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denver views.

Me on a rock ~ 9000ft near Nederland.

Wrapping up and reflecting on a week in Denver with pals Diarra, Maggie and Landon and feeling super grateful for and inspired by my time here. Shout out to Maggie and Landon (and Resident Pooches, Sobo and Kindia) for being amazing hosts and going above and beyond to make Diarra and I feel welcomed and embraced for the first half of our stay - even with all four of our introvert energies present! We are so grateful.

Diarra and me at Jose O'Shea's, margaritas and burritos in hand.

The week brought along a sweet ratio of exploring Denver and surrounding cities, good food, outdoor activities, and hang time. One of my favorite discoveries was bouldering. I'd been curious to try climbing for some time now, and Maggie and Landon graciously allowed Diarra and I their guest passes so that we could join them for a day in the gym. For those of you who aren't familiar, bouldering is essentially a type of rock climbing but with fewer moves required to reach the top of the wall (15-20 feet high or so instead of 30-40). Because the walls are shorter, no ropes are required. If you fall, you land on a cushioned mat.

Me on a wall.

I learned so much from the two days we spent bouldering with M&L, and am feeling pumped to try my hand (and arms and legs) at it when I reach Portland. I have already proceeded to research monthly rates for gyms near where I'll be staying.

Bouldering appeals to me for many reasons, which I'll list here briefly;

1) It works my arms and hands and back muscles in ways that haven't been truly worked in years. There's so much opportunity for strength conditioning here without having to go to the gym and lift weights (*yawn*).

2) It's fun. It works your mind as well as your body. Each course is called a Problem. Something about it being a kind of puzzle to solve is really enticing to me.

3) The climbing community is so supportive. No matter what level of climber you are, someone's almost always cheering you on, giving you suggestions on ideas of where to move next, or reminding you of your strength and ability.

4) The Problems get changed every week or two so that there are always new challenges to try.

5) Lots more reasons I won't get into right now!

I'm obsessed. But I digress. Moving on to the mountains.

Something about being in the mountains changes your perspective. You can see more, and you can see farther, both on the land and in the sky. Where there's one peak, there are surely dozens lined up behind it.

Photo cred @ Diarra for this dope pic of Maggie!

Snowflake kisses.

My new home.

Mountain lichen.

We took two amazing hikes through mountains near Denver. The first was near Boulder. We'd originally planned to do an easy-moderate 3.8 mile loop called Bear Canyon to Table Mesa, but veered off on a whim to traverse a trail to Mallory Cave, where Townsend's big-eared bats supposedly live. The path got quite steep, and we were unable to reach the cave without climbing equipment, but the gorgeous rock formations and stunning views from such a high elevation made my sore legs well worth the journey. It started snowing as we began our hike, which added to the sense of awe we felt climbing through those hills. It collected a bit on the boughs of many of the ponderosa pines we passed by, but by the time we hauled ourselves back to the beginning of the trail, the sun had burst through the clouds and made short work of the snow.

A Vista.

Our second hike was around an hour Northwest of Denver near a small mountain town called Nederland. Maggie, Landon, Diarra, The Two Pooches and me piled up into their car midmorning and made our way to Bonfire Burritos for breakfast before our hike.

Me, my freshly pierced nostril, and an aspen friend.

After a long and windy drive and a 9000-ft elevation gain, we found ourselves at a snow-covered trailhead. The trail was quite easy and not too long, but the snow on that peak was made for frolicking. Landon and I dove into the snow surrounding the trail every five minutes, The Pooches in Hot Pursuit. With snow in my boots and sun in my face, I beheld some of the most spectacular views I've ever witnessed, relishing in the spaciousness and in the snow, which has been disappointingly sparse in Michigan this winter (those of you back in A2 know what I'm talkin' bout).

Photo cred @ Diarra again! Me and Sobo A-frolickin'.

I'll miss Denver and its Assorted Pals next week, but am very much looking forward to exploring Salt Lake City for a few days and having some recharge, introvert time. Only a few more stops till Portland!

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