What to Pack for a Hike

My new hiking pack, something I’ve desperately needed if I’m going to do the #52hikechallenge, arrived this week! I’ve been so excited about it that I’ve spent far too many hours gathering and packing and repacking it with all my gear. Then I realized this is information worth sharing, so here we go with what to pack for a hike!

First, let me give a shout out to a very important list you should refer to if you’re planning your own forays into the backcountry. The National Parks Service has posted this 10 Essentials to pack when you #optoutside.  I don’t quite have everything on this list, but I’m working on it and plan my hikes accordingly.

The spread. It’s very purple-y.

Here’s what I never leave home without:

  • Day Hike Pack – This pack from Camel has a space for a water bladder, has an internal frame, and is intended for day hikes. It’s a bright color (I love any shade of purple) so I can’t mistaken for an animal.
  • Water – In addition to my water bladder, I carry two, 32 oz bottles of water, too. Tip, if you store them upside down, they won’t freeze at the mouthpiece. 
  • Map & Compass – It’s important to know how to use them, too. Many local wilderness rescue groups offer classes on this topic, often for free. Always remember to tell someone where you’re hiking, how far, and when you expect to be back. Check in with that person when you get home.
  • Extra Clothes – Because I’m prone to blisters, I bring a pair of toe socks, as well as an extra pair of dry wool hiking socks. I also pack a down vest, an extra thermal beanie, extra thermal gloves, and a Buff.
  • Survival Gear – A lighter or matches, a headlamp, a basic first aid kit, a knife, some handwarmers, and an emergency whistle are what I keep in my pack at all times. On day trips I keep my survival gear to a minimum because I’m careful to follow the trail and be super aware of my surroundings and map.
  • Personal Gear – Sunscreen, Lip Balm, my asthma inhaler, my TomTom GPS watch, and sport sunglasses are all essential for a comfy hike at high altitude.
  • Snacks – The most important things! I’ve always got a nut based snack and an apple at minimum.
  • Fun Stuff  – A small notebook which is my Trail Journal, a pen, a selfie stick, and my #womenwhohike patch.

I hope that helps you decide what to pack for your hikes!

What gear is essential for you when you #optoutside? 

2019 Goals – 52 Hike Challenge

A few weeks ago, my sister texted me a link to the 52 Hike Challenge and asked if I wanted in. Being one to take on huge challenges without much forethought, my first instinct was to immediately reply with a HECK YEAH! For once, I paused and realized this sounds like a hike a week thing, which, if we’re honest, can be hard to accommodate schedule wise. Intrigued nevertheless, I clicked on the link to learn more.

The 52 Hike Challenge is what I suspected, it’s a yearlong challenge to hike 52 times with intention to connect with our environment, and others who share a passion for outdoor sports. This spoke to me because I want to transition from running to hiking in 2019. Running has become monotonous for me, and frankly, I’m horrible at training diligently. Because I’m fortunate to live where I do, there are tons of hiking trails literally at the end of my residential road, and I need/want/should take advantage of them.

All of these trails are an 8 minute drive from my house. I literally have zero excuses.

My biggest question was what do they consider a “hike”? I was happy to learn their definition is lax. To count toward the Challenge, a hike must be at least a mile, and can be done in any setting from urban bike paths and parks to snowshoe hikes and full on mountaineering expeditions. There are three different levels of Challenge depending on fitness level and if you’ve participated in the Challenge before. The tracking is done on an honors system using social media posts and hashtags, and there are different levels of swag you win based on registration level.

I want to see views like this in 2019!

You don’t have to pay to register, but there are three levels of paid participation that get you additional stuff. The “Starter Package” for $11.95 gets you a 52 Hike Challenge Patch, and 4 stickers, as well as access to the resources on their website such as tips finding trails, and the Challenge Guide. The “Standard Package” at 52.00 gets you all their resources plus a Finisher Medal, and the “Ultimate Package” gets you all that plus discounts from their sponsors: REI, Mountain House, Sawyer, and Arc’Teryx.

After mulling it over, I texted my sister back and said I’m in! I’m excited to connect with this community to help me stay motivated to get outside. I’m determined to see more of my beautiful state of Colorado this year, and to strengthen my bond with my sister. All around, this is going to be a win/win for 2019!

Take Me Back to Colorado

Disclaimer: I received a New Original BUFF®️ to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I realize while I wrote a race recap for Vacation Races 5k, I never wrote about the second half of the Elk Double, the half marathon.

It was absolutely incredible; in fact, the whole weeks vacation was one that I’ll carry with me always. Being able to run and spend road time with Jenn is something that I always enjoy.

Jenn wrote about the details of the 2017 race. Words can’t express just how glad I am that I got to experience her hometown race with her and just spend time with her and her family. It’s hard to have friends that you don’t get to see all the time but it makes the time you DO get to be together that much more special.

Instead of focusing on the details of the race, I would like to narrow in on one of the things I appreciate the most about Vacation Races.

They are very tuned in to the “Leave No Trace” mindset. Their races are cup-free, which means that they have hydro-pouches available with registration or you can bring your own hydration pack (as seen above).

After running a few other races recently where I’ve had to wade through smashed paper cups on the ground (oh, the woes of being a back of the pack runner), it really stands out to me just how much of a difference using a hydro-pouch or carrying a pack can make.

I’ve been trying to be mindful about my global footprint and the small chances I can make that may make a lasting impact and trying hard to implement them whenever possible.

I am by no means perfect and there are some things that are so convenient to do (paper plates, plastics, etc.) but I want the beauty of our earth to last a long, long time. This isn’t a new concept or even a unique one, but I do want to create less waste and reuse when possible.

Which leads me to the New Original BUFF®️ I’m testing through BibRave. BUFF®️ is a huge part of all my runs, whether using it to wipe sweat away, keep my neck warm, my hair back, the list goes on.

I’m particularly stoked because the new BUFF®️‘s microfiber is made from 2 recycled water bottles that have been removed from oceans and landfills. A little less plastic floating around out there in the world works for me!

As is always the case, there are a ton of designs to choose from. However, I’d just gotten home from my Colorado trip and realized that I didn’t get anything souvenir related for myself. Problem solved!

I’ve used my New Original BUFF®️ on a few training runs during some absolutely hot and humid days and most recently at the Bird-in-Hand half marathon last weekend. With a UPF 50 I’m protected by the sun during those sunny runs.

Bird-in-Hand was anything but sunny however, there was still a bunch of sweat. What can I say, I’m a sweater!

With my previous half marathon being in the mountains of Colorado and this one in the hills of Pennsylvania, it was a nice way to transition from point A to point B. Good memories were made at both with my rock star friends and right now I’m just enjoying life and feeling fortunate that I’m able to have all these incredible experiences.

What small (or large) things are you doing to help the environment? 

How To Not Die In The Mountains

One of my goals this year is to do more adventure sports. Adventure sports are activities I used to refer to as “outdoors-y”, but “adventure sports” sounds so much cooler. Everyone where I live is “outdoors-y” so I was surprised to learn that isn’t what it’s really called. That’s one of many things I learned at some recent classes I took through REI and Alpine Rescue Team, classes I highly recommend!

The Maroon Bells

First, I took a “Cross Country Skiing Basics” class at my local REI store in Boulder. It was free, so I was a little concerned it was actually a giant sales pitch in disguise, but it wasn’t at all! What was great about this class was I learned what type of skis I would need for the area around my new neighborhood. I also learned what type of clothing I’d need and how to properly layer everything. Technically, I will be “backcountry skiing” which sounds a bit scary to me. This is where I should divulge that I’m a Colorado native who’s skied twice in her life, and neither of those times were in the last twenty five years. Come to think of it, that might be how I die in the mountains.

This will absolutely be me.

Next, I took a “Women’s Snowshoeing Basics” class, again through my local REI store. They offer lots of classes on various topics, so check your local store’s calendar. Like the XC skiing class, this one also taught me what types of snowshoes go with what type of terrain, as well as what type of clothing was best depending on the weather conditions at the trail head and at the higher elevations. The weather can be very different at each location and change quickly when you’re high in the mountains. Layering is the key to regulating body temps and avoiding hypothermia, and so is blocking wind and moisture. Luckily, the instructor said that if you can walk, you can snowshoe, so guess which adventure sport I’ll be taking up first?

Coco hates the cold. Lily just loves the sled. #seniordogs

The last class I took was a “Map and Compass” class, and it was the one I was most excited for. It was hosted by Alpine Rescue and it taught how to navigate by, you guessed it, map and compass! They also taught us how to triangulate your location using nearby landmarks. My sister, Carla, who is my frequent hiking partner, came with me. Not only is this a great skill to have since we spend so much time hiking, but we are planning our June trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone and plan to do at least four hikes in those unfamiliar Parks. We don’t plan to stray from the trails, but safety first, yo! This skill does require some practice so she and I will be “hitting the maps” soon. What’s awesome is Alpine Rescue is an all volunteer organization and they will come save you on the mountain 24/7, 365. If there is a similar organization in your area, consider making a donation to support their efforts.

Shots I snapped driving to the map & compass class. Elk!

These classes were fun and informative, and they gave me so much more confidence to get outside, especially in the winter! I will probably need to win the lottery before I can take up any type of skiing, but snowshoeing while a bit out of my comfort zone is something I want to try.  I always wanted to learn how to navigate because you just never know what can happen. It’s one of my two big fears about the mountains, and I feel like I conquered it a little. With practice will come confidence. It feels good to push myself!

 

How do you like to push yourself? What new skill have you always wanted to learn?

Over the River, Through the Woods

Did you hear??! Probably not, because it’s just became official, but I’m moving to the mountains! I am the soon-to-be owner of a lovely acre-and-a-half near Rocky Mountain National Park. Here’s a little update via vid. Lemme know if ya have any bear tips.

 

I can’t wait to buy things like snowshoes and cross-country skis. Maybe even a canoe!

A Food & Flowers Picture Post From Whole Foods

A new Whole Foods opened up, and it’s the closest one to my house! I’m excited because, well, Whole Foods, AND healthy eating is good, right?? So I got to go to a grand opening tour and I took tons of pictures and recorded it on Facebook live (at the request of Whole Foods Boulder/Longmont). So If you’ve never been to one, here’s what it’s all about!

First, let’s start with the floral department since it’s always by the entrance, and it’s my favorite of all floral departments in any grocery store. And because pretty. And we need some beauty in our lives.

Looks and smells like summer.

Then you walk through the produce, and I’ll let the tour guide take over from here. (Apologies for the spotty cell reception I was getting on my iPhone.)

Not bad, eh? I also love the personal care section. They have great bath items (I’m a fan of relaxing soaks), and you can even find the perfect gift.

It’s bar soap, folks. Handmade. Smells amazing!

LOVE this.

What Boulder smelled like when I was a kid.

And they also fed us, which always makes for happy bloggers. 

Whole Foods is really about the idea of LOHAS; Lifestyle of Health & Sustainability, and it’s reflected in their products and company policies and operations. Their mission statement says “… we offer a place for you to shop where value is inseparable from values.” So while they have a reputation for being pricey, which to be frank, can be true depending on the item, remember that with those extra dollars you’re supporting values like sustainable sourcing, fair wages for workers, and local farms to name a few.

What is your favorite store? Do you have Wegmans? Because I don’t and I want to know all about it!

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Race Recap: Denver Broncos Back to Football 7K

Something weird happened over the last few years. I started wearing more orange. I began paying attention when my husband was watching our local NFL team games. I found myself yelling at the refs for making shit calls against our guys, and screaming for joy when they won. Somehow, I became a football fan. You may have heard of my team, they won the Superbowl last year.

hat

My new Broncos hat. I can’t wait until it’s cold enough to wear!

My family is just as mystified as I am at this development. It’s something I can’t explain or  make sense of myself. But, it’s happened, and so when I found out that the Broncos host a 7k (all hail John Elway) AND that the medal is pretty sweet, I invited a bunch of friends to join my team, the Happy Hoofers!

bibs

We’ve got our bibs!

Waiting in our corral with a ton of other fans in the shadow of the storied Mile High Stadium was definitely a unique experience. We were #UnitedinOrange! It took a while for our corral to go as they were releasing waves every five minutes. We waited over an hour to start and were already pretty hot and thirsty by the time we got going at 9:30-ish. Still, we were excited to be part of the energy.start Collage

When we got the the first water station at mile 1, we were so happy! Until we were so sad. They had run out of cups, and we didn’t have bottles with us. We’d have to wait until mile 3.something for the next aid station. We really hoped they had cups! The course took us through the old Victorian neighborhood that surrounds Sports Authority Field (us natives will always and forever call it Mile High Stadium). I was too thirsty to get pictures. :-p Then we did a half circle along Sloans Lake before turning back toward the stadium to run onto the field!

collage2

Running into the stadium through the Bronco head and being on the jumbotron was awesome but I wish they’d let us snap a few photos before they pushed us through. How often do I get to be on the 50 yard line of my teams home field. NEVER. That’s how often.

finish collage

jumbocollage

Me and my sister on the JumboTron!

 

My goal with this race was to get some folks who might not ever consider “running” a race to try it out. I think for those who have never been to any kind of running race have preconceived notions about what level of fitness you need to participate, and how far a 5k (or 7k) really is. My friends where surprised that it wasn’t quite what they expected and they had more fun than they thought they would. Once folks realize they can do it at a pace they are comfortable with, they enjoy it. Not everyone has to be fast!

bite

They’re real!

I’m not sure I’ll do this one again. As much as I love my team, I felt the race organization could be better. The race didn’t start until 8:30 so it was pretty warm and it took quite a while for us to start. Not to mention, the water station ran out of cups before all the runners had left their corrals, and I saw far too many people cutting the course and cheating. It’s 4.3 miles for Pete’s sake, does one really need to cheat???  I call shenanigans!

It was a success, though, because my group tried something out of their comfort zone and they had fun! They are all so proud of their medals and of themselves! My sister-in-law had such a good time, she’s already signed up for a Christmas 5k, and I hope this is the start of a new hobby for her. I couldn’t be more proud of her! Kudos, Toni!! <3

All photos courtesy of my wonderful husband. Thanks, Honey!

 

What Fall races do you have planned? Who’s your team? I want to know below!

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Race Recap – Vacation Races Elk Double at Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park

I want to let you know that this will mostly be a picture post, because this race is just sooooo pretty. Also, I want to formally declare my love for Vacation Races, and this event in particular. VR, I LOVE YOU. If you’re reading this, pleeeeeeeease let me be an ambassador for your race series. Since I live within driving distance of  six out of nine of your events, I would make an excellent representative because I plan to run them all in the near future. But my first love for your race series will always be the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon.

This was the second year I’ve run the #RMHalf. They even added an extra special challenge this year, the Elk Double, which consisted of a 5k on Friday night, followed by the half marathon on Saturday morning. Three medals for two races means I. AM. IN. Many of my fellow Skirt Sports Ambassador Sisters were also running the races, and created a team. Team WTF? Where’s the Finish? I was so stoked to run with a team; I usually run races all by my lonesome.

packing

Packing for the big weekend and Coach Lily the Pug approves of my outfit selections.

In the interest of transparency, I want to state that in my (limited) half marathon experience, this group puts on the best races with the BEST Medals. Dare I say it, even better than runDisney.

I dared and said it. I retract nothing.

For proof, they had free smores and hammocks at the race expo. They had water, electrolyte drink, and Honey Stinger Gels at EVERY half marathon aid station, and at three of those stations, they also had bananas, orange slices, and porta potties.  VR really takes care of their runners!

smores

I was excited to try my new Skirt Sports skirt with bib magnets built in for the 5k. I was expecting to have to adjust my bib as I ran, but nope! The magnets kept it perfectly in place and I didn’t have to put safety pin holes in my new skirt. I was winning at life!

flat5k

5K Outfit: Skirt Sports Race Magnet Skirt, Electric Tank, Injinji socks, NB Shoes

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At the 5k Start

anglersrunners

Spirit of the Rockies: Anglers, Canadian Geese, and runners share the natural beauty!

Geese

Even the geese were cheering for us!

Here in Colorado, they don’t give out medals for 5ks. They just don’t. Not sure why, but maybe it has something to do with the commonly seen “140” oval stickers on cars. I guess folks here don’t really get behind the 5k distance. So, I’m VERY proud of my first and only 5k medal!

5kmedal

Ummm, so on a “related to the Rockies” note…my high school BFF lives a half a mile from the start line for the races, which was awesome, because I stayed at her house and walked to the 5k start. What wasn’t as fun was navigating the bear in the tree a few houses down from said friend’s house. I think he was sleeping, and he had the cutest bear butt. As long as that butt stayed in that tree.

bearbutt

You can see a casually hanging paw and adorable tail.

I found out later that team WTF? finished in FIRST PLACE for the 5k!!!! No thanks to my slow arse which finished in 38 minutes, but yeah! So I got 2, 5k medals and I cannot even. I had to get the gold 1st place medal from my WTF? team mates the next day, but I was stoked!!  Then it was time to rest, fuel, sleep, and get up at 4:30 for the half marathon!

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Flat Me for the Half: Skirt Sports Eclipse top, Cougar (Lioness) skirt in Free Love print, two pairs of socks; Injinji toe and PROcompression.

halfstart

I only smile this early in the morning on race days. Trust.

mist

Mountain valley mist rising as the sun rises in Estes Park

halfriver

The weather was perfect, and the course is so gorgeous!

bullelk

I saw an Elk whilst doing the Elk Double! Life is complete!

I always love seeing mile marker 6 because it means I’m almost halfway done!

mile6

In the middle of the dreaded looooooong (3.5 miles-ish) low grade hill.

gorgeous

*heart eyes*

thatviewtho

This view is worth the altitude.

stanley

The course takes you right past the most haunted hotel in America!

lakefinish

Coming up on the finish

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dog

The cutest!

finish1

Just a few more steps!

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Team WTF? Where's The Finish

Team WTF? Where’s The Finish

bling

That bling, tho!

Done

This was my big event for the season and there was no doubt in my mind that I’d enjoy the race, but the fact is I came away with a lot more than I expected. My goal was to push myself and I did. I shaved five minutes off my time from last year. But the best part by far was I got to know my Skirt Sisters better, and together, we placed in the race. That’s because #REALwomenmove. Especially together.

What is/was your big race this season? Do you runs with a team at races? Did you visit a National Park this summer? Let’s discuss below!

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