Every Now and Then, It’s Okay to Not Have An Epic Adventure

Sometimes an adventure may come in a different shape and size other than what we think it should be…

I was so excited about the upcoming President’s Day weekend ~ that translated into a 4-day holiday weekend for Dale and I. OOOOOOOO!!!!! Where should we go? What should we do? How far to we want to travel? When should we leave?  Thursday night after work or Friday morning bright and early?  Should we take our camper or stay in a motel?  Do we go to a National Park or State Park?  Should we plan to go fishing? Do we take our side-by-side or just hike?  The upcoming weekend is ripe for adventure!! The possibilities are endless!!   We started our planning on the Tuesday before the weekend. 

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Washington and Mr. Lincoln!!

I mentioned to Dale, let’s go north to Curt Gowdy State Park in Wyomincurt-gowdy-state-parkg. We had always wanted to go there and check out their reservoirs and numerous trails. It’s only about a 4.5 hour drive from us. And we have friends in Laramie a half hour away whom we could visit. Perfect!  Wait. It’s the middle of Feb. Even though the water is still frozen, the trails might be dry.  Then there is the horrific wind we have to deal with.  Hmmm.  I’ll sit and stew on that one a bit.

Let’s go west!  We could take our camper to Goblin Valley State Park in UT.  It’s only a 4 hour drive.  It’s in the desert and we could take our camper and go hiking.  Checked on campsite availability ~ nada.  All full. 

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Goblin Valley State Park, Utah

Okay…..  Change of direction. Let’s go south! Once we cross the southern border of Colorado, the weather should be nicer (although, our winter here in Meeker has been pretty nice so far).  We could drive to Mexican Hat in the southern part of Utah, almost to the Arizona border, and hang out at Goosenecks State Park overlooking the San Juan River. It’s only a 5.5 hour (gulp!) drive south through the mountains. Then there’s always the possibility of a random snowstorm.  We’d have our camper and would be pulling our trailer with our side-by-side on board (double-gulp!).

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Gooseneck State Park on the San Juan River

Throughout the week, Dale and I tossed around these ideas.  Why was it so hard to make a decision? I even asked my friends on Facebook which of the above mentioned places would they prefer to go?  My sister said to come visit her in Arizona.  My friend said to come visit her in Laramie and another said she liked Goosenecks.  I think the rest of my friends were hanging in the shadows and didn’t want to interfere with our selection process.  

Aspen coasters.JPGAs Friday morning rolled around, we found out that we were needed to work at the local artisans cooperative as no one had signed up for that day.  So we spent Friday working, talking with customers, doing book work and making native Aspen wood coasters with turquoise inlay. A very fun and productive day.

On Saturday morning,  we woke up to a nasty weather forecast for the southern part of the state and into the northern part of Arizona and New Mexico.  There goes our trip south. The wind was still in the forecast for Wyoming ~ it always is, no surprise there, so there goes our trip north.  We were contemplating on traveling into the mountains to visit our favorite town, Ouray, and stay at our favorite motel, the Wiesbaden, but we’d have to kennel our Saint Bernard, Fiona, and we didn’t feel like doing that on the spur of the moment.

Later that morningremodel, our friend called and needed Dale’s help with some remodeling he was doing.  Then Dale’s uncle called from Maybell (45 miles north of Meeker) and said if we were going to be around, he’d like to drive over and pick up the snowmobiles and jeep we wanted him to have.  So, our day was pretty much shot from there on.  

Sunday morning found us sitting on the sofa in our bathrobes and drinking coffee while looking at ideas on Pinterest.  That website can get you into more trouble than anything else possibly can!  All of a sudden, I had a wild idea!  Let’s remodel the mudroom!  It wouldn’t be too hard ~ we could make a screaming trip to Lowes (1.5 hours away), grab some items and start working on it.  We still had 2 days left in the weekend! Brilliant!

On our way to Lowes located in Glenwood Springs, we decided to stop in and see our friends, the Gambas.  We hadn’t visted them in a while and we knew they were bottling their Gamba Family Wine that weekend.  We pulled up to their home, expecting a crowd of friends there to help them ~ we saw only a few cars, so we joined in to help finish bottling their 2014 Zinfandel and Barbera wine.  I always like to help them – it’s the best job ever!  Being Italian, the Gambas know how to put on a feed like no other.  So, we bottled wine, drank wine, met new friends, touched base with old friends and ate like kings!

remodelFive hours later we were back on the road to Glenwood.  We hit Lowes fast and furiously, made our purchases, then beat it back home.  The next morning, we got up, fixed breakfastthen proceeded to make a mess in our house.  

Monday evening, we sat back and realized there was a reason for our indecisiveness regarding the long weekend.  Obviously we weren’t meant to go on the type of an adventure that I had thought about.  Our destiny pointed us in a different direction. Initially, I was disappointed that the weekend was going to be a bust, but thinking it over on Monday evening, I was contented with what all we had accomplished and who all we got to help. And I was okay with that, because every now and then it’s okay to not have an adventure ~ or maybe it was an adventure…

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Planning an Adventure is Half the Fun!

Earlier this year, my husband Dale, and I were hanging out in the front room, watching television and talking about the upcoming summer. We usually plan a few weekend trips and a couple of overnight hikes. He came up with the brilliant idea of going on a major backpacking trip this summer. By major, I mean, packing up everything you own to keep yourself alive for 5-6 days in the unforgiving Colorado wilderness, strapping it to your back and wandering down a trail to parts unknown.

 

A couple of summers ago, we backpacked three segments (42 miles) of the 28 segment, 500+ mile, Colorado Trail.  

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One life goal of mine has been to complete Colorado’s premier trail ~ not as a thru-hiker, but as a segment hiker. Many hikers complete the trail as thru-hikers in about a month to a month and a half. I have no desire to pound out the heavy mileage day after day, with my head down, my earbuds blasting trail music, not interacting with anyone for fear of being thrown off schedule. For me, work gets in the way of completing more than a few segments at a time. Plus, I really don’t think my body or my mind could handle more than six days on a trail at any given time. 

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When Dale brought up the CT hike, I jumped on it like a rat on a Cheeto!  First of all, we have something fun to look forward to this summer and second, we get to plan for more segments on Colorado’s premier trail.

Which, in turn, means, we get to drag out all our CT books that are gathering dust so we can figure out which segments we are going to tackle.

Mileage is very important. We live hours from the trailheads and need to factor in our traveling time to and from the TH.  Then we need to figure out who gets to drop us off and pick us up 5-6 days later.

 

**More highway travel time equals less time on the trail.

Note to self: Need to put in for vacation time… a lot of it….

Next, we plan how long we can be on the trail. One doesn’t just throw some gear in a pack and head down a trail. Many things need to be taken into consideration.

Given the terrain, how many miles per day can we hike? Where are the water sources? Where are the best campsites? Will there be a lot of exposure? Will we be susceptible to thunderstorms? Snow? What are the weather patterns looking like? When will the largest elevation gains and losses occur? Given the amount of snowpack, which month should we go?  So many questions to be answered.  Our guidebooks and maps will help to answer some of the questions. Our experience and intuition will help with the rest.  

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I get to plan the menu for each day and then start dehydrating food. I’ll pack our meals neatly into gallon size baggies with the order in which we eat it. Menu preparation takes a long time, but is very rewarding ~ our survival depends on it.

 

Lastly, I get to go through our hiking box and start separating out all our gear. That’s my favorite part. When I open the lid of our hiking box I swear I hear angels singing.  I love to go through our gear, touching every piece like it’s the holy grail.  We have gear for all types of weather ~ it’s Colorado.  The weather patterns change every five minutes!

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Better get out my notebook and start planning. I will fill my notebook with notes, menus and schedules.  My eyes are glazing over and I’m already dreaming of our time on the trail…summer in Colorado is already starting to look good!

A Snowshoe Adventure in The Colorado Rockies

Wintertime in the Colorado Rockies can be long and miserable.  Because of our endless winter, Coloradoans have long been known for their ability to play in the snow. We love our skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. But not all Coloradoans are created equal. I don’t ski or snowboard. Sacrilege!! I know, I know!  I don’t snowmobile, either.  

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So how does one survive the Colorado winters without strapping boards to the bottoms of their feet and heading downhill at high rates of speed?  They strap snowshoes on, that’s how.  I love snowshoeing.  It’s quiet.  The equipment is minimal and inexpensive. There are no lift lines or expensive tickets to buy. You can create your own trail if you want to.  It’s great exercise and virtually anyone can do it.  You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy.  

Our favorite trail takes us up to Marvine Campground which is located in the White River National Forest on the edge of the Flat Tops Wilderness in northwest Colorado.  It’s a 45 minute drive from our home in Meeker. You park your vehicle at the trailhead, strap on your snowshoes and head on down the groomed portion of the county road that is not maintained during the winter.  Easy peasy!

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It’s a beautiful hike ~ about a 5 mile round trip through amazing country.  The hike is a gradual uphill climb to the campground.  Along the way you might see rabbits, deer, elk and if you’re really lucky, a moose or two.  Very rarely do we run into other skiers or snowshoers.  If we do, they are friends we know from town as we live in an isolated area and know everyone who plays in these parts. 

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The reward for your efforts is the way cool yurt at the end of the trail ~ Roy Wedding, his friends, and the White River Nordic Council set the yurt up every year.  It’s a great place to snowshoe or ski into.  Inside, there is a wood burning stove, chopped wood, propane gas burners, pots, chairs and tables.  My family has enjoyed numerous excursions to the yurt ~ we have played cards, had lunches and have just plain hung out.  Every now a then, the Nordic Council offers a moonlight ski/snowshoe to the yurt ~ we will have to make a point to enjoy that adventure next!

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Goal Setting ~ Beware of Overload

Setting goals is easy ~ accomplishing them is the hard part. Too often we set ourselves up for failure by the high expectations we set for ourselves. The trick is to not not bite off more than you can chew. Sure, we all think we can accomplish anything we set our minds to. But, sometimes we fail and then we get ripped up about it.  To avoid that rollercoaster ride of emotion, why don’t you just sit down and think about what you want to accomplish ~ think about your goals.  Then walk away. Come back a few days later and revisit those goals.  That always helps me to put my hair brained ideas into perspective.  And you know what?  It works!

 

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Here is what some of my fellow Hike Like A Woman ambassadors have to say about their goal setting for 2017.

http://hikelikeawoman.net/2017/01/the-truth-about-2017/

Screaming!!!!!!!

As many of you already know, last month I was one of 36 women to be chosen as an ambassador for the online community, Hike Like A WomanHike Like A Woman is the brainchild of Rebecca Walsh.  She envisioned a community of like-minded women who would encourage and inspire each other to get outdoors and enjoy all the gifts Mother Nature has to offer.  She wanted to share her knowledge of the outdoors with others in hopes of motivating them to do the same.  Well, it worked!!!!! She has built an online community which has over 14,000 followers!  She must be doing something right ~ and the community is gaining new members every day.

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A few months ago, Rebecca posted an idea that she hoped would help expand her philosophy ~ why not create an ambassador program to help her spread the word? What she originally had in mind, was to find 12 women who would contribute blogs and articles on hiking and backpacking, trip reports, stories of inspiration, hiking hacks, gear reviews, book reports, favorite hiking snacks, and more, so the website could take on a different personality.  Rebecca didn’t want HLAW to be all about her.  She wanted to extract ideas from different women of all ages, backgrounds, demographics and levels of knowledge in the hiking community. She crossed her fingers and encouraged women to apply for her pilot ambassador program by filling out an application and submitting an essay on why they should be picked as an ambassador. She hoped for any kind of a response. Well, guess what?  She received 118 applications ~ one of which was mine!  WOWZER!!!! She was bowled over by the unexpected enthusiasm of women who wanted to be a part of the HLAW Ambassador program.

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Now, Rebecca had a big problem – who to select? How in the world does one read through 118 applications and select only 12 to represent? She looked through the applications and decided she had to open the program up to more than just 12 women.  She eliminated applications until she came to a manageable number of  30 women representing the US and 6 international ambassadors.

Frankly, I had forgotten about applying for the HLAW Ambassador program.  I had seen it flash by my newsfeed on Facebook.  I doubled back and read about it.  Intrigued, I applied, thinking it would be so great to share with other women who enjoyed hiking and backpacking as much as I did.  I LOVE hanging with my friends, but, other than my husband, Dale, I really don’t have anyone close to me who enjoys the outdoors like I do.  So, I filled out my application, wrote my stupid essay, thought, “no way in hell, Jill”, pushed SEND and that was that.  Over the next few weeks, a post would appear from Rebecca, “Narrowing it down to 80 applications.  Will let you know by email when I decide…”. Holy moley!  That’s a lot of women with more knowledge, charisma and experience than I have. I’m done…. So, I forgot all about it and channeled my energy towards other things.

On July 23rd, I opened an email from Rebecca, fully expecting a sweet, “Thank you for applying, but….”. The email thanked me for applying , the response was overwhelming, blah, blah, blah, and oh, by the way, “I’m excited to announce that I selected you as an Ambassador!”  

SCREAMING!!!!!!!!!!!!    Oh.  My.  Hell.  I was chosen.  I WAS CHOSEN!  Wait.
What? I was chosen??? Really?  Me?  From Nowhere, Colorado?? Me? Really?? I must have read and reread Rebecca’s email numerous times.  I still have it.  I think I’ll print it and frame it.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would even come close to being selected.  Call it self doubt.  Call it being humble.  Call it low self esteem. Or modesty. Whatever you call it, that was me.  And it still is.  

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I am a Hike Like A Woman Ambassador.  I am a Hike Like A Woman Ambassador. I kind of like the sound of that!  ♥  My girlfriend, Cindy, who didn’t know at the time (we were sworn to secrecy ……great… that was soooo hard!), noticed I had a spring in my step as I cruised by her office. It does give you a sense of validation to be one of 36 chosen from 118 applications. I’m still internally SCREAMING on a daily basis. 

I’m starting to sweat bullets and have a touch of anxiety as the deadline approaches for my first submission.  But, I have all the other ambassadors and Rebecca inspiring me and encouraging me along the way, so that gives me the confidence that I can handle whatever comes my way.  I am not alone in this journey.  And that’s what we are all about. There are amazing women within this group of whom I have come to know and love as if I had known them forever. They bring so much to the table and I look forward to collaborating with them over the next year. 

Best part of being involved in the ambassador program? I get to help encourage and inspire others ~ whether you are a seasoned veteran hiker or a novice to the outdoors,  we all need someone in our hip pocket to give us the little extra push to walk off that cliff backwards….

 

Walking Off a Cliff Backwards

Thirty-eight years ago, while as a student at Western State College (now known as Western State Colorado University) in Gunnison, Colorado, for the first time ever, I walked off a cliff backwards.  I had equipment and teammates to support me in my journey downward until my feet touched the ground.  Once my feet were planted firmly on the rocky soil of Hartmans Rocks  (I don’t remember how I even got there), I fell to my knees and literally kissed the ground, thankful for the trust I had to have in my equipment and in those who were in charge of my well-being.  I mean, who would want to make that dreaded phone call to my parents: “Mr. and Mrs. Norcross? I’m calling to inform you that your daughter has made a very unique splatter pattern on the rocks.  Looks kind of cool, like a Spirograph pattern, ya know? Anyway, could you please give me your address so we can scrape her off the side of the cliff and ship her remains to you in an envelope?”

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Not me, man.  So, I can understand why my mountain rescue teammates would want to ensure that I survived this simple act of walking off a cliff backwards.

Thirty-five years later, I again walked off a cliff backwards.  This time, there were no material things or physical bodies to arrest my free fall… I dove headfirst into a world I had always fantasized about, but never took the first steps to enter, until 3 years ago when I entered the world of backpacking and hiking.

My husband and I have been together for 36 years ~ married 32 of those years.  We have been through a lot.  Births, raising a family, deaths, illness and other factors that could tear a marriage apart. But we persevere.  So, this blog was born for many reasons ~ I won’t go into detail, but for the most part, my husband and I want to share our adventures.  We are a team in the game of life.  We love our children and our grandchildren as much as a human possibly can.  We realize they have their own lives and we have ours.  It’s just the two of us now ~ so we have decided to make the most out of our time together as much as we possibly can.  Adventure awaits!!!

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I LOVE BACKPACKING!!!! Did I say that loud enough?? I always have.  I was introduced to it during my years at college by my teammates on the Western State College Mountain Rescue Team which I was a part of for 3 years.  I love being outdoors.  I love hiking.  I love identifying flowers, plants, animals, valleys, peaks, and sharing with others.  I love the simplicity of knowing all you need to survive with, is on your back.   I love the freedom from all the technical communication gadgets that were invented to make our world an easier place to live in. I love saying, “We’re going off the grid for a few days.  Will phone when we return.” Dale, on the other hand only hiked as a necessity; a horse trail to clear, or a fence to be mended, or a game animal to chase which would help to feed our family for the year.

Dale was raised in Meeker, Colorado, smack dab in the middle of the hunting culture. That’s all he knew.  You didn’t hike or backpack just for the freedom of doing so.  You hiked because you needed to hunt an elk or deer.  You backpacked the carcass out of the forest.  It was work.  Not play.  You snowshoed not because you wanted to experience the crisp, winter chill or see the snow sparkle and glisten upon it’s surface, you snowshoed to shovel the snow off of cabins in the winter so you would have one come spring.

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With that in mind, we have been been at a tug-of-war for 32 years.  Three years ago, I finally won!!!  I somehow managed to open Dale’s eyes to adventure in hiking and backpacking.  He is now on the lookout for adventures ~ so much, that at times it’s overwhelming, but I’m not gonna kick it!  We enjoy sharing together, pointing out cloud shapes, blooming Columbines, tundra, peaks, listening to Pikas call to each other, where to set up camp, how many miles to hike on a given day, sharing meals, taking care of each other and making decisions together to insure our survival.  Life at it’s simplest.

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We enjoy dragging our friends down our path.And they seem to enjoy the ride, as well.

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We all have so much fun, but at the end of the day, it’s just Dale and I.  And that’s what counts. This blog is dedicated to all our adventures, past, present and future ~ my hope is that others will enjoy and realize that everyone has their own cliffs to walk off backwards ~ “life is a great adventure, or nothing”.  What you choose to do with it speaks volumes as to who you are.

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