Just the Right Mix of Joy and Exhaustion

Good news — hiking season has officially started here in the Sangria household.

Nothing kicks off hiking season quite like a grueling climb up the Incline. I made it up in 76 minutes this morning, which isn’t a stellar time, but it’s not bad, either, all things considered. I set goals for myself about how often I would stop to rest and who among the other hikers on the trail I would beat to the top (my competitive nature is sometimes the only thing that keeps me trekking up the mountain), and I’m proud to say I met and/or exceeded all of those goals.

Given it was the first hike of the season, I’m pleased with how well I did. I’m going to have to kick it up a notch and get my hiking muscles back into shape, though, because Tim and I have decided to summit another fourteener this summer. I haven’t forgotten how much pain is involved in such a task, but I’m still really excited. That feeling of accomplishment upon setting foot at the summit just can’t be beat.

One hike in, and I’m already feeling like it’s going to be a damn good hiking season. I can’t wait.

Smalls Sunday: Left Behind

This morning we hiked the Incline with Steve. It’s been a year since I last hiked it, and it kicked my ass in a big way. It took me 90 minutes to reach the summit, which is how long it took the very first time we went up and 30 minutes longer than my best time. Guess I’m a little out of shape.

Hard as the hike was, it was definitely worth it to get a good workout in. It was also worth it to reach the top, take a nice long breather in the shade, then ask Steve if he was ready to put his iPhone away and head back down, only to have him flap his hands toddler-temper-tantrum style and whine “I gotta blog about it!” Hi-larious. (You can read his amazing top-of-the-Incline post here. UPDATE: And see the pictures he took of the hike here.)

When we were getting ready to go this morning, Smalls watched with growing anticipation as we put on our hiking shoes and filled our CamelBaks with water. She was so excited to go for another hike! And then, we did the unthinkable . . . we never grabbed the leashes. We told her this hike was too hard for puppies. And we went without her, leaving her to sulk in her corner the whole time we were gone.

Can you believe that we would go off and do an incredibly difficult hike on a scorching hot day and not bring our dogs along to suffer from heat exhaustion? We are such terrible dog parents.

Do Kaya, Rufus, Bailey, Foxy, and Zapp have terrible parents too? Be sure to check in with them for your daily dose of doggie cuteness!

Smalls Sunday: Puppy’s First Hike

Once upon a time there was a puppy named Smalls. Smalls had gone camping, fishing, and swimming, but she had never been on a hike.

One morning Smalls saw her parents put on their walking shoes and get out the leashes. She and her brother Ben were very excited because they knew that shoes and leashes meant they would get to go for a walk. Smalls and Ben liked walks very much.

But Smalls’s parents also got out these back pack things that they poured a bunch of water into. And then, instead of going for a walk, they had Smalls and Ben get in the car and told them they were going for something called a “hike.” Smalls didn’t know what a “hike” was, but that was okay. She figured anything involving walking shoes and leashes was sure to be fun.

They drove for what seemed like a very long time. When they finally got out of the car, Smalls was somewhere she’d never been before. The place looked a lot like the type of place where she had gone camping in the past, but she knew it was different because she didn’t recognize all the smells around her.

Her parents put on those weird water-filled back pack things and then all four of them started walking up a hill. “Oh,” Smalls though, “A ‘hike’ is just a walk that we go on after riding in the car. This seems fun!”

And it was fun. But it was also very hard. It was a hot day, and Smalls and Ben were both wishing they didn’t have to wear their thick fur coats all the time. Luckily, before too long they discovered a small pool of water. Smalls immediately got in the water to cool off and have a refreshing drink.

After that short break, they kept walking up that hill. Pretty soon, the terrain got really challenging. There were lots of big rocks to jump up and over, and some of the jumps were hard for a little puppy like Smalls. But there was a lot of shade on the trail, which helped with the heat, and occasionally Smalls’s parents would get tired and stop for a much-needed water break.

They kept on walking up that hill, and Smalls was getting tired! The next time they stopped for a break, Smalls decided her legs needed a break from standing up.

After that, it wasn’t long before they finally reached the top of that hill. Then they got to walk down into a beautiful valley with lots of tall grasses to romp in. The best part of the valley, in Smalls’s opinion, was that there was a stream for her and Ben to wade in and drink out of. That cold water sure did feel good on such a hot day!

They went up one more small hill at the other side of the valley and then came across a great big lake. It was wonderful! Smalls forgot all about her previous fears of water and sat right down in that lake.

Boy, that water sure did feel good! So good, in fact, that Smalls decided to go ahead and lay all the way down. This hiking thing was fun, but it wore a puppy out!

The hiking group spent a little time at the lake, cooling off and enjoying the view. And then they turned around and walked right back down into that valley and then down that steep, rocky hill again. This time they didn’t stop for as many breaks, but that was okay. The sun had gone behind some dark clouds, so it wasn’t so hot anymore, and there was also some scary thunder behind them. Smalls and Ben were both okay with getting away from the thunder and into the safety of the car as quickly as possible.

When they all got home again, Smalls was happy for the opportunity to take a nice, long nap on the comfort of the couch.

As Smalls napped, she dreamed about all the fun and exciting sights and smells she’d just experienced. That hiking thing sure had been a fun way to spend the day.

Smalls sure hoped she would get to go on another hike someday soon. She didn’t know what adventures the next day would bring, but she was pretty sure of one thing: she and her brother Ben and their parents were going to live happily ever after.

The end.

What adventures are Kaya, Rufus, Bailey, Ted, Gus, Foxy, and Zapp having this week? Be sure to check in with them for your daily dose of doggie cuteness!

My Fabulous Birthday Weekend

The following is an account of how I celebrated becoming a 25-year-old:

Friday

I took the day off work and accompanied Tim to school. Spending the day in his classroom, I marveled at how well he interacted with a very squirmy group of second graders, graded some spelling tests, and about burst with pride for what an amazing teacher my husband is. I giggled to myself at the various exclamations of “Mrs. Tim?!” when he introduced me to the class. I congratulated a student on her ingenuity when she showed me that a broken mechanical pencil, missing its tip and eraser, could now be used as a telescope. I asked some boys at the back of the line to please walk normally rather than hopping on the way to Art (and they actually listened to me). My heart melted when Tim showed me a picture a student had drawn for us — she captured every detail from the shape of my skirt and the flippiness of my hair that day to the pink and blue hearts that dominate our thoughts whenever we stand near each other on a hill.

After school we went out to dinner and laughed at the craziness of 7-year-olds while enjoying some delicious wine. We went home, Tim showed me my present which will be delivered in about a week, and we curled up with the Office Season 3 DVDs that my aunt sent earlier in the week.

My first day as a 25-year-old was, in a word, perfect.

Saturday

We packed the dogs and hiking gear up and drove to Ft. Collins to spend the rest of the weekend with my parents. Shortly after we arrived, Lauren and her boyfriend Carl joined my parents, Tim, and I for the first hike of the season (the dogs stayed home). We had planned to hike Horsetooth Mountain, but apparently so had the rest of Ft. Collins because when we got to the trailhead the parking lot was completely full. Revising our plans, we went to Lory State Park and found the trailhead for Arthur’s Rock. It was a great hike — difficult without being too painful, full of gorgeous scenery, and far less crowded than Horsetooth would have been. Even though I was really looking forward to climbing Horsetooth, I think Arthur’s Rock turned out to be a much better hike for this particular Saturday.

Here we are with Lauren and Carl on top of Arthur’s Rock. Arthur, oddly enough, was nowhere to be found.

After the hike we met our friend John, my grandma, my uncle, my brother, and my sister-in-law for dinner at my favorite Mexican place in town. Then it was back to my parents’ house for presents and a dessert of my mom’s delicious brownies topped with fresh raspberries, whipped cream, and vanilla ice cream.

Tim took approximately 65 pictures of the festivities; here are my favorite 4.

Sunday

I had my leftover burrito for breakfast before my dad could steal it.

We went out for burritos of a different variety with our friend Jessie.

Smalls took a nap under my parents’ end table.

Ben sulked when we made him get in the car and go home.

I went to bed with a smile on my face at the end of a completely fabulous birthday weekend.

Wednesday-Bensday! Special Hiking Season Edition

Lately I’ve been itching for all things summer: flip-flops, skirts, the warmth of sun on my skin, and, more than anything, hiking. As you may recall, last summer I got more than a little hooked on hiking. Tim and I took every chance we got to hike the great trails in the area or do the Incline, and the highlight of the season was definitely our summit of Pike’s Peak. It was a great summer, and all winter long I have looked forward pulling on my hiking shoes, strapping on the Camelbak, and getting out on the trails again.

A few weeks ago I told Tim that if the weather cooperated, I’d really like to celebrate my birthday by going for a hike. I’ve been keeping an eye on this weekend’s forecast, and it’s looking like the climate has decided to grant me my birthday wish. My friends, it’s finally time to pull the shoes and Camelbaks out of the closet, clip leashes on the dogs, and climb some mountains. Happy Birthday to me!

Be sure to check in with Kaya, Rufus, Ted, Gus, Zapp, and Smalls and find out what warm-weather activities they’re getting excited for!

Next Page »