2015 Best Adventures

It's that time of year again when December swings around on the calendar so fast that it gives us whiplash. I can't believe how much has happened in 2015: from summiting a Colorado 14er to climbing in Indian Creek to my first river rafting trip in Idaho. Not to mention, starting this blog, which has been a huge exploration all on its own. Of course, not all adventures reach a summit--sometimes you get lost or you're forced to turn around, but it doesn't seem to matter how crazy the idea (remember when Mike and I got matching tattoos?!), you guys have shown so much love and support in your comments and shares, and in your presence. <3

So 2016 will bring big changes to the blog! New year, new goals, new friends, and new adventures.
I'm so excited to make this announcement, so I hope you'll stick around for it in January. :) And if we happened to miss each other on the trail this year, here's 2015 year in review from Ellipsis. 

Thanks for joining me on adventures, big and small--can't wait for more in the new year!

Mountain Maker & Cookie Giveaway

I'm lucky enough to have friends who are talented artists, makers, and in Kyndra Connor's case, bakers. Kyndra is a Montanan, an artist, DIY-er, and kickass cookie connoisseur. We were pen pals for months before I ever met her in person and her voice was immediately memorable on paper. She's way wittier than I'll ever be, and will deliver cookies to your house by order--that's right, her small business Sweetroot Cookie Company is a custom cookie delivery service. You choose the cookie, like brownie, mint-chocolate chip, strawberry cheesecake, and my favorite, browned butter salted caramel. UGH. 
Cookie giveaway
What's really awesome about Kyndra's cookies are the stories behind a lot of them.

It's really fun to hear how the cookies become a part of another person's story like how I was asked to make my Strawberry Cheesecake cookies for a little girl who wanted to have an extra special tea party with her Grandpa. Or the pink chocolate chip cookies I delivered to some local grandparents expecting to hear the gender of their new grandchild. I mean, it makes it meaningful. That makes long hours and two jobs worth it.

If you get tired of baking over the holidays, she's got you covered, or if you just want free cookies shipped to your front door, enter her DOZEN COOKIE GIVEAWAY, here.

Montana is a huge part of Kyndra's life and artistic inspiration. Her prints, sold in her Etsy shop, Truth & Beauty Designs, are often of the mountains and I'm obsessed with her rainy day photo series. 
Rainy Day photography
I really love mountains and natural colors and textures - solid colors, woods, stone - I think they all work so well together. I like the simplicity that nature sometimes exhibits - strong mountain silhouette, fading blue sky, golden wheat field running along the grey highway. You know? 
I'm easily overwhelmed, so I find a lot of beauty in simplicity and strong contrast. 
Personally, the mountains and trees make me feel safe.
DIY Makers Print Illustrations
I love typography, literature, hand lettering, abstract art, so many photographers, and even some architects. Right now, I'm really into Yangyang Pan - her abstracts are beautiful. And I'll always love Raymond Carter - his works are so devastating and full of truth.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost Print
"I had some sharpies, a map of Montana & some time."
I really love the Pacific Northwest. Growing up in the flatlands makes me really appreciate what some nice topography and thick forest can do for the heart. It's so comforting, so I plan on wandering around up here for awhile. Maybe forever. 

Kyndra is autodidactic by nature, obsessed with cat memes, a waffle enthusiast, thinks Colorado has the best beer, is a terrible joke teller, has the memory of a goldfish, wants to live in the trees, loves the sound of her boyfriend’s laugh, and is a huge San Francisco Giant’s fan.

3 Easy Rocky Mountain Snowshoeing Trails

Nothing made me feel more like an adventurer than snowshoeing through Rocky Mountain National Park. Even for someone who thinks he knows every peak, ridgeline, and tree can expect to feel a little out of his element in a new and exciting way when the trail is lost beneath the snow, and the terrain is made unfamiliar by the wintertime elements. A hushed quiet and feeling of seclusion fell over the landscape; a hard atmosphere to achieve in the summer when the park's massive attendance often steals the wild from wilderness. Snowshoeing as a winter sport has gained traction (pun-intended) because it's inexpensive, relatively low-risk, and open access, meaning almost anyone can try it! 


Even though snowshoes are relatively inexpensive, compared to the startup cost of other winter sports like cross-country skiing or snowboarding, I would recommend renting your first pair. My friend and super talented photographer, Faith, had an extra pair for me to borrow, but Estes Park Mountain Shop is right on Route 34--you'll pass it on the left as you drive toward the park entrance--and rents shoes for only $5.00, ALL DAY! 

They even rent mountain boots if you're feeling like you might need some extra security. 
I wore regular waterproof leather Tevas and while I romped around without too much of a problem, my boots were a little slender for the snowshoe bindings and kept slipping out. 
Next time, I'll try to wear bulkier mountain or snow boots to achieve a better snowshoe fit. 

Rocky Mountain Snowshoeing Trails

The fit is important, so you'll want to make sure that you try them in the store, and rent a pair whose length (in inches) matches your body weight (i.e. lighter the load, smaller the shoe). RMP backcountry is typically not flat so rolling terrain snowshoes will make for the best experience because they have more aggressive crampons and beastier bindings, but if you plan to walk around some of the park's more well-travelled trails, like the ones I recommend here, flat terrain shoes will work just fine too. 

Before you head out though, definitely check the weather conditions! The National Park Service monitors snowfall, wind speed, temperatures, trail conditions, and road closures. Check this site out first to make sure that the Bear Lake Road isn't closed and that the wind will be mostly calm for your excursion. Our trip was cut a bit short because wind gusts in unprotected meadows forced us to turn back.  

Bear Lake Trailhead Snowshoeing
Center: Mike, wiping snow off my face from a gust of wind. 


Bear Lake Loop
This short loop around Bear Lake is less than a mile long, basically flat terrain, and considered one the park's easiest "hikes." Don't let the easy-descriptor turn you off though, because snow-packed trails are harder to navigate, and you might find that this lake lap is a perfect entry-level experience. 

Dream Lake 
Our excursion to this sub-alpine lake was just enough of an adventure on a day when the average temperature was only six degrees! The snow was light and powdery, and when Mike decided to test the "floating" superpower of his snowshoes on a drift, he fell straight through so be careful. Even though this trail is a bit further into the forest, it's still well-travelled--we passed by fellow snowshoers and cross-country skiers. 

Emerald Lake
If you decide to push farther, Emerald Lake is just beyond Dream Lake. You'll likely get warm as you gain about 600 feet of elevation and snowshoe about 3.5 miles round trip. If it's overcast, the incredible views of Hallett Peak, and Long's Peak--Colorado's infamous fourteener--will be invisible, lost in low, white clouds. There are also places along this trail when the forest breaks and you cross through open terrain. If it's windy, snowshoeing through these meadows without the cover of the trees, can be harsh--this is where we had to turn around. That being said, the payoff is a subalpine lake sparkling under snowcapped peaks.

Dream Lake Trail Rocky Mountain National Park
These trails are open all year for exploring the mountain wilderness, and whether you want to stay fit through the winter or you want to try a new winter sport, snowshoeing can be as easy as walking or as exhilarating as racing. Yeah, snowshoe racing is a thing! 

< > Home