Hip, Hip, Ouray! (Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO)

Colorado is such a gem. There’s no shortage of awesome things to do, incredible places to see and the best people to spend time with. #Coloradocations are one of my favorite things to do over a long weekend for exactly those reasons. When a trip to Ouray, CO was suggested for the long New Year’s weekend, Alex and I hardly thought twice before jumping in.

It’s a long but beautiful 6 hour trek to Ouray in southwest Colorado. Leaving around lunch time, the hours passed quickly with podcasts and naptime; we rolled up to our VRBO rental just after 6:30 p.m. on New Years Eve. Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com

With our friends Lucas and Nancy, Justin and Lauren, we made pizzas in the oven, played ‘drawception’ and toasted great friends and fresh hopes when the ball dropped at midnight. Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com

The next morning, we set our sights on our first adventure of 2015: learning to ice climb at the Ouray Ice Park. Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com

The Ouray Ice Park is a free park full of super fun ice climbing routes. Much of the ice is man-made and it’s an incredible sight to see. There are more than 200 named routes and all sections are within a 10-15 minute hike from the park’s entrance.

As the park opened just the weekend before and we were there over the long New Years weekend, the park was pretty crowded. We were able to snag an anchor in the section called New Funtier. For this newbie, I was excited to hear that we could set up the anchor up top and hike down to the base. I was less excited when the hike down looked like this and included only a roped handrail. Talk about getting your attention!
Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com

The hike down was completely doable and looked a lot more intimidating than it really was, fortunately. Of the 5 of us climbing, 4 of us were relatively new to ice climbing but we found it easy to pick up. Unlike rock climbing, ice climbing is a ‘pick your own route’ type of climbing which makes it easy for climbers of all comfort levels to participate. Alex is a lot more fearless than I am and on the same rope, we were both able to climb routes that fit our comfort level.

Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com

We spent the afternoon climbing and called it a day when the park closed at 4 p.m., just as the water faucets turned on to make new ice overnight.

That night, we opted to spend our first night of 2015 soaking in the Ouray hot springs. After spending a day in a chilly, snowy canyon, the hot springs were a welcome warm up.

It was hard to pass up a day exploring the town of Ouray – popping into shops, indulging in local ice cream. Such a perfect day relaxing and recouping from a whirlwind few months and busy holiday season.

On our last full day in Ouray before heading home, we debated driving out to Telluride for a day of skiing (my most favorite skiing!) or hitting the ice park again. Climbing won (no hour long drive, no lift ticket expense) and we grabbed our harnesses and helmets for some laps on the ice.
Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com

Don’t mind my terrified look. I was mere feet of the ground but couldn’t find a hold for my foot…mini-panic moment. Trip report: Ice Climbing in Ouray, CO // lgsmash.com

While I’m not the most comfortable ice climbing, I certainly enjoyed the experience. The Ouray Ice Park is one of a kind and really incredible to experience; I’m so glad we made the trip!

To note: If you don’t have the necessary ice climbing gear, there are a few shops in town that rent crampons and ice tools. I haven’t yet bought my own crampons so I rented a pair both days from Ouray Mountain Sports ($20) and Peak Mountain Sports ($15). There are also beginner seminars at the ice park and an intro wall where you can take a lap on a much smaller route than in the canyon. There truly is something for everyone – only requirement is a positive attitude, some gear and a love of winter!

 

Let’s Do It! #BackToBasicsJanuary

Like most of us, after 2 weeks of holiday eating and drinking, I’m ready to push the reset button on my eats. While I’ve certainly enjoyed the endless french fries, chips and salsa and New Years Eve champagne, my mind and body are in a sugar and junk food fog! So when I saw Marisa’s Back To Basics challenge, I immediately committed to participating. You can read all the details of Back To Basics here but the gist is exactly what you expect: focus on getting ‘back to basics’ of healthy eating and living.

I’ve customized Marisa’s Back to Basics goals to fit my needs. For me, I know I need to eat out a lot less and move a lot more and my goals reflect that.

Back to Basics January // lgsmash.com

While I’m focusing on limiting my eating out, I’m building in 2 dinners out – one to celebrate a friend’s birthday and one ‘freebie’ for a date night. And when it comes to eating in, Alex and I are really striving to make meals from the food we already have on hand. We have a bad habit of not taking inventory before heading to the store and end up with repeat items and a full pantry of items we don’t often make a point to use.

I’m the first to admit that I’m not a fan of cooking – mostly because I don’t spend any time thinking about what to make for dinner so it’s always a challenge! So I’m relying heavily on Marisa’s Pinterest page, meal planning tips and copious healthy recipes (like ramen!)

If you’d like to participate in Back to Basics, too, hop on in! You can find the Back to Basics community on Twitter and Instagram by using #BackToBasicsJanuary.

One Little Word for 2015: Light

For me, 2014 was all about FOCUS. I picked ‘focus’ as much as it picked me. I spent the first half of the year focusing on a job search. I’d started feeling stagnant in my role and knew it was time to look for a new challenge. I set my sights on the growing Denver startup community. I’ve spent the second half of the year really focusing on my new job, new industry, new ‘normal’. Through the ups and downs of 2014, I focused on the end goal and kept my ‘eyes on the prize.’

In the last days of 2014, as I was thinking about the upcoming year, ‘lightness’ struck me. The word popped in my head and I couldn’t get it out; I knew it was my new word. (read more about One Little Word here.)

one little word 2015 light // lgsmash.com

2015 is sure to be a big year in my little world for a number of reasons. Knowing the changes ahead, though, I want to be light in spirit, remembering to laugh and smile when I’m feeling stressed. I want to keep trials, tribulations and tough decisions in perspective (<–former OLW) and work to maintain a light attitude. And, in the most literal vein, I want to make myself physically lighter by eating healthier and making exercise a priority again.

This year, ‘light’ will help me prioritize mental and physical health when it’s easy to let both fall to the wayside during busy days and weeks.

2015, let’s get this party started!

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!