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? 

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One of the Most Challenging Hikes I’ve Done

This is the story of the longest 7.5 miles ever.

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Yesterday, Brother Ben and I faced the 7.5-mile orange trail called the “Triple N Loop” at the Triple N Ranch Wildlife Preserve. The hike turned out to be one of the most challenging hikes I’ve ever done. It wasn’t the most physically demanding hike I’ve done (Florida has zero hills) , but it was mentally demanding with all the natural obstacles involved.

It all started peacefully on a flat, open field, much like the one on our Disney Wildlife Preserve hike last week. At this point, Ben told me that the trail was labeled as “moderately difficult.” I thought, hm…that’s an overstatement. 

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We came across some cows at the beginning, as you can see in the photo above. They were pretty big and donned some decent-sized horns on their heads, but they were very scared of us. Within a few minutes, the whole herd disappeared from our sight.

They did leave their mark on our path with abundant cow pies, and I was lucky enough to step on a fresh one. Yaaaaaay.

Stepping in cow poop was only the beginning. Approximately 1.5 miles into our hike, the trail led us into the forest. The terrain completely changed from flat, solid, and dry to bumpy, unstable, and soggy. It still wasn’t bad at all initially though. It was a fun adventure!

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All smiles before I knew what was coming

My first issue was running into a bunch of spider webs and flailing around like a freak, but that’s just because the feeling of spider webs on me gives me the heebie jeebies. As we went on, the earth beneath us became more soggy and muddy as we approached the creek. Several times throughout the hike, we had to find ways to jump over the creek in order to follow the trail.

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There were also a ton of huge palm bushes, which had baby thorns woven all throughout. Ouch.

I had the expectation that the trail would run through the forest for a mile or so, and then we would be led back to the open field again. Not so, Alison, not so. I started to get hungry and frustrated when the trail kept on leading us through mud that nearly sucked my shoes off, thorny bushes, and dead, fallen trees. It was cute to feel like Katniss at first, but then I started to get irritated.

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At one point— which happened to be at the peak of my frustration— we had no choice but to go ankle-deep in muddy water since there was no dry land surrounding the “trail.” I was whining and pouting like a 5-year-old.

After getting a free mud mask for my feet, I calmed down and told Ben that we should break for lunch.

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I packed peanut butter, banana, honey, and cinnamon sandwiches for both of us, which definitely gave me the brain power to be a little more mature about this hike. I mentally prepared myself for a more challenging and dirty hike than I anticipated. After that, I was ready to go all in.

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Does anyone know what those little tree stump spikes are? They look cool and creepy all the same.

We kept trucking along through thicket and thorn, and my feet still got completely soaked a couple times, but I was fine with it after I finally accepted that this hike was indeed rugged.

Towards the end of the forest portion of the hike, the scariest thing happened.

We were walking through the forest, following the trail, when all of a sudden…

*growwwwwwl*

This was no chihuahua-sized growl. This was a deep, bellowing, menacing growl. Like the kind you might hear on the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios, except this was totally real.

Ben and I looked at each other with big eyes and, without saying anything, quickly walked away from the growling sound that we were just about to approach. All while still trying to follow the trail and not fall into muddy pits.

My heart was pounding and I kept thinking, Lord help us. We just need to keep moving and get away from here NOW.

When we made it back to the open, flat prairie land, I never felt more relieved to see grass in my life. Ben and I didn’t talk about the growl in the moment when we heard it, but later I was like, “sugar honey iced tea, that was scary!!!” We didn’t see the animal, so I thought it might have been a bear that made the sound, but Ben convinced me that it was probably a giant alligator since we were in such a swampy zone.

Also, this video of a growling alligator matches the sound we heard almost exactly.

Anddddd then we were smooth sailing after that ordeal! Praise God. 7.5 miles in 4 hours.

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I feel accomplished, but…never again.

Ben also told me in the car after the hike that he saw a gigantic yellow-brown spider sitting on its web (with a full-sized dragonfly caught in it) right in front of us while we were eating lunch in the forest, but he didn’t want to tell me at the time since I would probably freak out. Smart move. I would have utterly died if he told me when it was right in front of us.

Speaking of not being judgmental of your own hunger cues (in yesterday’s post), I was a bottomless pit after our hike. I ate one snack after the other, even though my brother didn’t seem hungry at all. ‘Tis what ’tis!

We hosed off and showered at home, relaxed, and then joined my cousins for a super late dinner at Bento Cafe. I had a delicious sushi salad with salmon, yellowtail, and eel on top.

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Dessert was eaten at home— cookies ‘n’ cream and mint chocolate chip ice cream!

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I’ll be having a spa day with mom today! Quite a contrast from yesterday, eh?

Hope you all have a fantastic Friday! Don’t get eaten by a wild animal.

So tell me:

Have you ever encountered a frightening wild animal?

What was your most challenging hike? 

In the Wild

*wave*!!!

I had absolutely no voice yesterday, so I was whispering and using (made-up) sign language all day. I did feel better physically though! Thank you all for your well wishes and prayers. Y’all are sweeter than cream cheese frosting on red velvet cake (when in the South…).

I accomplished close to nothing yesterday, but that’s what vacation is all about, right? Actually, I always feel slightly guilty whenever my days pass and I haven’t done something work-like-productive. That feeling is bogus though, because a) life is too short to always be doing work, b) it’s winter break, c) I did a lot yesterday anyway!

Breakfast was a delicious green smoothie consisting of:

  • ½ c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • ⅓ c. 2% Greek yogurt
  • ½ c. oats
  • cinnamon and nutmeg
  • splash of vanilla
  • 1 heaping tbsp. peanut butter
  • half a frozen banana
  • a crapton of spinach

All blended up and eaten out of a huge mug with a spoon and Honey Nut Cheerios on top for crunch!

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I made a run to Publix for a few food items that we don’t really need, but that we would like to have for some recipe experimentation. Ahem, crepes.

Although my body wasn’t feeling 100% yesterday, I still managed to get in some moves, which felt awesome after two days off due to feeling crappy. I did Jen’s “cookie crusher” workout, using light weights for some of the exercises. I took it slow and listened to my body extra carefully.

I also did some shoulder strength exercises later in the evening. Ooof the soreness in my shoulders is REAL, especially after this external rotation exercise. 5 lb. dumbbells never burned so much.

Lunch was composed of three of my favorite things— toast, avocado, and runny eggs. It’s an extremely close second to the peanut butter + banana combination, I must admit.

Carrots and hummus on the side!

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I did some relaxing blog reading and Food Network watching as I ate lunch, and then Ben came downstairs from his slumber (he’s completely, literally nocturnal) to eat. He asked me if I wanted to join him for a hike at the Disney Wildlife Preserve, which would essentially involve a 2 mile trail walk on flat land.

Count me in!

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He’s so sick of my picture-taking.

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I feel like I wear this EVERY time I go hiking.

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You can see the Disney influence on bench design.

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We didn’t see any wildlife that wasn’t a plant, except for a couple tiny frogs and a lizard that wasn’t even on the reserve land itself. Other people logged in animal sightings of creatures such as a young gator and a bobcat. What?!

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We figured that we didn’t get to see many animals because we went in the late afternoon when the sun was bright and hot. We saw this little fella only barely because he camouflaged so well.

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And then this lizard on the sidewalk. Remember when one of these got into our house?

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I found three sandhill cranes in their natural habitat though.

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It was a beautiful, warm walk with brother Ben!

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Back at home, I ate snacks, did some Instagram stalking, helped mom clean, and then ate dinner. I had Laotian sausage with sticky rice and a side salad. Plus bites and nibbles of other foods.

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Then the ol’ classic— dried figs and Greek yogurt for dessert.

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Our guests were at a water park all day, so they came home in the evening and we played some board games before going to sleep. Or at least, before they went to sleep. I’m typing this at 2 AM because I procrastinate when there’s nothing to procrastinate.

Also, I think my sickness has traveled to my nose, so I’ve lost my sense of taste. I just had a chunk of frozen banana and some almonds, and I could not taste the flavor of either at all. Sadness.

Today, I work! Work=studying my manual for BU tour guiding, reading, and just not watching youtube videos all night.

Happy New Years Eve Eve 🙂

So tell me:

Do you feel like you have to be doing something productive more often than not?

What is the wildest animal you’ve seen in nature?

For me, maybe a deer. I don’t get out into the wilderness that often.

What did you eat for lunch yesterday?

Virtual Breakfast Date

Good morning, friends!

I hope you’ve all had a joyful if not restful weekend! Happy belated Thanksgiving to my Canadian homies!

I did not get to type up a post all weekend, so I thought it would be nice to catch up with you all over breakfast. A virtual breakfast date instead of a virtual coffee date because oatmeal >>> coffee. Just because it has peanut butter.

This is what I’m eating to break the fast!

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Oatmeal + vanilla protein powder + cinnamon + banana + peanut butter (+ some roasted salted almonds!)

If we were having breakfast together this morning…

1) I would tell you that I went hiking in the rain with the Catholic Women’s group on Saturday! It was wonderful in every way except for the fact that it was raining and I did not bring a raincoat with me to college. What was I even thinking not bringing a raincoat to Boston? Brain fart at its finest. Luckily the rain was not torrential, so us sweatshirt folks escaped being dripping wet and were instead just soaking wet. 😀

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I haven’t gotten pneumonia yet, dad! 

2) I would tell you that some of the best times I had this weekend with my friends included just chilling out, talking about life, baking and eating banana bread, watching Grease, and playing the terrible yet hilarious game Cards Against Humanity.

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Baking some BOMB banana bread with Cori!

I’ve eaten the equivalent of about 1/2 of a whole loaf this weekend.

3) I would tell you that the majority of my dorm tissue consumption goes towards killing fruit flies. I blame myself for leaving so many bananas and apples on my desk, but dang it, there are two more fruit flies for every one I kill. I’ve finally come to the genius realization that I should put my fruit in the fridge and that I should not throw out any pieces of banana/peel in the trash can in my room. I go to college— I can figure out those kinds of things now. 😉

4) I would tell you that I went apple picking for the first time ever yesterday! I don’t know how I’ve lived in New York for 10 years and not gone apple picking, but the time finally came, and it was a blast!

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I failed by not wearing flannel, but my friends did a good job of reppin’ the plaid. We got a ton of apples, climbed trees (and did not fall out), and ate the heaven-sent cinnamon sugar cider donuts.

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I swear I could have finished all six of those babies, but I restrained myself to two so that I could eat real food for lunch later. But man, those donuts are what dreams are made of.

5) I would tell you that apples fresh from the tree are also the epitome of fall bliss. My workout buddy Albert exemplifies that.

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6) I would tell you that yesterday could have been National Apple Picking Day instead of Columbus Day because EVERYONE EVERYWHERE went apple picking! It also could have been brussels-sprouts-for-dinner day as I saw so many people posting on Instagram that they were making my favorite vegetable for dinner last night. I was jealous.

7) I would tell you that I gotta go to my psych lecture NOW!

Have a lovely day, folks!

So tell me:

Have you ever gone apple picking?

What did you do this weekend?

What’s your favorite fall produce?

Hiking Up Anthony’s Nose

That sounds bizarre.

Ben and I spent our late morning and afternoon hiking on Camp Smith Trail to a peak called Anthony’s Nose, and it was awesome!

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We started on the trail at around 10:30 and first signed the little “guest book” (is that what they’re called on hiking trails?), which was hidden inside a sketchy wooden box. And then the adventure began!

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The route was pretty steep and strenuous at some parts, which makes the hike more fun..for the first half. The trail on one side of the river is actually used by the military personnel who are part of the National Guard for training and rifle changes, but we did not witness any of that today. We did go up some heart-pumpin’ ascents:

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Steeper than it appears. You can see us in action in my Instagram video!

Not gonna lie, my legs are still pretty sore today, and this hike was rough on my hamstrings and backside. They might rebel tomorrow. Must foam roll more!

I’m also convinced that I look like an idiot when I’m hiking for the following reasons:

  • I nearly face-planted about 10 times.
  • I constantly and violently swatted away the fleas and bugs that inevitably wanted to hike up MY nose.
  • I yelled “Ohmygosh! A butterfly.” (Out of fear)

Good thing there weren’t too many people on the trail! And good thing my brother is a champ for dealing with me. We actually took turns carrying the backpack, which was probably nice for him considering he carried the backpack alone on our very first hike up an even more intense mountain. What a trooper.

When we reached this point…

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The top of the green mountain in the right picture was our destination.

…the hiking description we brought along said, “At 2.7 miles, another rock outcropping with a view offers an excuse to stop before tackling the remaining unrelenting assault up Anthony’s Nose.”…….Alllllrighty then!

It wasn’t as bad as we anticipated, and we reached the summit before we knew it.

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Huzzah!

There was a short trail that took us to the outlook, where we enjoyed lunch and gorgeous views. Not to mention the weather was perfect!

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One of my favorite parts though?

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Peanut butter and peach jam sandwiches! Hiking food at its finest 😀

Then it was time for the descent, which Ben calls the quad burner. Thankfully it went by quickly. It’s kinda funny actually, because we kept asking ourselves as we stomped down the mountain, “How did we climb this before? I do NOT remember it being this steep.” It gives us the illusion that we were invincible for climbing up that mountain, when in reality, we were just super tired walking down the mountain, and anything uphill at that point seemed insane.

We ended up covering 6.2 miles roundtrip, and figured out that we took the longest route possible. We thought we would be finished with the hike by 1:00, but it was longer than we thought, and we ended at 2:30. Well, I guess if we’re gonna hike, we better GO HARD OR GO HOME. 😉

I’ve had a bunch of snacks including this new-to-me flavor of Chobani:

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Key Lime!

Quite satisfying. But I guess hiking makes you ravenous, because I am more than ready for dinner already! I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pictures 🙂

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Have a good Friday evening!

So tell me: Have you gone on a tough hike before? What are your favorite hiking snacks? Are you terrified of all bugs?