. The route/hike was a little harder than I had anticipated (I’m sure Ben could have blazed up and down the thing, twice) and I was already feeling worn out with 2/3 of the hike left. Plus this my first time doing anything like this, wearing mountaineer’s boots and crampons. We turned around at the three-mile mark, Boy Scout Lake, which already had an elevation gain of 2,000 feet! I learned a lot and want to go back and try again…maybe during the summer months!


Sleep was nice that night but it was another cold night in Lone Pine. They next day we checked out the Alabama Hills, where a ton of movies and commercials were filmed. We learned all about it with a stop at the Film History Museum of Lone Pine. A ton of Westerns, Ganga Din, parts of Django Unchained, a scene from Iron Man, Tremors, parts of Star Wars, and a TON more were all film here!

the Alabama hills..interesting rocks!

The Alabama hills..interesting rocks!

San Diego and the Zoo

After the museum…we got right back in the car and navigated our way to San Diego! Oh the traffic – oh the horrors! Both my boyfriend and I can’t stand traffic and boy was there a lot in that part of the world! But we made it to our campground, the San Diego Metro KOA, took advantage of the shower situation (there was one!), cooked dinner and decided to try a local brewery, Iron First Brewing!

That’s when the rain started….for the next three days.

The following morning, we packed up our tent and straight to the zoo!!! I have always wanted to visit the San Diego Zoo! I heard it’s one of the best, plus they have PANDAS! We spent most of the day wandering the huge zoo, in the rain, and tried to see every animal they had. The rain was sorta BEAR-able (pun intended) for most of the morning into the afternoon, but later it started pouring on us. We stuck it out, determined to make the most of the situation and see the zoo since we’re only there once!

Baby Bonobo!

Baby Bonobo!


It's a PANDA!

It’s a PANDA!


Bucket list item checked off!

Bucket list item checked off!

Joshua Tree

After drying off in the car, we made the trek to Joshua Tree National Park. We had a nail-biting drive over some mountain pass where the intense, once-a-year, rain washed microwave sized rocks into the road. On the end of our nerves, we set up camp in the short break between rain storms, cooked some quick dinner and fast to sleep.

The plan was to climb in Joshua Tree…while we did eventually accomplish this, there were a few struggles, both personal and environmental.


Obstacle #1 while climbing Joshua Tree: Cold Weather. What I learned from our vacation is that I don’t like climbing in the cold. It hurts! With the morning free of rain, we attempted to find some climbing, but rain free does not equal cold free. I am now on a mission to make the best climbing glove.

Cholla cactus

Cholla cactus

Obstacle #2: Cracks: Oh geez. To my non-climber friends, it isn’t what it sounds like. If you are a climber you’ll understand: Crack climbing is HARD! At least I think so. I have not really done any of this, so this was a first attempt. It feels like you’re going to break your feet, hands and arms. If you are not a climber, picture this: You wedge your toes and hands in a crack between two rocks and pull, repeatedly, to get to the top. It was very uncomfortable. I was told I would learn to like it. We’ll see…


Obstacle #3: (Me) Being a scaredy cat! As told to me by the Boyfriend: “Joshua Tree is a very old school type of climbing.” That being said, a lot of the routes felt way harder than they were rated and even getting down from a climb was an obstacle. One down climb in particular left me in tears.


Triumph #1: On our last day in Joshua Tree, the sun finally came out. We got a few routes in. My ever so wonderful boyfriend sacrificed climbing a lot harder routes to put up a top rope for me so I could (painstakingly) practice. I also discovered that I kinda like slab climbing (where you use less upper body and more leg/feet placement and core). I practiced a little bit more of this crack climbing stuff and still am undecided on if I “like” it.


The Hoover Dam and Lake Mead

Sadly, we packed up camp at Joshua Tree. I actually did really liked it there. I would love to go back (with more crack climbing practice under my belt) and give it another go, but it was time to make the journey back toward Colorado. The plan to was to see the Hoover Dam on Saturday and wake up Sunday morning and make the 12 mile drive back.




However, as shown before, the only sure thing about a plan is it will change. We arrived at the Hoover Dam in the afternoon, thinking we could just get right in and take a tour. No, that is not the case. The full tour does, indeed, sell out (much to my dismay after searching the website intensively). Having our hearts set on the full tour, we decided to walk around the top of the dam, take pictures and come back the next morning to be the FIRST people in line to get on the FIRST tour.


We camped nearby at Lake Mead National Recreation Center which was definitely beautiful despite being noisy (the National Recreation center campground was full of RV’s that liked to run their generators at night).

Lake Mead

Lake Mead

The next morning, with a belly full of pancakes, we packed up the tent, one last time, and arrived at the Hoover Dam, again. We did get on the very FIRST tour and we VERY impressed and glad we decided to come back. After getting our fill of the Hoover Dam, we hopped back in the car and proceeded to spend the next 21 hours driving.

Picture from INSIDE the Dam!

Picture from INSIDE the Dam!


That brings us full circle, arriving back home Monday, 2am.



14,000 Feet Up Gray’s Peak

DSCN3753A couple weekends ago, I was invited to join a friend of mine’s gym group on a 14er hike. I hadn’t had a chance to get up to the top of a 14er yet this summer, so of course I wanted to go!

This makes the 3rd 14er I have hiked. Which is still crazy to me considering I grew up in Colorado and never hiked a 14er until last year!

(For those of you who might not know the lingo…14er = a mountain that is above 14,000. I’m not trying to sound condicending, so I hope it doesn’t come off that way. In Colorado, there’s 53 14ers, and a lot of people strive to climb all of them. Some are more difficult than others, and some are on private property, making it a little more tricky to tackle all of them)

Waking up super early in the morning, I made my way down to the group meeting point, their Cross Fit gym called Bodywerx. My friend from personal training school used to workout there and once she graduated got a job there!

We all car pooled into the mountains for the two hour or so drive. Actually, the drive took way longer than expected. Due to construction and the gradual increase in people wanting to go to the mountains over the years, this drive was double what it would have been when I was a kid. Seriously!

If you are interested in hiking Grays Peak, you exit 221 off of I-70 towards Bakerville. Take a left once you exit and go straight for the dirt road into the woods. The road is rough one; we were in my friend’s SUV, and it was super bumpy. I’m not sure if my Mazda 3 would make it or not. Although, I did see a lot of low, compact type of cars in the parking lot, so I’m sure it’s possible. Just be careful!

For this particular 14er, there is minimal parking. Once the small lot fills up, you start parking along side that crazy dirt road. Get there early or you’ll have a hike before the actual hike. Luckily we didn’t have to park too far back and were maybe a quarter of a mile from the trail head.

DSCN3722There was about 12 of us in our group and we all kinda sectioned off depending on how fast we were hiking. With four miles to the top, we trudged our way along.

The hike wasn’t too bad, I personally think this was easier than my first 14er, Mt. Bierstandt, even though most people say the opposite.

With a total of 3,000 feet elevation gain over the four miles, it wasn’t too steep until the last mile; and the last half mile being a series of switch backs until the top. Once I hit that last half mile, I knew that I needed to just keep trudging. I opted to hike ahead of my group a bit because stopping and going as much as they did made it a lot harder for me, personally. They didn’t mind, I swear.

I finally reached the top, and was presented with this view:


Fantastic, eh!? No matter how rough the hike, the view at the top is well worth it.

Many of you familiar with this 14er might know that it is super easy to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. Torrey’s Peak is right next to Grays, and it’s an easy jaunt to get over to the other. It might add maybe an hour to your overall day on the mountains and you get to knock off two 14ers! However, when all of our group got to the top, we were greeted with rain clouds and I was chilled to the bone. With the risk of lightning in the air and the some members of our group experiencing some aches and pains, we opted to just head back to the start and skip climbing the other peak.

DSCN3743I was kinda disappointed at first, but I realized it was probably the better decision.

We all started down and actually got snowed on for a couple of minutes! Can you believe that!? In August!

Once the trail leveled out and was less rocky, I broke into my favorite thing: trail running, and raced down the mountain.

I could hear people talking as I passed by, shocked that I was actually running down the mountain; although a couple times I answered back and said that I did not run up the mountain, just down. I did see some guys running UP throughout the day; not sure if they made it all the way to the top in that run.

Gray's Peak 005When I got to the bottom, I stretched out while I was waiting for the rest of my group. An older man came up to talk to me and asked me what I was doing. I had seen him off and on throughout the entire hike, and every time I passed him he was telling a crazy story about his life. At one point he asked our group if we knew where the flag on his hat was from. It turned out he was from Norway and he was with an exchange student from China who was climbing his first 14er that day.

The gentleman, who’s name I can’t remember anymore, asked me how I knew all the stretches I was doing. “I’m a personal traininer,” I said. Then, the nice man started “advertising” for me telling others finishing the hike that I was a trainer as well as the other members of his hiking group.

He said that he was climbing his 200th 14er, obviously having gone up and down all the 14ers of Colorado (and maybe elsewhere in the world) 200 times! Can you believe that!? He also told me he was almost 70 and that he jogged every day to stay in shape.

Also, one of the ladys hiking in our group had completed all the Colorado 14ers herself, and some of them more than once. Both of those people really made me want to strive for all 53 Colorado 14ers. Both of these people are super inspiring!

Gray's Peak

Conquering the Manitou Incline

If you’ve learned anything about me from my posts, you might noticed I like to do things, just to try it, at least once, for the challenge. The Manitou Incline is no different. Except, I may do it again and again and again…

The Manitou Incline, a scar on the side of the mountain. Seen as we drive to get started!!!

The Manitou Incline, a scar on the side of the mountain. Seen as we drive to get started!!!

First, let me explain what this Manitou Incline is….

The old, working, Manitou Incline Cog. Photo found on:

The old, working, Manitou Incline Cog. Photo found on:

The Incline was originally a one mile cog railway tram that was build in 1907 to get workers up the “hill” to build a hydroelectric plant. The plant was never build and a guy named Dr. Brumbach turned the tram into a tourist attraction to bring visitors up to see the views and hike in Mt. Manitou Park.

The railway tourist attraction was rebought by a man name Spencer Penrose in 1923 seeking to increase traffic, he upgraded the cars.

It was very popular and constant upgrades were made over the years to both the top and the base to attract new and willing to pay customers.

The incline and it’s attractions finally closed in 1990 due to a rock slide. They decided to discontinue any repairs to focus on the development of the Cog Railway which takes people up to the top of Pikes Peak, a notable mountain above 14,000 feet. As a kid, I have taken the Cog Railway to the top with my Mom. It was really fun and has great views along the steep train ride and at the top.

Since the closure of the Manitou Incline, the short, steep and challenging route brings runners, hikers and joggers from around the state. It used to be private property and technically illegal to hike, but people did it anyway.

Actually, February of this year made it officially LEGAL to hike. I have no idea what the battle was to make it legal, but I’m guessing the owner of the land was reluctant to give up his property.

Now that you’ve had your history lesson…

At the bottom looking up!

At the bottom looking up!

The Manitou Incline now is a trail/challenge that attracts many people. Here in Colorado, it’s well known and talked about. When you complete it, others will congratulate you and ask what your time was.

Being nestled just next to Colorado Springs (and thus near the Olympic Training Center) it has offered many olympic athletes an intense addition to their training; taking them less than 30 minutes to reach the top. Even soldiers from the local military bases (Fort Carson the Army base and the Air Force base are both in Colorado Springs) will use the incline to build endurance and train throughout the year. I know for fact that a few guys in my boyfriend’s unit go up it at least once a week.

As nature’s stairclimber, the trail is a made out of the old railway wooden ties that once held up the tracks for the cog rail cars. In less than a mile, you will climb 2,000 feet!

At it’s steepest point, the trail is at a 50% incline. Standing at the bottom, it’s quite overwhelming, and for any future attempt-ers, beware, you are looking at a false summit. Beyond what you can see, there is still 200 feet left of the trail.

Once at the top, you can see spectacular views of city below and look down on the trail that you just accomplished. There is no way that you wont feel powerful standing at the top.

At this point, you can continue on a little bit along the extended route. This will take you a little bit higher (at less of an incline) and meet up with the Barr trail which will give you access to the base again or for those crazy enough, lead you to the trail up to the top of Pike’s Peak. This way (without climbing the 14er) is 4.5 miles.

The three different "routes"

The three different “routes”

Half way...and Joe's finger

Half way…and Joe’s finger

The normal route has you just drop right off onto the Barr Trail. If you take this route your total travel is 3.7 miles. This is what most people do as well as ourselves. I climbed the manitou incline with the boyfriend. After reaching the top, we went off to the south to hop on the Barr Trail. It is quite steep at the beginning, going down, and I advise those who do this to be careful because I did indeed fall on the slippery, sandy trail.

I got up, brushed myself off (with only minor scrapes) and we continued on down. The path doesn’t stay so steep, and leads into a gradual decline…Perfect for trail running! Joe and I elected to amp it up and run the rest of the way back, enjoying the freedom of the decline and the fun of a trail run; one of my favorite things to do. We jumped over rocks, branches and the natural curves of the trail until we reached the parking lot.

There’s a third route as well: The Bailout. It’s only a half mile up the incline but still covers an elevation gain of 1000 feet. The Barr trail comes right up to the stairs as an easy escape for those not tough enough to make it to the top.

Finished time, looking at what we climbed up.

Finished time, looking at what we climbed up.

I do highly recommend coming down by way of the Barr Trail. I would not attempt to hike DOWN the incline. It is a very steep trail, as you can see, and it would be really dangerous to hike down it. Signs posted around advise the same thing.

It took us about an hour to get to the top and 30 minutes to run to the bottom (including the time it took to recover from my fall). It was a very challenging hike! But I highly recommend to the hiking enthusiast, the challenge seeker and the every day runner as an addition to their weekly workouts.

Below the Incline is the actual city of Manitou Springs. I love this place! On a separate day, Joe and I had spent the the day exploring the area. It’s a super cute town with lots of shops from the local homemade candy store (with freshly made fudge…that I ate…a lot of) to local artists selling their work. There’s plenty of delicious restaurants to choose from and even an haunted building or two!

One of my favorite parts of this town is the Penny Arcade. Featuring a ton of modern arcade games for the children, penny arcadenestled in between the guitar heros and skee ball, you’ll find old, antique penny arcade games that still work. There’s the old, creepy fortune tellers (like in the movie Big) and old shooter games where you have to move the entire game up and down to aim. There’s also the old “peeping tom” that costs one penny and you “get” to a flip card series of scantily clad women. Weird, huh?

My favorite was the old games like, “What’s your future career” or “what’s your love sytle.” By the way, my career is Hot Air Artist. If anyone knows that that entails, please let me know so I can get started right away.

The city now recovers from recent floods and the penny arcade took lot of damage. We visited a little over a month ago (as tourists) and two weeks ago (hikers) and the city was flooded from rain storms last week. I just hope there’s not too much damage. This is a great place to spend a weekend or even just a day!



Additional Info:

An ESPN article about the Olympic athletes using the incline from 2012

The Manitou Incline Website – includes the history of it, photos, and trail information.

Long’s Peak – This is the hike that never ends….

This is long overdue…I hiked Long’s Peak about a month ago…but here’s my Post Hike Recap!!

Not gonna lie, I most likely will never ever, ever, EVER, hike Long’s Peak ever again. Maybe.

I would consider myself an athletic person; I feel like I am strong and fit and in shape…but man did Long’s Peak kick my ass!! This 14er is not for the weak at heart, mind, or body. It is actually one of the harder one’s to do in Colorado. According to the website, users have ranked it as the 14th hardest (of about 52, I think there is), and one of the harder ones of the class 3’s. It’s the 15th tallest 14er in the state, and is the farthest north; which is why me and my friend picked it because it was closest to both of us.

The View of Long’s Peak from Longmont

I conquered this mountain with my good friend David from Fort Collins. We go way back to the days of me being a lifeguard (oh god, I’m getting old – that was a long time ago!)! This was my second 14er and his 1st!! It was a pretty exciting day.

Since Long’s Peak is near Longmont, CO, we met in the middle at my Mom’s house and carpooled to the mountains. Sunday night, we followed the dark, winding roads, driving WAY under the speed limit, looking for the turnoff. The directions online falsely said it was only 9 miles down the road, but it was really triple that. We did end up finding where we needed to be, and parked to figure out what our next steps would entail.  While stretching out of the car, we ran into some hiker’s coming DOWN the mountain. Keep in mind, this is sunday NIGHT. We got up there around 10pm and these people had just finished the hike! They warned us not to start too late (we definitely weren’t planning on it) and to bring less food, more water. Exhuasted, they piled into their car and we went to find the campground.

We threw our sleeping bags on the ground, no tent needed! It wasn’t that cold, and we were only going to be sleeping for a few hours. I’ve actually never just slept under the stars like that. It was quite relaxing.

When my alarm went off at 2 am. I didn’t want to crawl out of my warm sleeping bag at all!!! The chilly night air sent me searching for more layers. We loaded up our minimal “camping” gear, placed our head lamps on our heads, and took off for the tail head. If it were’t for having seen people walk to the trail head at the same time, I would have barely found it, never having been there before and not getting to see it during the day.

Then…we were off….. and 12 hours later, we would be back. This first 3 hours or so we so NAUSEATING!!! Same problem I had with running in the Wild West Relay with my head lamp. It really disorients me…does this happen to anyone else?? My hiking buddy didn’t seem bothered by it at all, nor did the other handful of people we passed. But man, hiking with the head lamp really messes with my head and I had to sit down, eyes closed, and regain my balance every once in a while. I did not like it one bit.

The whole time hiking in the dark was on a dirt/rocky trail up to the boulder fields. Beings super sleepy, we talked and hiked – well I talked, but this is what I do; I talk a lot, usually about zombies. Finally, the sun began to rise and I could take the head lamp off my head!!! The start of the boulder fields is about the half way mark (milage wise – not effort or time wise) and where you can set up tents for the night if you prefer. As we approached the tents, we smelled coffee and eggs – certainly jealous that these people got to sleep in a little.

Once past the campground, the scramble starts and doesn’t end until you reach the top pretty much. This is why I call Long’s Peak a climb..not a hike. This is the boulder field. It’s not the hard, per say, it’s just tedious having to go up and over and down and across a whole bunch of big boulders. There’s not  a “trail” to follow, and really you can make your own way through it, but we looked for the cairns people built and hoped that this was the least difficult path to take.

The endless boulder field

At this point, you can see the Keyhole. This is what you’re aiming for. As you get closer, the rocks start getting steeper and you have to start using your hands.

long's peak, colorado

The keyhole

There’s a little lighting shelter built right before the keyhole in memory of two people that lost their lives on the mountain. We rested here, because we knew the next part of the climb was going to be difficult.

long's peak, colorado

The view from the lightning shelter

As you pass through the keyhole, you no longer have a trial or cairns to follow. Now you scramble and climb over the rocks as your look for bulls eye marks. Actually, at this point, there’s only a mile left…but that doesn’t mean much to this mountain. You head toward the left, into the Trough. If climbing over all these rocks wasn’t enough, the path leads you down  a slope for 50 feet only to lead your right back up. The remaining part of the trough is 100 feet of steep, slippery, loose rocks to navigate through. Even though there are bulls eyes to guide you up, they aren’t always on the path your take. Its up to you to choose where to put your feet.

longs peak colorado

climbing through the Trough

At the top of the trough it a huge rock only manageable by an attached rope – which you’re using after climbing nearly 600 feet. I’m lead to believe that this rope isn’t always there and there are times people have to figure out a way up and over without it. I’m glad it was there this time to say the least. At this point, your legs are super sore, but as you look around the corner, there’s still more to go.

long's peak, colorado 2

David Climbing Up The Trough

This is where you enter the narrows. While you’re not actually climbing over much, except off and on, it’s actually pretty flat for a bit….excpet the part on your right that drops straight down; hence the name. I wouldn’t consider myself afraid of heights by any means –  it doesn’t deter me from doing things – but this was definitely nerve racking. My heart was beating hard in my chest from fear, not from exertion. Needless too say, this is where the “not for the faint of heart” comes into play. Or the clumsy. I definitely wouldn’t want to do this while it is raining…which you shouldn’t anyway.

long's peak, colorado

The narrows

You come around the corner from the Narrows and see the last bit of your climb: The homestretch, named rightfully so. You’re still following the same bullseye markers, while looking for good footholds and handholds to get up, aiming for the thin crack in the rock to stick your feet in. This section I completed with my hands holding on the whole time. It is a class 3 climb, and I’m glad I’ve been leaning how to rock climb, because these skills came in handy here especially, but I used them throughout the entire climb.

long's peak, colorado

The Homestretch. Yes, it was steep, but to be honest, this pic makes it look worse than it was

Pausing every once in while to make sure my friend was ok and then turning back to look straight up the rock wall to the top, I kept trudging on.  Sometimes, once you’re going, you just gotta keep going; if you stop, it’s all the harder to get started again. Just like running.

long's peak, colorado


FINALLY! We made it to the flat top! Exhausted, we took pictures from the highest point and looked around. It was a very ugly/hazy day from the fires burning in the north west of the country, so pictures aren’t very good or prett. Being myself, I was hoping around exploring when I clumsily trip over a rock and fell. Fell hard. I hit my leg pretty good – it is was bruised with a bump for about two weeks – not kidding. I also caught myself with my hands and scrapped up my palms pretty good. My wrist was super sore on the way down, hindering my ability to lower myself down the steep rocks. *slaps forehead*

long's peak, colorado

Needless to say, at that point I was ready to go home….but that wouldn’t happen for another 6 hours. We headed down the mountain the same way we came up…and no it was not easier; if anything it was just as hard or harder. Going down is dangerous, especially the Homestretch in reverse where you would have found me literally just sliding on my butt down the rocks. The narrows were still just as skinny, and the trough was a nightmare to go down. Careful feet placement is required and lowering your body down the mountain requires a whole different set of tired muscles.

View from the top

To keep our minds off the decent, we chatted with a couple teenagers from Texas who seem well traveled and mature for their age. I’m pretty sure I had better conversation with those kids than I have with some people my own age!

top of longs peak

The flat top

3 hours later, we were back at the boulder field; and I don’t know about my friend, but I was super frustrated and just wanted to get off the mountain. I was starting to get literally annoyed with the rocks. I was tired and grumpy and probably had a small case of altitude sickness. We stopped at the campsite to rest and use the most disgusting bathroom in the world. No joke. Built like weird alien spaceship docks, these were the most horrendous bathrooms I have ever seen – and I’ve peed in China, where there’s literally nothing but a hole in the ground.

long's peak

Going Down!!!

After finishing a sandwich, we started our way down the rest of the trail. At least now, there was a marked trail…not that it made it any easier. We felt every twig, rock and grain of sand as we stepped down the trail. Literally, I will never look at rocks the same way again. Being extremely exhausting having hiked on less than 3 hours of sleep, I was finding myself literally mad at the mountain. It’s hard to explain, but I was literally PISSED at the trail. Lol!!! If a step was really far down, I found myself cursing the ground – seriously mad at mother nature! Now that I think back on it, it’s totally hilarious, but I was infuriated at the natural world, something that I clearly couldn’t control.

This time, we hiked in silence – each of us dealing with different issues against the peak. David’s knees were hurting him pretty badly, especially with each “stair” step that we had to lower down. I was dealing with extremely swollen hands. I couldn’t even ball them into fists they were so swollen – which led to redness and pain! Oh the pain! I’m not sure if it had something to do with my fall or just the altitude in general (or maybe both) but I’ve never experienced anything like that.

At one point we were passed by two park rangers, joyfully bounding down the trail. They greeted us and asked us how we were doing. I mumbled some sort of reply about being exhausted and they asked where we came from. In unison, we replied: “the top” in grumpy voices. Since the rangers didn’t respond, I asked them where they had hiked to, seeing as we didn’t see them anywhere along the trail on the way up or down from the top. In a completely normal, almost happy, cocky voice, one replied, “oh we went to the top too” and they took off down the trail.

I was so annoyed at those park rangers!!! Lol!! We kept trudging down the trail, trying to enjoy the scenery since we didn’t get to see any of it on the way up, as we were hiking in the dark. At one point we came across a bridge with a beautiful waterfall!


The waterfall! And gross me after 12 hours of hiking….

As we neared the end, we looked for trail markers that indicated milage up the mountain, helping us figure out how much longer we had….at one point, we found a sign that told us we still had another mile and a half…crushing both of our spirits because we thought we were so much closer.

The trees began to thin, and we saw mirages of the parking lot. At one point, I thought I saw the red of a car peaking through the forest…. then sure enough, we were there!! We made it! We stumbled out of the forest, into the small crowd of park rangers who exclaimed “Man you guys looks tired! Went to the top, huh? Well congrats!”

Overall, I’m totally glad I did it, however, I wont do it again. (Maybe). It was long and tiring. I was talking to a friend on Facebook about his second trip to Long’s and he was talking bout RUNNING up/down. I told him he was crazy.

Having finished the trail and having a month to contemplate, if I were to ever attempt it again, I was change a few things up. Things I would do different: 1) I packed the wrong things. I would pack less food. I had plenty of water, but I didn’t eat NEARLY as much as I thought I would.  2) Gloves. I did fine, but it would have been much more convenient to have gloves for warmth, so I don’t have to shove my hands in my sweatshirt and they would be good for protection on the rocks. 3) I highly suggest climbing up one day, to the campground and setting up tents, sleeping and then hiking in the morning. On the way down you could either pack up and just finish or sleep another night and pack up in the morning.

Definitely an experience to say the least. Has anyone else done Long’s Peak???