Category Archives: Colorado

Epic Music, Epic Spiciness

After my epic day of mountain climbing on Saturday, I had another epic day planned for Sunday. Epic in a completely different way.

I didn’t have to face cliffs or rocks or summits as I did during my mountain sojourn. No. This time, the enemies were smelly hippies, intense heat, and drunk high schoolers. In other words, I spent my Sunday at an all-day outdoor music festival, specifically the Mile High Music Festival in Denver!

A lot of people were getting their Rocky Mountain high on, if you catch my drift, and weren’t exactly in the right state of mind to realize where the heck they were stepping as they meandered through the crowds. Armed with sunscreen, chairs, blankets, water bottles, and some dark chocolate, my friend Heather and I were ready to defend our turf against all the crazies who happened to stumble upon our blanket.

Don’t we just look intimidating? Not. Maybe that’s why all the drunks liked to stumble by us on their way to go barf in a trashcan. We just look like the type of people that will get out of the way for them….and we certainly did. Neither of us are stupid enough to stand our ground when the drunkies are out and about. They could just as easily yak on your blanket as in the trashcan.

In addition to the smorgasbord of people watching, we might have also seen a few musical acts. Ya know. Because it is a music festival.

Train put on a solid set. I just loved hearing their songs Meet Virginia and Hey, Soul Sister live.

Weezer made a fantastic appearance too. Their frontman had the energy of 100 Energizer bunnies on crack. He was bouncing all over the place during their set, and his enthusiasm was infectious. The crowd (including myself) ate it up as they breezed through a bunch of their hits and a hilarious cover of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face.

The headliner and main event of the Mile High Music Festival was Dave Matthews Band, and they certainly did not disappoint. Their set was epic, sprawling (almost a bit too sprawling, to be honest….I grow weary of jams after they reach the 10 minutes mark), and perfectly suited for the Colorado crowds. Regardless, I enjoyed hearing the prodigious musical talents of the band’s members. Dave is a veritable guitar hero!

How, I wish I could have brought my DSLR to this event! My P + S just couldn’t hack it in this kind of lighting. Regardless, take my word on it. The little tiny guy in the black shirt in this pic is Dave.

All in all, it was a fantastic outing. Mile High magic for sure.

Now, don’t think that I’ve forgotten about the food. I know I have a tendency to drone on and on about mountains and Colorado and things of this nature, but not to worry. To go along with my kickin’ music festival action, I rocked a pretty epic meal today.

Enter: the spiciest green chili I’ve ever tasted in my life.

Now, I don’t go around throwing around the word “spicy” lightly. I adore spicy foods, and rarely is anything too spicy for me. If I was a lesser food champion, this chili might have been too much for my poor little tastebuds.

But I’m a food beast, and I definitely beasted this bowl of chili from King’s Chef, a little diner in downtown Colorado Springs well-renowned for the both the quality and the spiciness of their chili.

Doesn’t look like much from the outside, but this joint had some great food!

The entire dinner fit eight people tops. It was legitimate.

They love their green chiles here. 🙂

Because few people have the cajones to finish off the whole bowl of habanero-infused green chili, I received a reward for my efforts: membership in the “King’s Chef Clean Plate Club.”

I was honored.

I wore my sticker proudly. You bet I did.

The chili may have left my lips red and swollen for a solid hour or two afterward, and I might not be able to taste anything ever again.

BUT… it was totally worth it to finish off that chili. Best bowl of green chili I’ve ever had.

Question: What’s the spiciest meal you’ve ever had?

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Just Keep Climbing, Just Keep Climbing

At the moment, my hands are red and raw from clinging to rocks. My feet are tender, sore, and blistered from hiking down steep terrain for miles at a time (and I might end up losing a few toe nails…we’ll see). My entire body- from my shoulders to my core to my calves- aches like it never has before.

And yet, in spite of it all, I can truly say that yesterday was an amazing day.

Mt. Lindsey is my 34th 14er summit, and I can officially say that it was probably the hardest one I’ve ever done. I mean, just look at her north face. Could that be anything but difficult?

Steep, relentless, loose rock, exposure, generally grueling. Yet, at the same time, it was an empowering, exhilarating, and beautiful climb. Simultaneously butt-kicking and awe-inspiring. In other words, it was an amazing and memorable climb.

The day started off at 4:15AM when my dad and I arose from our slumber to make the drive down to the Sangre de Christo range of Colorado. After gathering on our things, we made the three hour drive to the trailhead. The last several miles were up a bumpy 4WD road common to the Colorado backcountry. We passed by some beautiful Aspen groves, one of my favorite sites in mountain forest regions.

Fun Aspen fact: an Aspen grove is a singe organism. The roots of all the trees are interconnected, and they are considered the largest single organisms in the world. Pretty cool, right?

By 8:00 or so, we had finally launched ourselves from the trailhead. Within minutes, we were treated with this view of the Huerfano valley.

Can you say gorgeous?

Because my dad and I are navigationally-challenged, we accidentally missed the turn-off for the Mt. Lindsey trail and ended up charging onward into some random, swampy drainage area on the Huerfano trail (to be fair, there wasn’t exactly a sign indicating where the trail turn-off was). Oooops….we wasted about an hour and added a couple of needless miles to our roundtrip totals. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Luckily, the weather held for us all day, so this accidental detour didn’t ruin our summit bid. It just made our feet and legs more tired by the end of the day.

We ended up at this creek crossing and had to do some nifty balance work to make it across the logs.

After the creek crossing, the Lindsey trail began to get down to business. It climbed relentlessly steep terrain through the trees until finally reaching timberline at about 11,5000′ or so. Here, we enjoyed our first glimpses of Lindsey poking above the ridgeline.

After crossing across an alpine meadow, we had to deal with more of the steeps. At this point, my legs were screaming, my heart was pounding, and my brow was pouring sweat, but I persevered and eventually made it to the Lindsey ridge. Wooohooo!

Once on the ridge, my dad and I were blasted with wind gusts that nearly knocked us over. This, in conjunction with the imposing site of Lindsey’s upper terrain, made for a nerve-wracking arrival onto the ridge. My dad was a bit spooked by the site of Lindsey’s upper flanks, so we decided to abandon the idea of a ridge climb in favor of the “standard” route up the north face gully seen in the picture below (it’s the light grey terrain in the middle of the mountain). At this point, we decided it would be a wise idea to don our helmets. Protecting the cranium is always key in situations where rockfall is a possibility.

After traversing a climber’s trail to the base of the gully (aka. the gully from hell), we dealt with a lot of loose, steep rock as we scrambled our way to the top of the gully. It wasn’t exactly pleasant (loose rock really puts you on edge because you have to test and re-test virtually every single handhold and foothold you place your weight on). This is my dad at the base of the gully.

To avoid the loose scree, my dad and I stayed on the right hand side of the gully where the rock tended to be less loose and a little better for scrambling.

After repeatedly singing my motivational “Just Keep Climbing” motto (as adapted from Finding Nemo), we reached the upper ridge where the rock FINALLY became stable and solid. Here, we enjoyed a fun and easy rock hop to the first false summit. I was so glad to finally have stable rock below my feet!

From the false summit, we enjoyed a nifty 1/4 mile ridge walk to the real summit.

Around 1:00 PM, my dad and I finally reached the summit. A whopping five hours after we started!

Summit victory pose!

We signed the summit register….

….and I quickly got down to some important business: FOOD CONSUMPTION! It was summit sandwich time!

This time, I chose a simple turkey, mustard, and swiss sandwich stuffed into a whole wheat Ezekiel pita. Sounds boring, but it wasn’t. It was the greatest thing I’ve ever had (okay, that might be stretching it, but it was just what I needed to replenish my lost electrolytes and fuel up for the descent). Perfectly salty, chewy, and amazing. I swear to god, sandwiches just taste better when you’re on a mountain. Also, don’t mind the crazy hair or the awkward mark on my forehead from the climbing helmet. It’s my “crazy mountain lady” look.

The summit views were amazing, as always. Here, I’m pointing to another 14er in the Sangre range called Blanca Peak.

My dad was happy to reach the top, not that you can tell from this picture. He was a bit rattled by the climb. We had some route-finding issues toward the top of the gully that would do a number on anyone’s nerves.

After spending 15 minutes relaxing and chatting with other climbers (another of whom was named Lindsay!), we started the equally nerve-wracking descent downward. Getting down from the evil gully was the worst part, by far. Bottom line: loose and steep rock is the devil. Argh!

Here are some more pictures from the remainder of the climb:

After falling on my butt, cursing the mountain, navigating boulder fields, and descending endless miles of quad-destroying terrain, we finally arrived back at the trailhead after 8.5 hours and 10+ miles of hiking. Arriving back at the car was a beautiful thing….it practically brought tears to my eyes.

Someone once wrote on one of my favorite climbing websites that there are two main highlights when climbing a mountain: 1) your arrival at the summit, and 2) the return to the car. I am in complete agreement with this statement.

My dad and I then drove back home through some of the serene ranching areas in southwestern Colorado. A beautiful sight to see after a long day of climbing.

Mt. Lindsey is a climb that I will always remember for both the physical and mental challenge of the terrain. As tough as it was, I loved every second of the climb….even the moments in which I was clinging uncomfortably to the side of a mountain at 14,000 feet above sea level.

What can I say? I’m a mountain goat. I actually enjoy clinging to mountain faces….:)

For now, I’m going to attempt to stretch out my SORE muscles. I swear, hiking 14ers is the best workout there is. As much as I enjoy running, mountain climbing works your entire body in a way that running doesn’t. My arms, core, and legs are all equally sore.

And I must say, I love that feeling. I love hiking. I love 14ers.

I can’t wait for the next one….

Going Climbing!!!!

Hello friends, just a quick check-in before I head off to bed…

Finally, after what feels like many moons of eager anticipation, I’m heading up to the mountains to hike a 14er (Colorado-speak for a mountain over 14,000 feet in elevation) tomorrow!!!!!!!!!

If successful, it’ll be my 34th 14er summit.

I’m climbing this bad girl of the Colorado Rockies….my namesake mountain and one I’ve been hoping to climb for some time now:

Mt. Lindsey: 14, 042 ft

Isn’t she elegant? And sorta scary-looking? Let’s just hope she’s not a bitch.

I’ll be back with a full report later on tomorrow evening!

Killer Hills

Take a good, hard look at this scenery.

Looks pretty, doesn’t it? Awe-inspiring, I might daresay.

But this scenery has a malevolent side. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies and blue skies. Far from it.

This scenery handed me my sorry runner booty on a platter today, and it wasn’t a pretty thing.

Today, I ran 10 HILLY miles amongst the gorgeous terrain featured in this photo. This particular area is a mere city park here in Colorado Springs. Can you believe that? A city park! In any other state, it would at least be a state park, but we have an abundance of scenery riches here in Colorado. One can’t go around naming everything a state or national park. The whole damn state would be a national park if we were going on the basis of looks alone.

See what I mean?

Anyway, this run was probably the toughest and most arduous run of my life. No joke. Tougher than both of the half marathons I’ve run and any other training run that preceded it. It KILLED.

This lovely park, appropriately named “Garden of the Gods,” is one of the toughest places to run in Colorado Springs, and I know this. I know this, and yet I still thought it would be a grand idea to do my weekly long run amongst the killer trails and endless hills of this area.

I shake my head in shame at my own stupidity. Oh, silly and misguided Lindsay…..thinking I could tackle the killer hills for miles on end.

It didn’t help matters that it was incredibly dry and sunny out today. I had to loop back to my car for water bottle refills several times because I was going through my water much faster than I had anticipated.

This was where I started the run. Home base, if you will. I made several trips back to this area during the run to refill the water bottles and refuel.

I also started this run a little later than I meant to- 9:30 instead of 7:00. Those extra two and a half hours between my original start time and my actual start time led to a significantly higher temperature that I had to combat throughout the run.

A mile and a half into my run (which starts straight up a steep incline and never relents….the park literally has no flat parts. It’s all steep hills!), my legs were beginning to burn.

In all ways possible. My muscles burned, and I also acquired a sunburn on the backs of my calves! Double whammy. The fierce Colorado sun sure can do a number on someone with fair skin like mine.

Due to these circumstances, I decided to throw all expectations for this run out the window. I just wanted to survive it. That was all….

I slowed down my pace a fair amount, so I could contend with the hills (and I am quite proud of myself for conquering the vast majority of them, some of which extended for a mile and a half at a whack). I also took a few walking breaks when the muscle burn became too much. Mentally, this run seemed endless; and physically, it was just painful.

But I survived. I survived, and I feel that the experience has served as worthy preparation for those last few miles of the marathon, when I imagine I’ll be feeling quite similarly to the way I felt today.

When you just want it all to be over with, but you have to force yourself to keep going, to dig in deep to whatever reserves of energy you have stored deep within you and use it to get you through the run.

That’s what I did today, and I’m proud of myself for it.

It doesn’t hurt that I had these views as the reward for my efforts. Beautiful mountain views ALWAYS motivate and inspire me.

Dinner

For dinner tonight, I had a soup n’ sandwich combo platter. I might have even made the sandwich all by myself- my first attempt at “cooking” in more days than I’d like to admit (that is, if you can call assembling a sandwich “cooking”). For my sake, let’s just roll with it.

The soup of the day was a lovely gazpacho (…made by mom…).

The featured sandwich (made by me!) was a turkey havarti melt with spinach and cilantro-mint pesto on a whole wheat sandwich thin.

Yum, yum. I love any and all melted cheese action. The havarti paired nicely with the pesto too.

Question: What’s the toughest run (or workout) you’ve ever had? Did you find it demoralizing or motivational?