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

Hey friends, I started a blog

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My dearest friends, you make the best travel companions. I love you with all my heart. I also have lots of stories about you. Consider this your opportunity to request anonymity.

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Don’t worry my pets, we won’t get too racy and these will be the last semi-nudes (#nakedinnature). I have a 2030+ Denver mayoral run to keep in mind.

Why Trail Talks?

While sometimes I bemoan about being single at 30-something, I can confidently say that during these 30-something years, I amassed the most wonderful collection of  friends. In a team friendship rumble, I’d pick my squad over Taylor’s any day. My friends are genuine, unique, funny, weird (in a good way), and unfortunately, live all over the country, UGH. Great for visits, but seriously unhelpful for Tuesday night bridge club dreams.

I’m not the best phone person. I do it out of necessity. Phone dates at most last an hour. I need more than an hour, my friends. I need Trail Talks, true conversation. I have more than once deferred a needed dish session with a friend knowing that we’d be together in the woods at some point soon. I’ve scheduled hikes for the primary purpose of getting an update on marriage/jobs/life/dating/anything. Wilderness, I’m sorry, sometimes you’re sloppy seconds.

The thing about trail talks is that often you need eight hours of trudging along in the woods to get to the meat of a subject. And I’ll say this, I’m a sharer. I have more confidants than most (the average American has two, sad). But sometimes there are those subjects that are too tough to talk about in a thirty minute phone chat. It takes hours of carrying a forty-pound pack to muster the courage to let true stories roam free. And once you let them out, you need many more miles to analyse, assess, and get your friends’ true guidance to properly corral them. I vividly remember the exact spot on the sage brush covered trail in Canyonlands National Park on day two of a four day trip where finally, feebly and embarrassed, uttered to my friends the secret I’d been holding back for weeks. “Uhhh, girls, don’t judge but I called (should remain EX-bf) again…” Sigh. And then we got to spend the next two days dissecting my decision and piecing it back together as a path forward.

Not all trail talks are pseudo group therapy. I’m always amazed by the funny, mundane and everything in between conversations that occur when one is unplugged from the world with an indulgent amount of free time. During my trail talks, I’ve learned which cast member of the West Wing my friends would like to marry, what Olympic sport is most desirable to compete in, and quick and easy meals I can manage to make on a Tuesday since I’m not hosting to bridge club for my friends. There are no rules to trail talks and that’s why they are the BEST.

Trail talks do not have to occur on an actual trail. This weekend’s version of a TT (trail talk) occurred with my big brother. Big brother is a great dad of two adorable kids and a doting husband to one of the most kick-ass ladies I know. I adore his family, and yet, I cherish the time I get with just him alone. Brother-sister bonding, YES PLEASE.

Big brother and I are training for a road cycling tour later in the summer, so today seemed like a reasonable day to get in our first outdoor ride. We road from Evergreen up Squaw Pass. It’s a logistically an easy day trip from Denver and allows for plenty of climbing. We parked at Bergen Park for the 34 mile out-and-back.

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The view north from Squaw Pass

Brother and I covered a lot of subjects on our upward [road] talk, some important, many not so. But, it’s a true treat to get two uninterrupted hours with just my brother. The cherry on top was getting to scream down the pass at 30+ miles-per-hour.

I promise not to make too many “you should” recommendations in this blog, but I strongly encourage you to make an effort to make trail talks (the action, not my blog…but I’d love it if it were my blog) a regular part of YOUR life.

And if you do ride Squaw Pass, make sure to stop at The Bagelry for an iced coffee on your way home.

Hello, Imogene

I barely slept last night. I tossed and turned and watched the ceiling fan swoosh around for hours. With both dread and excitement, I set my alarm for 5:53, 5:57, and 6:00 for a last resort. I did laugh at myself knowing that I’ve never once slept through an alarm in my entire life.

6:00, June 1st: Imogene Pass Run registration. The registration process, while shorter in time, is equally as painful as the race itself. For safety reasons, the race is capped around 1,00 runners. Because the race is freakin’ awesome, more than 1,000 of us want to do it. And while the popularity has grown, the race’s roots remain old school and so does its online registration process.

I dragged myself out of bed at exactly 5:54 with no time for coffee and began staring at my computer. Staring at your computer at this hour is both frustrating and incredibly boring. At exactly 6:00, I began furiously entering my information and hit ‘submit’…swirling icon…’submit’….swirling icon…’submit’…damn swirling icon…ugh, I’ll try the PayPal button….’submit’….I’M IN!

Finally at 6:08, I could make some coffee and get on with my life. I paused. Wait, I could crawl back into bed for another hour and finally get some restful sleep. Hallelujah!

“DING,” group text from Friend A:  Are you guys in???  Friend B: Hell yes! So stoked!

“DING,” unrelated Friend C: Did it work for you?

I wasted my precious extra hour of euphoric sleep texting party hat emojis to my friends, and it was worth it. I feel like a really winner today! And my prize? I get to train for three months to run 10 miles up and 7 miles down a mountain! Yes, please! There better be beer at the end of this race.

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Telluride on my left, Ouray on my right – from the top of Imogene Pass at 13,114 feet

Here goes

Thank you for reading. I’ve toyed with the idea of a blog for a long time. Many of my adventure companions are likely tired of hearing me talk about my ideas ad nauseam. So with a lot less (verbal) talk and a lot more (written) action, here goes…

I hesitated kicking this off for a two main reasons. First, and still very true, I was scared. What if you think I’m a terrible writer? What if you think my inner thoughts are trivial and mundane? I am uncomfortable being the center of attention. While, I have no resolution to these fears,  I’m simply telling them to go hide under a rock for a bit.

Secondly, I struggled with the question, “what the heck is the point of a blog?” I like timelines, checklists, progress updates, and the satisfaction of marking something complete. And yet here, I stare into space and cannot think of the outcome. I decided it’s okay to start simply with some mini-reasons (all of which I reserve the right to change or axe at any point). I hope to:

  • share with you my adventures and misadventures
  • answer questions I receive from friends: where should I hike this weekend? should I bring my air-mattress on the hut trip?
  • answer questions I have: what do I do if I get attacked by an angry moose?
  • justify the purchase of an expensive camera
  • find a creative outlet and have some fun
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(not an angry moose…but still a scary goat trying to ruin my afternoon nap)

I promise <1% of content devoted to baking. I don’t bake.

Thanks for coming along with me!