Through the Rapids

022Between hiking, biking, stand up paddleboarding, and going to concerts, my summer plans were pretty much set. I did have one ultimate goal for this summer; to go stand up paddling down a river. I finally made it happen and it couldn’t have been any better!

 Early on, I had heard what I initially thought was crazy talk of people taking stand up paddle boards down class 3 and 4 rapids. I was shocked and also extremely intrigued. I have always had the mindset that I will try anything once. There is an anonymous quote that says, “I refuse to tip-toe through life, only to arrive safely at death.” This has always been one of my favorite quotes and also one of the reasons I chose to seek out adventure. This philosophy hasn’t warranted me to do just plain stupid things and have an excuse for it (like Y.O.L.O.); it has led me to exciting adventures and to try adrenaline-filled activites. Going in a river on a paddle board was very much in line with my philosophy. I knew taking a lesson and going down a well-known section of the Colorado River was going to be both safe and extremely fun. It also was a good excuse to get some footage and interviews for my documentary.

 I decided really late at night that I was going to go and take a lesson in Bond, CO at 9am the next morning. After booking the lesson online, I got a few hours of sleep and then got up at 4:00am the next morning, got a few things together and set out toward the State Bridge. It took a little over two and a half hours to make it to the lessons at the Rancho Del Rio camping area. Not many people were up or camping out there, so it was extremely quiet. The lesson location was a white covered dome with a few tepees near by.042

I was the only one in my lesson, but there were others who were renting boards to go down the river with. It was a group of moms and their 4, 5, and 7 yr olds. Being a little nervous myself, I couldn’t believe that these moms were going to take their kids out on the boards, but at the same time, I thought it was the coolest thing that even little kids and go out and river S.U.P.

Initially starting out on the water, it was just as calm as any lake I had been on. The section of the river for the lesson was a little over 5 miles of water, and consisted of class 1 and class 2 rapids. Going into my first class 1 rapid, it was a little bumpy but felt similar to a windy day on the lake. We were also on inflatables which was a new element to me. I have tried them before on flat water, but wasn’t satisfied because I couldn’t go as fast. Being on one in the river, I appreciated that same flex and found it to make the experience a little more forgiving.

The real fun started as we made our way into the first class 2 rapid section. Picking up speed, you are supposed to drive the board straight down the line. Controlling the board was more of a focus, but I found that the more relaxed I was, the better I did through the rapids. It was a great experience and a lot of fun to have chaotic elements of rapids directing your board and waves of water splash across at your feet. I did manage to fall off a few times, but it was never intense or scary, and the water level was surprising high. At the end of the stretch, I immediately wanted to go back and do it again. I didn’t have the time, but the instructor said there was a great area that had class 3 rapids that I was ready to go on. The sound of it still seems a little crazy, but I can’t wait to get back up there for round two with higher rapids and more time on a board!IMG_3026

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A S.U.P. Documentary

One of the major requirements for the Multimedia Composition class was to create a documentary. I have had zero to none experience with filming and editing (outside of using an iPhone). With that being said, I chose to do a documentary on stand up paddle boarding, a sport I have been very much involved in this summer. It was a lot of fun to create, and I was able to delve deeper into my own curiosities about the sport and people’s behavior in general. It is very much amateur status, but I hope you all enjoy, and I also hope you get the opportunity to get out on a board and try it yourself!

 

St. Mary’s Glacier

060It started again at 3:30 in the morning. Four hours of sleep wasn’t enough, but I knew what awaited me. And I knew it was going to be worth it. This time I chose to do an early morning hike to St. Mary’s Glacier, a supposed year-round snow area that you can go snowboarding/skiing. I didn’t bring my snowboard (or a sled) because I figured that there would be very little snow, and likely that early in the morning the snow would be rock solid. I was definitely right, but I can imagine the fun, not to mention the workout, in hiking up the snowy mountain and bombing down in great spring snow conditions.

The drive up to the glacier is less than an hour away near Idaho Springs coming from Denver. If you get up and go while it is still dark out, traffic isn’t nearly as bad especially around the road work sites and the tunnels. With every ‘trip’ or adventure I take, I have found that it is so much better early in the morning. The roads are nearly empty, the mountain trails are quite and the opportunity to see the sunrise is worth every minute of lost sleep. I also like the idea that I get to experience these views and environments that not many others get to experience. It might cut into my sleeping time, but it takes my day from being ordinary to extraordinary, even if I am only up there for a few hours.054

The hike, itself, from the parking lot to the actual glacier and lake area is only about a 3/4 mile hike. The trail up is mostly rocky but climbs at a low grade, making it a fairly easy hike. There are some areas that don’t have as many rocks as people have hiked to the side of the trail, forging a new path. About half way up the trail, there is a side trail that takes you down to a beautiful waterfall. The surrounding area is very shaded and has steeper grade if you plan on exploring up or down that area (which I highly suggest). After my friend, Maaike, and I checked out the waterfall, we continued up and within a short amount of time, made it to the lake. The lake was relatively low compared to what I had remembered from a hike a few years ago, but it was still a great view and very cold! From the lake, you can see the end of the glacier and follow it up as it goes along the mountain. We hiked up to the very top cliff areas that look off into the lake and the surrounding mountain ranges. There are several different trails that go up and around the mountain, or you can hike up the glacier itself. From the wind and weather, the glacier has a decent face to hike up. It is still very slippery though, and one wrong step could send you sliding a ways down the glacier. Luckily, I didn’t slip or fall, but I did recognize that you had to be very cautious.

From the very top, you get a great view of the lake, the hiking trails up other close mountains, as well as the blue gradient mountains in the distance. Again, the view and the hike are worth every bit of travel time and any lost sleep. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay long and had to head back to work, but the area is great for camping. There were several spots for tents  and a few people around the lake fishing. Hopefully, I can make it back there for a short camping trip before the end of the summer, and if I don’t make it up then, I look forward to a hike next spring with my snowboard.069

Visual Narrative

This summer, I have been fortunate enough to get out and hike/bike/SUP in several different places in Colorado. This narrative is a part of my Multimedia Composition class and it tells my story of how my summer came to be.

My Visual Narrative

BIC One Design Race

The sun is shining, the water is calm and reflective, yet to be disturbed by racers frantically finding a way to pull ahead of the crowd, execute their turns, and glide to victory.IMG_2936

Over this past month, I have been able be involved in, and even raced, in a BIC One Design Race. The idea of this kind of race is to even the playing field, if you will. Everyone is placed on the same exact board, a 12’6 BIC Ace Tec Wing. It has a displacement haul in front that allows the board to cut through the water more efficiently than an all-water style board. The first race, there were about 25 people registered. The next event doubled in size as more people heard about it and friends told friends that they should go to check it out. Over 50 people registered for the event, creating an exciting atmosphere.

People ranged in age from 6-74 years old. It was a lot of fun to see all different types of people getting out on the boards ranging from novice racers to experienced and extremely competitive racers.
I, myself, choose to participate in the event. I hadn’t really raced before except for fun with a few co-workers. Being an instructor, I have also mostly been on all-water surf style boards. I have also practiced and taught others to use the basic paddle stroke, where you keep your arms fairly straight and engage the core muscle groups to propel you forward. Racing, on the other hand, proved to be a whole new beast. My paddle strokes were mostly engaging my upper arms and especially my forearms. They were also much shorter than I was used to. I was surprised to wake up the next day feeling sore and didn’t even realize how much of a workout it was in addition to cardio.IMG_2934

While this is a very friendly fun race, many come with the objective of winning in mind. I wasn’t much of an exception, being competitive myself. I competed in two heats and made it to the final six for the last race. For the first time in a while, I had that feeling of excitement and nervousness in actually competing for something against other women who were legitimate racers. From the start, I was tied for first, but with one poorly executed pivot turn and I went straight into the water. (I like to think that it was getting just a little hot out for my liking). Even though I fell in, I was still able to take third overall. However, knowing how competitive I am, I know that each time I get on the water, I will be practicing my pivot turns and racing stroke, looking forward to the last race of the this summer. While the race is a close adventure and doesn’t include taking to the trails of a well-known mountain, it is an absolute blast. It’s great to see many people, who share a liking of S.U.P, gather to enjoy a truly fun atmosphere of another great way to spend time on the water.

There’s Something About a Bike and a Mountain

Just making it up into the mountains even for a few hours, I am extremely content. I find it be very calming and serene. High-rise buildings are replaced with the continuous high-rising mountains. With each turn along the road, a new view is born with rich evergreen trees and aspens. alderfer7Driving up to Alderfer Park is no exception. This park is excellent for a hike or a nice mountain bike ride.

In total, there are about 13.9 miles of trails covering about 1,128 acres. Each trail offers something a little bit different. One of the reasons I love biking this area is for that very reason. If I just want a nice flowing ride along mostly flat and open areas, I can find that. If I want the challenge of a more strenuous and technical climb, I can choose to go on the Sisters trail. This area also exposes you to great mountain views of the Continental Divide and the town of Evergreen as well as Evergreen Lake.

With the variety of so many different trails, I usually start with my friends along the simple Hidden Fawn trail and take that to the Dedisse trail which leads into Dedisse Park. For that portion, we chose to do an out and back because if you continue along the Dedisse Trail, it leads down into Evergreen. This past trip, we took the trail back up the hill and went on to the Three Sisters Trail. This area was by far the most technical with plenty of switch backs and rock formations. Unfortunately, I am not a strong enough mountain biker (yet) to tackle all of these areas, so I did get a workout in hiking my bike along parts of this path. Even though I wasn’t able to stay on my bike the whole ride, it was still nice to appreciate the scenery that surrounded me as I made my way along the single track.photo 4

Compared to other mountain biking trails I have done this summer, such as Lair O’ the Bear or Chimney Gulch, most of the trails (with exception of the Three Sisters Trail) in Alderfer Park aren’t quite as aggressive. While I do love the workout and challenge of going straight up a trail for 40 minutes in order to go back down it, I do appreciate a nice cross-country style ride. So far, Alderfer Park is the only place where I have found a good balance of getting a good workout with great scenery, while also feeling comfortable enough to tackle the trail on my own.

Mostly, I wouldn’t suggest riding alone in the mountains, especially on technical trails, for safety reasons. However, it can be a nice way to get away for a morning or evening. You don’t have to wait for others, or try and keep up. You can judge which areas you want to try, or which ones are best walking your bike up. I like the pace and rhythm of being out on a bike, just moving my pedals in cadence, with no concern of time, or other people’s schedules or biking speed. On top of that, the views, shaded trails, and fresh air are icing on the cake.

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Even if you are not big on the mountain biking, this area is absolutely great to hike or trail run. Just writing about it, I want to be back out there and it’s only been 4 hours since I’ve been back from riding…is that bad?

Stand-up, paddle, repeat

It’s a simple fix: you, a board, a paddle, and a pfd, and you’re set to go. No need for waves, wind or rope.

IMG_2737If any of you have had the opportunity to make it out to any lakes this summer, I am sure you have noticed the newest craze of stand-up paddle boarding (or SUP for short). It seems that in just the past few years, people can be seen standing up on boards everywhere.

Here in Colorado, there are several places that allow people to get on the lakes (and rivers) on their board. I have been fortunate enough to be part of this SUP movement, if you will. As an instructor, I get a new crowd each week eager to try their hand and balance with this exciting sport. Much like riding a bike, people have the ease and option to go as fast or as slow as they please, traveling the full length around a lake or just coasting out to the middle for a tanning session. There is something to be said about the ability to get on a simple board and just go out on the water. You don’t need a motor, just some balance.

Whether I am getting up early to paddle at sunrise or going out to the lake for a lesson, walking my board into the water brings excitement. I have always been a big fan of the water and love getting out to a lake or an ocean in the summer heat. Previously, I was exposed to wakeboarding, surfing, tubing, and water-skiing. It wasn’t until a few summers ago that I tried stand-up paddle boarding in Santa Barbara and loved it. This summer, I’ve been able to get out and enjoy the excellent view of Red Rocks from the calm waters of Soda Lake in the Bear Creek Park. Since the only thing Colorado lacks is an ocean, I’ve found SUP to be my water adventure. I like it for the variation it brings. Whether it be cruising at a speed with a good cadence through each paddle stroke, trying my balance with select yoga poses, or getting a work out by paddling as hard and fast as my body allows, it is difficult to beat the joy of being in the water. SUP Yoga

Just as with most sports, people are finding new and creative ways to have fun on a paddle board. Many of the activities include river running through rivers up to a class 3! Others have taken to SUP Yoga and/or Pilates further challenging their balance and core strength. In addition, many people are trying their hand at SUP fitness with boot camp classes that occur in lakes and even in some pools. Others have found the appeal in going as straight and as fast as possible on touring or racing style boards. Some manufactures even host free races known as a One-Design Race where everyone has to race on the same exact board to eliminate any of the major board differences. Inflatable SUP boards are also in the mix so people can save on storage space or go on a hike to a hidden lake and paddle in more secluded serene environments.

Thinking about the variation SUP offers and the people I have seen out on the lake, I am excited to see how the sport grows. I also look forward to getting on a river myself (class 1, of course) and eventually learning how to paddle surf some of the swells along the Colorado River and near Glenwood Springs. Hopefully, most of you will find the opportunity to get out on a lake or an ocean and give stand-up paddle boarding a try. It just might surprise you.

The Beautiful Rockies

“I would’ve thought the Rocky Mountains would be a little rockier…that John Denver was full of…”

If you are a movie fan, this quote might ring a bell as Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne make their way (a little off course) towards Aspen, Colorado in Dumb and Dumber. While that movie is a classic comedy and fun to quote, the reason I bring it up is because I finally had the opportunity to see for myself how rocky the Rocky Mountains really are. I am a Colorado native, but up until this week, I had never made it out to Rocky Mountain National Park. rmnp

I might be one of a select crazy few, but I chose to start my half day adventure at 3:00am. This gave me plenty of time to get up and start my hike before the sun was blazing, and also gave me time to make it back for work later. If you are one who likes nothing more than to sleep, this might not be the best choice. If you don’t plan on camping or if you don’t have enough time for a full day trip, the views, the hike, and the early morning weather are phenomenal.

The drive from Denver is about a 2 hour drive into Estes Park. After you reach the town, you can continue on highway 34 or 36 towards different areas of Rocky Mountain National Park. We chose to hike the Glacier Gorge area that had more easy/moderate trails like Alberta Falls, Mills Lake, Loch Vale, Black Lake, Andrew’s Glacier and many more. With the choice of lake trails, waterfall trails, summit climbs, or even a fourteener (Long’s Peak), the Rocky Mountain National Park offers miles and miles of hiking.

From our trailhead that started at Glacier Gorge, our first point of interest was Alberta Falls. It is less than a mile hike, but nothing short of breathtaking. The trail was well marked with signs for each path along with the distance Most of the trail goes along the stream with small, often visible rushing waterfalls. Off the beaten path, and right along the edge of the water, tree roots weave together in a knotted fashion to create a trail of its own. Getting off the actual trail can be a little messier in finding your own path while avoiding any hazardous spots or wildlife. I found it to be worth the challenge. The sound of rushing water, the lines of sunlight that break through the trees, a better view of the waterfalls, and a truer feeling of being in the outdoors is hard to beat.

Another one of our hikes that continued on past Alberta Falls was Loch Vale. This trail was a little steeper than the first mile, but again, just as rewarding in the views, and lead us straight to a beautiful lake and high surrounding mountains. The water was calm, and some people even brought up some fishing rods to fish in that area.loch vale

Overall, the area and the possibilities it brings are endless. I wasn’t disappointed in any way, and I definitely plan on making it back there a few more times this summer. I would also suggest this to anyone looking for a really great hiking area that gives you more than just a small hill to climb. It is easy to see why so many people come to Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park for a great outdoor experience.

Touché Lookout Mountain, Touché

Most kids growing up are privileged with their own bike to get out, be active, and explore. I remember getting my first bike as child and loving every moment my sister and I got to go two wheel exploring. This excitement soon faded out and was replaced with my year-round involvement in softball, volleyball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, track and field, and eventually collegiate softball. This is the first summer in 14 years I’ve had the opportunity to venture out and really get into different sports and activities such as biking.

Throughout the start of this summer, I have been trying my best to get out often and bike different places surrounding the Denver area. I was told with confidence from a friend that I was ready to bike Lookout Mountain. For those who don’t know, Lookout Mountain in Golden has been long known for its great views- hence the name. It is a fairly steep and winding road to the very top which happens to house the Buffalo Bill Museum and grave site. While I’ve been to Golden often, I had never really ventured up the mountain to enjoy the great views myself.IMG_2732

I finally had the opportunity to make it up to the top, via my Huffy road bike. (Yes, embarrassingly enough, I do ride a Huffy. Although, I have come to believe that it is the Indian, not the arrow,  that makes the difference.) Bike brands aside, I have a completely new appreciation for all the riders I see biking up that way. Whether you wear sponsored jerseys or not, I commend you.

The hefty climb only accumulates to a 5.21 mile ride. However, you have a gain of about 1,450 ft. Before the ride, I expected 5.21 miles to be no big deal. Too easy, right?……It turns out, not so much. It takes the average person about 30-40 minutes to climb, all uphill. While talking isn’t often seen from bikers on the way up, I was told during this bike ride that the pros can make it up the hill in about 12 minutes, and they average over 20 miles an hour! I know for a fact I wasn’t averaging anything close to 20 miles an hour, but I was able to make it to the top without stopping. Mission accomplished.

It was pretty incredible as you reach the top, and you finally start to bike on level ground, how much energy you realize you have. It is also a great feeling when you get to bike in a higher gear and realize you still have legs to bike faster when only minutes ago, they didn’t seem to be IMG_2731there. Aside from the gear shifting and actual breeze from going faster, the view is absolutely awesome. A lot could be seen on the way up, but I was mostly focused on just spinning. It was better to appreciate it from the very top, anyways. Downtown Golden, the Coors Brewery, and even Downtown Denver are all visible. The feeling of making it to the top and looking at the spectacular view made for a great moment, but the best was yet to come. After the trek up and the great view, bombing down the hill is where it all pays off. Bugs in the face or mouth are nothing when you get to go downhill 20-30+ miles an hour. While it was ridiculously fun and felt amazing to go that fast, you have to be extremely cautious going downhill. Brakes that work well are a must on this downhill because of the frequent and winding turns as well as possible traffic. Wildlife is also something to keep an eye out for- there was a skateboarder who actually was hit by a deer going downhill last year on Lookout Mountain.

Aside from the climb, some slowing turns, and a few bugs in the face, Lookout Mountain was way more than I could’ve expected. So touché Lookout, I look forward to another round…

“The trouble is, you think you have time.”

-Buddha