Celebrating America by Getting Outside

I celebrated the 4th by getting up early (at 9:00…) for a vinyasa yoga class, focusing on the concept of freedom–freedom from negativity and anything holding us back from being our best selves, which was a fitting meditation for wellness month. I followed it up by lazing around by Amber and Mirela’s pool, eating a boatload of Doritos and hot dogs (it was ‘Merica Day, clearly I needed to eat something processed and horrible), and synthesizing some vitamin D while managing to not get sunburned (it’s a no-melanin miracle!).  While this photo is not actually from the 4th, it sums our day (and us in general) up pretty nicely.

Merica

If you don’t already know, we’re hilarious.

Later that day, I found myself in bed at 9:00 pm, with three dogs who were TERRIFIED of fireworks.  I tried to soothe them with some Bon Iver.  It worked fantastically.  It did not work at all.  Why was I in bed so early, torturing myself by trying to sleep with three insane dogs flipping out and barking every time they heard a pop?  Because I woke up at 2:15 am to go hiking.  I might also be insane.

I met up with Courtney in Thornton and we drove up to the Grays Peak trailhead to get started on my first 14er before 6:00 am.  Fun fact: Grays is the highest point on the North American Continental Divide. I got to show off my dirt road driving skills that I procured while growing up in Wyoming because the road was a rutted out mess.  Thankfully, Courtney has a Jeep because I’m not sure my Subaru would have made it.  The mountain air was crisp and cold when we got out of the car, and had that perfect mountain smell that always makes me feel like I’m home.

At the trailhead.   Cold nose, early morning.

At the trailhead.
Cold nose, early morning.

We set out on our 8 mile round trip hike with the intention of trying to do Torreys Peak as well once we summitted Grays. Unfortunately, things were a little slower-going than we planned and we decided to just do Grays. The wildflowers only bloom for about 3 weeks and were in full bloom and absolutely beautiful while we were there and took our minds off the elevation and lack of oxygen.

Wild flowers (Grays on the left)
Stolen from Courtney.

The summit was awesome in the truest sense of the word.

2014-07-05 10.12.38

At the summit!

At the summit!

On the way down, we were surprised on the trail by a family of mountain goats!  I had never seen mountain goats in the wild before and we were lucky enough to see four, including a baby.  Obviously, I took 800 pictures, but I won’t subject you to all of them.

2014-07-05 11.39.54 2014-07-05 11.37.20

Mountain goats

Mountain goats

We were completely famished afterwards and stopped at the Beau Jo’s in Idaho Springs to eat a mountain pie on a mountain. I considered this a necessity because, after the chia seeds, bagel with greek yogurt cream cheese, protein bar, cereal bar, and oat and nut bar, I was still famished.  It was the single greatest pizza of my life and I know a kale salad or something would not have cut it.  I desperately needed carbs!  We did get whole wheat crust and lots of veggies with ricotta cheese, so there are certainly worse pizzas in the world.

When we got home, I slept for 13 hours.

Frugal in FoCo pro tip: We live in one of the best places in the nation (or anywhere) for getting outdoors and there are lots of free places to hike (or bike or climb or paddle…).  While we chose to drive to Grays, there are lots of hikes right outside of Fort Collins that are accessible by bicycle or bus, or even walking.  It’s a great way to get back in touch with nature, unplug for a while, and not spend a dime.