Camping “Lite” + Life Lately

I have a first degree burn on my upper lip from a blazing hot marshmallow.

On a separate occasion, my friend Zoe flung a blue-flaming marshmallow onto my lap. It’s been an exciting week!!

This weekend, some of my friends and I headed to the lovely state of New Hampshire to camp at Bear Brook State Park. I’m going to call it camping lite, because there were pretty nice bathrooms, and we ran to the grocery store once to pick up bagels and beer LOL. However, we still started our own campfires, cooked on the campfires, slept in tents/hammocks, hiked a bit, swam in lakes, and I didn’t shower for three days despite the campsite having bath houses (*shrugs*). Hygiene seemed very optional in our group on this particular weekend.

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Truly though, this was the most magnificent weekend. I had been wanting to go camping for ages (mostly for the goal of seeing stars, which we did two nights in a row!). We could not have survived without our friend Domenica who came through with literally ALL the camping equipment, as well everyone besides me who knew how to start a campfire.

We cooked burgers, brats, toasted bagels, and s’mores on the campfire throughout the weekend, and let me t e l l you: nothing tastes better in the world than food that you really work for (and that has natural smoke flavor, mm, and maybe some crunchy gravel #texture). I still smell my smoky hair (I promise I’ve showered multiple times since the trip), and all I think of is our kumbaya circle around the fire and how time just seemed to slow down twofold out there.

Other highlights included:

  • A three hour trail walk that had some nice hills. Zoe and Connor were brave enough to be the first to eat wild blueberries on the way, and thank the Lord, because those li’l bloobs were life-changing. Special thanks to Rachel and Austin for navigating the confusing trail map. The only bummer was that the summit of the hike was view-less and infested with ants. Like, we got up there, stayed for 0.5 seconds, and immediately ran back downhill while slapping biting ants off our ankles.
  • Saying a rosary with all my friends while walking on the trail.
  • Deep chats and fireside stories. (Almost didn’t add this because it sounds so freaking cheesy.)
  • Waking up to tall pine trees and blue skies that we could see through Dom’s open-top tent.
  • Waking up to Dom’s alarm, a rap song called “Stomp the Bleachers.”

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  • Swimming in lakes. And finding out that it is VERY normal for people to pee in lakes and oceans? I knew that people did it, but I did not know that it was so widely ACCEPTED. Also that pee is sterile?? My whole world has turned upside down.
  • Treading water and swimming (leisurely) for the first time in ages. Not a modality that I am used to; it felt like more of a workout than it should have.
  • Visiting Domenica’s family and seeing their farm full of chickens, bees, and a pig. Her parents very generously hosted us for lunch and dinner on Sunday, which was fantastic all around. We are so grateful!
  • Domenica’s family. I just love them.
  • Going to Mass on Sunday with the crew.
  • A water station right next to our campsite, so that this water chugger never went thirsty.
  • The sky full of stars each night. Makes my heart flutter.

It was also gloriously cool in the evenings, which was a welcomed change from the sweaty nights we’ve been having in our hot box apartment in Boston. It was pretty brutal last week.

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peep Zoe top left with an ice pop and box fan

Fourth of July was a blast! A bunch of friends came over to our apartment for lots of noshing and a little drinking throughout the day, complete with a visit to the park, JP Licks ice cream, and fireworks over the Charles River at night.

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Oh I just reminded myself that I want to see how the World Cup is going. I am only really into it by diffusion from friends’ enthusiasm. Top left photo shows Sarah, Zoe and I watching the Colombia v. Poland game a while ago at a bar.

Rachel and I also went on a grand food bucket list date a couple weeks ago. We started with a DECADENT brunch at North Street Grille early in the morning (tiny place — long line forms fast) for lobster benedict (the bucket list item) and chicken and waffle sliders. All with a heck of a lot of home fries. Ho.ly.mo.ly. Not gonna lie, we thought the chicken and waffle slider was the winner over the lobster benedict, but it was all phenomenal anyway. We bought but did not eat (not enough stomach space) a bar of Taza chocolate, and then we slooooowly sipped iced hot chocolate from L.A. Burdick and gave the last of it to Sarah to finish later.

Besides my vacationing, I’ve been volunteering at the Little Sisters of the Poor, which is basically a skilled nursing facility/nursing home/hospice for elderly folks from very low income backgrounds. It’s been a wonderful time. I am learning a lot about joy, patience, and being very present with the person right in front of you.

I’ve also been walking a lot because it’s 3 miles each way to Little Sisters of the Poor.

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And here’s a random photo of one of the most soul-nourishing sunsets that I watched from campus last week. Lots of growth happening here.

Next Monday starts six weeks of PT clinical!

So tell me:

Have you ever gone camping?

What is your favorite part of camping?

Do you pee in lakes (be honest, no judgement; I have done it)?

What are some highlights of your summer so far?

 

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Beautiful Weekend in Stowe, Vermont

I feel like I went to Narnia this weekend.

I was only gone with my family for 36 hours, but I feel like I was away for a week! After finals ended on Thursday night, I stayed with my parents at their hotel, since Friday required an early morning wake-up call for my brother’s graduation.

I went to bed past midnight and somehow got myself to roll out of bed at 5:35 AM (mostly because I needed to pee), so I hit up the hotel gym for a super quick workout. My hair was still in nightmare world and my eye bags were fluffier than my pillow.

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2 minute warmup + 16 minute HIIT (24 rounds of 30 seconds work, 10 seconds rest) + stretching:

  • burpees
  • side jump lunges
  • DB clean and jerks (20# DBs)
  • tricep dips/spiderman planks
  • tuck jumps
  • split jack lunges/alternating reverse lunges (20#)

The ‘rents and I got dressed up and headed to TD Garden (home of the Boston Bruins and Celtics!) for the graduation. The arena doesn’t allow outside food or drink, so we made sure to eat a good meal before being in there for 6+ hours. Subway looked like the best option at 7 AM.

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egg white, cheese, veggie on honey oat

But since we got to the arena two hours early to get good seats, I was hungry by the time commencement started, so I bit the bullet and bought FIVE DOLLAR in-shell peanuts to tide me over. It was either those or hot dogs for $4. Hot dogs in the morning. Need I explain my decision?

Anyway, the commencement was just peachy. Their speaker was US Secretary of State, John Kerry! His best line that made the crowd go wild was: “You are Donald Trump’s worst nightmare.”

Congratulations, Ben + Northeastern Class of 2016!

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Afterwards, we were so ready for lunch. I got a Thai chicken salad with some sort of sweet dressing that was delicious.

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We filled our bellies and then promptly hit the road for Stowe, VT for a little family weekend getaway.

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We stayed at the Stowe Mountain Lodge, which was just gorgeous. The skies were a bit gloomy, but there are some awesome mountains behind those clouds.

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The resort itself was huge and beautiful as well. It was such a labyrinth to walk through. We felt like we we walked at least a quarter of a mile just to get to our room!

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Since we arrived pretty late, we bolted for the hotel restaurant for dinner before it closed. ‘Twas a convenient but pricey decision.

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mason jars ♥︎ 

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salad with pistachios, cranberries, and grilled chicken

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apple crisp a la mode

The room had a kitchen and some artsy, rustic cutlery. A blogger’s dream.

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Ben: “Should I model it?”

Saturday was a near perfect day in my book. I slept in and then started the day with a banana and some nuts and a workout at the {amazing} hotel gym.

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dynamic warmup + 3 rounds of:

  • 15 close-grip DB chest press
  • 30 double unders
  • 10 clean and jerks

+ playing around on the Pilates ladder barrel

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Then we brunched at a local place called McCarthy’s. Super Irish, which is perfect as I prepare to study abroad in Dublin this fall 🙂

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I ordered the French toast special with two sunny eggs + bacon. Everything breakfast should be. {Side note: I decided not to bring my peanut butter on this vacation because I thought I should try to detach myself, haha.}

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I also shared a very decent portion of my mom’s Irish home fries and corned beef. KILLER.

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Ben and I dropped off our parents back at the resort and then headed out on an expedition to Stowe Pinnacle!

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I would say I built this, but that would be a lie

It was about 1.65 miles going up, and the incline wasn’t crazy steep, but it was, as Ben put it, persistent. ‘Twas a fab idea to have such a hearty, fatty meal an hour before this. We made it to the summit in pretty good time though— approximately 50 minutes.

Boy, was this view worth it.

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It was pretty comparable to the glorious view from Bear Peak in Colorado a year ago, except this time I could breathe because we weren’t at high altitude.

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There were these two golden retrievers up at the summit that were old, fat, and adorable. We couldn’t tell if they belonged to anyone in particular, but all they wanted was to be loved by all the people who made it to the summit.

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freakin’ regal

We trekked back down the mountain, which is less physically challenging but definitely more technically challenging in terms of not falling off the face of the mountain. I only slipped and fell on my butt once going downhill, which is on par for me. I really need to wear the hiking shoes I have.

When we got back to the road, Ben and I went on a quest for a maple “creemee” per my friend Courtney’s suggestion. A creemee is special Vermont soft serve ice cream. Unfortunately, we could not find a place that was open and selling maple creemees. Unlike other cities we’re used to, Stowe actually closes shops seasonally *gasp*.

Instead, Ben stopped for a craft beer and we took a Ben & Jerry’s factory tour. Not a bad detour!

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I got their banana peanut butter frozen Greek yogurt because that epitomizes my food choices // Ben got strawberry cheesecake and Spectacular Speculoos (so good!)

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Ben and… Allie’s?

What a great post-hike snack 🙂

We went back to the hotel, showered, and then headed to dinner with our parents at the Trapp Family Lodge (yes, the von Trapps from Sound of Music!).

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spring vegetable salad with an amazing yogurt sauce + some of my mom’s pancetta-wrapped chicken thigh and quinoa + a bite of Ben’s wiener schnitzel

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roasted carrots for the table to share

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cheese plate

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the BEST apple strudel a la mode! 

Full and oh so content.

Sunday (Mother’s Day!) started with Mass and breakfast at Cafe on Main. I was in the mood for a good sandwich instead of breakfast food, so I went for the turkey club. Tasty!

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Then we walked downstairs to the quaint Stowe Mercantile store, where I freaked out over their local peanut/almond butters.

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May or may not have bought three jars.

Four hours later, we were back in Boston, where Ben and I unloaded/loaded some things from our places. We ended our family time with a late lunch at Super 88! All I wanted was crunchy, fresh vegetables, so I ordered the tofu and vegetable rice noodle soup. Hit the spot so good!

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And then the fam parted ways. I’m back in Boston for one more week, which means lots of oatmeal for meals, which is perfectly fine with me!

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THIS WAS SO LONG. But hey, thanks for reading! If you’ve made it this far, consider yourself bear-hugged.

Hope you all have a magnificent Monday! I am grateful for YOU.

So tell me:

Have you ever been to Vermont?

What was the best thing you did this weekend?

What was the best thing you ate this weekend?

Favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor!

Have you ever fallen on a hike?

What I Loved and Learned at Blend Retreat

Guys, I have enough snacks to last me the rest of summer.

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Just kidding, more like the rest of this month. Nevertheless, it is clear that Blend brings swag game to an elite level. This isn’t even all of it.

First of all, there are several people/places to thank for this year’s successful Blend Retreat:

  1. Janetha, Lindsay, and Lauren for being the most hardworking, badass, and helpful hosts! You ladies are awesome.
  2. The bloggers/blog readers/Instagrammers who attended. You’re inspiring, and you made the retreat a fun time!

    Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetMy roommates (all Instagram stars)! Meredith @MeresNuttyKitchen, Amy @Clap4Fit, Aly @RunningHealthy13, Colby @EatClean_LiveStrong

    Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presethiking with Laura from 50 by 25 (she’s run over 100 marathons, it’s guatever)

  3. The sponsors for their work and for providing an insane amount of goodies for us.Processed with MoldivProcessed with Moldiv
  4. Chautaqua Park and Boulder, CO for providing cozy cabins and beautiful grounds for our retreat.Processed with Moldiv
  5. My family for letting me come and then coming with me to Colorado 🙂
  6. YOU, because you’re reading this.

Blend was an amazing experience. There were plenty of aspects that I loved:

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  • Being able to talk about health and wellness as much as I wanted

  • Doing active things

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  • The laid-back, no-judgement, supportive atmosphere and community

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Morning hike before yoga! #Blend2015

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  • Learning about health and wellness brands

Clark from the Quest team (his arms are almost as big as my legs, it’s fine)

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  • Being in the presence of the Colorado mountains

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  • The perpetual stream of swag

And there were plenty of things I learned:

  • Mental and physical investment in health and wellness varies significantly among bloggers in the healthy living blog sphere. Not everyone is equally “into” it as one another, and that’s all good.
  • I am so not in tune with the whole working-with-brands thing.
  • I’m not one to eat too many protein bars, but a lot of them are tasty!

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  • I sometimes forget that not everyone who is a healthy living blogger is recovering from an eating disorder. It made me slightly anxious when people were talking and thinking about healthy food/nutrition facts all the time, but I was inspired by my roommates who know how to eat well and trust their bodies.
  • I don’t really want to talk about health and wellness all the time.
  • You won’t get to talk to or hang out with everyone at Blend, which is kind of a bummer, but it’s still fun to at least say hi to most people!
  • The altitude still gets me, even after being here for a week.

All in all, I am happy I attended Blend this year. It was a fantastic opportunity to be with fantastic people. And now it’s time to go to sleep and head back to reality on the east coast today. I’ll miss you lots, Colorado! xoxo

So tell me:

If you went to Blend, what is one thing you loved and one thing you learned?

Do you like protein bars? Which is your favorite?

Do you want to go to Blend next year? I’m not sure if I would go again, but I definitely recommend going at least once if you’re even a little interested!

That Time I Fell Into a Canyon

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with Amanda today!

1) Guess what! I wasn’t sore yesterday! After the hardest hike of my life, I was fully expecting to wake up not being able to move my body, but I felt fresh and fine. I was confused. The hike felt so hard and painful, but I guess it was mostly the altitude? Or maybe I recovered so quickly because I ate very well after the hike? Whatever it was, I’m just happy I was not completely debilitated.

2) We saw more beautiful rocks yesterday! Our family friends drove us to Colorado Springs, where we first visited the “Garden of the Gods”.

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please smile, dude

3) After walking around the pedestrian-friendly path for a while, we ate an incredible lunch at The Sahara Cafe— a Middle Eastern restaurant with the most amazing falafel ever.

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owned this chicken gyro

4) I was stuffed for the next 6 hours after that meal, because what you don’t see are the sweet potato fries, babaganoush, and baklava that I also ate with the falafel and gyro.

5) All that pita bread must have energized some of us, because our next stop was Cave of the Winds, where four of us decided to do the “Terror-Dactyl” ride. Basically, you fall into a canyon, just strapped in by a few seatbelts and hung by a cord. Juuuuust rocks under us.

Supervisor: The ground comes at ya pretty fast, so it’s over quickly whatever happens!

Oh….

I apologize for my blood-curdling scream

I prayed beforehand. The worst part was actually the beginning when they tilted us forward so that we were parallel with the ground and all our weight was resting on their somewhat questionable seatbelts. There’s a GoPro video of Ben’s and my face during the whole thing, which I’ll be sure to share when I get it!

6) It was totally amazing and worth it (the fear and the $50…).

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the daredevils’ “before” shot

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head first into this beauty

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walking the plank

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after the drop, taking in the scenery and thanking God we’re alive

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Even my mom and aunt did a ride! They took the less extreme, but still thrilling zipline.

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my mom and aunt on the zipline!

7) After that excitement, we slowed it down with a fun cave tour! All those stalactites, stalagmites, and slightly claustrophobia-inducing rock tunnels.

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It was so neat! Our tour guide was awesome, and the history was fascinating. If you’re ever in Colorado Springs, I 100% recommend Cave of the Winds. Let me know if you try the Terror-Dactyl 😉

8) “Eat, hike, repeat” is our theme of the week, so after our afternoon activities, we ate a late dinner at Thai Diamond Cafe. I was still kinda full from lunch, so I shared bites of everyone’s food and ate a salad that I had originally packed for lunch. I left the restaurant very full again 🙂

9) I’m going to meet Emily from Beauty in Christ today!!! I am so super excited. I can relate to every single one of her blog posts. It’s so wonderful to have a blogger friend who is about my age, who has gone through similar experiences with an eating disorder, and who loves Christ with a passion.

10) Speaking of blogger friends, Blend is tomorrow!!! So many exclamation points and so many things to be grateful for. I am blessed to just be alive, but God’s generosity is overflowing every darn day.

So tell me:

Would you do Terror-Dactyl? Have you done anything like it?

Have you ever gone on a cave tour?

What did you eat yesterday?

Hiking in Colorado

If you want to get fit, come to Colorado.

My brother told me that Colorado has the fittest people in the nation, and I believe that wholeheartedly. The atmosphere and culture just scream: “Outdoors! Stay active! Wear sneakers!”

I mean, with this kind of land, how could the culture not be that way?

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When in Colorado, do as Colorado people do. So we’ve been getting outdoors and climbing ALL the rocks!

(Warning: A ridiculous amount of photos ahead!}

Monday: Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater

We started with a delicious breakfast a la hotel.

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scrambled eggs, hard boiled egg, Canadian bacon + oatmeal with honey, banana, and pb

other half of banana with more peanut butter

Mom: “Alison’s cooking.” ➔ aka cutting up a banana and spooning peanut butter onto my oatmeal.

Then we were off to Red Rocks! As soon as I started walking up the hill and stairs, my heart started beating what felt like twice as fast as usual. Hello, high altitude!

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But the beauty of the red rocks distracted me from my lack of lung capacity.

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The good people of Colorado were doing their thing, working out at the amphitheater by running the bleachers and climbing the stairs. Ben and I were inspired!

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 had to throw some burpee bench jumps in there

Ben and I decided to walk on the quick and leisurely 1.4 mile trail around the red rocks. Man, was it fantastic.

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Our time at Red Rocks ended up being a great workout between all the stairs and walking, so we were definitely ready for lunch afterwards.

DSC_0960 some Enlightened crisps to snack on

Ben found a Nepalese/Indian restaurant with great reviews on Yelp called Sherpa House. It was an all you can eat buffet for $9.99! NAAN, PLEASE AND THANKS.

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After a mighty satisfying lunch, Ben and I explored the town we were in— Golden, CO. My motive for exploration was finding ice cream, to be honest. But the quaint, western town was beautiful and charming! (We found awesome ice cream though. Caramel Oreo + Bing Cherry, oh my goodness.)

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The rest of our day was spent in our hotel room resting/blogging until we went out to dinner at California Pizza Kitchen with some family friends. I had the roasted vegetable salad with grilled chicken, which I totally devoured. Plus lots of bread and olive oil.

Tuesday: Bear Peak

This hike was probably the hardest workout I’ve ever done. At least, it’s up there. If you see a little Asian waddling with a look of pain on her face in Colorado today and tomorrow, it’s probably me.

I woke up at 7:30, and my body felt pretty tired— not quite sore, but just lead-like. I knew that Ben and I had a long hike planned at Bear Peak, but I secretly wasn’t opposed to just chillaxin’ instead. But we got up, ate breakfast, and tackled the darn hike. We are in Colorado!

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scrambled eggs + pineapple + oatmeal with honey and pb (I didn’t end up eating the yogurt)

but I did have a quarter of my mom’s waffle with the rest of the honey and banana

Let me just commentate our hike for you. We heard great things about this trail, the weather was perfect, and we were excited (Ben a little more so than I). The hike was almost 8 miles and took us just over 5 hours.

I knew it was going to be a tough hike, and I consider myself to be fairly fit, but WOWZA this hike was a whole ‘nother level for me.

At the start:

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In my head: Oh that’s cute. The start of the trail is going downhill. Bringing you down to go up. 

Me: It’s so not cool to be hiking up a mountain when you just ate a large breakfast.

Ben: Some people run up this mountain. In the winter.

Me: If we see a mountain lion or bear, the plan is that I get up on your shoulders and we make ourselves look huge. I’ll try not to scream and you just back away. And you film the whole thing.

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The hike up to the summit was about 3 miles, with 1.1 miles being straight up. Those 1.1 miles were the death of me. Ben had to stop several times for me to catch my breath. If I want to make excuses, I’d say we were climbing from 6,000 ft to 8,000 ft elevation, which is way up there for this city girl. I’m also a high maintenance packer who brought two water bottles, lots of snacks, and my jacket in my honker of a backpack.

Me: I feel like I’m using the stair master, running, doing burpees, and squatting all at the same time.

Ben: We have about 1,000 ft of elevation left. ➔ I give him a silent death stare.

Me: I definitely should have eaten pizza last night. Need carbs.

Me: My glycogen stores are depleting. I need a snack.

 peanut butter and banana on whole wheat sandwich thin

 A girl about our age was climbing up behind us, and I let her pass us because she was a beast and powered through those rocks much faster than I. Poor Ben had to keep stopping for me, but he said that made it easy for him. Ha.

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After a sweaty and butt-killing 2.5 hours, we carefully climbed up the rocks at the summit and just soaked. it. in.

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In my head: Worth it. Also, don’t fall off the mountain.

We ate a power lunch/snack at the summit before heading back down the longer but less steep 4 mile trail down the mountain.

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sweet potato, eaten just like that

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The hike down was so much less strenuous than the hike up (thanks, gravity), but it was still interesting. There was a creek that was rushing pretty hard due to melting snow, and we had to cross it back and forth at least ten times. Our feet got completely wet, but it was still a fun challenge to figure out how to cross each time.

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Ben: I lied about this being the drier side of the mountain.

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we climbed up that whole left side of the mountain

In my head: If anything will kill me on this hike, it would be a fly buzzing past my ear, causing me to spazz out and fall off the cliff.

Our last obstacle of the hike was passing by a rattlesnake, which made my heart beat just as fast as when we were ascending the mountain.

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7.8+ miles and 5+ hours later, we made it back to where we started. It was an incredible experience and I absolutely loved this hike, despite the pain my legs are in right now.

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I ate two more of those peanut butter banana sandwiches upon finishing. 🙂

Showers and relaxation were much needed afterwards. Then dinner! Mom took us to a Vietnamese restaurant, where I ate a rice vermicelli bowl with grilled pork and tons of veggies, herbs, and ground peanuts. We also shared egg rolls as an appetizer. Hit the spot so good.

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As you can see, I housed that bowl. Hiking hunger is as real as “runger.” I even had room for frozen yogurt.

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peanut butter and cookies ‘n’ cream with graham cracker crumbs, hemp granola, and mochi

Now it’s time to sleep. Does anyone who is attending Blend wanna bring a foam roller?

Hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday! Your lesson of the day: eat the dang pizza.

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Linking up this hiking and eating extravaganza with WIAW!

So tell me:

What is the hardest workout you’ve ever done?

Do you like hiking?

What sweet treats have you eaten lately?