Saturday, September 27, 2014

Some Summer

Summer, in Colorado, usually kicks off with my birthday in May. When I lived in Alabama summer usually crept in around March and lingered until September or sometimes even October. Unlike the south Colorado doesn't have a long stretch of hot summer days and it's not unusual for us to have snow here in May or September. When you love hiking 14ers like I do then the season seems even shorter so I always feel pressed to get in as much Colorado outdoors as I can while the weather is sweet. Last year Charlotte was only 6 weeks old when May rolled around so I felt cheated out of my usual summertime activities. I loved having all my time off with Charlotte but wasn't about to get out as much due to her being so little and breast feeding. This was my year of redemption, my summer of family, friends and fun. Adventures were to be had and I aimed to travel and explore as much as I could.

Well friends, I believe I succeeded in this task. I could write you a blog ten years long about all the amazing people I met, the experiences I had and the miles traveled. Or I could show you in photos because I believe these photos truly capture the heart of what my summer was. Fall has officially arrived so I feel it's the perfect opportunity to reflect back on these past few months...say good-bye to the hot summer days and welcome a new season of change.

Kicking off the summer...was my birthday celebrated with a surprise trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming:

With a side trip to Yellowstone National Park and seeing Old Faithful.

There were many concerts at Red Rocks including my mom's first show there seeing One Republic
A trip to Michigan where my camera met it's fate in the lake

And two attempts before finally summiting Mt. of the Holy Cross 14,009ft

Many 4:14am wake-up calls to teach booty bootcamp, to climb the incline and run a 5k

And relaxing times in Monterey to visit my sister and brother in-law
But mostly there were a lot of weekends I spent driving and getting up at 3am to do this:

kit carson and challenger

pyramid peak
Mt. Harvard

Mt. Bierstadt
 Five 14ers in one summer plus one repeat summit equals about 83 miles in mountain hiking on foot

Of course there was my yoga + hiking retreat in Telluride which pretty much capped off my Summer


This was the summer of sunrises, sunsets, mountains, traveling and adventure. Most and best of all I didn't let having a baby slow me down I let her strengthen me by joining us. She enjoyed plane rides, camping trips and oceans. Charlotte is the reason I get outdoors and enjoy my life so she in turn can enjoy hers and all this earth has to offer.

I've journeyed all over the world and I have to say there's nothing like coming home to Colorado. You don't have to go far for beautiful scenery, new experiences or making new friends. Every year I live here I feel it just keeps getting better and better and as I say good-bye to summer I welcome fall and the rest 2014 has to offer

Coloradical is hOMe

Friday, September 26, 2014

Belize Yoga Retreat Registration Now Open! Don't miss your chance!

Retreats. We all deserve one. Imagine a space where you can completely unwind and relax. A spot on earth where you can not only focus on yourself but also your yoga practice. Imagine combining 4 nights in the jungle filled with Mayan ruins and jaguars with 3 nights on a private island spent snorkeling the second largest barrier reef in the world and watching the sunrise and set. Wouldn't it be nice to get away to a place where your airfare, transfers and food are taken care of for you? A place where you didn't have to worry about anything because everything is taken care of for you. A place you don't even have to travel to with a friend because you'll make new ones on the adventure of a lifetime. Well I'm here to tell you that such an journey exists and all you have to be willing to do is step into the wild and join us....

My friend Erin Wimert and are thrilled to be hosting a yoga retreat in Belize in April 2015. From the 11-18 we will practice yoga twice a day, snorkel, zipline, explore caves via river tubing, and hike to Mayan ruins. $195 reserves your spot, of which we only have 16 and the total cost is $2995 if you sign up before December 11th 2014. All you have to worry about is your packing and yoga mat as once you sign up everything else is taken care of for you. Although this is a yoga retreat you don't even have to be good at or participate in any of the yoga if you choose not to. After all this is your retreat, your time to focus on yourself and your personal journey and so you make it your own!

Won't you join us? Sign up here:

Have any questions? email me at

Your adventure awaits!

Letting the rest fall away

One can’t deny that fall is in the air. Somewhere in the beginning of September it begins to creep in whether that’s through pumpkin spice latte’s at Starbuck’s or the cooler nights. Colorado’s Aspen trees change from green to a brilliant yellowish gold seemingly overnight and people flock from all over to see them. I went hiking this weekend and at, 12,000 feet was greeted with flakes of snow as a reminder winter is on its way. Some of the willow bushes we hiked through had already lost their leaves and the alpine grass was beginning to turn brown. Nature is not hurried in its transition and the leaves know when it’s time to fall from their branches. This is my favorite time of year because the colors outdoors are so vibrant and the chill in the air makes me turn inward. It’s a time for hot coffee, hot yoga and introspection. Fall is also the perfect time to begin letting go of what no longer serves us.

Nature does a great job of letting go. As humans we’re not so great at this. Imagine if trees clung to their leaves like we cling to people and things we think we need. If the old leaves, flowers or fruit never fell off, new ones wouldn’t take their place and there’d be no room for the growth. Eventually decay would set in and the tree would die. The beauty is in the changing and the growth. People wouldn’t travel across Colorado to see a grove of trees that remained the same.

For my personal growth I’m learning to let go of the people in my life who no longer serve me. As a mom and wife I’m realizing my circle of friends has to become smaller. I confess that I just don’t have time for everything and everyone. Between my job as a yoga teacher and fitness instructor, flying, promotions for Pressery juice and running my own expedition business I just do not have the energy for what doesn’t add to my life. Lately I have found myself constantly stressed with worry about what other people think about me and it had me questioning who I am. I’ve thought a lot about the mother and wife and friend I want to be and who can add to this growth. I am unapologetically “ME” and as I journey through life I realize this often doesn’t sit well with everyone. People have tried to change me, to mold me, to influence me, to ruin me, to gossip about me and to hurt me over the years and it’s hurt my growth. Why do we get so bent on changing others and wanting them to live up to our standards?

Imagine if you went into your garden and started taping apples into your spruce tree hoping it would become an apple tree. No matter how much you yell at the tree, no matter how many apples you tape to its branches, no matter what you put in the soil or cut off that spruce it will still remain what it has been since it was a seed. That particular tree serves its purpose in your yard however and you just have to appreciate what you have for what it is. Your friends, family and loved ones are just in the same.

While we cannot change one another we can move on from the past. We can cut the dead leaves off and continue forward with growth for the future. If you came to my house you’d see I have a tendency to be a hoarder of greeting cards and cannot help but keep every sentiment given to me. I tend to treat people in the same way, and even if I know someone shouldn’t take up that space in my life I have a hard time letting go. I tend to be so non-confrontational that I’d rather let other people empty themselves from my life rather than clear the clutter myself. However, having a daughter now has taught me that I need to live by a different set of standards. Imagine if I filled her room with all of my stuff so she didn’t even have a place of her own. That’s how I feel about my free time and my heart….I cannot keep so much in there that there’s no room for her or my husband or the friends that really matter. By carving out space for the people I love there’s more room for them and less for drama.

I read a great article in a decorating magazine about a minimalist decorator. He lived in a 900 square foot house and didn’t have room for anything unnecessary and he loved this way of living. He said that by having such a small space he could display the items he found from his travels that were the most special and important. These items on display became the focal point in his tiny space. When people came to visit they could clearly see what was important to him because there wasn’t a bunch of clutter to take away from what was special.

Redecorating your life and the walls of your heart isn’t a terrible thing. As the seasons change it’s a wonderful time to clear the clutter from your personal life. Think about what and who matter to you and start with this. Build your life around those that make you happy and forget the rest. After all, you’re the one who has to live in the space…make sure what you’re looking at is what’s most important.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

An epic day on Pyramid Peak - on the other side of fear


One of the reasons I enjoy blogging is that I can look back on my past thoughts and see just how far I’ve come. In 2010, when I first started my journey hiking Colorado’s 14ers I wrote this blog on the hardest peaks in the state. My blog then was full of doubt that I could ever accomplish something as lofty as reaching the summit of one of these peaks because they were too hard, too dangerous, too challenging for my abilities. There were six summits I wrote off as never being able to touch because I wasn’t somehow worthy enough. Yet, four years later on the 4th of September…I proved myself wrong.

I had my first glimpse of Pyramid Peak a few years ago when my husband Chad and I hiked to the top of Crested Butte Mountain. From the 12,000ft summit you could see Pyramid and Chad remarked how he’d always wanted to hike that mountain. Chad went to school in Gunnison and spent many years skiing Crested Butte and the unique shape of Pyramid always intrigued him. I told him it just wasn’t possible to summit that mountain, that as a class 4 it was too steep and the rock was too rotten making it unlikely we’d ever be on top. “Maybe if we hired a guide,” I told him. As the years progressed however, my hiking skills increased. My first class 3 mountain was Wetterhorn then I moved on to summit Long’s then did a brief class 4 section on Mount Lindsey to reach the summit. When your goal is to climb all the 14ers, eventually you start to run out of class 1 and 2 peaks and so it’s inevitable you will have to face your fears one day. I fretted over many of these harder peaks because photos and trip reports made them sound scary yet once I found myself touching the rock and moving towards my goal my worries decreased. Each summit I grew stronger, braver and more confident in myself and my abilities. Pyramid Peak had been on my horizon awhile and after years of talk I had to confront my fear head on. Grandparents were lined up to come in town and my friend Randy, who had summited the mountain years earlier was game to lead the way. We had to try…if not now…when?

view from mt. crested butte
So I told myself I could bail out at any time. I told myself that I didn’t have to make it to the top and I could turn around if I wanted. We left Idaho Springs where we were staying at 2am and made the 3 hour drive to Aspen to meet Randy at the trail at 5am. Being September I knew we were pushing it with the weather as the week before a few of the peaks had gotten snow. I prepared for cold and was greeted with surprisingly warm temperature given the time of year. Pyramid is 8 miles roundtrip and the first mile was a great trail on nice solid ground and rock that the CFI painstakingly put together. Once you enter the amphitheater though it’s a totally different ball game. From here there is a well defined trail on the right hand side but we ended up boulder hopping most of the way until we reached the base of the mountain. It was here where I got my first look at goliath. There are two huge cairns marking the entrance to the north face of Pyramid and it felt as though I was entering an arena. I felt very small in the shadow of the towering Pyramid but again I told myself that all I had to do was try. I could bail out at any time I felt necessary so why not give it a go?

Although Pyramid may be about 4 miles one way you gain about 4,500 feet in those four miles. It didn’t take us long to ascend the 1,000 vertical feet and reach the saddle of the Northeast Ridge but the trail was steep and loose. From the saddle portions of the remaining climb were visible, including the terrain near the summit. We took a brief moment to assess, let two hikers pass us and we were on our way towards our goal since the weather was holding and we all felt good.

From the ridge the trail is easy enough to follow for awhile. The standard route actually takes one over the ridge proper and we followed cairns over a few small rock ribs towards the leap of faith. The “Leap of Faith” consists of a 3 to 4 foot jump over a gulley from one ledge to another. I’d guess the fall would be about 30 feet although it’s such an extreme slope that you probably wouldn’t stop for hundreds of additional feet. This was an area that initially made me nervous reading about but didn’t give me too much pause in person. I kept the mantra, “On the other side of fear lies freedom” going in a loop in my head and it guided me through the leap and across the cliff traverse where my heels felt air underneath. Whenever my world is overwhelming I make it small by concentrating on each hand and foot placement and not looking down or too far up. This mountain caused a lot of mental pep talk to be going on in my head and I kept myself sandwiched between my husband and friend for guidance. In my day to day life I tend to be stubborn and often talk negative to myself…here was the complete opposite. I could only think positive thoughts and listen to the guidance of others to ensure my safety.

Our second major obstacle was the Green Wall. It’s a steep gulley made up of greenish rock that has plenty of solid hand and foot holds but can be a dangerous place with climbers above. We waited to make sure no one was above us before ascending as any rock fall here would take you out and send you down the mountain. We stayed left in the gulley as we made our way up and then exited left once the rock started to turn redish.
Here is where the real climbing and route finding began. While Randy had climbed Pyramid before, his memory wasn’t fresh on the entire route and often we end up following one cairn only to cliff out and turn around and follow another. I will say the “trail” winds its way back and forth past the gulley and eventually leads right up some very steep loose ledges towards the summit. Here is where the majority of our class 4 climbing was- areas where we had to use good solid footing to get up and over obstacles. When you see photos of this area it doesn’t look possible that one could find the summit from all the rotten confusing rock. This area was exposed and incredibly loose and we all stuck close together and took turns assessing which way up was best. Often we took a harder class 4 move because the rock was more solid than a class 3 area. Near 13,900 the slope eased and we could see other climbers on the summit and we knew half of the worst of it was over (we still had to come down of course).

“Congratulations today is your day, your mountain is waiting you’re off and away.”

It’s hard to describe how I felt on the summit. To see the views I’d only read about and to stand on top of this mountain where so many before had passed felt incredible. I had slayed my goliath and reached my goal. While I knew I wasn’t safe until I was below tree line, for all intents and purposes I had made it to peak 35. On the opposite side of my fear there truly was freedom. If I could stand on top of what is arguably one of the toughest 14ers in the state then why would I let anything smaller stand in my way? While this mountain was tough, I had all the strength and courage inside me to make the summit but it wasn’t until I believed in myself that this dream became a reality. This was a peak that I knew I’d never be satisfied until I summited and I’m so happy I had my husband and Randy to help me achieve my goal. They never wavered, questioned my ability or let me turn around although in my head I wanted too. My husband looked at me halfway into the climb and said, “get your game face on” and that’s exactly what I did. Many times when I climb I am the faster, more experienced and impatient one and I am eternally grateful that I have someone who can stand on the other side and be that for me.

I could say Pyramid Peak was my Everest but that would only be partially true. People say events that they overcome are their Everest because Everest is the tallest mountain in the world and there’s nothing greater. In life, I believe however, that there are many Everest’s. I reached the summit of Pyramid Peak but that’s not the last challenging mountain I’ll ever climb. Physically and mentally, Pyramid was demanding but that’s not the last time I’ll ever be mentally and physically challenged in life. What is true is that I know what’s behind me and what I have accomplished and now I know I can achieve so much more.

I was scared of Pyramid Peak and rightfully so. That mountain has everything a mountaineer could want in a challenging climb- exposure, loose rock, difficult route finding, gulley’s, a leap of faith and even mountain goats kicking rocks down. Yet, had I let this mountain define my abilities then I would have never even attempted to climb its walls. If I had continued to think the summit was out of my reach then it would always be out of my reach because I’d have never had the courage to try.

I was reminded of my yoga practice in a lot of ways when I hiked this peak. I thought about how when I first started yoga I couldn’t do crow or headstand or any other hard pose for that matter. I’d watch others do these poses in class yet they eluded me and mostly I wouldn’t even try. However, with a little encouragement from some very patient teachers I did begin to try to see what would happen. My reward for my dedication was eventually being able to “stick” the harder postures and in turn teach others how to do so. While the harder poses don’t make up my whole practice, they are a reward for my continuous effort. I feel the mountains have rewarded me in the same manner after years of slogging up and down easier climbs and working my way towards the more challenging peaks. The view from Pyramid was unlike any other mountain I’ve experienced and that was my reward for years of dedication and hours upon hours of effort.

That’s the thing in life- if you want the best views you’ve got to be willing to work hard, cross some lines, scare yourself and be willing to stand on the edge….


But on the other side of your fear lies freedom

Here's a little video of our climb