Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Russells Come to Town!

Best week of summer yet! Nate and Andrea came up to stay for an entire 7 days! We had a blast showing them downtown Denver, the Highlands, the Arkansas river, and the mountains!

We spent the first half of the week hanging in Denver, showed off downtown one night, biked to the Highlands for dinner and drinks, hung out on Tennyson street and Berkeley lake, and a visit to Boulder. I tried to convince Andrea to visit Lakeside Amusement Park while they were here, but no such luck on that one!

The second half of the week was more adventurous/strenuous! We camped out on Turquoise Lake in Leadville. A campsite at 11,000 feet elevation that sits right on a beautiful HUGE lake with a great view of the mountains. It was a bit cold at night, but we all survived, toes intact and everything. :) It was quite cozy sleeping all 5 of us and the dog in one big tent. I was actually quite warm sleeping, and would have slept well if it weren't for my snoring hubby who I kept having to nudge so as not to disturb the other 4 sleepers!

Mac and Cheese and Smores for dinner!

The beautiful Turquoise lake.

Yes, that is our pup swimming in the background! Crazy dog. The water was FREEZING!

On Thursday, we went White Water Rafting on the Arkansas River. I must admit...I was super nervous about this. I am not a fan of water, especially not 50 degree water, and everyone keeps saying the river is so high and dangerous right now due to snow runoff. Andrea and I both were a bit freaked out! Typical with this group that we would be the only worried ones. But turns out it was totally doable. We picked a class 3-class 4 part of the river and had a great time! No one fell out of the boat and we hit some really great rapids intermixed with some down time as well to offset the craziness. I may have been the only one on the water in a wetsuit in July, but I have no shame. It was a great decision for me as those rapids were COLD!

Browns Canyon - Arkansas River

Notice Grant is showing off for the camera man and Andrea's eyes are closed!

Only my husband...a lot of paddling help he was. He was too concerned with the 
camera man that the rest of us were oblivious to. 

But I think the best story of all was hiking the Fourteener. Poor Andrea. We may never get her on a mountain again after this one. It was her first big hike ever and not that great of an experience. We decided to hike Mount Sherman as it was only a half hour drive from the campsite and a fairly easy hike per If this was easy, I'd like to see hard!! Problem was, we took our time getting to the hike. We woke up around 7:45, cooked eggs over the fire, packed up, dropped off a car, and didn't hit the mountain until around 11am. For those of you experienced mountain hikers, this is too late in the day to start typically due to afternoon rain storms. We were hoping we were fine though due to sunny skies and no sight of rain clouds. So up we went. The mountain was pretty dang rocky. I guess when I think mountain, I think pine trees and meadows, not steep rocks all the way up. The bottom had streams and meadows and was beautiful! 

But about a mile in, it was straight rocks the rest of the way. 

An hour and a half into the hike, the rainclouds started rolling in. We let the boys go on ahead in hopes they would reach the top before the rain. 

The one thing I did know about hiking Fourteeners, you don't want to be at the top during a lightening, thundering rainstorm. It's really dangerous since you are the only tall thing at the top - no trees or poles to attract the lightening. Which we learned first hand. After lots of hesitation about 80% of the way up, with the boys nowhere in sight, we decided we could try and make it up to the top prior to the rains coming. 

We were wrong. 

When we approached the last ridge with maybe 100 yards to go, the rain started. Not just rain - loud thunder and dark clouds. It was time to turn around. So we did. But perhaps we were a bit late. As we started our way down, moving rather quickly,  we started feeling electricity like I've never felt before. It started with our shirts and rain jackets making a buzzing sound when we moved them - like static electricity when you fail to use a dryer sheet. Then the rocks we were climbing started buzzing. And finally, a few minutes later, every time I put my hand on a rock for balance or took a step, I'd feel little static shocks. FREAKED US OUT. So at this point we weren't just hiking - we were RUNNING down the mountain. As were several other people. We were passed by three grown men running their way down as well. 

But our husbands? Where were they? Why eating a turkey sandwich and taking pictures at the top of course. In the sleeting rain and thunder. Per Grant, they felt the static electricity and figured "it was normal". 

After lots of prayer, a few good falls, and possibly a few tears, we made it safely low enough that we were out of the storm. The boys eventually made it down as well, unscathed thank God! No one was struck by lightening but after searching online when we got home, we did confirm that the static electricity and little shocks were the electricity gathering to generate lightening. Crazy!

We probably gave the Russells more of a Colorado experience than they were hoping for, but we were so glad they came! I'm not sure it was all that convincing for them to move here as I'd hoped though. 

Well, maybe Nate was convinced...Andrea was just cold, or is that - "I'm the opposite of hot" in order to refrain from saying cold - right A? :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Golden Gate Canyon Getaway!

Wow! My blogs have gotten few and far between. Taking 12 hours of masters courses in 3 months time will do that to ya! But this last weekend, Grant and I took a mini trip to Golden Gate Canyon State Park for a camping getaway. Our first camping trip in CO! We quickly learned to camp somewhere in Colorado, you better book it weeks out. Apparently it's a popular weekend pastime. :) When Grant called on Thursday, everything in the park was booked! Everything! But fortunately, we were able to snag the last campsite at a "first come first serve" site outside of the park. So camping we went!

Saturday morning, after setting up camp (or I should say Grant setting up camp!), we went on a short hike at Cold Springs. I must admit. The sign at the bottom of the Vista hike might have freaked me out....

Grant of course, was not phased. He didn't think it necessary to take Sage back to camp, even though it said not to take pets on the hike, and his argument was "we could fight off a mountain lion - just not a bear". Guess we lived though - even made it to the top!

Sunday was our mountain biking day. We headed to check out Golden Gate Canyon State Park, explored the beautiful creeks and fishing holes, did some short hiking trails, and then loaded up the bikes to hit the mountain. What we learned, the hard way, is that trails in the mountains marked as "Difficult" are in fact - Difficult! The seven mile loop we thought we could tackle was quite deceiving. It looked so great to start - dirt paths through open fields of wild flowers with an occasional tree root or rocky path. 

What we learned, about two miles in, was that once into the mountains on a "difficult" bike run, the dirt paths disappear! In fact, the path in general was hard to distinguish in some parts. Made me laugh. Seriously, creeks to cross, steep inclines and declines, completely rocky, parts that were difficult enough to push my bike up or carry it across. I can't imagine how someone stays on their bike to do it! I think we probably biked 4 of the 7 miles - it's very possible I got a harder workout walking my bike up the 3 miles of rocky inclines than riding those other 4 miles! It definitely pushed my limits. I fell three times, Grant had two awesome spills as well. Might have feared for my life riding down a few of those declines, but we lived! Mark it off the bucket list! I guess my new goal should be before we move out of Colorado, I'm able to ride that entire course. It's unlikely that will ever happen....but good goal to push towards!

Here's some of the pics I took in between riding and walking our bikes:

Great trip all in all! Lot of outdoorsy fun and I was amazed at my talented campfire cooking hubby! His camping stove was out of propane, so we got innovative. Gluten free mac and cheese with ground beef for dinner. Eggs and coffee for breakfast. All made over an open fire by my red headed hunk. Talk about granola! :)

Can't wait for the next camping trip! 
Two days of camping with BrittLit and the Russells next weekend! Hooray!