Medicine Bow National Forrest

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Jana fishing in the distance

As Denver grew farther in the rear view mirror and we checked our work emails one last time before hitting airplane more, Jana took control of the radio and queued up her latest road trip play list.

Katy Perry serenaded us with the long weekend’s theme song:

“Don’t be afraid to catch fish….”

“Baby I know you ain’t afraid to catch fish,

Fish with me.”

Jana, who’d picked the song corrected us, “it’s FEELS, not FISH!”

“Well, that makes no sense,” Perrin said. I agreed.

Perrin and Jana are my two best friend from Yale, and we’ve committed to one trip per year with our tents as long as we are able. We have a short list of places we’re saving for our 70’s. As a trio, each of us is assigned a role. Perrin can start a fire in a torrential downpour. I am tasked with “carrying all the stuff.” Jana, aside from curating the road trip playlist, is our MD and first aid angel.

In August, we ventured into the Medicine Bow National Forrest for a three night trip. Every guide book/trip report we scoured raved about the area’s fishing.

Never ones to shy from a challenge, we decided that we would learn to fish, catch a fish, and fry it up for dinner. Lacking any experience, we turned to youtube for a tutorial and skipped right to the important parts: “how to gut a fish” and “how to grill a fish over an open flame.” Our confidence swelled.

I pulled my trusty VW  into a parking lot full of Ford Trucks at a gas station slash fishing store in West Laramie, Wyoming to pick up a rod. We explained to Gary behind the counter that we needed his cheapest rod and “whatever supplies go along with it.”

I don’ think Gary’s gas station fish emporium often gets three blond city slickers walking in midday on a Thursday.

“Ladies, I lead guided trips if you’re interested.”

“Nah, we’re good. What’s one step above the kid’s Moana rod you have over there?”

We left with a brief tutorial and a $30 rod.

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I’m not certain but pretty sure we used none of these.

Medicine Bow National Forrest is a quick 3ish hour drive from Denver. I found a two night loop in Backpacker’s magazine but extended it to three nights to give us ample fishing {and hot toddie} time.

Perrin, Jana, and I covered a lot of emotional ground in this year’s trail talks: careers/purpose, families, love – both lost and found and everywhere in between. As we summitted Medicine Bow Peak, a mother daughter pair asked us if we were students at the University of Wyoming.

“Lady, I could kiss you!” Jana responded.

In our 12 years since college, I can’t imagine two women I’d rather venture into the forest alongside. I rely on their guidance and friendship to navigate this crazy life.

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The view from the top of Medicine Bow Peak

Our second night, we stumbled upon a fisher(wo)man’s paradise at Crescent Lake. Jana assembled our rod and cast the first line with glee. It snagged. And then it tangled. And then it snagged again. And then it tangled again so much that we had to cut the line in multiple spots to determine the damage. Jana, the surgeon, tasked me with holding various lengths of line while she hunted for the source of the tangle. Immediately in front of us, fish leapt from the water, the hunger in their eyes visible. Immediately behind us, Perrin slept peacefully in the grass having mistaken a Melatonin for an Advil. Eventually, we untangled enough line to let Jana cast a full reel. I lost patience and headed back to camp to build a fire.

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That night, we didn’t eat the olives or lemon we’d packed in for our catch. We optimistically gave it one more night and a few additional hours of fishing before eating the accoutrements alongside our standard backpacking meals. Maybe we needed a little more fishing practice? We could have entertained Gary for a little longer with his lesson. {Jana is likely disagreeing with this statement as she reads it}.

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Three and a half glorious days and zero fish later, we pulled out of the Sheep Lake Trailhead toward Centennial, Wyoming, tired and happy. We fired up Katy Perry back up and all three of us sang in unison, “Don’t be afraid to catch fish…fish with me.”

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Trail tips:

  • Total trip length ~16 miles
  • Buy this pillow if you haven’t yet
  • Stop at Mountain View Hotel for breakfast; don’t stop anywhere else
  • {I have no fishing tips}

Some days I do go inside – Fierce 45

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One of those epic winter days when you need your legs as strong as possible

I am a light sleeper. It’s usually the sounds of the city that wake me at night. Last week I awoke to a completely new sensation – my left ass cheek involuntarily twitching so much it stirred me from slumber.

My intention for Trail Talks is to share OUTDOOR adventures, but today friends, you get to hear about my new INDOOR obsession, Lagree Fitness classes at Fierce 45.

First, I need to tell you that I never would have tried this on my own. I blame Darcy. Historically, I’ve scoffed at aerobic activities that don’t involve pounding of some sort. I found the Barre Method as boring as golf {sorry}. I prefer exercise that involves a helmet, hours of struggle, or at least an opportunity to throw an elbow around. I assumed Darcy, a college soccer player turned Ironman triathlete, shared my opinion. And yet, about three months ago, Darcy talked me into trying a noon class at Fierce 45 in LoHi.

I thought to myself, “whatever, I’ll try it once.” I had some spare time for a change, and I always love the opportunity to catch up with a friend, especially mid-day.  How luxurious!

I rolled my eyes as I walked into the studio. This was NOT my scene! I prefer to exercise in old cotton t-shirts.  Here, however, were jazzercise leg warmers for sale prominently displayed on the wall. Flashbacks to the third grade were instantly triggered. I was 5’6” and 9 years old. I was not destined to be a dancer/gymnast/anything even remotely described as petite.

“Ugh, Darcy. It’s a good thing I like you.”

I survived the first class. It was awkward. I felt gangly, uncoordinated, and shockingly weak. Sure, I could run up mountains, bike 100 miles without hesitation, but hold a piked plank for ten seconds, “ummm NO THANK YOU.”

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No really, it hurts

Without Darcy by my side, I would have quit. F45 utilizes Lagree Reformers for a series of strengthening moves. Each exercise is only done for one minute and performed as slowly as possible. The instructors have repeatedly told me that a slow pace is better for my fitness, but usually my legs/abs/ass are shaking too much for me to concentrate on their words and understand why.

Somewhere around class #7, I got hooked. {I’m also a big sucker for Salt ‘N Pepper, so the class soundtrack helps big time!} But, I already belonged to a gym. I came to F45 to hang with Darcy, and now here I am, fully committed. F45 and I had the DTR – I was in.

Darcy and I signed up to participate in the FAF October Challenge – “Fierce as Fuck” for those curious, a title I surely would have not-so-silently judged prior to embarking upon it. The goal is to complete 25 classes in the month of October.

And so began my mid-night muscle shaking wake ups. I am constantly tired. I’m insatiably hungry. I’m not certain my new job schedule is going to allow me to get to class daily, and yet, I’m still trying!

I’m happier and healthier with F45 in my life. It helps to have a good friend to push me on this journey. {Update, Darcy is now the model student in class.} I think the FAF October Challenge will serve me, and my ass, well as I put on a helmet and toss myself down a mountain this winter.

My Little Monster

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.

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Meet my new friend: Little Monster, Ultimate Direction’s Ultra Vesta

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.

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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.

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My Little Monster even comes with a backup hair tie because you never want to find yourself in this situation.

My new favorite day trip

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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.

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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.

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The Mule Deer Trail is the large loop in red on the left of the map