Category Archives: Weekend Adventures

Run Away // Leadville Trail 100 Run

October 31, 2016

leadville-trail-100-runHave you ever had an experience happen to you in which you fell so short in explaining the magnitude and effect this experience had on you? How do you document such an event? Even though I was asked a multitude of times to talk about my first 100 mile trail race, I don’t think I ever got the story “right.”  But then again, how can you when the story is about something most people think is impossible? img_3407Let’s take it back a year. I had just ran the Silver Rush 50 Miler and had came in as 6th woman overall… which meant that I had a shot at getting an automatic entry into the Leadville 100 Mile Trail Run. I kept telling myself before the awards ceremony that I wasn’t going to get it, because if I did, well then I’d HAVE to run it. After seeing and actively pacing my husband for a couple of 100’s, I had sworn off the notion of ever running that distance. Trail running itself was already a huge departure from my true love of road racing, let alone the whole 100 mile component, but as fate would have it, I finished 3rd in my age group and qualified for one of the Leadville slots. Less than a day later and to the surprise of many, I officially signed up for the longest race I’ve ever done (and honestly, will probably ever do). leadville-100-race-7Fast forward to the weekend of the race. I had an amazing crew: Jill, Kyle, Zach, Taryn, Chad, Annie and Alden; all who gratefully volunteered to help me in some way – from pacing, crewing, or just being their for support! (Thanks Jill for the photos!) As we gathered in the parking lot of our hotel to eat our pasta dinner that night before, I kept thinking of all the beautiful and kind souls I’ve met through running or from the outdoor world. How these people were folks I never wanted to let go. With ginger cookies for dessert and a beer for a nightcap, I said my good nights and headed off to bed around 8pm. img_0149 With a 4am start, I barely slept the night before. Thoughts of what could happen and how I’d feel kept churning through my mind. Anxiety immediately fell to the wayside once I walked up to the start line and Ken Chlouber, founding race director, started talking. Ken has a way to tug at your heart strings, inspire you, and get you pumped to run the race of your life! Once the air horn went off, I felt that spike of adrenaline and told me myself that even though it felt easy, to not push the pace, that I had a LONG way a head of me! In those first few miles, I slowly started passing runners who had started ahead of me in hopes of gaining some ground before we hit the single track trail section around Turquoise Lake. leadville-100-race-8The first 13 miles flew by in a daze. Cursing myself for having started so far back at the starting line, I really only remember passing by quite a few runners (on your left!) and wondering why the heck was I seeing so many men basically peeing on the trail so soon into the race?!  Heading into May Queen (mile 13.5) I barely stopped for food and to ditch my headlamp before running out towards Fish Hatchery (mile 23.5). For the next 15 miles or so, I felt amazing and was flying through the aid stations. It was around the time I had left Twin Lakes (mile 39.5) and was making my way up the dreaded Hope Pass that the effects of the altitude started to hit and I knew I was coming upon a “low.” For the next four or so miles I crept up the mountain, trying to push away negative thoughts and keep up on my eating routine. Cresting upon the Hope Aid Station (mile 44.5), which was about half a mile from the top of Hope Pass, I was not in a good place. “What can I do to get out of this? What can I say to get Zach to let me quit?” was all I could think about. Thoughts like, “well, I could pretend to faint” or “maybe I tell him my pee is bloody” actually went through my head. I was miserable and questioned why in the world this race was a good idea. I probably sat at that aid station for a good 10-15 minutes, eating and hoping I could make myself not feel like shit anymore. Once the leader of the race came back through Hope Pass, I knew I had to get my ass into gear. leadville-100-race-6It’s funny how something as simple as eating a bit of food and making your way DOWN a mountain can instantly make you forget your crazy thoughts about quitting. Lucky for me, I began to pick up the pace a bit on the other side of the pass, but still felt a little off. Coming into Winfield Aid Station (50 miles & turnaround) I was so happy to see my team and have a chance to sit on a cot for a bit. The top of my foot had started aching around mile 35 after I had took a fall and by this point was starting to actually become pretty painful. With more food in my belly, hugs, and Jill as my pacer, we set off to make our way back up Hope Pass. leadville-100-race-3This time, Hope Pass felt “manageable.” Having my poles helped tremendously with overall morale and eased the stress off of my legs.  Most of all, Jill provided me with stories, food, positive vibes, and just an amazing attitude. She truly is the reason I went from, “I’m going to quit” to “I’m halfway done and I can do this!” Passing by the llamas at the top of Hope Pass and seeing the amazing view towards Leadville, I knew I would finish. leadville-100-race-4Heading into Twin Lakes (60.5 miles) to pick up my next pacer, Taryn, I was all smiles again. Zach had brought me a grilled cheese and I shoveled it down with warm broth. The next 15 miles with Taryn passed by so quickly as we chatted away about every aspect of our lives. I loved how this race became a mini reunion to see these two amazing women in my life. Woman who feel the same way I do about running and who I share a treasured history with.  It was only until we reached the road portion leading towards Fish Hatchery where the pain on the top of my foot started to really become apparent and I knew I’d need to rest for a bit. leadville-100-race-5Picking up Zach at Fish Hatchery (76 miles), I was so ecstatic to see my husband. For the next 5 miles, things were going far easier then I had expected considering some of the steep climbs up Sugarloaf Pass. It was around mile 80 when I started to really complain. “How much further till May Queen?” “Why does this road keep going up?!” “Argggh my foot hurts so f*&king bad!!!!!” leadville-100-race-2 There was a reason Zach was chosen to do the last 25 miles with me. I knew that point in the race would be when I needed someone who can put up with my whining, who has seen the worst parts of me, and someone who has been down this exact same trail before (literally & figuratively). I knew if he was with me during these brutal last miles, I would complete this journey, because he knows how to push me to that next level and would have done anything to make sure I crossed that finish line. leadville-100-raceThe last 15 miles (which took around 3 hours to run) seemed to be endless. The pain in my foot was preventing me from running down any inclines and when I could run, it was only for a few meters before I had to walk again. All I could think about was the finish line, a warm shower, and sleeping forever. As we approached the city, my crew joined me for my last mile into town. Tears of joy and a raspy “I did it, I ran 100 miles!” escaped as I crossed the finish line and walked up to Merilee Maupin for my medal.

leadville-trail-100-mile-race1. May Queen Aid Station    2. Fish Hatchery Aid Station    3. Twin Lakes Aid Station    4. Finish!

Finishing in 24 hours and 9 minutes, I earned the “Under 25 Hour” mega belt buckle, along with the honor of being 10th female overall and 2nd in my age group. For as horrible as an idea of running 100 miles might sound and despite my foot injury, it really wasn’t that hard. I know there are probably some runners out there who think I’m either crazy or just plain cocky, but truthfully this type of race can be done by anyone who puts in a little training and has a super strong mental game. Don’t over think it. It can be done!

Weekend Adventures // Ouray

January 16, 2016

Weekend Adventures in OurayI found things in the woods that I didn’t know I was looking for… and now I’ll never be the same. // Jennifer Pharr Davis

You know those places, those special spots that you get so fired up about that no matter the distance, you’d go there in a heart beat. The San Juan Mountain ranges are one of those precious areas for me. It is a remote craggy perfection, so different than the ranges near Denver. So when a few of our friends invited us out to Ouray, we knew regardless of the leering house projects we had going on, we had to go visit this quaint “Switzerland of America” again. IMG_1850The awesome thing about traveling with new friends that love the outdoors as much as you, is that they are usually up for anything. Each day we all split off to play in the mountains however we deemed fit. From backcountry skiing, running, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, to ice climbing – there was no reason any of us would have been bored on this trip. IMG_1848Honestly, it’s hard for me to loosen up and “be me” around people until I’ve known them for a while, but there is something about being in the mountains and sharing in that beauty with others that helps make that transition a little easier. Driving into Telluride to go on an “extreme snowshoe adventure” was probably the highlight of the trip for me. Not only did we get a great workout in, but the VIEWS had me wishing for a little house in Telluride. Snowshoeing towards the epic Bridal Veil Falls, I couldn’t help wondering what the trails would be like in the summer and when we could come back so I could run close enough to the falls to be enclosed by it’s mist.IMG_1853After long days of being out in the snow, we spent each evening cooking family dinners and soaking in the local hot springs. Ouray has several places to go: Ouray Hot Springs, Orivis Hot Springs, and our personal favorite, the Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodging. Sitting in a dark cave that was a mix between an intense sauna and a hot tub, I wondered how they came across this and whose crazy idea was to turn it into a spa and hotel? IMG_1927The morning before we left, I had my first amazing experience ice climbing in Ouray’s Ice Park. This man-made park touts over 200 climbing routes and is one of the world’s premier ice climbing venues in the world. I never really enjoyed rock climbing because of my fear of heights and falling, but for some reason I didn’t think it was near as scary and I loved that I could decide where to put my hands and feet. The ice that wrapped around the rock in this valley was an intense shade of blue and bright white, with a variety of huge ice pillars to delicate chandeliers.   IMG_2062Vacations always make me feel so torn. As much as I didn’t want to leave Ouray and the amazing people we stayed with, I craved to get home to sleep in my own bed and see my puppy. Nothing like a wonderful adventure to remind you of the simpleness of home. IMG_2063

Weekend Adventures // Leadville Trail 100 Run

September 5, 2015

Leadville100A couple weeks ago I went to a seminar about resilient people; the speaker discussed what makes a person resilient and the levels of that trait within us all. As she pointed out the attributes of those who can bounce back after dealing with difficult situations, my mind instantly went to those in my life who I would put into the resilient “bucket.”  My father starting his own business, friends who made the touch decision to move to new cities or to start a new job, and then there is my husband…These loved ones all struggled in the last year to move closer to an ultimate goal, one with several unforeseen hurdles to cross in order to get there. But they bounced back, they pushed onward, and they stayed hardy.

Zach is by nature a “hardy” person. And I guess you’d have to be in order to train and run a 100 miles. No softy is going to survive the physical, emotional, and psychological damage that occurs over a course of 20+ hours of running through the mountains. Adaptability is his strong suit, one that I admire him greatly for. So when he decided this year to attempt his third 100 miler, I knew he’d do whatever it took to cross that finish line. IMG_0830Getting into the Leadville 100 Trail Run in itself is no easy feat. The months of training, hours and weekends of pure mileage were just the foundation. After not getting into the lottery, Zach flew down to Austin, TX to attempt to “win” his way into Leadville by racing the Austin Rattler 75k. Only a few spots were guaranteed and Zach ended up walking away with a third place finish and his ticket into Leadville!IMG_0841As race day came closer and Zach without a second pacer, he reached out to our buddy Rob. Without any hesitation, Rob flew all the way from Chicago – with little sleep and no acclamation to the mountains – just to pace Zach and assist me in crewing. Pure resilience. Robbie is probably one of the most loyal friends we have and one that understands the reasons why we put ourselves through these taxing races. As we chatted non-stop from Denver to Leadville, I felt like I was in college again; there were no cares, no adult things to worry about, just a lady and her friend picking apart old stories and catching up on each others lives.  IMG_0858That night as we walked through the race strategy and aid stations, the peaceful feeling I had slowly waned. Sleep didn’t happen that night and with a 4 am race start, we all appeared a little hazing that morning. Rushing out the door with our burritos and stale hotel danishes, Zach was oddly calm and quiet. We drove in silence to the start of the race – where we were greeted by over 600 other participates. You couldn’t help but be overwhelmed and in awe as guys and gals of all ages toed up to the starting line. Ken Chlouber’s words kept running through my head as the gun went off and the runners causally passed by, “You’re better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can.” IMG_0841With coffee in tow, Rob and I headed to fulfill our crew duties and wait for Zach as he passed through several aid stations. Around mile 50, Rob geared up to pace Zach for a grueling climb over Hope’s Pass. With several river crossings, long climbs,and a steep decent, I knew once I picked Zachary up at mile 75, he was going to be wasted. Anxiety can’t help but creep in when I’m waiting for hours at these aid stations. As soon as he ran into mile 75, all anxiety left as I took the reins and we worked our way towards the next drawn out climb. We didn’t talk much those 25 miles. I pushed gels and chews on him, he told me how much he was hurting, and we tediously made it through the miles. I remember selfishly thinking to myself about how much my feet hurt and how I wish we could just run faster to get the race over with, only to kick myself for thinking my pain would be anything near the feelings Zach was enduring at the time. IMG_0911These races tend to push you to your brink. You second guess your capabilities, you tell yourself you want to quit, or you start hating the whole experience. But then you find yourself a few miles from the finish. It’s distant at first, but a soft cheer can be heard. With lights in the distance growing stronger, we hit the downtown roads only to hear a familiar voice. A mile to go, Rob had patiently waited for us in the cold to help pace the last leg. IMG_0862I gulped down the thick rise of emotions as Zach grabbed our hands as we ran through the finish line. With a finish time of 22 hours and 36 minutes, Zach ended up 28th runner overall, and third in his age group. It’s difficult to comprehend such a feat, but know this – it takes guts, grit, and determination to finish a 100 miles. Frankly, it has me scared shitless as I’ll be tackling this race next year, but I know I have an amazing training partner who will drag me across the finish line if need be. He’ll teach me the tricks, tell me to suck it up, and show me what it means to truly be resilient. Leadville100Finish

Weekend Adventures // Moab

April 11, 2015

Adventures Through MoabHot & tired I stop in the shade of an overhanging ledge and take a drink from my canteen. Resting, I listen to the deep dead stillness of the canyon. No wind or breeze, no birds, no running water, no sound of any kind but the stir of my own breathing. Alone in the silence, I understand for a moment the dread which many feel in the presence of primeval desert, the unconscious fear which compels them to tame, alter or destroy what they cannot understand, to reduce the wild and prehuman to human dimensions. Anything rather than confront directly the antehuman, that other world which frightens not through danger or hostility but in something far worse—its implacable indifference. // Edward Abbey Weekend Adventures_Indian CreekDriving our way west through Colorado, I thought about the miles that were ahead of us for the long journey to the arid desert south of Moab. Southern Utah was uncharted territory for Zach and I, a place that until coming to Colorado I had scarcely considered adding to our long list of “must sees.” With the journey being less than 7 hours away, it seemed wasteful not to at least take a weekend to see what the fuss was all about. As the sun parted ways for the night, the mountains and enormous rock cliffs seemed to grow, the moon illuminating their scale and ambiguity. The last hour before arriving at our campsite was spent staring out into the night trying to grasp and visualize what was exactly outside the window – these massive crags that had no resemblance to the mountains I had come to be familiar with, jutted from the earth in every which way. It was almost like the night had transformed the world around us, as everything felt foreign and exotic in the moonlight. It made me anxious to see what this rugged rock jungle would look like come daybreak. Weekend Adventures_Indian Creek_3That next morning didn’t disappoint as I woke surrounded by red earth, ruddy cliffs, and lush shrubs. The earth here felt so dry and dead, yet life seemed to still be abundant as small lizards scurried past and rabbits teased Toby on our hike that morning.   Weekend Adventures_Indian Creek_6Weekend Adventures_Indian Creek_7Our campsite at Indian Creek is a popular destination for crack climbing so I spent my afternoon staring up into air, yelling words of affirmation at my husband as he attempted to handjam his way up a route. The views from the crag were breathtaking; the flat terrain flaked with towering flat cliffs and spiky peaks held no other sole for miles, blue sky met red earth, and it was dead silent except for the occasional grunts from our fellow climbers.Weekend Adventures_Moab_1Night came on fast and the cold set in. The elderly ladies camping near us kindly offered me a seat around their campfire and I soon fell into an easy conversation as guitars were strummed, folky voices filling the air, while the spunky one of the group twirled a hula hoop through the frigid air. I sat as close as possible to the fire and watched the colored lights on the hula hoop blend together. I thought about how this is what it’s like to relax, not have an agenda, shooting the shit with strangers and taking in the moment. I thought about how this is what I need to do more often, what I need to embrace. Weekend Adventures_Moab_3Weekend Adventures_Moab_4 As the sun slowly came up that next morning, I eagerly woke up knowing today would be the day we’d explore renowned pieces of wilderness. If you ever get a chance to visit Canyonlands National Park and take the south entrance in, you will be floored how it creeps up on you out of nowhere. We ventured into the Needles district where rock spires and deep canyons stretched out in every which way. With the La Sal Mountains in the background, the scenery was staggering and almost impossible to take in. Weekend Adventures_Moab_7 I almost felt bad for leaving so early as we had barely seen a quarter of the park, but I knew I’d want to spend the rest of our day in Arches. We took the opportunity to knock out our run through the park and I couldn’t have asked for a more stunning place to jog through. Heading up to the north side of the park through Devil’s Garden I kept asking Zach to stop so I could take pictures. The dramatic fin canyon, fragile arches, and fiery towers were mind blowing, yet these photos don’t do any of it justice. Years of wear and tear to get to this state made me wonder how this land will look thousands of years from now. Weekend Adventures_Moab_6Exhausted we started our drive back home. As i drifted in and out of sleep, my legs slightly twitched with fatigue and my face flushed from the heat. Good weekends do that to you and this was one helluva weekend. continue reading

Weekend Adventures // Chicago Lakes Basin

October 25, 2014

Weekend Adventures_Summit Lake_3

One exceptional perk about living in a city like Denver is that you are never in want of vistors. Since I moved out here at the end of June we’ve had seven friends and family members come out to the land of adventure, with promises of more to follow. It’s when friends make the effort to fly halfway across the country, spending their hard earned money and vacation just to see me for a few days do I start thinking about how blessed I am to have the friends and family I do. I won’t pretend that I have a ton of friends, because I don’t and I rather keep it that way. But the friends I do have are precious. They are a constant source of strength and grace. They have been with me through a variety of life crisis’ and I know without a doubt, they will be there for the long haul. This past weekend, one of my closest friends from Grand Rapids, MI came out to run a marathon and explore Denver. Despite having a big race that weekend, Hol was all game for doing a long hike through the mountains. The day before she was to run 26.2 miles, she hiked over 10 miles with Zach and I to Chicago Lakes Basin. This was no easy hike either. Considered “strenuous” to most hiking reviews, we ended up doing a far amount of climbing and scrambling up the side of a mountain.

Weekend Adventures_Summit Lake_2

Weekend Adventures_Summit Lake

Heading home, I thought to myself how sore I was from this hike… how the hell was Holly going to run a marathon the next day if she felt anything like I did?! She told us she didn’t care, it was worth it to see the sights we did, to get out into the wild. I think it’s when we have that attitude that amazing possibilities happen. Like Holly almost setting a new personal record the next day – at altitude, with sore legs! Without a doubt, Hol is someone who has a soft strength. Someone who doesn’t declare her toughness for the world to see, she is calm and collective, and I believe that is just one thing that makes her beautiful.

Conquering the Fear of a New Adventure

September 22, 2014

We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. // John Muir

Conquering New Adventures

Moving across the country is serious business. Especially when it involves starting a new life that barely resembles the past. For people like me, I think they try to find refuge in similar experiences, places, and people in there new environment. During my first month in Denver, I sought out the familiar thru a variety of outlets – the running scene, local independent business, churches, vegetarian restaurants – anything that would help me make Colorado feel like home. It just wasn’t working and I was getting pretty frustrated. I kept asking myself “what happened to daring greatly, Kate?” How was it my strength had vanquished, leaving me feeling empty and unstable?  To make matters worse, my running, the grounding force in my life, had turned to shit. Me and the altitude, yeah we weren’t getting along, and it was messing with my mind. Running through some of the most gorgeous Front Range trails, all I could think about was how horrible the run felt and how much I hated being here. Shortly after one of my many meltdowns, Zach started planning weekend trips to get away from the city and I began to use those trips to pretend we were just on a long vacation, a lie I kept telling myself because frankly I was afraid of this new life and fearful that it would never feel right. Heading into the mountains for our weekend adventures soon became the only respite from the constant reminder that this wasn’t home.

Climbing 14ers_Pikes PeakI remember coming back each weekend so refreshed, so in love with this beautiful state, so eager for more adventures, only for those feelings to quickly dissipate once we were home in the city. It soon became clear that in order to help me conquer this fear, I’d need to focus on the positive aspects of Denver, and try not to compare this life to my old.  The mountains were a large part of the allure to move out west, so that’s where we try to be when free time allows.Climbing 14ers_Kite Lake

At the end of the day, it’s hard to be unhappy with this move when I’m fortunate enough to have an endless supply of mountains, trails, views, and just plain ol’ adventure in my backyard. Conquering a fear sometimes takes baby steps, slow little movements in the right direction. The reality is, we’ve accomplished the hardest part – moving out here – I just need to keep crawling towards that feeling of contentment, stableness, and peace with our new adventure.

Denver still doesn’t feel like home yet, but the mountains do, and I’ll take that for now.

2014 // Let’s Discover

January 6, 2014

One of the biggest reasons I love taking a vacation during the holidays is because it is ALWAYS needed during this season. We all are guilty of it, running ourselves ragged in preparation for the end of the year, so when my parents suggested we take a week off after Christmas to head somewhere warm, Zach and I were all in. We decided that for this trip we weren’t going to pack it full, like all of our other vacations, but spend it solely relaxing on the beach, reading, eating and spending time with our family. And that is exactly what we did. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but it seriously took me a couple days to unwind and not feel anxious. Relaxing is really hard for me, but I knew I needed this more than ever. When the cares melted away, I felt like I could just let my mind wander, to think more deeply about my goals, priorities, and where I wanted 2014 to go. This past year has been pretty challenging for Zach and I, but it has set us up for a new year, a year to discover.

So let’s discover ourselves more. Discover what we really want from this crazy life; where our priorities truly lay. Let’s discover our strengths, our weaknesses, and push ourselves beyond those. Let’s discover new realms, new people, and new cultures. Discover unseen talents and buried hobbies. To just discover more.
Continuing with the same theme from 2013, my goal of traveling at least once a month is one of my top priorities. Right up there are: training for my second 50 miler, learning another language, refining key cooking skills, journaling more, less time on social media, minimizing the material objects in my life, and continue practicing eating plant based foods.
I’m fired up about 2014!  I’m slowly figuring out how to live a balanced life while still exploring those endless pursuits, and it damn it feels good. I’ve always considered myself extremely organized, but I’m not always the best of planners. So I’m testing out the app Lift to help remind me each day about my goals. I’m also pretty obsessed with using the Duolingo app as one of the ways to new a learn language. Journaling has also helped me keep track of my thoughts and focus on the direction I want my life to go. What have you found are the best tools to help you reach a goal?
Cheers to 2014! Let’s go discover!

Weekend Adventures // Birthday Brunch

November 22, 2013

They tell you you’re supposed to make a wish on your birthday. The cake arrives with candles randomly place amongst thick colored icing; each flame marking the years of your life. At seven, I wished to be nothing more than a Disney princess. At 16, a car, so I didn’t have to ride the bus to school anymore. At 21, a new boyfriend was all I wanted. If maturity is measured by your wishes, this year I think I’ve grown up a lot. For my 27th birthday, all I wished for was a weekend spent with my lover, some great friends, and good brunch. 
Wish granted. 
You can’t do brunch without home fries. They are my jam. Slathered with ketchup or hot sauce, these crispy taters never stay around for long. Brunch isn’t complete without something sweet to nibble on in between coffee slurps. I haven’t made muffins in a while, so maybe I’ve forgotten or just have progressed in my baking abilities, but I was so impressed how easy these vegan banana walnut muffins came together. 

Moments spent around our dinner table that morning consisted of storytelling, awkward pauses, lots of mimosas, and mouths full of food. Eventually the conversation turned to running, something everyone of us have in common. It’s a comfortable place to be, surrounded by runners. Brunch and runners, that’s what I want for every birthday. 
That and more mimosas.  

Gotta give props to Kelsey for thinking to add the orange juice to my original pear mimosa recipe. It jazzed it up a notch and to be honest, tasted way better than just the pear by itself. 
Pear & Orange Mimosa
 pear nectar
orange juice
 lime, cut into slices
You can either buy pear nectar or make your own. 
To make your own, peel and core about 4 cups worth of pears. Puree the pears in a food processor. In a saucepan add 3 cups of water, 3/4 cups of sugar, and the pureed pears. Cook on medium until the sugar is well dissolved and the pears have cooked down some. Pour out the mixture through a sieve to strain out the lumps. Pour in a jar and store in fridge. 
To make your drink – fill your glass halfway with champagne, top the glass off with half pear nectar and half orange juice. Squeeze and drop in a wedge of lime. 
Then get your brunch on. 

Weekend Adventures // Camping at Manistee National Forest

November 6, 2013

“Doesn’t last night’s reality seem so far away?” 
It’s funny how quickly we forget discomfort. That the moment we get back into our comfort zone, we tend to forget that once felt strain. Zach’s question immediately prompted thoughts of our camping trip to Manistee National Forest; the restlessness and beauty of this weekend adventure indeed seemed ages ago. 

Camping isn’t made to be completely tranquil and this is one of the reasons we love it. If it were meant to be effortless, then we might as well stay home and do nothing. Hiking several miles to a preferred campsite, attempting to build a fire with wet wood, and sleeping in 20 degree weather are not painless, but reward comes from overcoming these obstacles, for “surviving” if you will. 

Talking with Zach about these small obstacles we overcame this weekend made me realize how weak and fragile we truly are when we stay in our comfort zones. I felt like I was a baby for being so sore after sleeping one night on the ground and that my arches hurt from miles of hiking. Had I coddled myself too much? Shielded myself from the elements? It made me instantly feel blessed for the luxuries we have, but ashamed at the same time for being so spoiled. 

This absentmindness about discomfort is why we cherish our weekend adventures. They are constant reminders of explorations forgotten. Reminders that there is always more to see, more to experience, more to feel. 

Weekend Adventures // Olympia XC Reunion

August 8, 2013

Friends are pretty dang hard to find. 
I’ve been living in Grand Rapids for over 2 years and it amazes me that the people I’m the most close to are rarely ones I’ve met here. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m out of school and honestly don’t make time to pursue new relationships… or maybe it’s because I’m just happy with a very small group of folks I call friends. 
Thru high school and college, running is where I’ve met the most amazing ladies – they are gals who just get me; or rather put up with me. So I can’t express how floored I was when some of my oldest high school running mates decided to make the trek to Michigan this summer. Years have gone by, but the instant they walked up to our front door, it was like I was back in high school. 
I gave them just taste of West Michigan by heading out to Grand Haven for a 10k race; of course we had to make a stop to the beach. Sitting out on the pier with these ladies, I thought about how natural this felt, like we had done this many times over. This is what true friendship feels like. 
True friends embrace each other’s views on life. They constantly want to learn more about you and genuinely listening to you, even if these views don’t align perfectly with their own. To hear my friends openly ask questions about my lifestyle and eating habits, while not judging me in the slight, reassured me that these ladies are keepers. My gracious guest allowed me to cook for them vegan meals that weekend. Filling our bellies, we laughed and teased each other as we rehashed the ridiculous high school memories that will never die. 
Thank you Tiff, Jill, and Becky. 
You have no idea how much the time spent with you meant to me. 
Love you. Till next time. WTVeganVacy2014!