A Festive Update!

Curled up on our new couch, sipping coffee while waiting for the sunrise to greet me – I don’t want to abandon this space: warm, cushy and free. This time of year always gets in my head space. I still think on a school year cycle and the fall feels like a new beginning, a season of change. I’ve been thinking and dreaming, and we’ve been talking a lot, making decisions, enjoying pumpkin beers, cookies and dishes full of fall flavors.

spiced ginger cookies

incredibly delicious spiced ginger cookies.

harvest orzo

a new dish: harvest orzo seasoned with sage, nutmeg and cinnamon accompanied with roasted vegetables.

With the arrival of October, we’ve been discussing holiday plans and festivities too. Ethan is back to work with obscure hours: a crazy schedule of early mornings and long days. We are gearing up for winter and are eager to learn new tricks at Eldora Mountain Resort, and discover new terrain in the backcountry. Evening trail runs and climbing keep us busy after work, and soon, we will add fly fishing to the list.

Colorado is beginning to feel good and finally, like home. We’ve made a few changes and have welcomed some new additions to our place, definitely assisting with the coziness factor. We’re still budgeting and getting better at it with each new month. Now that we are well into fall, I’ve had several bouts of crafty time too. A front door wreath, leaf and pine cone garland and mini pumpkins make for lovely decorations. Ethan also surprised me with the sweetest pumpkin lights: happy jack-o-lanterns with big, bright grins.

wreath

our front door wreath. cottonwood leaves with pine cones.

pumpkin lights

the happiest pumpkin lights.

These are the days. Pumpkin grins and festive treats. Halloween will be knocking on our door in no time. Any plans for the ever-so-sweet holiday?

3ATHLON: Celebrating Three Years Together

Three years! Whoa! Robyn and I wanted to do something memorable for our three year anniversary so we started brain storming. What about a triathlon?! Well, neither of us swim much these days, and organized events are so expensive. Plus it would be fun to do it ON our anniversary, so we made one up! The “3ATHLON” was born.

Robyn rinsing off after the first couple miles of our run. Most of the run was along Clear Creek which meanders through town across the street from our house.

Robyn rinsing off after the first couple miles of our run. Most of the run was along Clear Creek which meanders through town across the street from our house.

Robyn leaving the Clear Creek Trail to cross the bridge, grab our climbing gear and jog up to the crag!

Robyn leaving the Clear Creek Trail to cross the bridge, grab our climbing gear and jog up to the crag!

Of course we wanted to make it fun and attainable after work so carrying on with the theme of three’s we decided on a three mile run to a nearby crag, climb three pitches, and finish it off with a three mile bike ride! The night before we shuttled our bikes and climbing gear up to the crag and walked home. The stage was set!

The running leg of the 3ATHLON. We left from our house (flag) and did a loop through town before heading out along Clear Creek to the crag.

Climbing gear on, we jogged along the old canal to the "Canal Zone" crag to get in some pitches.

Climbing gear on, we jogged along the old canal to the “Canal Zone” crag to get in some pitches.

Getting ready to put up the first pitch.

Getting ready to put up the first pitch.

Robyn roping up.

Robyn roping up.

Robyn on the first of three climbs on our climbing leg of the 3ATHOLON.

Robyn on the first of three climbs on our climbing leg of the 3ATHLON.

The Canal Zone is a super popular crag at the mouth of Clear Creek Canyon. It hosts a bunch of moderates on solid rock in a pleasant setting perfect for a quick burn after work. We chose three routes at the end of the crag we hadn’t done yet: Buckets of Rain (5.9), Levada (5.8+), and Lambada (5.10-). After the climbs we were feeling good, knowing the two hardest legs were out of the way. The only portion left was a relaxing bike ride through town that finished with a huge mile long downhill coast right to the front of Barrels and Bottles Brewery!

Climbing all done we ran down the hill and grabbed our bikes!

Climbing all done we ran down the hill and grabbed our bikes!

The bike leg of the 3ATHLON. A steep uphill to the northwest side of town was rewarded with a long downhill coast at dusk right the the front of Barrels and Bottles Brewery. Success!

Robyn riding down the Clear Creek Trail back to town.

Robyn riding down the Clear Creek Trail back to town.

Cruising down the street back to our house to drop some gear and continue on the bike ride.

Cruising down the street back to our house to drop some gear and continue on the bike ride.

The finish line! In exactly 3 hours! No joke! We rolled down the final leg of the 3ATHOLON into Barrels and Bottles Brewery for a celebration beer.

The finish line! In exactly 3 hours! No joke! We rolled down the final leg of the 3ATHOLON into Barrels and Bottles Brewery for a celebration beer.

It’s an amazing feeling to have Robyn to share my life with. Every passing day, week and year I feel more and more grateful to have her in my life. With each new shared experience our love and common memories continue to grow. Here’s to next year and the QUADTHON!

Mountain Sides: RMNP, Idaho, Curry’s and more

It’s amazing what you can achieve with a little free time on your hands. I recently returned from my whirlwind trip, which included a visit from my parents, camping and hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park and traversing Idaho from bottom to top and back again to see a great friend marry his soul mate.

Pops and I discussing the finer points of brew craft.

Pops and I discussing the finer points of brew craft.

Avery Brewing Company. Boulder - Colorado.

Avery Brewing Company. Boulder – Colorado.

The winner of the taste tests Out of Bounds Stout.

The winner of the taste tests Out of Bounds Stout.

Mom was in love with this huge tree.

Mom was in love with this huge tree.

Mom and calf.

Mom and calf.

Hippies playing in a lake.

Hippies playing in a lake.

We saw several bull elk. What amazing creatures!

We saw several bull elk. What amazing creatures!

Estes Park - Colorado

Estes Park – Colorado

My ancestor built this house in Estes Park near Mary's Lake in the 1860's. The third oldest in the area.

My ancestor built this house in Estes Park near Mary’s Lake in the 1860’s. The third oldest in the area.

First signs of Fall.

First signs of Fall.

Steep and short V5 at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Steep and short V5 at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Lake Hiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Lake Hiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park.

A great view of Hallett Peak from Nymph Lake.

A great view of Hallett Peak from Nymph Lake.

Flowers along the trail.

Flowers along the trail.

This was hilarious.

This was hilarious.

Hold still!

Hold still!

Ahhh!

Ahhh!

Pops communing with nature.

Pops communing with nature.

THREE Halletts!

THREE Halletts!

Emerald Lake with Hallett Peak in the background.

Emerald Lake with Hallett Peak in the background.

Still undefeated.. just sayin'.

Still undefeated.. just sayin’.

Loungin' at camp in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Loungin’ at camp in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Ponderosa.

Ponderosa.

Robyn bouldering a V3.

Robyn bouldering a V3.

Hey there little fella!

Hey there little fella!

A big moment, and many more to come!

A big moment, and many more to come!

Falkors first tat!

Falkors first tat!

Well I just kinda had to go scramble up there. Rocky Mountain National Park.

Well I just kinda had to go scramble up there. Rocky Mountain National Park.

Robyn has a great eye for the little treasures of the outdoors.

Robyn has a great eye for the little treasures of the outdoors.

Pops taking in the view.

Pops taking in the view.

Trips back to Idaho from Colorado aren’t much different than they were while living in Alaska. Pack as much activity as possible into as few days as possible. Fight plane schedules, organize rides and fake sick days. And when it’s all said and done you may actually need a sick day when you return. In eleven days, I spent roughly 44 hours in the car… Needless to say, it’s good to be home.

Hanging out at the "Sunshine Ledge" hoping it will repel the thunderstorms.

Hanging out at the “Sunshine Ledge” hoping it will repel the thunderstorms. Devil’s Head, Rampart Range – Colorado

The Fire Lookout. Quite the view.

The Fire Lookout. Quite the view.

How can you not listen to this dude!

How can you not listen to this dude!

A bit of history. The guy working the lookout has been there every summer for 30-something years.

A bit of history. The guy working the lookout has been there every summer for 30-something years.

Lookout!

Lookout!

Radical boulders along the trail to Devil's Head.

Radical boulders along the trail to Devil’s Head.

Camping at Devil's Head under a full moon.

Camping at Devil’s Head under a full moon.

Idaho is a special place. Cruising into the state from Salt Lake in the back of Falkor, the scenery didn’t change much. The hills were still low and broad and speckled with sagebrush. The blue sign announcing our arrival to Idaho could easily go unnoticed. Despite only subtle changes the feeling of Idaho is something that is hard to describe. It was certainly different. It was familiar and nostalgic. The City of Rocks was stunning as usual. This is undoubtedly one of the most special places to be on this planet. As we joined the interstate again the smell of dairies made me puke a little, but even that brought back a flood of memories (mostly of almost puking). The wind ripped across the Perrine Bridge (as usual) and I strained my eyes to capture a glimpse of my favorite choss pile, Dierkes Lake.

On the road in Falkor.

On the road in Falkor.

Had to take a photo of this natural coffee holder for Robyn. This was the perfect morning coffee boulder.

Had to take a photo of this natural coffee holder for Robyn. This was the perfect morning coffee boulder.

City of Rocks - Idaho

City of Rocks – Idaho

Mom and pop enjoying the sunrise from behind our camp at The City of Rocks - Idaho.

Mom and pop enjoying the sunrise from behind our camp at The City of Rocks – Idaho.

Mini world of green.

Mini world of green.

The City has all sorts of cool micro worlds.

The City has all sorts of cool micro worlds.

A favorite picture from The City.

A favorite picture from The City.

Waking up to the sunrise.

Waking up to the sunrise.

All sorts of new beer in the 208.

All sorts of new beer in the 208.

Ben and Tom clipping it up at The Fins - Idaho.

Ben and Tom clipping it up at The Fins – Idaho.

Tom and Ato. Say it with me now.

Tom and Ato. Say it with me now.

Together with Ben again, cruising Idaho with nothing on our agenda but breweries, friends and climbing. It’s like we were transported back to the old days of U of I blasting punk rock in his old Subaru on our way to Brundage – what a great feeling. After grabbing Robyn from the airport we made the long drive to Moscow. Seeing Moscow all these years later was quite the trip. We walked past our old apartments, up and down the same old streets and past the dorms. The campus of U of I has to be one of the prettiest in the country.

Benny in the garden. "Hey look an onion!"

Benny in the garden. “Hey look an onion!”

Shirley checking out the pumpkins!

Shirley checking out the pumpkins!

Onions in the Rodes' family garden.

Onions in the Rodes’ family garden.

YUM

YUM

Benny and Lettie.

Benny and Lettie.

She has a small collection of these from walks with Jim.

She has a small collection of these from walks with Jim.

Tomatoes at the Rodes'.

Tomatoes at the Rodes’.

Jim spoiling Lettie.

Jim spoiling Lettie.

Jim collects cool old stuff.

Jim collects cool old stuff.

Rodes'

Rodes’

The whole reason for this mammoth trip back to Idaho was to watch our friends Mark (Curry) and Misty tie the knot. Their wedding was on a beautiful farm south of town and the turnout was impressive. There was a simple and warm ceremony followed by tons of grub, a NRS raft full of beer, kegs and dancing! What a fun night! I met Curry shortly after moving to Moscow. He and I were among the original Vandal Snow members and I have countless awesome memories chasing this guy around mountain slopes. He has always been there. No matter what adventure we want to go on, Curry was always there. Such a solid friend and solid dude, Robyn and I were psyched to be there for his big day.

Curry and I circa 2005. Camping in Ben's Subaru for opening day tracks at Mount Baker - Washington.

Curry and I circa 2005. Camping in Ben’s Subaru for opening day tracks at Mount Baker – Washington.

Tballs, myself and Curry about to shred the remainder of our epic run off Python a few years ago in Valdez - Alaska.

Tballs, myself and Curry about to shred the remainder of our epic run off Python a few years ago in Valdez – Alaska.

What a great crew of people!

What a great crew of people!

Fun crew of peeps!

Fun peeps!

Yeah. Pretty dang cute.

Yeah. Pretty dang cute.

Bubbletron lightin' the isle on fire.

Bubbletron lightin’ the aisle on fire.

The groom!

The groom!

Bride and dad.

Bride and dad.

No pressure.

No pressure.

Sealin' the deal!

Sealin’ the deal!

Weee!

Weee!

The newly weds.

The newly weds.

This is how you celebrate.

This is how you celebrate.

Awesome.

Awesome.

My beautiful wife!

My beautiful wife!

Back in Colorado, back on my own schedule, exercising and eating right again, things are back on track and life is sweet. I am in an envious position between jobs that just happens to straddle the most beautiful month of the year and I am trying to remain aware and thankful for the calm before the storm. Since arriving back in Golden I have started a new workout phase for climbing in one final attempt to try my hardest and utilize the perfect temperatures at our home crags in Clear Creek Canyon.

Sun streaming into our living room.

Sun streaming into our living room.

Look at that pile of peppers! The Golden Farmers' market is awesome!

Look at that pile of peppers! The Golden Farmers’ market is awesome!

Come October 1st, I will be back on with the CAIC full time with a load of preseason prep work to do. Coming soon are a Wilderness First Responder course, and I will be teaching a three-day Mountain Weather course. November will begin my forecast schedule and all the early mornings and travel that it entails. Last year I had so much excitement for climbing our new crags that I pushed myself to near burnout. This winter I plan to let things happen a bit more naturally. Ease back on my climbing goals, embrace the cold months, learn to ski and rest when I need it. Often times I find myself looking forward to the next big thing – the next chapter, the next goal or the next big trip. Lately though I am much more content with each day as it unfolds.

“Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire… To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top.” – Robert M. Pirsig

Slow Cooker Meals.

The crisp weather has finally arrived here in Golden, and with it, the first vibrant leaves of the season. This change also means a sweet goodbye to fresh tomatoes and corn, and a welcoming hello to stew! Like fall, I love stew. Growing up, soups and stews were a staple in our house. Being the wizard that she is, my mom quickly whipped up some of the tastiest liquid dishes out there. I hope I acquired the good-soup-gene; they are too divine to only enjoy once or twice a year.

spicy bean and tomato

spicy bean and tomato soup!

In my attempt to replicate some of my mother’s delightful dishes, I have crafted a few meal plans and soup recipes to get us started. I am thinking a turkey dish covered in root vegetables and seasonings of sorts: lemon, broth, wasabi paste, or cumin all could be fun to start with. A creamy pumpkin soup with side sandwich for dipping sounds lovely too. Or how about chicken covered in gingery peaches? Oh, the possibilities!

curry

we’re all about the curry stews!

pasta stew topped with sheep cheese!

pasta stew topped with sheep cheese!

My goals: to prepare most of these dishes the night before and toss them in the slow cooker the morning of, allowing them to cook the entire day, emitting sweet and savory smells of fall throughout our apartment. I would also like to share these new recipes, photos included, on this here blog with each of you. I love to cook, bake and create tasty treats. It would be a shame not to share them, as well as gobble up any ideas or recipes you have on slow cooker meals, soups or stews.

10SLEEP: TEAMTRYHARDON

Finding freedom in Wyoming.

Finding freedom in Wyoming.

Thump, thump, thump… snap. Thump, thump. Groggy, I sat up in my sleeping bag and peered out the small window of our tent. I squinted to make sense of the abstract shapes forming in the pre-dawn light. Thump, thump.. “What was that?” Robyn asked sitting up. The noise of Robyn rustling in the tent prompted our visitor to raise his massive head and turn to look in my direction. “Oh shit,” I said as I starred into the rack of a bull moose not 15 feet from my tiny window. We sat in silence as I weighed our options, stay still or risk it and flee? If it weren’t for a previous encounter with a bull moose in Alberta during which we ran for our lives as we were chased back to camp this decision would have been obvious. Thankfully, before I was forced to make any bad choices the bull lost interest, lowered his rack and continued grazing as he ambled through our camp.

Our camp outside a small town in Wyoming on our way up. Complete with a LARPING gathering.

Our camp outside a small town in Wyoming on our way up. Complete with a LARPING gathering.

The last week of July was spent in the same fashion of the previous year, camping and climbing with Ben in Ten Sleep Canyon in rural north-central Wyoming. Ten Sleep is a beautiful subalpine canyon bisected by Ten Sleep Creek and flanked with yellow and grey walls of high quality limestone. This year Ben’s friends and founders of the (sarcastic) climbing team “teamtryhardon” Chad and Chris joined the crew. We were even blessed with a surprise visit from the king of limestone himself Steve “Leroy Jenkins” Dodd, in his classic “oh hey guys, you were coming here too?” fashion. Our crew was strong; in fact this was the strongest group of people I have ever climbed with. Everyone was focused, stoked and killing it. We had an incredible week.

"Hmmm.. where to start?" - The Ark

“Hmmm.. where to start?” – The Ark

Drying out shirts in the sun after a long hike up to the crag.

Drying out shirts in the sun after a long hike up to the crag.

Chris on Bazooka Face (5.12a) at The Ark.

Chris on Bazooka Face (5.12a) at The Ark.

Hot sports action!

Hot sports action!

The face on his way up July Jihad (5.12b).

The face of the team on his way up July Jihad (5.12b).

Chris on an 11+ extension at The Ark. This place is killer.

Chris on an 11+ extension at The Ark. This place is killer.

Try till you puke.

Try till you puke.

Support this brewery!!!!!!

Support this brewery!!!!!!

The sign for Ten Sleep Brewing is a cowboy riding a keg. Awesome.

The sign for Ten Sleep Brewing is a cowboy riding a keg. Awesome.

Robyn continued her unconscious assault on Ten Sleep Canyon, yet again setting personal bests with a flash of Tricks For You (5.12a) and a staggering second go ascent of the mammoth Left El Shinto (5.12c) marking her hardest climb to date. Her confidence on Ten Sleep limestone is absolutely through-the-roof and when she is in the zone anything can happen.

Robyn negotiating some small holds and tough sequences on her flash of Tricks For You (5.12a).

Robyn negotiating some small holds and tough sequences on her flash of Tricks For You (5.12a).

Robyn flashing Tricks For You (5.12a).

Robyn flashing Tricks For You (5.12a).

Rest day at Deer Haven.

Rest day at Deer Haven.

Cool lodge at the top of the canyon.

Cool lodge at the top of the canyon.

"I hate this game! This is impossible! It's all probability!" --zeros

“I hate this game! This is impossible! It’s all probability!” –zeros

Going for it!

Going for it!

BUST!

BUST!

Rest day at Meadowlark Lake.

Rest day at Meadowlark Lake.

Who needs a shower when you can dip in an alpine lake?

Who needs a shower when you can dip in an alpine lake?

Despite injuries and surgery, Steve bounced back to take down several proud lines on this trip. Most notable was his perfectly choreographed ascent of The Gravy Train (5.12b). I don’t think I have seen anyone climb a route as well as he did that day.

Steve on The Great White Behemoth (5.12b).

Steve on The Great White Behemoth (5.12b).

Our star athlete Ben powered through several tough climbs thanks to his religious practice of max curls (see power tank photo below). On short rest he made a wild ascent of July Jihad (5.12b) as well as joining the send train on The Great White Behemoth (5.12b). Ben is climbing stronger than ever this year after an all-time spring during which he took down Al’s Diner (5.13a) at The Fins.

Ben on Gravy Train (5.12b).

Ben on Gravy Train (5.12b).

GUNS

GUNS

Ten Sleep was kind to me as well, and the group psych and encouragement saw me to the top of The Name of The Game (5.13a) after leaving the draws up for a day of rest.

Ethan onsighting Ooh La La (5.12a) at the Superatic Pillar.

Ethan onsighting Ooh La La (5.12a) at the Superatic Pillar.

The golden light on the way out way serene.

The golden light on the hike out from The Ark was serene.

A view across the canyon to the main sectors of Ten Sleep.

A view across the canyon to the main sectors of Ten Sleep.

Chad’s send of The Great White Behemoth (5.12b) was certainly one of the most inspiring of the trip. I was lucky enough to have been hanging from an adjacent climb to watch the action as he crimped and monoed past the low crux.  His determination and intensity had my palms sweating proving without a doubt his role as the team captain.

Coach sending The Great White Behemoth (5.12b).

The Captain sending The Great White Behemoth (5.12b).

At the chains on The Behemoth. Sick send!

At the chains on The Behemoth. Sick send!

"One beer is a send beer and one is for if I don't send." - The Captain

“One beer is a send beer and one is for if I don’t send.” – The Captain

Chris was solid all week, also sending The Gravy Train (5.12b) as well as flashing Tricks For You (5.12a) and sending The Great White Behemoth (5.12b) among others. Most notable to me though was his sense of humor that kept us laughing all week.

This is a series of some of my favorite shots of the trip. Coach on Gravy Train (5.12b).

This is a series of some of my favorite shots of the trip. Coach on Gravy Train (5.12b).

Entering the crux on Gravy Train (5.12b).

Entering the crux on Gravy Train (5.12b).

Mid crux.

Mid crux.

Nearing the chains. Exposed. This route builds in difficulty right to the end!

Nearing the chains. Exposed. This route builds in difficulty right to the end!

Wyoming americana at its finest.

Wyoming americana at its finest.

Chicks dig micros.

Chicks dig micros.

Ben eyeing up some low crux moves on The Great White Behemoth (5.12b).

Ben eyeing up some low crux moves on The Great White Behemoth (5.12b).

The star athlete getting his TRYHARDON. The Great White Behemoth (5.12b).

The star athlete getting his TRYHARDON. The Great White Behemoth (5.12b).

Ten Sleep Canyon has seriously increased its appeal as an extended-stay climbing destination with the addition of not just one, but TWO microbreweries! One is located in the sleepy town of Ten Sleep itself and the other in nearby Buffalo. Buffalo, also touting a free public pool (with showers!) a bowling alley and a grocery store still tops the list for rest days, but you would be amiss to neglect the 2nd St Café for its killer coffee and Ten Sleep Brewing Company for its down home atmosphere and great beers.

Summer isn’t normally considered ideal for climbing, but in our little Wyoming oasis we get to escape the hustle of everyday life and enjoy the company of great friends around a roaring campfire. To say this trip is merely a climbing trip would be cruelly unfair. It’s a time to reset, something to look forward to and then fondly back on. Anxiety can’t survive on a swaying hammock between towering pines.

Don't miss the coffee at this bakery. YUM.

Don’t miss the coffee at this bakery. YUM.

Truth.

Truth.

Clear Creek Brewing Co sampler on a rest day in Buffalo.

Clear Creek Brewing Co sampler on a rest day in Buffalo.

Send bonfires.

Send bonfires.

Fuzzy group shot from a stranger. TEAMTRYHARDON

Fuzzy group shot from a stranger. TEAMTRYHARDON

Back in Golden the early morning air has that fall feel. By 10 a.m. the crisp air mixes with the heat of the strong Colorado sun, but a glance at the mountains shows the first dusting of snow in the alpine. Robyn is talking non-stop about pumpkins and cinnamon. Dreams of dry afternoon cragging sessions sans thunderstorms fill our thoughts. Already, plans for next year’s week long escape are taking shape. Where will we go next summer/fall? My guess is we will find ourselves tying in with many of the same faces at a crag not to unfamiliar.  One that shaped who we are as climbers and one that is long overdue for a visit.

More Budgeting: Rice, Beans and Tortillas

This budgeting thing is never ending. It’s been a few months now since we began implementing our new plan and so far, we’ve been diligent about adhering to it. After paying bills and a little extra on loans each month, we are left with an itty bitty amount of disposable income to use for fun. We’ve found that setting aside this adventure fund, albeit a small one, allows us to enjoy a beer or two out, buy a new guidebook and catch appetizers with visiting friends and family. It has also kept us more intentional and mindful of how we spend our money.

Over the next few weeks, this could get even more challenging. We are both in need of some new wintry gear; both in clothing and hard goods. Thankfully, we get a bargain on most gear and are hoping to keep expenses relatively low for as long as we can. Until November, this may mean rice, beans and tortillas for dinner. A lot. I think I am okay with that. These, after all, are some of my favorite dinner combinations. Ask me again in December. I may have a different outlook. Either way, we’ll be sure to keep you posted.

treats are few, but when they happen, they are mighty delicious.

treats are few, but when they happen, they are mighty delicious.

As fascinating as this stuff is, I cannot wait to make our last loan payment. I can only imagine how being debt-free feels. It will be exciting to join the club, as well as be able to save for future expenses, like little Davis woolies and a house to call our own.

Team Clips Verse Colorado

I love when friends come to visit. Beer and town tours always seem more exciting; tastier too! A few weeks ago, JP, Michele and lady Galena found their way to Colorado, exploring the Front Range and other surrounding areas. Their agenda was packed: school visits and orientations for Michele and interviews for JP. We managed to steal them away from business for a few days and enjoyed ample brews, chatter of dreams, finances, snowy adventures, building a tiny house (yes, that’s right! You can follow their progress here), and their possible move to Colorado. Of course, rock climbing was also a must-do before their departure back to Idaho.

Michele killing it on her first lead climb.

Michele killing it on her first lead climb.

Prior to their arrival, we had talked about summiting of one Colorado’s many 14ers; however, due to time constraints, we opted for a fun-filled day of sport clippin’. We decided to check out East Colfax Crag in Clear Creek Canyon. The routes are varied in movement, style and grade. This area is also a great introduction to lead climbing and provided the perfect opportunity for Michele to lead her first-ever sport route, For the Children (5.4). Michele rocked it! She clipped the anchors with ease and once on the ground, roped back up to send it again! She’s a natural.

Hang dem draws!

Hang dem draws!

Making and sharing memories with such great friends is priceless. Their visit was a warm way to usher in summer and welcome new adventures. We chat with these two frequently and miss hanging out with them on a regular basis. Their tiny house will be ready to move in to come spring and their travels may just find them near Golden, Colorado. If they roam in the area for too long, we may never let them leave.

A Quick Update

My morning commute to work has been absolutely serene lately. A slight, cool breeze and low morning light remind me that autumn is right around the corner. The evenings, too, feel a bit more, dare I say it, fall-like, losing the sweet smells of grass and humid, clammy air. This transition is my favorite. The heat and mosquitoes of summer quietly disappear. Camping becomes much cozier and climbing psych is at an all time high. Temperatures become ideal for rock scrambling and the festive thoughts of cinnamon-pumpkin treats are difficult to ignore.

fall

fall is headed our way and I can barely wait for it!

This weekend, we plan to celebrate the end of summer. Mid-to-high 70s will kindly greet us and local weather experts are calling for a ‘dusting’ of fresh snow in the mountains. We’re headed to another new crag about an hour outside of Denver, exploring and climbing the rock of Devil’s Head. Hopefully soon, we can find some time to post our weekend getaway and our previous adventure to Ten Sleep with great friends, new and old.

These last few weeks have flown by; it’s been challenging to keep up. Winter will be knocking on our door before we know it.

CO Craggin’ and Vincent Rolls Again!

Clear Creek Canyon, Matthew-Winters Park, Elevenmile Canyon, Flagstaff, Penitente, Rifle, Shelf Road, Table Mountain, Morrison… The list is growing, along with our list of fun climbing partners. And how can we live 15 minutes from the mouth of Eldorado Canyon and not climb there yet? Yeah I don’t really have a great answer to that except that there is just so much to explore!

Crazy Mountain Brewery may be my new favorite in Colorado.

Crazy Mountain Brewery may be my new favorite in Colorado.

Picnic grounds near the creek. Rifle, CO.

Picnic grounds near the creek. Rifle, CO.

Robyn, is learning some cool tricks with our camera. I really liked this shot.

Robyn, is learning some cool tricks with our camera. I really liked this shot.

One of the several beautiful granite domes lining Elevenmile Canyon.

One of the several beautiful granite domes lining Elevenmile Canyon.

Moose sending a cool 5.9 corner.

Moose sending a cool 5.9 corner.

Hanging at Chris' place. Workin' the grill after a long day bouldering at Flagstaff Mountain.

Hanging at Chris’ place. Workin’ the grill after a long day bouldering at Flagstaff Mountain.

It’s hard to imagine we have lived in Colorado for over 6 months now. In fact sometimes it’s hard to believe we actually live here and it’s not just another phase in an ever changing adventure. Now that summer is in full swing and the stresses of finding and adapting to new jobs are over we have really started to settle in. We’ve agreed on a budget that helps us pay down loans but isn’t stifling and we’ve begun to explore the many beautiful crags our new backyard has to offer. Through it all we are feeling healthier and stronger by the day and Fall looks promising to be one of our strongest climbing seasons yet.

Elk wandering through the park. I took this picture from our window one evening.

Elk wandering through the park. I took this picture from our window one evening.

Chris' friend Adam sending a cool boulder at Flagstaff.

Chris’ friend Adam sending a cool boulder at Flagstaff.

Mark and Kristi taking Garrett out on his first camping trip!

Mark and Kristi taking Garrett out on his first camping trip!

Moose running it out on an Elevenmile classic.

Moose running it out on an Elevenmile classic.

Scenery along the drive home from another great weekend.

Scenery along the drive home from another great weekend.

Salida, CO

Salida, CO

Ian giving me a fly fishing lesson on Clear Creek.

Ian giving me a fly fishing lesson on Clear Creek.

One of a few nice fish we caught including my first ever on a fly rod!

One of a few nice fish we caught including my first ever on a fly rod!

While Colorado is a long way from home, we have been blessed with the company of some great friends and family. My dad came to visit for a long weekend and Will took his precious few days off from fire season to meet us at Shelf Road for some climbing. This was the same spot we wished Will luck as he entered his first season on the hot shot crew in Taos. Tomorrow JP and Michelle arrive for what I can only imagine will be an epic week of alpine annihilation, and Dan and Tess will join us on Wednesday for a visit during their trip out to see family in Estes Park.

The climbing scene in Colorado is a bit overwhelming at first. There are so many places to keep track of and loads of climbers of all abilities. You can find solace at an obscure block or turn the corner and rack-up with 30 of your new closest friends. You can climb alpine granite, power-endurance limestone or sculpted gneiss. Take your pick, they are all on the table this time of year. Although we are continuing to explore, a few crags are rising to the top of our list of favorites. One of which, and possibly the most surprising is Rifle. Robyn and I took Vincent out for a long weekend over the 4th of July. A test to see if he was mechanically sound enough to make it to Rocky Mountain National Park in late August to meet my folks. A very long story short, Vincent made it, although we climbed both passes (Vail and the Divide) at 25 mph on the shoulder of I70… Phew!

Vince around the campfire on night two at Rifle.

Vince around the campfire on night two at Rifle.

Another amazing beer from Crazy Mountain Brewing Company.

Another amazing beer from Crazy Mountain Brewing Company.

Robyn catching a cool reflection in our morning mugs.

Robyn catching a cool reflection in our morning mugs.

Robyn enjoying our makeshift chairs and table after an unfortunate burglary.

Robyn enjoying our makeshift chairs and table after an unfortunate burglary.

The incredible Project Wall at Rifle.

The incredible Project Wall at Rifle.

Yep. Never thought I would see this sign.

Yep. Never thought I would see this sign.

Playing with long exposures around the campfire.

Playing with long exposures around the campfire. Night one at Rifle

Rifle has an undeniable image to the average outsider. Before you go there all you can assume is that there are a bunch of cocky knee-barring robots climbing 5.14 chossy limestone caves. It probably has a lot to do with climbing media and the coverage the place gets with its difficult sport routes. What is omitted from these accounts is the absolute beauty of the place. A narrow cool canyon with beautiful walls of all shapes and angles converging on manicured picnic grounds along a crystal-clear creek, ample camping, and a vibe that was less than hectic. Add to that the number of challenging routes, and the easy access and you have a winning combo. Upon returning from Rifle, we immediately went to the gear shop to pick up a guide. We will be back this fall to build up our power-endurance and enjoy the crisp temps and fall colors.

One not-so surprising favorite is Shelf Road. Robyn heard the words “technical limestone” all the way from Idaho and her mind was immediately awash with pockets and crimps of all shapes and sizes. There was no escaping Shelf. Nestled on the arid side of the Rockies on a desert plateau, Shelf offers nearly year round climbing along miles of interesting and beautiful canyons. Meeting Will on his weekend off, we climbed with our friends Adam and Matt on one of the best weekends of the year. Adam and Matt both bring a psych for climbing that had Robyn and I immediately stoked and they have quickly become two of our best climbing partners.

Adam sending a beautiful 5.10d at the Darkside, Shelf Road.

Adam sending a beautiful 5.10d at the Darkside, Shelf Road.

Send treats after my hardest redpoint of the season at Shelf Road.

Send treats after my hardest redpoint of the season at Shelf Road.

And then there is good old Clear Creek. The same creek that bisects Golden on its way to the Coors Brewery. Clear Creek is just across the ball fields from our apartment, and gushes from the mouth of the Canyon after a wild descent from the divide. Rafters, kayakers, tubers, and fisherman flock here at different times of the year. It’s easy to look past your backyard crag, but the more we climb there, the more I love it. I can’t say that I’ve been on a bad route there yet, and the awesome routes are beginning to be to numerous to remember. As far as I am concerned Clear Creek is my new home crag and with money tightening up at the end of this summer, we will be seeing a lot of Clear Creek.

Chris on the 5.10a Mirthmobile at the Primo Wall, Clear Creek Canyon.

Chris on the 5.10a Mirthmobile at the Primo Wall, Clear Creek Canyon.

Robyn on Mirthmobile. This is one of the best 5.10's in the canyon.

Robyn on Mirthmobile. This is one of the best 5.10’s in the canyon.

Salida, CO.

Salida, CO.

Sister of Mercy 5.12b at Penitente Canyon, CO.

Sister of Mercy 5.12b at Penitente Canyon, CO.

Bruno on the challenging Dos Hombres 5.11b stemming corner in Penitente Canyon.

Bruno on the challenging Dos Hombres 5.11b stemming corner in Penitente Canyon.

Isn't that a thing of beauty?! Bullet the Blue Sky 5.12c/d at Penitente Canyon.

Isn’t that a thing of beauty?! Bullet the Blue Sky 5.12c/d at Penitente Canyon.

The Virgin of Guadalupe.

The Virgin of Guadalupe.

Penitente Canyon, CO

Penitente Canyon, CO

Two weeks from now we will say goodbye to Colorado for the first extended period of time since we arrived in January. Our annual trip to see Ben on his birthday will again bring us to Tensleep, WY for a week of camping and crushing. Ben has been on a tear this year recently sending his first 5.13! Can’t wait to catch up with him, and spend a nice week relaxing in the solitude of the high green meadows by a crackling fire.

Update on Becoming Debt Free

We’re still budgeting and I’m still extremely fascinated by the process. Our progress; however, has definitely slowed since taking an oath to become debt free. We are constantly crunching numbers, saving pennies and only spending money on the necessities. We are diligently hammering away at the ol’ loans. It’s exhausting; I remain optimistic.

paying loans off, one small bit at a time.

we’re paying our loans off, one small bit at a time.

As mentioned previously, we utilize a spreadsheet to help track our expenditures and are quick to adjust it if we overspend in a certain category. We’ve had a few unexpected car repairs that required more from our savings than either one of us preferred. We’ve managed to replenish it and are back on track toward paying off our loans. I’ve added a financial log to our closet door, too. Using a giant sharpie marker, I scribble in what our total remaining debt is for that month. This has given us a tangible number to work with; keeping progress visible and our motivation levels high.

It has certainly been challenging – some days more than others. All this sweat, math and spreadsheet-love will be worth it. I just know it.