Sorry Fellowers, I continue to drop the ball and neglect this amazing blog child. In other news, I recently returned from a much needed vacation in Colorado. I roamed the streets of Denver, climbed to the top of Pikes Peak, and soaked up the breathtaking views in Estes Park. I didn’t need the herb to feel high on life. The mountains were calling and I followed them. Nature was my truer, purer high. Forget weed, just give me peaks.
Ireland is a hard trip to beat but this definitely made for a top contender. After a grueling, extremely windy climb up to Pikes Peak, Mark proposed and surprised me with the ultimate gift. I immediately burst into tears, of course. Partly because I was blissfully happy and partly because I had come to terms with the fact that I was going to have to climb back down the mountain in 60 mile per hour winds. Worst/best anniversary ever! Can I just add that the ring is PERFECT?!?! My man nailed it. Seriously, I just stare at it all day as I type on my keyboard at work and sigh like a Disney princess.
Anyway, back to the point. I could be annoying and ramble on about my engagement all day long. I will spare you all. Our vacation was jam-packed with outdoor activity and took considerable planning. If any of you are into vacations that require physical hikes, climbs, or adventures please use these few tips:
- Buy The Expensive Shit: This is number one because I’m usually the person that gravitates toward the clearance or off-brand section in any store that I visit. However, Mark has convinced me that I should not skimp on my outdoor gear and he is 100% correct. I think I might have actually turned around on the mountain had I not had Outdoor Research gloves, a buff, and my trusty Lowa boots to block out the bitter cold. It is pricey because it works. These companies spend a lot of their time and human capital investing in research that ensures the best results. It protects you in poor weather conditions, holds up well to wear and tear, and is typically made of material that is lighter and more convenient to carry around. Weight is a huge factor when you are tugging a backpack full of supplies up a 14,000 foot mountain. Trust me. You will absolutely feel the burn. Not always in a good way. Think of all of the insignificant things that you would bust out your wallet for without even thinking because it is “quality”. Why wouldn’t you do the same for gear that could potentially save your life?
- Plan Ahead: Winging it on long, difficult trails with sketchy steep cliffs are absolutely NOT an option. We saw several individuals while we were in Estes Park that were starting trails at noon or later. I would normally laugh at their stupidity, but that was just a straight up liability to themselves. The weather can be volatile in high altitudes and you subject yourself to several risks in the dark. Basically, just use common sense. Mark mapped out the most feasible route for each mountain we climbed and identified points of danger in each. He watched several YouTube videos to get a better feel for how real people were handling the elements and to get recommendations based on their own experiences. Being the adorable and lovable nerd that he is, he made word documents detailing all of this information for myself so that I knew what we were getting ourselves into as well. Take the necessary time to prepare, guys. It’s vital!
- Trust Your Instincts: This is not the time to “nut-up” and try and be macho. If you get to a point in the climb that you feel is unsafe, turn around. Your pride is not worth it. Mark and I debated several times during the trip whether we should continue on or head back to the trailhead. We made a verbal list of pros and cons together and then decided whether the risk was something we were willing to accept. It is definitely a little blow to the ego to have put in all the work to get close to the summit and then have to abandon the mission. But, trust me. You will be glad you did in the end. Mark and I actually turned back on a trip to Sky Pond on a particularly snowy day in Rocky Mountain National Park. A portion of the route involved scrambling over rocks and that was not something either of us felt prepared to do in icy conditions. I wasn’t about to be the victim of a search and rescue call. No thanks. There is no shame in listening to that inner voice trying to keep you safe. You can always come back to the trail another day or pursue a loftier climb the next day in better weather conditions (which is what we chose to do).
If you keep all of these factors in mind, you should have a thoroughly enjoyable trip. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a little fun and venture off the trail every now and then but keep your best interests in mind. Cliff views are only pretty if you are alive to see them, peeps. I would definitely recommend a trip to Colorado if you have not been already. I can’t wait to go back and explore some of the other areas in the state we did not have a chance to visit. What trips do you recommend next time for a pair of adventures? Let me know in the comments! I’m always full of wanderlust 🙂