Author Archives: EmilySierra

Deeper in Colorado…

Ahoy!

Today I’m rewinding to a camping trip high in the San Juan mountains last month. We explored the terrain around Ridgway and Ouray, Colorado. Every hike in that area has massive elevation gain, and we were pretty well whipped into shape by the fourth and fifth days. I experienced the notorious Red Mountain Pass, which has many-a-thousand-foot drops off the side of the highway, made more dangerous with the inability to only focus on driving (the scenery from that road is stunning). Other trip highlights were bathing in a high alpine lake (it was take-your-breath-away cold water), the basil ale at High Alpine Brewing in Gunnison, the pink and purple sunset we were treated to outside of Ridgway, seeing the Milky Way every night, reaching the Ice Lakes after being told we probably couldn’t make it, hot dogs, the charming town of Ouray, and the Willie Nelson greatest hits album I picked up before heading out of town.

Enjoy the snaps, and don’t get too lost in that crystal clear water in the photos.

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Capitol Reef National Park

How’s it going?

As usual, my summer is cruising. July is looking hectic (and fun!), so before I get too far ahead of myself I want to rewind to the beginning of May. I spent a weekend exploring Capitol Reef National Park in Utah with a couple of good friends. Capitol Reef is relatively isolated, and doesn’t get near as much attention as some of the other Utah Parks. We hiked in and slept under the open (billion star) sky the first night, and the second, we camped just outside the park so that we could enjoy a campfire and walk in for sunrise on some of the ‘temples’ in the Park. Lots of laughs, chips and whiskey were shared on this trip…

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Three sets of animal tracks in the mud. It’s not every day…

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We slept right there…

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Some of the best hikes I have experienced are in Utah. There are always fun challenges, like “chimneying” down walls in a slot canyon, walking through water, or hopping over giant boulders (or going under them).

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Just driving through the Park. The vehicle in the top photo here was partially buried by what appeared to be a flood at some point.

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Ah, Cathedral Valley. A MUST-SEE when visiting this Park.

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An unexpected attraction in the Park (there were several of these, including a massive sinkhole), was Glass Mountain. This 15 foot mountain is made of large selenite (gypsum) crystals… From Wikipedia, “Gypsum was deposited as sea water evaporated 165 million years ago and then buried under other sediments. The gypsum migrated upwards through fractures in the sediments forming layers and, very rarely, domes like the Glass Mountain. There is only one exposed selenite plug within the park and one other just outside which has been reduced to ground level by collectors.” Oh my gosh, it was so cool.

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Camp vibes.

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Sunrise on Temple of the Moon and Temple of the Sun. Worth it.

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Desert roads heading back to I70…

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Chasing the Colorado Sunset

Spring in Colorado is fantastic for so many reasons, but especially for the intensely colorful sunrises and sunsets. The weather allows for some interesting clouds that just glow with the sun.

On Monday evening, I drove up Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park with my girlfriend, Anna. I recently acquired some fun new instruments to play with and distort the light, including a prism and a concave piece of glass and the light that evening was perfect for playing around.

Here are some snaps from Monday evening, enjoy!

Emily

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Spring Hiking in Colorado

Well, it sure feels like Summer in Colorado! It’s getting pretty hot here on the Front Range, as we are anticipating 90 degree temps this week… though there’s still a great deal of snow in the mountains. Here are some snaps from the Long’s Peak Trail, just a week and a half ago.

Stay cool, everyone!

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Swamp Padde

New Orleans is teeming with excitement. The food was amazing (o-m-g, the food…), the music on every corner, the ability to walk the streets with cocktail in hand…it’s a pretty incredible city. I love getting out of my small town of Berthoud, Colorado to experience culture in other cities. Bourbon Street? Smells like vomit, and I could have left that behind. The architecture that maps the city still maintains charm, and even the homes that have been abandoned are so overgrown and green that they don’t leave a foul taste in your mouth.

While one could spend years in the city exploring everything it has to offer, the outdoorsy gal in me started pondering what lies beyond the city. That’s how I became interested in the swamp. Well, that coupled with the flight into NOLA which makes you wonder what lurks in those stagnant waters. Our group was led by kayak into the swamp by a seventy-something-year-old-ripped-dude…who knew a lot about the area. The tour actually exceeded my expectations. In the past, I have always associated ‘swamp’ with ‘nasty water’, but it’s really an incredible ecosystem. We saw turtles, alligators, a large variety of birds and owls. Ramming our kayaks through overgrown water plants reminded me of hacking at vines with a machete in Peru. It feels a lot like a jungle. My favorite moments of the trip were those of stillness. Listening to the bugs and animals hum and the trees dance was an amazing experience. Though the alligator swimming in our path was pretty awesome, too. 

I highly recommend checking out this option next time your visit the Big Easy. 

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Wild Patagonia

Happy Hump Day!

I’ve been working on a guest-blog this week for a super rad new company coming to the market, Revel Gear, a company bringing solar-powered lights to the backcountry camping scene. Anyway, in writing the blog, I was reminded of this photo, and the story behind it…from November, 2014…

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One of my favorite adventure tales recounts the time that Aaron and I traveled to Patagonia (Argentine side). We were there in the Spring, and therefore spent the first few days in the town of El Chalten, playing many hands of cards, waiting for the rainy weather to pass to hopefully get out and catch some views of the amazing mountains we came to see. We fell victim to the area’s weather forecaster, Wind Guru, and were convinced that if we extended our time down there we might have a shot at taking in some of the scenery.

Approaching our final days in El Chalten, there was a break in the weather in the forecast, so we packed our stuff and hiked in toward Fitz Roy. We were about 2 miles from our camp, when the sideways rain began. The wind in Patagonia is no joke! We arrived at camp, set up our tent in the rain, and made a rock wall on the outside of the tent to help protect us from the wind. Then we settled in for the next 16 hours while the weather whipped around outside (if you want to get to know someone really well…). Thanks to our awesome Marmot tent, we stayed nice and dry and enjoyed some tasty dehydrated lasagna made by a gal in Bariloche.

Around 5 in the morning, I woke up and it was quiet. I unzipped the tent and something bright orange was glowing through the trees…it was Fitz Roy. I shook Aaron, hurriedly got dressed, grabbed my camera gear and headed out to a clearing. We witnessed a burning sunrise on some of the most impressive granite walls I have ever seen. It might have been the cold air biting at my face, but I was teary with a wide range of emotions.

Truly, this is still one of the most epic moments of my life.

Taking advantage of the good weather, we hustled back to camp, grabbed our day packs and headed up to Laguna de los Tres below Fitz Roy. The clouds were already moving swiftly around the peaks, but there was still sun, and it felt so good. After a short time at the lake, we headed down to camp and packed our things and headed out. The peak was in the clouds by the time we were back on the trail, and stayed that way until we headed out of town.

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Stay tuned for the entire blog when it comes out at the end of the month.

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Winter Ascent

The truth is, I am very much not a morning person. Aaron wonders if x-ray techs ever come across “lazy bones” in their work… Anyway, that all being said, the Spring Forward time change gets me every year, and I have finally figured out the solution…wake up at 4am and catch sunrise somewhere amazing. The weather forecast across the mountains wasn’t ideal, but Amber and I decided to go for it, and ascend Quandary Peak. We figured if we had an early enough start that we had a chance at the summit. A winter climb of Quandary has been on my list for a while, because hiking this 14er in the summertime just doesn’t make sense to me…there are simply too many people on the mountain at any given time.

We started at earliest morning light, and around 11,500 feet enjoyed an amazing sunrise. The clouds behind Quandary Peak were ominous, but the peak was still in view. Above 13,000 feet the wind really whipped, it was snowing and we found ourselves in whiteout conditions. Respecting the weather for the day, we kicked up our heels and headed back down the mountain.

This day was a good reminder of the power of nature, and that we are tiny compared to the big picture.

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Desert Daze

I love writing about the desert…mostly because every time I do, I have to question how to spell “desert”.. Then I remember the rule, “dessert has 2 s’s, because you want 2 pieces of pie for dessert”…mmmm…pie.

Anyway—I spent a weekend in Tucson at the beginning of February for work. I ventured out and enjoyed Saguaro National Park (4th year in a row, and I still love that place!), and wandered around the neighborhoods in Tucson. The colors there are so vibrant and beautiful…very reminiscent of our neighbors to the south.

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New Mexico | Part Two

Did ya miss Part One? Click here!

White Sands National Park is unlike any place I have visited before. The gypsum sand dunes are surprisingly easy to walk on, and almost have a clay-like texture. You can bring dogs into the park, too, which is awesome…Merle loved running around on the dunes. We obtained a backcountry permit from the visitor’s center, and walked a mile into the sand and set up camp. This allowed us to fully enjoy sunset and sunrise on the dunes. Being that we were at White Sands in January, we settled in for a damp, chilly night. These adventures are always worth it.

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Little tent, lots of sand.

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Settling in for sunset.

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A couple enjoying sunset on the dunes.

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Crazy city light reflecting in the night sky from Alamagordo.

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…then I woke up at the crack of dawn, shook the ice off the tent, and crawled out to witness sunrise over White Sands. This was the first of many great decisions that day.

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Thanks for scrolling through, hope you enjoyed the snaps!

Emily

 

 

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New Mexico | Part One

We spent our first day around Kingston, New Mexico, hiking the local trails.

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Then we headed south to Las Cruces and spent some time with more friends there. It was a rainy, foggy couple of days. We hiked around the base of the Organ Mountains which were dreamy with the fog, and watched the creek fill with water.

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Finally the rainy weather burned off and we took the highway that cut through the Organ Mountains, headed for White Sands National Monument. I suppose you can guess what Part Two will contain…

Happy weekend!
Emily

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