Skinning across Lake Haiyaha, Rocky Mountain National Park
Raise your plastic, utilitarian glass of boxed wine and toast with me to a magnificent birthday! (Maybe you opt for champagne in the parks, but I stick to the more eco-friendly and easier to carry boxed option.) Happy 100th Birthday National Parks!
The history of the parks is incredible. We should thank our lucky stars for men like John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson for their support of our country’s biggest treasure. There are many more to thank, but as opposed to recreating the entire saga here, I’ll highly recommend Ken Burn’s documentary The National Parks, America’s Best Idea for the history lesson. Buy the entire set. Watch it start to finish on a gloomy weekend. Get inspired. Watch it over and over when you get sick. It’s also great background noise for napping after you’ve seen it a time or two.
Colorado National Monument National Park at sunset
I love our parks. As a child, I wanted to be a park ranger when I grew up. I envisioned days of chatting with folks from all over about the wonders of nature. I also dreamed of long breaks where I could sit in the solitude of the phone booth-sized fee collection station and read novels; I was a nerdy kid. As an adult, I dream of being a park ranger when I grow up.
Quick shout out to an amazing friend who had the moxie to fulfill his childhood dream of visiting all 59 parks. Check it out, 59in59.
Not sure what my total park count is, but there are many, many more I’m dying to visit.
Next park to visit: Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Dream visit: Denali
Curiosity visit: Dry Tortugas
I’ve always had a thing for naming my gear. I consider gear family and therefore worthy of proper names. It started on a cross-country bike ride on a shiny new Specialized bike. After the first hundred miles of cursing America and its poorly paved roads, I decided it was time we, the shiny new bike and I, got along better. My bike got a name; he became my companion instead of an inanimate enemy; life got better.
Cheryl Strayed un-affectionately named her giant, poorly packed backpack Monster. My little pack is friendly, cute, and saves the day and will forever be known as my (adorable) Little Monster.
The flat section of Bear Creek Trail
I recognize running alone in the wilderness is not always the safest idea, but there are days when you just need to get out the door, human companions be damned. On long trail runs, I always carry a pack. My Little Monster is the most comfortable pack I’ve used without sacrificing any functionality. On a typical 2ish hour run like today, I carry:
- water, duh
- Nuun tabs
- Shot bloks
- 2 asprin
- a bear/animal/emergency of all sorts whistle
- my phone
I generally include sunscreen and a lightweight raincoat, but it wasn’t necessary today. My favorite weekday solo run starts at Lair o’ the Bear Park. The Bear Creek Trail is a nice out and back with shade and rolling-ish hills (meaning it doesn’t go straight up and straight down like most foothills trails).
My Little Monster made a great companion today, and I’m looking forward to more miles on the trail together this summer.
My Little Monster even comes with a backup hair tie because you never want to find yourself in this situation.
A few hearty flowers still left in Frazer Meadow late in the summer
I love trail running because its an easy activity to plan solo and just go. Granted company is great for many reasons – #1 being more eyes for snake patrol (ugh). When running alone on the front range, I stick to my comfortable rut: Lair of the Bear, Apex, Green Mountain. So when a friend suggested heading out a bit further to Golden Gate Canyon State Park, I jumped at the chance.
Golden Gate is about an hour from Denver and offers trails for hiking, biking, and horse back riding. Maybe its the $7 entrance fee or slightly further distance from Denver, Golden Gate seems to be less popular with the usual weekend warrior crowd. The Mule Deer Trail is a great 9.1 mile run/hike. It’s shaded and rolling which is a nice change from the dusty foothills trails.
We picked Golden Gate State Park this weekend for our annual girls hiking weekend -celebrating 25+ years of friendship and laughter with these ladies. We opted for just the upper portion of the Mule Deer Loop to give us plenty of time to stop for coffee on the way up and finish in time for brunch in Golden. I want to go back this fall and check out the Harmsen Ranch Guest House.
The Mule Deer Trail is the large loop in red on the left of the map