Weekend Drives in Colorado

The past few weeks have been pretty perfect, weather wise, in Colorado. Crisp mornings with warm afternoons; the quintessential fall, if you ask me.

A few weekends ago, Alex and I headed west to Golden Gate Canyon on a Sunday, the day before the first October snow, to catch our last glimpses of alpine leaves. Unfortunately, most had already fallen on the trail we hiked but the drive in/out was stunning.

Then, when Alex’s parents visited last weekend, we gave them the full Colorado tour, driving from Denver to Buena Vista to Leadville Copper and back home on I-70. I didn’t think to record snippets till after I had delicious BV diner food in my belly so this is a taste of the back half of our drive.

I recorded these on my phone so they’re nothing to write home about but in thinking about inspiration and finding beauty and light in the world, I’m posting here to preserve the memories.

Hope you’re enjoying a lovely fall wherever this post finds you, too!

Life In Denver, Again

More than a week ago, I packed most of my things into the back of OsCar the Outback and drove myself back to Denver. I drove 5 hours to Cincinnati on Thursday night, 5 hours to St. Louis Friday night and 12 hours to Denver on Saturday.

I moved into a duplex house with a roommate – my first roommate in 7+ years – and, surprisingly, the arrangement is going very well. We get along fabulously and spent the weekend doing very roommate-y things: making homemade pizzas on Friday night, watched a movie and YouTube videos Saturday night and Sunday, ran our own errands but caught up later in the evening.

My roommate has a little dachshund, Schnapps, who is a gentle and goofy old man of a dog. His signature move is to run up to anyone who has food and sit up on his hind legs, like a kangaroo.

I send so many snaps of this strange pose because it makes me so happy. I miss Philly a lot and it’s nice to have a little pup running around so I can get a few furry snuggles at the end of a work day.

Living just 3 miles from work, I’m biking to/from again like I did this summer. In fact, I’ve only driven my car a handful of times the past week (mostly to get furniture/items from Target for my new room) and I’m excited to continue biking or riding transportation regularly. Of course, the whole reason I drove the car back out is to maximize mountain time and now that I’ve situated myself in my new room, I’m looking forward to fall and winter mountain adventures!

Like this!
Like this!

When we left Denver last year, Alex and I talked about how whenever we did/do find our way back, it would never be the same as when we left. I agreed at the time and never really expected that I’d be back in Denver, without him, so soon after we left. It’s certainly not the life we left behind but I’m excited about it all the same. Work, travel, building new friendships, making time for hobbies, sleeping on both sides of the bed. 😉

I find myself missing Alex and Philly the most in the quiet moments in the evening, when I’m hunkered down in my basement room for the night. And in every moment of my weekend which has been such treasured time over the past year when I’d get more than a few minutes of time with my husband. Now, I’m figuring out new routines to keep myself happy and occupied during those times, as is he.

It’s emotionally hard to be separated and not feel left out when he’s hanging out with our friends or I’m at our favorite football hangout without him. But we both remind ourselves and each other that this long distance is a fleeting moment in the story of our lives. And the benefits outweigh the sacrifice. I know this to be true and I’m not wishing away the time, but I am looking forward to when Denver is OUR city again.

Hellooooo Colorado!

Has it been a whirlwind or WHAT!

We arrived in Denver 2 weeks ago and have been living the nomadic Airbnb and guest-room-crashing life thus far. It’s been fun living within walking distance to work, in our old neighborhood, near the parks we loved but I’m ready to settle into my ‘summer home’ and get into a routine again.

It’s so wonderful (and weird) to be in Denver and know I’m *staying* for the next few months. It already feels as though the summer will fly by and I’ll have to pack up to head east again in just a few moments. What’s that saying? The days are long but the summer is short? I’ve packed my upcoming summer weekends with camping, backpacking, visits to LA, visits from friends, yoga at Red Rocks, concerts at Red Rocks and most importantly, tackling a whole list of new breweries that need their IPAs tested.

During the weeks, I’ll be waking with the early Colorado sunrise, biking to work (!!), enjoying face-to-face meetings again, playing kickball with my co-workers, running on trails (mountain + urban) and not apologizing for one second for the giant smile on my face.

Trip Report: Swanson’s Arete, Multipitch Climbing in Eldo Canyon

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.comIn the vein of Throwback Thursday + the fact that I’m heading back to Colorado TONIGHT, I’m posting a trip report from my first multipitch climb in Eldo Canyon!

In July, a week and a half before we moved, Alex and I headed up to Eldorado Canyon (affectionately known as Eldo or Eldo Canyon), a famous climbing area just outside Boulder and a short 40 minute drive from Denver, with our friend Lucas for a 4th of July multi-pitch climb. Lucas has spent lots of time in Eldo and picked Swanson’s Arete to lead us up. Swanson’s Arete is a classic beginner’s climb, rated at 5.5 but much of Eldo is considered to be ‘sandbagged’ or rated at a lower difficulty than many perceive it to be.

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

Parking shortly after sunrise made for a cool hike into the canyon. A really cool thing about Eldo is that routes start right off the road so as park visitors drive through the main drag (or as climbers trek in), they can marvel at the routes being climbed just outside their window.

We hiked in about 20 minutes, gaining significant elevation in the short, ~.5 mile hike, and arrived at the base of our climb. Our route: Rewritten > Swanson’s Arete

Lucas briefed us on what do expect in the first pitch (‘take your pack off when you get to the chimney’) and up he went. We’d opted to ‘caterpillar climb’ meaning Lucas would climb, Alex would belay from below; then Alex would climb and Lucas would belay from above; lastly, I would climb and Alex would belay from above.

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

Going in to this climb, I was pretty stressed with the chaos of moving and had a hard time getting into the right headspace. As any climber knows, confidence, focus and determination are integral to your success and I spent much of the first pitch struggling to get a handle on my brain. It had helped watching Lucas and Alex head up before me because I was able to plan my route while I waited for my turn.

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

P1 was not my favorite; it looked a lot easier than it was and, with a lack of confidence, I slipped halfway up the pitch and fell partway back down the route. Which shook me up and put more doubt in my mind about if I’d be able to finish this climb. I let myself have a few moments of panic, realizing that the only way to get through it was to go up, before I refocused and found my determination. At the top of the pitch is a chimney – something I’d never tackled before. If I’d been in a better headspace, I would have enjoyed this challenge but I did not enjoy it in the moment. Regardless, the chimney is short and extremely doable.

Fortunately, the belay station between P1 and P2 was a pretty large ledge so I was able to calm down and regroup and these guys had room to snap selfies.

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

P2 brought us through Swanson’s Arete and, again, Lucas gave insider tips about where we could find bomber holds and how best to navigate the arete. Lucas first, then Alex, then I climbed; I flew through this pitch and found myself really enjoying it. It was a beautiful day with not a cloud in sight and I made sure to pay close attention to my surroundings; this was to be my last outdoor climbing in Colorado for a while and I wanted to soak it all in.

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com
Getting my booty over Swanson’s Arete! AND SMILING!

And then…we got to the belay station of P2/P3. Airy belay stations are still something I’m not super jazzed about but I was proud of myself for (mostly) keeping it together. The team decided to switch from ‘caterpillar climbing’ to climbing in tandem where Lucas would lead and belay both me and Alex at the same time.

P3 had a funky start, immediately having to overcome a ledge with not-obvious holds, and I was thankful to have Alex there with me, rather than figuring it out on my own. It took us a few tries but we finally found the right hold to get up and over.

The rest of P3 was really fun with good holds and fun options. Alex climbed a few moves ahead of me and I was happy to summit shortly after he did. Success!

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com
summit with a view!
Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com
Quite possibly the internet’s worst summit photo

This was only my second multi-pitch and, despite my lack of confidence to start, I felt so much more comfortable here than I did on my first multi-pitch on the Boulder Flatirons. A combination of gym climbing + more exposure to exposure (outdoor top-roping, mountaineering school outings) really helped.

I can’t speak to the down climb as I was pooped and just following directions but I do know we followed Option 2 here. We did 3 rappels and had a super short hike back up to the crag before calling it a day and hiking back down the canyon to the car.

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

Back in the parking lot, we stopped in the ice cold South Boulder Creek to cool off before heading back into Denver.

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

Trip Report: Swanson's Arete Eldo Canyon // lgsmash.com

It was such a perfect ending to our outdoor adventures as Colorado residents; climbing in the classic Eldo Canyon with one of our best friends…not much more this gal could have asked for.