The 14,000 Foot Summits of 2019

Despite the late start to 14er season this year, due to the massive amounts of snow over the winter, my friends and I managed to get in just as many peaks as in other years. Dedication to the cause! Not that I ever plan to hike them all—Class 4s with full climbing gear are definitely not for me—but it simply wouldn’t be a summer in Colorado if I wasn’t on the tippy top of the state at least a few times. Here are the five I ticked off my list in 2019.

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What I Did On My End of Summer Vacation

Saturday: Spent seven hours in the car

Sunday: Went grocery shopping

Monday: Called into an all-hands at my full time job

Tuesday: Did half an hour of work for a freelance client

Wednesday: Got my oil changed

Thursday: Groomed the dog

Friday: Woke up to a 6:30 AM alarm

Saturday: Cleaned up the house

Sunday: Got stuck in a traffic jam (until I was crafty enough to find a way around it because I carry an atlas in my car since I often travel places where there is no cell service, as in this case)

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Where Have I Been?

It’s been awfully quiet here on Jen Seriously for the last two months. What gives?

The simple answer is that I’ve been trying to prioritize my time better. Without any real responsibilities or obligations outside my full time job, I have plenty of free time, but I do a lot with that time and have a lot of hobbies, interests, and personal goals. Trying to balance each of them so I feel like I’m maximizing my life, making time for what makes me happy, and working toward specific plans I have for my future isn’t easy. At the time this posts, I’ll be driving back to Boulder from a week-long trip to the mountains in southwest Colorado. It was my unofficial end-of-summer last hurrah, and now it’s time to get down to business (although I’m secretly hoping the weather cooperates for at least two more camping weekends). Continue reading →

Ghosts of Colorado Past

At the end of June, I flew my dad out from Buffalo for a little visit. The last time he was here, four years ago, I lived in downtown Denver, by Union Station, so we did a lot of city activities. This time, I’m a Boulder gal and much more outdoorsy, so the itinerary was quite different. We made a huge loop from Boulder to Glenwood Springs, down to Ouray and Durango, across to South Fork, and then back up to Boulder. We visited some natural wonders, like the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Great Sand Dunes National Park, but the main purpose of the trip was to check out old mining towns. My plans were somewhat thwarted by the massive dumps of snow Colorado had all winter, even as late as June 21, which meant some of the back country roads I wanted to take to get to the most remote places were still closed the last weekend of June. But we got to roam around plenty of places that were good fodder for the imagination. And I’m sure my dad was happy that he was saved from more jostling around in my SUV than he already got.

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Faster Every Year

After basically not running all winter, I ran three races in four weeks and hit some exciting personal bests. But doing well makes me want to do even better, so I’ve signed up for the 14 mile Devil on the Divide race on September 7. It features 3,300 ft of elevation gain with a summit at 13,200 feet. Every summer weekend I’m not hiking a 14er (which is never going to happen because they’re all still covered in snow!), I’ll be running up Flagstaff, Sunshine, Four Mile, Magnolia, and all the other Boulder roads that head straight up from the canyon floor into the foothills. But why get ahead of myself? That race is many months away, so right now I should be celebrating this year’s early wins!

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It’s Just Something In My Eye

Back on April 28th, Trotsky and I hiked up to the Eagle’s View in Reynold’s Park. When we got to the 250 degree view at the top with a sea of green trees below and unique rock formations poking through and the snow-capped Rockies way out in the distance, I must have gotten a little dirt in my eyes because they got red and watery. Okay, okay, fine. I confess. I teared up. I had waited so, so, so long for this winter to be over, to be able to linger in the sunshine at the top of a trail and not hurriedly push through, shoulders hunched against the cold. To inhale the scent of the pine needles with every step and listen to the birds singing about the arrival of spring. To find a dry spot to sit down and share a picnic with my old dog. I was unbelievably happy in that moment and got a little carried away.

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Big Birthday in Belize

For my 40th birthday, I was toying around with the idea of a long weekend with friends somewhere like Nashville, Asheville, or New Orleans. But when tickets came up to Belize for $350 round trip, well, plans changed. Melissa (who turns 40 just six weeks after me) and I snapped up that deal and started planning caving expeditions, hikes, beach time, and snorkeling. It was a magnificent trip! Everyone should go. Belize is beautiful, safe, exciting, uncrowded, and filled with some of the most genuine and friendly people in the world. Here are seven highlights from my seven days. Continue reading →

Well I Would Hike 500 Miles

My two year unofficial hiking project is complete. Yeah, I missed my mark by a few weeks (February 19, 2017 to March 9, 2019) but close enough. In just about two years, I’ve completed 100 distinct hikes. I use word “hike” loosely in this context to mean anything from a two mile stroll up a wide, well-maintained, packed dirt road at sea level with no elevation gain to a nine mile, 4,000 ft + elevation gain, nine-hour slog that sometimes required my hands to pull myself up the steepest spots. Some of these were trail runs, some were on snowshoes, and one was completely through water that was waist high at some points. What they all have in common is that they were in nature, not on any kind of pavement. Sure, I put hundreds of additional miles on my feet in this time, roaming around Zurich, Venice, Milan, Madrid, Beijing, Shanghai, Portland, Kansas City, and so many other great urban areas, and I completed countless recreational runs on pavement and duplicated many hikes, but this post only counts unique wilderness missions.  Continue reading →

The Darkest Hike

Last weekend, Trotsky and I set out to do a five mile hike. But, as it seems too often happens to me in Colorado, Apple maps failed to take me to the trailhead. When it claimed we had arrived, there was nothing there. At that point, I was out of range of any cell tower, so I decided to head to a trail that I knew was in the area and that I hadn’t hiked yet. It was a 7.6 mile loop and though it was already 3pm and sunset was at 5:21, dog and I are fast hikers. I decided to go for it. Continue reading →