Yoga on the Rocks (+ A Yoga Giveaway!)

DISCLOSURE: Corepower Yoga offered me free passes for the Yoga on the Rocks I just attended and, because I was already planning on attending, I took them up on the offer. All opinions are my own, as always.

Last year, Corepower Yoga, my favorite yoga studio in Denver (and in 13 other states!), partnered with Red Rocks Amphitheater to host a few ‘Yoga on the Rocks’ sessions. I wasn’t able to attend last year’s sessions but it was definitely on my ‘must do’ list this year.

Yoga on the Rocks at Red Rocks Amphitheater // lgsmash.com

Saturday kicked off this year’s Yoga on the Rocks sessions and my friend Brooke and I met bright and early at the Red Rocks parking lot to get ourselves a spot in the amphitheater. We found ourselves a spot, rolled out our mats, (bumped into Marissa!) and basked in the early morning sun before getting stretchy.

Yoga on the Rocks at Red Rocks Amphitheater // lgsmash.com

Shortly before 7 a.m., opening remarks were made, the morning’s instructor was introduced and we began flowing! The hour-long practice was great for beginners who’d never done yoga before and advanced yogis alike – modifications were offered through each flow for those who wanted an additional challenge for their practice.

Yoga is powerful enough when practiced in a studio but outside? In an incredibly beautiful space? It’s on another level entirely. The session flew by; it was hard to wipe the ridiculous smile off my face as I looked around at the beautiful scenery, overlooking a city I love and surrounded by passionate, active people who also chose to get up at sunrise to practice yoga in the most amazing amphitheater.

Yoga on the Rocks at Red Rocks Amphitheater // lgsmash.com

It was also incredibly challenging. The cement rows/seats at Red Rocks are not uniformly flat. At all. The ground under my mat sloped in weird, uneven ways – away from the center of the amphitheater and also down towards the stage. Since balance is a major focus of yoga, achieving balance on an uneven surface created it’s own fun challenge, ensuring we yogis did not get too comfortable in our practice.

Yoga on the Rocks at Red Rocks Amphitheater // lgsmash.com

I will definitely be returning to Red Rocks for another Yoga on the Rocks session…and Corepower Yoga wants you to join, too!

YOGA ON THE ROCKS GIVEAWAY

For Denver/Front Range locals, Corepower Yoga is offering a really fabulous giveaway – one I wish I could win! One lucky local will win:

  • 2 free passes to any of the upcoming 3 Yoga on the Rocks sessions (Saturdays 8/1, 8/9, 8/16)
  • Corepower Yoga kit (yoga bag, mat and t-shirt)

To enter, simply leave a comment below! For an additional entry, tweet about the giveaway and leave a second comment with the URL of your tweet. Winner will be selected at random and notified by email.

This giveaway is only open to Denver/Front Range locals or someone who will for sure be able to attend one of the upcoming sessions; the yoga kit will be picked up by the winner at Red Rocks before the Yoga on the Rocks session of choice. This giveaway will close on Friday morning at 8 a.m.

Lemon Garlic Kale Pasta with Chicken

Recently, I wrote about my love affair with massaged kale salads. I even forced my family to try it last week on vacation and converted a couple non-believer siblings! Unfortunately for my husband, though, kale salads just aren’t this thing. Also unfortunately for my husband, I am not the most creative person in the kitchen. I am really good at making 2 or 3 dinners and don’t usually stray too far from my standbys.

But the other night, I knew he’d be working late and I wanted to surprise him with a tasty dinner when he came home. With only kale and chicken as my ingredients, I knew I was in trouble. If it were up to me? I would have made that kale salad and grilled the chicken and enjoyed them separately but equally. I knew Alex would want something a bit…more interesting.

At a loss, I emailed ladies who know a lot more about food than me (hi Val, Marisa, Lauren, Tiffany!) and they came to my rescue. I wound up with eight (EIGHT!!) dinner ideas for wowing my husband with chicken and kale.

Enter: Lemon Garlic Kale Pasta with Chicken

Lemon Garlic Kale Pasta with Chicken // lgsmash.com

Admittedly, I picked this recipe because I had most of the ingredients already and it looked the easiest. Not only was it super easy to make and took not very much time (two key requirements in my cooking endevours), it was such a fabulous meal!

I could not believe how frickin’ awesome this tasted. Usually my food turns out decent but never zOMG SO GOOD. This, though, is zOMG SO GOOD. I was pretty proud of myself – so proud of myself that I tried to take real food photos so I could share this supidly easy and awesomely flavorful recipe with the internetz. When my foodie husband told me it was on par with my favorite pad thai he makes, I knew this recipe made it to the big time in the Petre Kitchen.

Lemon Garlic Kale Pasta with Chicken // lgsmash.com

Lemon Garlic Kale Pasta with Chicken Recipe

  • (adapted from this recipe)
  • 1/2 bunch of kale
  • 16 oz spaghetti
  • 10 oz package of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 4+ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound pan cooked chicken breasts, cubed
  • s/p to taste

De-stem and wash kale; chop into small strips. Bring a pot of water to boil, cook spaghetti as directed; drain pasta and set aside in a large bowl.

Cook chicken in large saute skillet with a bit of olive oil and salt and peper, to taste. Once chicken is cooked, remove from pan and set aside to cool. Once cooled, cut into bit sized cubes.

In same pan, add a bit more olive oil and bring pan to medium heat if cooled. Add garlic and onion; saute for a few minutes until slightly brown. Add chopped kale; cook for a few minutes or until kale is completely wilted.

Add kale, garlic and onion to cooled pasta. Add tomatoes, pine nuts, juice of lemon half and chicken. Toss/mix well. Top with fresh, shredded Parmasean cheese.

Devour.

Lemon Garlic Kale Pasta with Chicken // lgsmash.com

 

 

How I Spent My Summer Vacation in Grand Haven, Michigan

Last week, for the first time in my adult life, my brothers, sisters and I all met our mom in Grand Haven, Michigan for a week-long family vacation.

We started planning this vacation in January and knew we wanted a location near water, driveable for most of the group and near-ish to a major airport for those of us flying in. With people in Cincinnati, Chicago, Las Vegas and Denver, we settled on Grand Haven, Michigan. It’s a 3 hour drive from Chicago, less than 6 hours from Cincinnati and flyable into Chicago or Grand Rapids for my sister and I. We searched on VRBO.com for a rental house suitable for 8 people available for our desired week in July – as soon as I found one, I booked it and vacation was set!

We rented ‘The Retreat at 526′ through Grand Haven Cottage Rentals. Our rental started on Saturday afternoon and my family checked in and settled in. I joined them on Monday afternoon, flying into the Grand Rapids, MI airport – only 40 minutes away.

We really had no idea what to expect going into this vacation – no of us had been to Michigan for vacation – and we had an excellent time! If you’re vacationing in Grand Haven, here are some fun, active ways to spend your trip!

SILVER LAKE SAND DUNES

Grand Haven Vacation, Silver Lake Sand Dunes // lgsmash.com

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are just about an hour north from Grand Haven and is a perfect day trip activity. We packed some snacks and drinks and hit the road. These were impressive dunes – situated in the Silver Lake State Park, there are more than 2,000 acres of dunes to run up, roll down and lay on. The park also features an off-roading/dune buggy section that looked like a lot of fun. We spent probably too much time ‘long jumping’ off a dune ridge and racing each other up the sand hill but it was so fun. At the base of the dunes is the large Silver Lake, perfect for cooling off after running around on hot sand.

KAYAKING ON THE GRAND RIVER

Grand Haven Vacation, Kayaking on the Grand River // lgsmash.com

We rented kayaks from Lakeshore Kayak Rentals and spent a beautiful 2 hours paddling around the Grand River. Many company rent kayaks (and canoes and stand up paddle boards) and initially, we tried to rent kayaks from a company near Grand Haven State Park (close to our rental house) but made reservations with Lakeshore Kayak when the other place was sold out and we’re so glad we did.

The scenery along the Grand River is stunning – beautiful lake houses, lily pads littered along the banks and wildlife hiding in the tall grass. Lakeshore Kayak Rentals had a few route options for 2 and 4 hour rentals and can point you in the direction for the type of afternoon you’re looking for (ie – more adventurous, more relaxing, one with stops for kiddos to get out and play). Rentals were affordable ($48 for a tandem kayak for 2 hours) and the staff was extremely accommodating.

PONTOON BOAT RENTAL on LAKE MICHIGAN

Grand Haven Vacation, Pontoon Boat Rental // lgsmash.comFrom the minute I showed up, my mom could not stop suggesting we book a pontoon boat rental and on the last night, we made her dream come true. We rented a pontoon boat from a local company for a 2 hour rental in the evening and had an absolute blast. We were able to bring on our own snacks and drinks and the boat had an auxiliary input for music – we had ourselves a regular boat party! Just under an hour into our rental, we parked the boat and hopped into the lake, cannonballing and flipping our little hearts out. It was pure, unadulterated joy just being a kid again.

BIKE RENTAL in GRAND HAVENGrand Haven Vacation, Bike Rental // lgsmash.com

Many places in Grand Haven will rent a bike for hourly, daily or weekly rentals. Our rental house had 3 bikes for us to use and my family rented 3 additional bikes ($50+ for a week). Where we stayed in Grand Haven, biking is an excellent way to get around. We were just over a mile from the beach and downtown area with shops and restaurants. Grand Haven has one busy street that is a bit scary for riding a cruiser bike but the majority of the town consists of quiet neighborhood streets which are great for bike commuting.

Overall, we had such a blast exploring and playing in and around Grand Haven. The quiet town offered the perfect mix of active adventures and quiet mornings and evenings with really excellent warm weather with blue skies. As we packed up on Saturday to head back to reality, we all agreed that we will keep Grand Haven, Michigan on the short list for future summer vacations.

Currently… (July)

Currently July // lgsmash.com

…loving family vacation time in Grand Haven, MI.

…(but) rebelling against Eastern Time Zone and morning alarms.

…reading BOOKS! (finished Friday Night Knitting Club, now reading One Day).

…realizing I’m a non-soaker but also, very much a soaker sometimes (Semi Rad explains here). Vacation is for both – and I’m maximizing my ‘soaker’ time this vacation.

…climbing sand dunes! and riding bikes! and kayaking! and cooking dinners! and hanging out! eating all the ice cream in Grand Haven! reconnecting with family! (non-soaking)

…(but also) sleeping late, watching movies, taking naps, finding long moments to read, sitting quietly on sandy beaches, running to and around the beach in the mornings. (soaking)

…wondering why summer vacation isn’t mandatory in the US like it is in Europe? (life is so much BETTER on vacation!)

…checking off Summer Resolutions, left and right (popsicles, a 14er, vacation, book reading, swimming pool visits).

…looking forward to my brother and his girlfriend temporarily landing in Boulder this fall.

…drinking interesting local IPAS (this imperial IPA with honey and this pineapple IPA).

…pondering the future and what’s in store in the next year(s).

…listening to little voices laughing downstairs (after 1 a.m.!) while I’m in bed and feeling like an oldie.

Rope Management: Flaking and Butterfly Coiling Your Climbing Rope into a Backpack

Recently, I went rock climbing with my friend Chris at North Table Mountain in Golden. You may also know Chris as the videographer for Sierra Trading Post. After a successful morning of climbing, we called it a day as dark clouds rolled in and we began packing up our gear. As I was flaking and coiling his climbing rope, he offered to shoot this quick little video for me to post on my very own YouTube channel!

So without further ado, here’s how to flake and coil your rope into a backpack:

You can find more awesome videos by Chris on his YouTube channel or on Sierra Trading Post’s channel.

You can find less impressive videos I’ve made myself on my YouTube channel.

Food On The Trail (#trailtime chat topic!)

This week’s #trailtime chat with Sierra Trading Post is all about food in the backcountry! Check out the linkup here where you can check out tips, tricks and recipes from a whole slew of awesome bloggers and join the weekly chat on Twitter at 4 p.m. MDT on Thursday, July 17 here!

I am a particular eater. Not picky, per se, but I know what I like. And what I do not like is much of the ‘standard’ trail fare. Trail mix and [insert any kind of bar here] are not my jam. Instead, I prefer to think outside the box and find creative ways to bring/make food I enjoy. Proper nutrition and fuel are a huge factor in mountaineering success so finding items that fill you up but also appeal to your palette are key.

So if you’re a little bit particular about your foods or just looking for alternative meal options to spice up your trail adventures, read on!

BREAKFAST

On the whole, I don’t like bars. There are some I tolerate as a last resort – and only one I truly enjoy – but, unfortunately, bars are usually the quickest, easiest breakfasts for early morning starts. However, an equally easy and far more tasty option is milk + granola.

Trail Time Breakfast // lgsmash.com

To make: add a serving of granola to a ziplock baggie and just add milk in the morning! For short trips, I bring in Silk Almond Milk single serve containers – they’re a bit heavier but taste better; for longer trips or for less weight, combining evaporated milk powder and water works just as well.

LUNCH

Many people reach for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or something similar on mountain summits for their lunch but not me. For day trips – like a single-day 14er hike, I might pack in a Subway sandwich that I’d bought the night before. Or, most likely, I’ll whip out a package of cured meat (usually salami) and cheese (usually Babybel) and sometimes a tortilla and snack on my ‘antipasto’ lunch. Protein, fat and salt with no fuss? Not much more this gal wants.

Trail Time Lunch // lgsmash.com

DINNER

Dehydrated meals are a go to for evening meals in the backcountry. They’re light and pretty tasty when cooked right. And while I do love dehydrated meals, I also love the luxury of ‘real food’, too. In winter, I have been known to carry in a Chipotle burrito on camping trips; this past weekend, Alex and I made our own chicken + rice concoction that blew our taste buds away.

Trail Time Food // lgsmash.com

To make: we packed in 1 package of pre-cooked Kroger brand chicken each and 1 package of microwave-ready (ie – fully cooked, just needed to be reheated) flavored rice. On our stove, we brought a bowl of water to a boil and submerged the rice, warming it up. After a few minutes in the water, we poured the rice into our chicken packets and mixed. The rice warmed the chicken and we had a delicious and nutritious hot meal in minutes.

SNACKS

Snacks are really up to the individual as everyone has their own preferred tastes. For me, I enjoy bringing dried fruit, lgsmash trail mix (cashews + peanut butter M&Ms – none of those silly raisins), Cheez-Its, Bobo’s Oat Bars (the one bar I do like), Mountain Chow dehydrated hummus and whatever else strikes my fancy in the grocery store.

I’m a firm believer in experimenting until you find what works for you – but don’t rely on experimental foods without packing fail-proof backups, too. The last thing you want is to be hungry and bonking on a trail because you don’t like your food or it didn’t sustain you as well as you thought!

These foods are geared primarily toward backpackers/hikers, people who have limited space and limited means to carry gear. But if you’re heading out on an adventure that allows for kitchen utensils and if weight isn’t an issue, your backcountry culinary options are endless! Hands down, the best meals I’ve eaten on the trail happened in the Boundary Waters on a 6-day canoe trip where we stuffed a heavy, wooden box full of delicious food and cooking supplies to float with us in our canoe. Pancakes, pizza and stirfry? The stuff adventurers dreams are made of!

[View 6 day, 5 night canoe trip meal plan here]

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Trip // lgsmash.com

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Clairvoyant Jacket (#ORInsightLab)

Disclosure: I’m participating in Outdoor Research’s (OR) #ORInsightLab to help test gear and offer feedback. This shell jacket was provided to me at no cost but, as always, opinions are my own. You can find my other Insight Lab reviews here: Airbrake Climbing Gloves, Voodoo Pants.

Oh, where to begin with this jacket…I could wax poetic for hours about this beauty!

Hands down, this jacket has gotten the most use of the OR gear I received to review. It’s incredibly versatile and looks great when I’m out to dinner or running errands yet also functions amazingly well out in the backcountry or on the trails. Most surprising was how buttery soft it feels; a super soft shell jacket that solidly performs in adverse weather? I’m in! It’s also, coincidentally, in my favorite color which is super cool.

Outdoor Research Clairvoyant Jacket Review // lgsmash.com

What I love:

  • Fit, fit fit
  • Waterproof and breathable like nobody’s business
  • Performs on the trails but also in the city
  • Halo hood
  • Hand pocket placement

OR says on the website that they designed this for women, by women, and it’s obvious. It fits exactly like I want a jacket to fit – slimmer through the torso, sleeves with cuff closures that fit over my watch and it’s long enough to hit my hips and not irritate my back under a hip belt.

Outdoor Research Clairvoyant Jacket Review // lgsmash.com

Outdoor Research Clairvoyant Jacket Review // lgsmash.com

So much rain! So much waterproofness in the jacket!

I took this jacket on our wet and rainy Mt. Antero camp/climb last weekend and really appreciated the halo hood feature. It kept the rain out of my eyes while I munched on my dinner.

Another design feature I really appreciate is that the pockets are situated higher on the jacket so they don’t interfere with a backpack hip belt as other jackets do. I can still unzip, put trash or my phone in and re-zip without messing with my pack at all. And when you’re trying to outrun a booming thunderstorm, the last thing you wanna do is worry about adjusting your pack.

Outdoor Research Clairvoyant Jacket Review // lgsmash.com

Another perk? I’m super tall (5’11″) and have a long torso yet this jacket is long enough to hit my hips without me yanking on it constantly.

What I’d change:

Pit zips would be a ‘nice to have’ but not a necessity for me.

Overall thoughts? This is a solid, high-quality, superior performance (and not to mention beautiful!) shell jacket that is a staple item for adventures of all seasons and all types.

Buy it: Clairvoyant Jacket / outdoorresearch.com

 

Trip Report: Climbing Mt. Antero, East Route from Little Browns Creek Trail

When our friends told us they were coming to visit for the 4th of July and that they wanted to backpack, we made sure not to disappoint! Alex picked a 14er near Buena Vista, Colorado, Mt. Antero, that offered a long trek (14 miles, round trip!) and a non-technical route that allowed us to split our trip into 2 days and ensure our out-of-town guests would be comfortable summiting. We’d be tackling Mt. Antero via Little Browns Creek trail.

Mt. Antero via Little Browns Creek Trail // lgsmash.com

We rolled into Buena Vista on Thursday mid-afternoon with ornery thunderstorm clouds above. As we pulled into the Browns Creek Trailhead parking lot, the skies opened up, dumping rain and hail for a solid 30 minutes. We waited out the storm by reading or napping. As soon as the worst had passed and thunder and lightning had passed, we threw on our packs, laced up our boots and hit the trail!

Mt. Antero via Browns Creek Trail // lgsmash.com

Mt. Antero via Browns Creek Trail // lgsmash.com

We followed Brown’s Creek Trail for just about 1.5 miles until we found the Colorado Trail intersection. Turning right/north on the Colorado Trail, we followed it for about a mile until we found the Little Browns Creek Trail intersection. Turning left/west at this intersection, we hiked another mile and started looking for a place to camp.

The trail was HOT and MUGGY after the thunderstorm and full of bugs, unusual for Colorado. We swatted mosquitoes constantly and ingested an unhealthy number of gnats. The trail is densely forested below treeline so there was ample shade which provided welcome relief. And a side note to anyone considering this trail – Browns Creek Trail and the Colorado Trail portions of this trek are heavily used by folks on horseback…so there are plenty of ‘road apples’ to dodge as you hike. Consider yourself warned.

Mt. Antero via Little Browns Creek Trail // lgsmash.comThe route from Brown’s Creek Trailhead to the summit of Mt. Antero is 7 miles one way so our plan was to backpack in 3.5ish miles to an elevation of 11,000ft-ish and spend the night. We’d scouted out a few possible areas on the map that looked conducive to camping for the night (below treeline, flat-ish, near the creek for water). At exactly 3.5 miles, we found a decent site just off the trail and claimed it for the night.

Minutes after setting up camp, the skies opened up again and we hunkered down while rain pelted our tents. More reading, more napping. The rain eased up to a soft drizzle just before 8 p.m. and Alex and I ventured out to warm up our rice + chicken packets we’d brought for dinner.

The route from Brown's Creek Trailhead to the summit of Mt. Antero is 7 miles one way so our plan was to backpack in 3.5ish miles at an elevation of 11,000ft-ish and spend the night. We'd scouted out a few possible areas on the map that looked conducive to camping for the night (below treeline, flat-ish, near the creek for water).

(Side note: new favorite, incredibly satisfying trail dinner? Ready Rice packet + Kroger cooked chicken packet. We heated the rice in the bag in boiling water, added to the chicken packets (Alex and I split 1 rice packet, we each had our own chicken packet), mixed and devoured.)

We turned in shortly after, damp from the rain, and set our alarms for 5 a.m. Friday’s plan was to leave camp by 5:30-6 a.m. to get us up the 3.5 miles (accounting for 1 mile/hour + breaks) to Antero’s summit by 10 a.m. and well below treeline before thunderstorms began rolling in.

Mt. Antero via Little Browns Creek Trail // lgsmash.com

The hike is relatively ‘easy’ in that it’s not super steep right off the bat; it’s mostly a steady incline until you reach the 4WD road and join the ‘standard route’ trail. We chugged along, got above treeline, up the 4WD switchbacks and hit a flat area just before the ridgeline.

Mt. Antero via Little Browns Creek Trail // lgsmash.com

Mt. Antero via Little Browns Creek Trail // lgsmash.com

And then, it was summit push time!

Mt. Antero via Little Browns Creek Trail // lgsmash.com

We crossed the giant talus field ridgeline (maybe .25 mile?) and reached the summit just after 10 a.m.

Mt. Antero via Little Browns Creek Trail // lgsmash.com

We snapped a few photos and quickly turned around to descend Antero. As you can see behind us in the photo, baby cumulus clouds were popping up and we knew the weather called for more afternoon thunderstorms. We weren’t sure how fast those clouds would blow in but we weren’t sticking around to find out.

Mt. Antero via Little Browns Creek Trail // lgsmash.com

Trekking back out, we made great time and reached camp just before 12:30. Like clockwork, the dark clouds were moving in and we moved quickly to tear down camp, refill our water in the creek and hit the trail. As the thunder started booming in the distance, we picked up our pace to a slow jog on the flat/easy downhill sections of the trail. We kept our heads down and hustled out, cheering each time the Garmin chimed another mile down.

Mt. Antero via Little Browns Creek Trail // lgsmash.com

Just before 2 p.m., we reached the car, still dry! We’d outrun the thunderstorm! (or: we were lucky that it hadn’t blown in just overhead but settled slightly to our north) It took us just over an hour to cover the 3.5 miles from camp to car, clocking our pace at 15-17 minute miles. We booked it outta there!

Mt. Antero via Little Browns Creek Trail // lgsmash.com

My Garmin chimed our 14th mile just feet from the car so the trip reports we’d read were pretty darn accurate, mileage-wise.

Overall Thoughts:

I’d definitely recommend this hike as a 2+ day trip. The 14 miles roundtrip is not something I’d ever be interested in doing in one day – as you see above, we gained more than 5,500 feet! – but I’m certain people do it.

The trail is really well marked – both with signs at the 2 intersections (can’t miss ‘em) and cleared trail on the mountain. Bring a map (always) but it’d be pretty darn hard to miss the trail.

Campsites were pretty obvious near 11,000 ft – still mostly secluded off trail but had designated fire rings. And we did not encounter one other party camping on a holiday weekend – so I’d venture to say this isn’t that busy of a trail so you’ll likely have your choice of campsites.

As the trip reports state, this is definitely a class 2 hike. The ridge looks intimidating but it’s all bark and very little bite. Just take the talus field slowly (ascending and descending) and you’ll be fine!

Climb on!

[Summer Resolution #13: check!]

Marriage Wednesday: Cheers to Anniversaries on Long, Holiday Weekends!

Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays, following on the heels of New Years Eve. I love fireworks, summer sun and BBQs. I love the mid-year celebration of summer time. I love long days and warm nights. (But really, it’s all about the fireworks.)

Three years ago on a Friday night, Alex flew in from Florida, where he was living at the time, to spend a week gallivanting Colorado for our ‘Coloradocation’. He insisted we kick off our vacation with a quick hike at Mt. Falcon Park, just outside Morrison, CO. A hike we’d done in the past but a stupid argument and early flight kept us from summiting; this time, we’d summit, proving we we face hard times and challenges but we would conquer them together. Cheesy but adorable. On the summit of Mt. Falcon, he proposed on July 2. 

Mt. Falcon Engagement Hike // lgsmash.com

Two years ago, we’d planned to make the same hike on Mt. Falcon at dusk and, on the summit, sign our marriage license, 2 months ahead of our official wedding date. It was scorching hot that July 2nd (101*!) so we scrapped hiking plans and settled on ice cream plans instead.

In the living room of our very first apartment, we signed our marriage and became official husband and wife.

Marriage: Ice Cream // lgsmash.com

And celebrated with Graeter’s Ice Cream, of course.

We kept it a secret from everyone and for those two months until our wedding, I loved sharing that special secret with my husband (though, still fiance to everyone else).

Of course, our actual wedding anniversary on August 31 (Labor Day weekend!) is my most favorite day but our ‘legally married’ day, on the weekend of one of my favorite holidays, runs a close second.

(Hot tip to people planning weddings: holiday weekends mean your anniversary is always on a party weekend!)

This weekend, Alex and I are celebrating by doing one of our favorite things (backpacking!) with a few of our favorite people (college friends!) in one of our favorite places (Buena Vista!).

Cheers to America, holiday weekends and being married to your best friend!

Wedding Anniversary // lgsmash.com

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Air Brakes Belay Gloves (#ORInsightLab)

Disclosure: I’m participating in Outdoor Research’s (OR) #ORInsightLab to help test gear and offer feedback. These gloves were provided to me at no cost but, as always, opinions are my own.

When I first opened my box of gear from Outdoor Research, I was tickled to find LEGIT belay gloves in my kit. I’m still a beginner/intermediate rock climber so my current belay gloves come from Home Depot and farm stores. I’ve lusted after ‘real climbing gloves’ but kept putting off the purchase until my cheap gloves wore out.

Outdoor Research AirBrakes Gloves Review // lgsmash.com

What I liked:

  • Spandex fabric on the back of the gloves kept my hands cool
  • Gel pockets + Kevlar stitching on the palm help dissipate heat from friction
  • Punched hole for easy carabiner storage
  • Velcro wrist closure

Outdoor Research AirBrakes Gloves Review // lgsmash.com

Clearly, these are a huge step up from too-big Home Depot gloves I’ve been using and I absolutely loved the Airbrake Gloves. While the cheaper substitutions are adequate, wearing a glove that fits, can be secured to my hand and is breathable was amazing. The gel pockets and Kevlar stitching keeps your palms from overheating or burning when the rope quickly travels over the glove and the poly-spandex back kept my hands from getting sweaty. I wasn’t worried about how my glove would hold up or if it would be a distraction (which sometimes happens with floppy garden gloves); instead, I could focus on the task at hand, belaying.

I also really like the dedicated carabiner hole. I realize probably all other climbing gloves include this feature but, again, coming from cheap-o gloves where I cut my own holes, it was a nice design element to have included.

What I would change:

As another #ORInsightLab tester, Dirtbag Darling, noted here, these run a little small which makes them a bit tricky to slip on and off, especially if you’re using tape on your fingers.

Past that, no complaints from this gal!

Overall thoughts: 

After wearing these climbing a handful of times in the climbing gym and outside, I understand why people shell out money for true climbing gloves. For a brand new beginner climber, it’s okay to use the farm/gardening gloves while you’re learning. But once you graduate to bigger climbs and longer days out at the crag, I do think investing in a pair of gloves designed specifically for climbing is a worthy investment. There is no comparison between the fit and performance and, most importantly, with these climbing-specific gloves, you won’t be fumbling around with oversized, floppy fabric gloves that can distract you from your belaying.

These gloves retail for $49 which is kind of a steep investment for beginner/intermediate climbers. But, as these appear way more durable than what I’ve been using, I expect we’ve got a long climbing life together ahead of us (will report back!).

Buy them: Airbrake Gloves / outdoorresearch.com