Buff in the Boat: A Steamboat extravaganza!

July in Colorado, especially in the Denver area, is typically dry, hot and a bit browned out. The past two weekends have been spent, in the heat, around Denver, so when I recently found this blog draft about our adventures last July, where we took to the mountains, I jumped on reliving our adventure.

Last July, we headed to Lake Dillon when my dad came to visit from Philadelphia, to play in the cooler air and boat on the lake….

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Swan Mountain, Breckenridge

Lake Dillon, Dillon Colorado

Boating on Lake Dillon!

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After our 18 mile bike ride – Broken Compass Brewery!

 

…then Crested Butte with friends, to bike and hike the heck out of this gorgeous area. I really feel we’ve made the most out of the summer months thus far, trying to experience different mountain towns and the unique beauty in all of them. The last weekend in July was meant to be spent in Salida, a beautiful town Mike and I had spent time in a few weeks prior, but rain threatened the areas in the southern mountain ranges….no bueno! When Steamboat Springs, 3 1/2 hours North West of Denver, was offered up by our crew, we immediately boarded the train to mountain town!

Our girlfriend Stacia is a teacher, so with school still out for the summer, her and two other friends set off early on Friday to set up shop on Buff pass, an area 20 minutes or so outside of Steamboat that boasted beautiful views and dispersed camping. Score!

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Buff pass, Steamboat Springs Colorado

 

Mike and I headed out on Friday, July 28th after work, pulling up to a pretty amazing view of the valley. These girls really knew how to scout a campsite! The area was crowded with campers, with cars rolling by our spot until late in the evening, so we thanked them profusely for reserving such a money location!

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Taking in the views on Buff Pass, Steamboat Colorado

 

After pitching tents and cracking beers, we decided to head into town for the free concert happening in town. The Wood Brothers were playing and we rolled into the festival after a bite to eat, ready to jam out. They were amazing, soulful and poetic with beautiful guitars that mesmerized our buddy McFadden, who had rolled into town a bit later and met us at the base of the mountain where the festival took place. It was a wonderful night!

Wood Brothers, Steamboat SpringsOur Crew at the Festival!

The rest of our crew, Nicole and Dusty, rolled up to the campsite around 10, after we had settled in from the show.  The campfire welcomed them with open arms.

The morning broke and Winnie and I were up early, wanting to explore. Ok, she wanted to explore and dragged my arse out of bed. Little Scallywag! After I made some coffee though, I was extremely pleased with the quiet morning that I was privy to, and we explored the area together, wandering through the wildflowers and down the Buff Trail. What a gift to be here in this beauty!

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Winnie and I exploring Buff Pass Trail

Wildflowers in Steamboat Colorado

The rest of the campers began to stir, so Winnie and I headed back to camp to start breakfast and decide the plan for the day. The boys (Dusty, Mike and McFadden) wanted to mountain bike, so the ladies decided to head out for a hike. But first, campfires and guitar solos…

Breakfast scramble: peppers, tofu, hashbrowns & veggie sausage!
Breakfast Scramble: Peppers, tofu, hash browns & veggie sausage!

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What a lovely, relaxed morning. Really, this is what the mornings on weekends should entail….great friends, beautiful views, exploring, soft guitar music strummed by McFadden, scrumptious breakfast!

But alas, it was time to make moves, so the guys headed out on bikes, the girls to the hills, with a plan to meet in town later. Two cars were driven down from the Buff, so guys had the luxury of taking the buff pass trail all the way into town. What service we provide!

The ladies headed to a popular spot, Fish Creek Falls, and when the parking lot was completely full, we had to make a game time decision to hike elsewhere. When in Steamboat in the summer, hike up the damn mountain!

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We parked & headed up to a glorious trail with a bit of everything: uphill climbs, aspen groves, great views and buena vistas, shots of the gondolas, shady groves to protect us from the beating sun….a great little 5 mile out and back trail that left us sweaty and satisfied.

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Hiking in Steamboat!
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Views of Steamboat
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Gondolas in Steamboat

Heading down the hill was a bit rough on my knee (since the ACL injury, I’ve had a tough time hiking, but trying to push it!) but we made it down and heard from the guys just as we got to the car. Perfect timing! They were headed into town for post post-biking beers, and our group was just as thirsty from the climb, so we headed into town.

The town of Steamboat sat right on the edge of the Yampa river, a beautiful backdrop to have lunch. The group decided on Sweet Pea Restaurant, the cutest little farm to table spot ya ever did see. Happy hour beers flowed, veggie goodness was ordered and we chowed down after a day of adventure!

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Steamboat crew!

 

Steamboats’ Strawberry hot springs were calling our name, but before we headed to steam, we popped into Sunpie’s Bistro, a super heady lunch spot right along the river. A perfect ending to our mountain activity.

Next stop: Strawberry Hot Springs! We soaked, we steamed, we waited in line quite a bit to get in and drank some tailgate beers. It was fabulous and such a relaxing afternoon. Heading back to the campsite that evening, we sang Kenny Loggins into the night.

The next day, we mountain biked our hearts out – Stacia and I heading down an easier trail, while the boys headed out for the harder one.

Flowing through aspens, gorgeous scenery, wildflowers, I had a smile plastered on my face for the whole downhill. Until I popped a tire….and didn’t have a spare tube. Huge lesson learned to never leave on a Colorado adventure without extra supplies!

A kind man and wife team stopped close to the entrance to the trail to lend me a tube, just in time to see Mike ride up from town with a fresh  tube to give back to the man.

Steamboat Gang

Kindness is all over the mountains. After a quick lunch, we headed on our way home, with lots of memories tucked away.

Happy Summer: Biking, Hiking & Coloradical Adventures

Summer has officially begun (June 21st was the summer solstice) and it’s already been an amazing start to the glorious season.

Early May, we headed to Buff Pass for some grueling uphill & fast, flowy downhill mountain biking. The loop I did was 15 miles, 1,369ft of vert – not a bad way to open up the season!

May 20th Mike and I headed to Loveland ski resort to get some off season skinning in. Anyone is able to head out on the mountain for uphill access & it was pretty fun to be at the resort post ski season, when no one else was on the mountain. The skin was a little over 1 1/2 miles, with almost 1,000 ft of vert gained, so not too strenuous, but my first time skinning a resort. Definitely going to be back at it next season!

Hike club has been in full affect since March, and I try to get out once a week, at least! We live in such a spectacular place, with glorious trails only 20-30 minutes from my house, so there’s no excuse not get out on them as much as possible.

I also joined a 100 hrs outside challenge this May, so have been extra motivated to prioritize my outside time. In May & June I’ve hiked the following:

  • North Table Mountain (did this multiple times cause its close, a beautiful loop & has New Terrain Brewing at the bottom!)
  • Berkley Park (not technically hiking, but counting it!)
  • Mt. Galbraith (In Golden)
  • Sloans Lake (more of a walk, but did 5 1/2 miles!)
  • Mt. Falcon (did the shorter loop once, and added the castle ruins on for another hike)
  • Apex (Enchanted forest trail with Winnie)
  • Chimney Gulch (in Golden)

Have also been on my bike more than ever before, which I’m really stoked about. We have even started an early morning bike club on Tuesday’s. Getting up at 5 AM to be pedaling by 6 is one of the best ways to start the day.

In the past two months, I’ve biked to Joyride Brewing & home for happy hour, biked to Berkeley Lake, biked to old town Arvada to hop on the G line then did a tour around the city to celebrate buddies who had run Colfax. On that jaunt, we biked to Briar commons brewery, then to Scratch burrito, then to Zuni Brewery. Over 8 miles, great beer and tons of fun!

And what better way to start or end your day than our in nature, out in the beautiful Colorado sunshine. Our crew headed to Waterton Canyon Trailhead for a Wednesday happy hour spin.

June came and up Mt. Bierstadt we went! It’s the latest I’ve ever skied (June 2nd) and the earliest I’ve ever climbed a 14’er. We slapped our skins on our skies and zipped up the mountain. Over 7 miles and 2,850 vertical feet. It was exhilarating, gorgeous an absolute breathtaking day, one I was extremely proud of myself for accomplishing.

After the 14’er we spent the afternoon meeting a new member of our family, baby girl Harper Weston. A gorgeous little peach!

Another big summer milestone has been the purchase of Happy Homes’ 6th investment property. The property is a mile from our home, so I’ve been able to bike or drive over after work many nights to help Mike. The project will provide countless summer memories.

Mike had a Colorado bachelor party the second weekend in June, so I had a glorious Denver Summer weekend, with brunch on a girlfriend’s rooftop followed by Brewfest, a festival down on Pearl Street with Bluegrass & good beers. Our gang showed up in full force!

Our first camping trip finally arrived, last weekend (June 14), and to Fruita we went, mountain bikes strapped to the back of our car. Three years ago, Mike and I headed to Glenwood Springs, but I had never been to Fruita. First stop: Outer Range (one of the best breweries ever!).

Our campground, NorthFruita Dessert, was off Road 18, with rolling trails right outside our tent. Friday night, we rolled into town pretty late & headed right for Hot Tomato, an amazing pizza joint right in town.

Full moons & fires that evening, followed by a morning of flowy single track on Joes’ run, followed by steep downs and some crazy hike a bike sections. All in all a great morning, although the heat had cranked up by the time we got back to our camp site.

What to do in a blazing hot dessert of a town after a big ride? Head to breweries! A few tasty brews (Suds Brothers Brewery & Copper Club Brewing) then back to camp (with another Hot Tomato pie in tow) for a happy hour ride on Joe’s run. Fruita, you are glorious!

If you’ve never experienced Colorado in the summer, I’d recommend you adding that to your bucket list. The sheer beauty of the trails, mountains, landscape will not disappoint.

Cheers to Colorado adventures! Where are you heading this summer?

Camping in the Butte

Summer in Colorado is truly a magical thing.  Being from the east coast I often get asked if I miss the ocean, being close to the water. I can honestly say, with 100% certainty that I do not. Don’t get me wrong, the beach is absolutely wonderful. But living somewhere that in several short hours you can be surrounded by 14,000 foot mountains, jagged peaks that pierce the bluebird sky, with miles and miles of trails to explore and views for days, well that is a true gift I have not taken for granted since moving here in the winter of 2014.

So, when a group of friends threw out an email a few weeks back about camping in Crested Butte, we were in. Crested Butte is a small mountain town south west of Denver, about 4 ½ hours from our house. A bit far for a weekend getaway, so I took Friday off from work and we set off late Thursday evening towards Oh Be Joyful Campground, just several miles from the town of Crested Butte. Driving west, before we hit Monarch pass, we decided to take a pit stop at one of our favorite breweries, Elevation. There happy hour was amazing: $1.50 off drafts! We stayed for only one, but it helped break up the trip and get us recharged for a great weekend!

We rolled into the town of Crested Butte around 7:00pm, stopped in the cute little town to grab some beer, then headed to Oh Be Joyful Campground. Our two girlfriends had gotten there hours earlier to set up the tent area – what a treat that was to roll up into the site and have the area established! There would be 18 campers total throughout the weekend, so it looked like a small village with several tents having been set up by Stacia and Amanda. A beautiful spot right next to the Slate River was wide open, so we set up our tent and joined the ladies around the fire.

There is something truly special about enjoying a campfire with friends. I had prepped mason jar ramen, so dinner was uber easy. I marinated tofu & onions in amino acids, then put them in a foil pack. I prepped mason jars full of ramen noodles, basil, garlic, then boiled some water & veggie broth & poured it in. Delicious & so easy!

The next day, we woke up to a gorgeous Colorado morning, started a fire and had some breakfast. The spot we had was absolutely gorgeous, next to a creek, so we soaked it up and reveled in the gorgeousness.

Coffee never tasted so good! And the breakfast burritos I had pre-made at home (sweet potatoes, peppers, onions, daiya cheese, tofu scramble) hit the spot!

The day stretched before us and I couldn’t wait to get into it! On Friday, we decided to split up – boys would head out to mountain bike and the girls and the dogs would go hike the  oh be joyful trail. The trail head was about 1/4 mile from our campsite, with just a small river crossing to wade through. So, we rolled up our yoga pants, took off our shoes, and headed on through. The current was surprisingly strong!

 

The Oh Be Joyful Trail started off with a pretty steep climb. Since my ACL surgery on April 4, big hikes have been out of the question, as it’s still in healing mode, so even though this hike was over 16 miles, we committed to 6 miles. Wildflowers, waterfalls, mountains. Oh, this was quite the joyful trail indeed!

Our 6.5 mile hike ended up being absolutely perfect, with a bit of everything, including a rest under some fir trees while Amanda sketched the waterfall in the distance. It was a truly lovely afternoon. The guys met us back at camp, then we all headed into the town of Crested Butte to get some drinks at the Crested Butte Public house to cap off the perfect day.

The next day’s dawn broke and we had bikes on the brain! Three of us ladies were on the same biking level – with my ACL surgery, I had to take it easy, and the other two ladies were fiercely ready, but definitely ready for a beginner trail. We suited up, threw our helmets on, and grabbed our trustee steads.

The first trail we hit was up the road from the campground we were staying at (Oh Be Joyful) so we headed to the Lower Loop trail. Nature has never been so vibrant! Wildflowers were everywhere and as we wheeled down the trails, the mountain views almost made me fall of the trail!

The lower loop was magnificent, so much so that we headed towered the upper lower loop, which had absolutely breathtaking views. A perfect blend of up hill, flowy goodness. The girls and I killed the trails and we were psyched to head back to camp to share the tale of the trails.  The gang was all there, back from their adventures, and the cornhole was pulled out and the games began. After a few games, we all decided to go to Meridian Lake, an alpine lake up a steep mile trail, where a large lake stretched out before us, and a large sandy beach covered with beach go-ers that led into the lake. Beers were cracked, toes were dipped, and some of the boys even swam to the other side. I’ve never had such a fun time at an alpine lake!

 

 

After diving in the icy lake, we headed back to the campsite to change for a night in town. Heading to town, we ended up getting a frosty beverage at The Dogwood Cabin, then heading to grab pizza at The Secret Stash.  Beautiful evening with friends followed by a fabulous sunset.

 

Sunday morning, we packed up camp, some people took off, heading back to Denver, and I headed toward the Lower Upper Loop trail, taking it all the way to town.

The views were just as great as they were the other day and the permanent smile painted on my face held all the way to the main streets of Crested Butte. It was glorious! The rest of the afternoon was spent at the Crested Butte Heritage Museum, getting a download of the start of the town, the biking history that began there, and the amazing history that happened in this awesome mountain town.  After the history lesson, I met the guys at the Public House for a beer before we too took off for home. Another amazing mountain escape in the books!