HutTripsGiving: Ben Eiseman Hut Trip

Let’s get one thing straight from the beginning here - getting to this hut is no frickin’ joke. It was super hard and honestly, if I don’t make it back to Ben Eiseman in the winter for a couple of years, it might still be too soon. I’m kidding. Kind of.

Like last year, our friends Brandon and Dan coordinated a Thanksgiving hut trip and Alex and I snagged an invite. Instead of trekking to 2 huts over the long weekend, the group opted to stay at one hut for all 3 nights so Brandon selected Ben Eiseman Hut, a 10th Mountain Division hut just outside Vail. The hut sleeps 16+ people and is one of the more isolated huts, according to the 10th Mountain Division website.

The hike in was 7 long, upward miles. The first couple of miles were gentle inclines but as the day dragged on, it felt like we’d never reach the hut. We knew the last 1.5 miles were really steep switchbacks but knowing didn’t make the doing any easier.

In total, it took us 8-9 hours to get to the hut so warning to future hut trippers, leave the trailhead before 10 a.m. We did not and arrived in the dark which is a little bit disconcerting, especially for first time hut trippers/snowshoers/backpackers (our group had many).

Ben Eiseman Thanksgiving Hut Trip // lgsmash.com Ben Eiseman Thanksgiving Hut Trip // lgsmash.com Ben Eiseman Thanksgiving Hut Trip // lgsmash.com

Overjoyed to finally reach the hut and exhausted from trekking with heavy, heavy packs, we started the fire and prepped the hut for those who were still out. A short deliberation about eating Thanksgiving dinner that night ensued (hunger vs. exhaustion) and ultimately, gorging on the heavy ass food we carried in won. And almost immediately after, the entire cabin called it a night and passed out in a matter of minutes.

Ben Eiseman Thanksgiving Hut Trip // lgsmash.com

The next 2 days were spent doing whatever the hell we wanted. We built really fun (and not very safe) sled hills outside the hut. We played Farkle, Trivial Pursuit and Cards Against Humanity multiple (+multiple) times. We read books and magazines. We cooked and ate 10+ packs of bacon (10+ because I lost count). We drank Mountain Margaritas. We listened to and sang along with Shake It Off too many time. In short, we had a blast.

Ben Eiseman Thanksgiving Hut Trip // lgsmash.com

Ben Eiseman Thanksgiving Hut Trip // lgsmash.com Ben Eiseman Thanksgiving Hut Trip // lgsmash.com

Ben Eiseman Thanksgiving Hut Trip // lgsmash.com

Ben Eiseman Thanksgiving Hut Trip // lgsmash.com

Ben Eiseman Thanksgiving Hut Trip // lgsmash.com

Ben Eiseman Thanksgiving Hut Trip // lgsmash.com

Ben Eiseman Thanksgiving Hut Trip // lgsmash.com

Blurry photo courtesy of dim lighting and too much wine.

Ben Eiseman Thanksgiving Hut Trip // lgsmash.com

Ben Eiseman Thanksgiving Hut Trip // lgsmash.comWhile the trek in was painstakingly long, our time spent at the hut was fabulous. Almost to the point that short term memory loss could kick in and trick me into hut tripping at Ben Eiseman again in the near future. Almost.

The sunrises and sunsets were absolutely stunning and the views from and around the hut were incredible. The hut itself was so spacious and beautiful. The company was hilarious and awesome and the food was the best I’ve had in the backcountry. One of the best part of hut trips is knowing that the other 15 people who are at the hut with you are just as crazy about the mountains as you are. We come from different walks but our passion is the same: Get outside, have fun, do things you love and be with people you enjoy.

But back to Ben Eiseman: It’s well worth the hike if you’re prepared for what you’re getting into. I probably wouldn’t recommend this hut to a first timer but it is doable – ours survived and are excited about future hut trips and snowshoeing.

CarMax for Car Shopping

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of CarMax. All opinions are 100% mine.

Almost 6 years ago, I stuffed my post-college life into the back of a 1998 Ford Contour, affectionately named Connie, and set my Garmin GPS for Denver. And for the better part of those six years, Connie has been my go-to gal! We’ve driven through mountains, across the country to visit family in Cincinnati, to the US/Canada border to canoe through the Boundary Waters, around Utah and Colorado on ‘Coloradocation’. We’ve trekked to Keystone and A-Basin to ski, skis and snowboards delicately stuffed inside the car. We’ve spent so many hours of commuting together, jamming out to our favorite songs while we battle rush hour traffic.

Moving day! So long, Cincinnati.

Moving day! So long, Cincinnati.

Sleeping at the trailhead in the tiny Contour

Sleeping at the trailhead in the tiny Contour

Bound for the Boundary Waters, MN

Bound for the Boundary Waters, MN

In recent years, though, Connie’s been showing her age and Alex and I have started talking about what happens in the coming year(s) when we have to officially acknowledge that it’s time to replace my beloved Contour.

When we bought our Outback, Alex spent a lot (a LOT) of time researching cars, reviewing trim details and negotiating price via email with dealers. We knew we wanted a new-to-us, gently used car so we visited multiple dealers, drove multiple cars and, ultimately, found OsCar the Outback in Pueblo. While we’re very happy with the car, the car buying process was tedious and draining.

An option we’ve been looking into is shopping at CarMax. One of the two Denver locations is just a mile down the road from a Subaru dealership we visited a couple of times for test driving. Last year, it wasn’t on our radar when car shopping but this time, the hassle-free car buying process is very attractive to us!

Carmaxsmaller

Because CarMax entered the used car business to combat a perceived lack of integrity with the used car buying process, the CarMax mission is to provide transparent and honest experiences for the consumer. CarMax also offers low, up-front prices so there’s less need to negotiate (my least favorite part!) and their sales team is paid the same commission, no matter what car you buy – so there’s incentive for to sell you the RIGHT car and not upsell to a car that will bring in more commission.

So whether we’re living in Denver or somewhere else, we’ll be looking at CarMax - with 2 Denver locations and more than 140 nationwide – as an option when it’s time to replace Connie Contour. I mean, a streamlined, no-hassle, transparent car buying process? Sign me up!

Visit Sponsor's Site

#CheersTo Tasty Cocktails (and the husband who makes them for me)

Blackberry Mule with Zevia and VEEV Recipe // lgsmash.com

One thing I know for sure I am not is creative in the kitchen. Fortunately for me, I am married to a man who is a creative cooking genius. He pulls random flavor combinations together and they become an incredible meal. There has yet to be something he makes us for dinner that doesn’t taste excellent.

So when I told him I was going to make a cocktail for us using Zevia, he casually asked if I wanted any help.

‘No no, I think I got it,’ I replied, excited to do it myself.

‘What are you going to put in it?’

‘Well, I have this VEEV liquor and some Zevia Ginger Ale and found a recipe on the VEEV website that could work. But…we don’t have limes. So….VEEV and Zevia is my cocktail.’

And then he asked what the definition of a cocktail was because we were both pretty sure a cocktail requires more than 2 ingredients. (It does.)

Alex pulled out blackberries and cilantro from our fridge and whipped us up these Blackberry Mules, as we’re calling them.

Zevia’s holiday campaign is #CheersTo as we raise our glasses and cheers things we’re grateful for this holiday season. #CheersTo fancy drinks, a husband who makes them and the moments shared while we enjoy them.

Blackberry Mule

Ingredients

  • 3-4 blackberries, muddled
  • 5-6 cilantro leaves, muddled
  • 1 shot VEEV Vodka
  • Zevia Ginger Ale
  • Ice

Directions

  • In a glass, muddle the blackberries and cilantro together.
  • Add in 1 shot of VEEV.
  • Pour over ice in a rocks glass and top with Zevia.
  • Enjoy!

#CheersTo you!

Sierra Trading Post = Adventure For You (#TeamSierra Giveaway) CLOSED

These days, I can’t even remember how Alex and I stumbled upon Sierra Trading Post, nearly 5 years ago. But I know it didn’t take long for the online retailer to become a staple in our gear purchasing lineup. These days, I’m hard pressed to NOT find my husband scrolling through the STP app in the evenings, adding items to his ‘wish list’, waiting to strike when the right deal comes along.

As Alex and I were getting our feet wet in the hiking/backpacking/outdoor adventure world, we turned to Sierra Trading Post to fuel our gear needs. Saving money on last year’s gear was a great way to acquire the gear we needed, at a price point we could swallow. It let us figure out what we really wanted in a jacket, hat, pair of climbing shoes, trekking poles or pack before committing the ‘big bucks’ as we saw it. But now we’ve found, we still not need to spend the big bucks! I’m not even joking when I say that 85% of the gear we use on a regular basis was purchased on Sierra Trading Post.

#teamsierra adventure // lgsmash.com

Almost everything you see in this photo was purchased on Sierra Trading Post!

In a very literal way, Sierra Trading Post has provided me and my husband with adventure. Without Sierra Trading Post, there would be no snowshoes, no gaiters, no trekking poles, no ski helmets, no puffy down coat, no lobster mittens, no liner socks. Without these things, it’d be a lot harder to backpack, ski, trail run, mountaineer or rock climb. A lot fewer outdoor adventures, for sure.

So when Sierra Trading Post asked if I wanted to join #TeamSierra and host a giveaway for ca$h money gift cards, I hardly blinked before replying ‘YES!’ As cheesy as it sounds, I want to help a couple of you find a bit more adventure in your life with the help of Sierra Trading Post, too. Whether shopping for yourself or your favorite adventurer, a $75 gift card to Sierra Trading Post will go a long way towards your next gear purchase!

Because I hate blog giveaways with many hoops to jump through to enter, let’s make this easy for all of us, shall we?

Up for grabs: 2 Sierra Trading Post gift cards, $75 each.

To enter:

1. Visit the Sierra Trading Post site here.

2. Leave a comment below with a piece of gear that you’re most excited about. Be sure to include a legit email address as this is how I’ll contact you if you are selected.

OPTIONAL ENTRY: Post a tweet about this giveaway and include a link to this post (short link here: ), Sierra Trading Post (@sierratp) and me (@lgsmash). Then leave a second comment below letting me know you’ve tweeted and include a URL to your tweet.

That’s it!

This giveaway will close on Saturday, 12/6 at midnight, MST. Winners will be notified by email on Sunday, 12/7. If winners have not confirmed receipt by Monday, 12/8, a new winner will be selected.

And if you just can’t wait to go shopping (or if you are my husband reading this blog post), Sierra Trading Post has kindly provided a 30% off your entire purchase when you shop through my link here: http://stp.me/lgsmash or by entering this coupon code at checkout: SHUB1214

**THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED.**

Thankful

It’s Thanksgiving and right now, I’m somewhere along 1-70, driving out west for the Second Annual Thanksgiving Hut Trip. There’s so much to be thankful for each and every day but, of course, today is the day we shout it out and share the feeling with friends and family. I’m not sure I’ve ever posted a Thanksgiving note but today, Internet friends, I am.

Green-Wilson/Tagert + Lindley Hut Trip // lgsmash.com

1. Family. I was lucky enough to spend a big chunk of my summer with my brother living in Boulder. And even more lucky that we were able to take a really awesome road trip together to visit our sister in August. Alex and I are lucky to have big families who support and celebrate our life choices and I am very thankful for that!

2. Friends who feel like family. And friends who, despite not seeing each other in a while, feel like no time has passed at all. And friends who just GET you. And friends who make you laugh till you cry. And friends who don’t live close but still remain close. And internet friends who are still ‘real friends’ even though we’ve never met in real life. Friends, I love you!

3. Life. Feels like a cop-out but I am thankful for life as it is in this moment. Sure, it’s not perfect but I am very thankful to be who I am, where I am. Happy, healthy, employed – what more can a gal ask for?

4. Colorado. Oh, Colorado. I am thankful for the endless playtime opportunities you afford me. Backpacking, trail running, skiing, winter camping, snowshoeing, patio dining, outdoor concerts and so much more. And the 300+ days of blue skies are just icing on the cake.

5. My husband. So cliché but it is true: I am so thankful to be married to the man who is my husband. He just gets me in a way I never imagined anyone could. I love the life we’ve created together and am so excited about the life we’re planning. No matter what happens in this world, as long as I’ve got my person, I know everything will be just fine.

(also, wine. I’m thankful for big glasses of wine.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yoga Thoughts

How is yoga always exactly what you need, every single time?

After a rough Monday, I need to get out of my head and let off some steam. A quick check of the Corepower Yoga schedule before I left work meant I could make the 7 p.m. class if I hustled and hustle I did. While I felt like I’d rather kick a punching bag or sprint hard at the park (for approximately 10 seconds), I knew yoga would cure both mind and body.

I don’t know how they do it but every Corepower class feels like it’s directed to me. The theme or idea the teacher presents always feels directly applicable to that moment in my life. Last night? Yoga teacher talked about how in the season of being thankful and showing gratitude, the people she encountered yesterday were not. That was me. Yesterday, I was frustrated, annoyed and not feeling very gracious – with myself or others. I knew it going into class and I spent the entire class focusing on what I AM grateful for.

At first, it was just that I carved out an hour to do yoga (win!). Then, that I had an able body that allowed me to do yoga (win! although, with much less flexibility than I remembered). And as class continued, I found it was easier to feel gratitude once I shifted my mindset.

It’s so easy to get swept up in little annoyances or big obstacles in the road. Choosing to change perspective and acknowledge the challenges but not let them rule our life and, instead, adopt an attitude of graciousness takes practice. And graciousness doesn’t just apply to us acting towards others; we also must be gracious with ourselves and our mistakes.

This class was the exact reminder I needed, not just ahead of Thanksgiving, but in life. Always.

Thank you, yoga, for always being exactly what I need, exactly when I need it.

 

On Non-Outdoors Adventures and Prioritizing Balance

Here on my blog, I like to post about my adventures. I prefer my adventures to be of the outdoor variety but in this moment of my life, adventure looks a little bit different and less outdoorsy – which explains the infrequent posting here. My last few posts have referenced working and my job, my latest adventure. To say this adventure has been life changing is an understatement.

Life Adventures Recently // lgsmash.com

(This is a long winded, journal-y type post that might not be interesting for you but is therapeutic for me. And I’m certain I’m not the only one who’s been in this situation.)

When people think of startups, they tend to ask, ‘Aren’t you afraid Ibotta will go under? That’s you’ll come to work and find Ibotta has closed?’ Fortunately for me right now, Ibotta is on an upward trajectory and on firm, solid footing. Our sales team continues to bring in great partnerships which, in turn, means the Account Management team (my peeps!) have more clients and campaigns on our plates. And ahead of the holidays and Black Friday? There’s been a TON of excitement and SO many client’s who’ve wanted to launch their offers before Thanksgiving. So…the past few weeks and months have been nutty. In a great way but in a holy-crap-there-aren’t-enough-hours kinda way. (I think I now have a small idea of what public accountants go through during Busy Season.)

It’s exciting and I truly love what I’m doing and the people I work with but I find myself with not much time (or mental capacity) for things outside of work recently. Including but not limited to: catching up on current events, working out, grocery shopping, packing lunches, reading, blogging.

(I know, I know. Excuses, right? There’s nothing that is so important that I can’t step away to run at lunch or stop at the store on my way home. While this is true, as anyone who’s been in this situation knows, it’s hard to just stop what you’re doing and leave when there are still items on the ‘to do’ list.)

In my previous job, I had the luxury of ‘turning it off’ when I left the office; this ‘more work than is possible to do in a day’ is new to me and I’m still learning how to navigate it. Suffice it to say that I’ve found myself eating out for lunches frequently (or rather, eating Jimmy John’s because they deliver) and dinners often (because it’s faster to have someone else make the food for me) and exercising much less (more important to sleep or crank out work than exercise).

So when I stepped on the scale this week for the first time in a long time, I was not surprised to see the number tick up. And while it’s not a significant up tick, it’s still an indication that I’m being less active and consuming more than I used to.

This week, I also logged back into MyFitnessPal for the first time in a long time and was (foolishly) astounded by the calories in some of the foods I’ve been eating. I’ve always considered myself a healthy eater and while I’m not downing cookies and sweets, Jimmy Johns sandwiches, bagel Fridays and a beer with dinner really quickly rack up the calorie count.

This past week was the turning point for me. I need to do a better job of taking care of ME. I need to know when to get my ass out of bed to workout in the morning, when to get myself to the grocery store to buy healthier foods and when to turn off the work when I’m at home and just be present for my husband.

It’s impossible to do every thing, every day. Instead, I need to do a better job prioritizing and making time for parts of my life outside my job that are important to me, too. It’s super hard but super necessary and I’m ready to figure it how to do it. A new adventure in itself!

Currently… (November)

currently - november / lgsmash.com

…traveling! (literally! Typing this en route to Pittsburgh!)

…chuckling at having to list an ‘emergency contact’ for my pup at the kennel.

…drinking my coffee black.

immersing myself in my job and loving it.

…understanding what ‘not enough hours in the day’ REALLY means.

…realizing that less free time means spending that free time doing exactly what I want to be doing with the people I want to be doing it with. #lifelessons

…learning to knit myself a hat.

…grimacing at the new season of The Walking Dead (and not making the mistake of eating dinner and watching an episode ever again).

…making time to work out, despite busy days and evenings.

…planning 2015 races and feeling really excited about having a big fitness goal again.

…looking forward Thanksgiving Hut Trip, round 2 in a couple of weeks!

Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable, Part 2

In recent weeks, I’ve been feeling comfortable with being uncomfortable, with sitting outside my comfort zone, with pushing my limits. I’ve realized that without being uncomfortable in a new role, city, hobby, etc, it’s hard to grow and get to the next level.

But late last week, I was feeling too uncomfortable. It’s one thing to feel challenged, it’s another to feel mentally exhausted and wiped out.

I realized that I’d spent a majority of my days in recent weeks working through lunch, staying late, sleeping through a morning workout because I needed that extra hour of sleep and generally doing a shitty job taking care of myself. I’d thrown myself into work – which I really enjoy! – but have been doing a terrible job balancing life things outside of work. Uncomfortable to the max.

It’s one thing to be uncomfortable but it’s quite another when uncomfortable becomes discomfortable.

So on Friday, I created a meeting invite for myself to get myself outside and run. No excuses, no impromptu meetings. 1 hour carved out just for me to get outside, clear my head and recharge.

Calendar Go Run! // lgsmash.com

For me, I know that when I don’t get exercise and when I don’t spend time in the sun and fresh air, I get grumpy, no matter how passionate I am about the work I’m doing inside a building. And in that hour outside where I didn’t have to field questions or think about strategy or what’s left on my to do list, my heart was happy. I smiled at the last of the fall leaves blowing on the ground. I stopped at the river rapids to just take in the moment. I noticed the sunshine warming my back and the cool breeze blowing around me. With each step on the path, I felt the discomfort shake off and my mind calmed. I returned back to work happier, healthier and ready to charge ahead.

So sometimes, being TOO uncomfortable can be a bad thing. Challenge yourself but don’t lose yourself. There has to be balance and some let-your-hair-down-chill-out-time too or the uncomfortableness becomes discomfortable and instead of growing and learning, you burn out.

Don’t burn out. Take care of you, too!

(and now, I’m off my teeny tiny soapbox.)

Local Product I Love: Stonewear Designs

Twitter is a beautiful thing. I’ve met a number of ‘real life’ friends through tweeting. I’ve learned about breaking news from my Twitter feed. I’ve followed along and nodded my head in agreement with thousands of my closest friends during episodes of Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. And I’ve discovered really cool, smaller brands with big personality on Twitter. Stonewear Designs is one such brand.

I can’t remember how or when I first came upon Stonewear – it was somewhere between devouring tweets about other people’s recent adventures and tweeting about devouring Dominos Pizza on a Friday night, I’m sure. #RealLife

What I first loved about Stonewear was their mission: a women’s clothing company designing functional and cute athletic clothes that made a gal feel GOOD about what she’s wearing. Stonewear clothes have a flair of femininity that I didn’t realize I wanted in athletic clothes until I put it on. I mean, why CAN’T my running tights have a reflective strip that’s also a pretty detail? Why shouldn’t my zip up jacket flatter my body rather than feel like it is boxy and too wide? Everything is made with high-quality fabric that has retained it’s shape and fit through many workouts and weekend trips.

The fact that Stonewear is also based out of Colorado, just up the road from Denver in Louisville, is another win for me. I’ve always tried to support local small businesses when possible and now, after working at a small business and living the blood, sweat and tears that go into creating a successful business, I am even more a champion for shopping local. I love knowing Stonewear clothes are designed in Louisville and manufactured in the USA.

Local Product I Love: Stonewear Designs // lgsmash.com

You’ll be seeing a few product reviews in the future on some of my most favorite Stonewear items; right now, I’m totally in love with the hot yoga shorts. Super cute tie detail, no see-through fabric and withstands intense Corepower Yoga classes.

But don’t take my word for it! Head to Twitter tomorrow afternoon to discover a smaller, kick ass women’s clothing company, just like I did. Stonewear Designs is hosting a twitter party today at 11 a.m. MST where one lucky participant will win a Stonewear top or bottom. (If you win, I highly recommend the Sprinter Capri!). Just check in with @Stonewear and follow the #livestonewearadventures tag tomorrow to chat about solo adventures as a woman for your chance to win.

Catch ya on the Twitterz!