Loch Lomond

Happy weekend folks! I’ve been craving some adventure recently and decided today would be the perfect opportunity to venture out a bit further away than usual. After scrolling through All Trails for far too long I settled on Loch Lomond, a moderate 4.6 mile hike located about 2 hours from home. I set out around 6 a.m. with my pup Willie, and we were soon cruising through Denver and into the mountains I’ve been missing like crazy. The trailhead is located near Empire according to All Trails and I recognized the drive from some trips several years back with my family when we tackled a couple 14ers.

After veering off the beaten path for a bit I came to a literal fork in the road with a wooden sign pointing to the right, indicating parking in 0.3 miles. However, the road looked insanely rough – like, mini boulders and giant ruts kind of rough. I sat at the fork for several minutes deciding if it was worth the risk and decided to push on and put all my faith in the mighty Subaru. Thankfully, she carried me through and Willie and I soon embarked on the trail, which is technically just an OHV road.

You begin by crossing through a gate which marks a seasonal road closure, and steadily gain elevation, flanked on the left by some stunning peaks. After a bit you pass through a second gate, and then the going gets pretty snowy. I passed some cross-country skiers who were heading down and felt woefully unprepared in just my hiking boots (I accidentally left my microspikes in the other car). As the snow deepened, Willie became pretty impatient with being on a leash and kept tugging for me to take it off (sorry, but no, little buddy). We got within sight of the lake when I began postholing pretty bad. At one point the snow went up to my hip, and Willie fell in a hole so deep he was practically buried.

I made the executive decision to turn back, and even though we didn’t get to see the lake itself (which is likely still frozen over anyways), the views were absolutely stunning and more than satisfied my craving for a change of scenery.

Paint Mines of Colorado

With the weather finally starting to warm up here in Colorado, my husband and I decided to spend a sunny afternoon exploring the Paint Mines. This geological area is located just 30 minutes outside of Colorado Springs, and it was an awesome place to explore. There are several trails throughout the area that you can take – we stuck with the shortest that went through the main area of rock formations. There are also some great informational signs about how the formations developed and how the site has been enjoyed throughout history. Walking through the area was incredible and it’s a truly beautiful experience. We’d love to come back in the evening and do some stargazing!

Naches Peak Loop Trail – Mt. Rainier National Park

Last weekend we woke up bright and early at 3:30am to drive to Mt. Rainier National Park and explore the Naches Peak Loop Trail.  This trail was actually our Plan B hike because the road to the first hike we planned on was blocked by some fallen trees.  There were only a handful of other hikers when we arrived at the trailhead, but the trail grew more crowded the further into the hike we went.  The trail was beautiful, cutting through wildflower-filled meadows and giving us fantastic views of Mt. Rainier herself!  We got pretty eaten up by mosquitoes but it was a small price to pay for such an awesome hike.

Naches Peak Loop – Washington Trails Association

Barclay Lake Trail

This past Friday I explored the Barclay Lake Trail in Baring, WA.  I arrived early enough, around 8:30am, that there were only a handful of other hikers when I began.  By the time I left around 11am, however, the parking lot was packed and cars were beginning to park along the road leading in.  The weather was rainy and chilly which made the trail very picturesque, and Barclay Lake itself was a beautiful reward for the relatively easy hike!

Barclay Lake – Washington Trails Association

 

Lime Kiln Trail

Checked out this beautiful hike on July 21, 2020 – making it my first hike as a Washington resident!  The trail was very moderate and offered plenty of shade which made it a really easygoing 6.7 miles.  I also tacked on the 0.2 mile-long river loop at the end which was definitely worth it!  The river was a beautiful spot to grab a snack before turning around.  At one point the trail got quite muddy and I managed to step in mud that went up to the knee which was just dandy… Other than that, the hike was very solid!

Lime Kiln Trail – Washington Trails Association

When Your Boyfriend Goes to Basic

When Your Boyfriend Goes to Basic – VIDEO

Hey my peeps!
At the beginning of 2018 my boyfriend, Solomon, shipped off for 3 1/2 months of basic training after joining the Army National Guard.  The experience of being apart and only communicating through letters was incredibly challenging but even more so rewarding, so we decided to film a video telling you all about what it was like!  To be honest, this isn’t really an “advice” video because, honestly, neither of us are qualified to give relationship advice and everyone’s situation is different.  BUT if you are currently (or will soon be) going through a similar experience, hopefully this video makes you feel a little bit better about what it might be like.  Ultimately, we are both so thankful for those few months; they challenged us and pushed us to grow not only as a couple, but also as individuals.  If you find yourself in a similar situation, I hope you take it as an opportunity to explore and grow and thrive, rather than just an obstacle to get through as quickly as you can.  Enjoy the experience as best you can!
I hope you enjoy this video, and if you enjoyed having Solomon on the blog let me know – maybe I’ll let him back on in the future 😉

 

Life Updates – Junior Year + Moving

Hello all!
It’s been a hot minute since I last updated the blog – between school, work, and spending time with friends and family, it’s been a busy spring semester.  Here’s what I’ve been up to and what’s to come:

  • I wrapped up sophomore year and made the decision to transfer colleges – the past year, I’ve been at Young Harris College, a small (I mean, small) liberal arts college in north Georgia.  Although I made some lifelong friends and took some really interesting and challenging courses during my time there, I just didn’t enjoy the campus or the vibe of the school as much as I wanted to.  After lots and lots of prayer and discussions with family, I’ve decided to transfer to the University of North Georgia for my last 2 years of school.  I love the UNG campus and already have some friends there, plus they have lots of opportunities for backpacking and rock-climbing!
  • My parents are preparing to move to Seattle – towards the end of last year, my dad accepted a position with Microsoft and my parents made the decision to move to Seattle.  To be perfectly honest, I was not on board to begin with.  The idea of my family leaving to move across the country was straight up terrifying, and I was convinced I wasn’t ready for it.  After some time to think and pray and prepare, though, I’m so excited for them!  Plus – how cool is it gonna be to visit Washington all the time?  Recently, we’ve all been super busy preparing to sell the house, and they’re gearing up to move hopefully within the next couple weeks.
  • I’m getting ready to live on my own – although I’ve been out of the house for the past year of college, I haven’t really been out of the house, if you know what I mean.  Once my parents move to Washington, I’ll be living in Dahlonega full-time as I’ve been blessed enough to find an apartment near the college that I’ll be moving into at the end of summer.  I am so excited to begin this next chapter of adulthood – and most importantly, I’ll finally have my own kitchen to cook in!
  • My boyfriend joined the military – at the beginning of the year, my boyfriend shipped off for 3 1/2 months of basic training for the Army.  Saying “see you later” to my best friend was one of the hardest experiences I’ve been through, and the transition to communicating solely through weekly letters and minute-long phone calls once a month was incredibly daunting.  Those months ended up being an incredible blessing, though – they challenged us and strengthened our relationship in so many ways, and I am beyond thankful to have him home as of a couple weeks ago.  That time apart not only strengthened us as a couple, but also as individuals, and I’m so grateful to have had those months to push myself and grow in ways I couldn’t have experienced otherwise.

As for the rest of the summer – I’ll be focusing on working a lot to save up for the fall semester and spending time with my parents and friends.  Although I’ll be staying in Georgia for most of the summer, I am planning to fly up to Seattle once my parents have moved to help them settle in.  I’m also hoping to spend some time exploring the southeast and hopefully getting in a few backpacking and rock-climbing trips!
The first few months of 2018 have flown by and, sadly, I don’t think the rest of the year will slow down much.  I can’t wait for what’s to come and I plan to share my adventures as they unfold.
Until next time!

 

How to Deal with Anxiety in College

Towards the middle of my first semester living at college, I began to experience a lot of anxiety.  There were entire days where I felt like my heart was constantly racing and my mind was unable to focus on anything.  What few moments of peace I did have were tainted by the fear that they would be short-lived.  I was struggling to get simple things done or enjoy experiences that should have been fun and lighthearted.  Although I’ve experienced anxiety before, I had never felt it to this degree.  But instead of letting it dictate my time and emotions, I made an effort to work through the experience and address it.  If you’re someone who experiences anxiety or even just struggles to find peace in the hectic schedule of college, here are some things that worked for me (and most of these work whether you’re a student or not!):

1. Confide in someone

Whether it’s a friend at school, a family member, or a pen pal, it’s always important to have a person you can rant to without judgment.  Sometimes they will have advice or a different perspective you wouldn’t have thought of yourself – but sometimes it’s just nice to let it all out.

2. Manage your responsibilities

If homework, job duties, or other to-do’s start piling up, it will only fuel your anxiety.  Take the time to sit down and make a list of what you need to work on, in order of priority.  Don’t try to do it all at once or you’ll just fizzle out – schedule manageable amounts of work throughout the day.

3. Create a relaxing environment to work/live in

My dorm room often becomes the “meeting place” for my group of friends and even though I love hanging out with everyone, I know that if I need to get work done, I can’t do it with a lot of other people in the room or I’ll just get distracted.  Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself to get stuff done, even if it means stepping away from the fun for a minute!  Similarly, I try to make sure my dorm always feels cozy and inviting so that I can de-stress.  (Check out my Dorm Room Essentials post for tips!)

4. Commit to a wellness routine

One of the best ways for me to channel my anxiety is through working out and getting active.  Whether it’s going to the gym or taking a hike, grabbing a friend to knock out a killer workout will refocus your mind and make you feel refreshed.  If working out isn’t your thing, try yoga or gentle stretches.  Yoga with Adriene has some fantastic 30-day series on Youtube, but even taking 5 minutes in the morning to stretch and wake your body up will make a difference in the tone of your day.  Don’t forget about nutrition too – make a point to eat fresh foods and try to avoid the greasy, processed foods, at least throughout the week.  Treat yourself when you really need it, but take everything in moderation!

5. Go to therapy

For a lot of people, the idea of therapy can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.  Most colleges will offer free counseling or therapy sessions – take advantage of them!  Everyone will get something different out of the experience and you may find that it’s not for you, but it’s always valuable to take advantage of the resources available to you.  Having a neutral party you can discuss your life with can be very cathartic once you get past the initial awkwardness.

 

Dorm Room Essentials

Hello all and happy 2018!

To kick of this year, I wanted to share some off my dorm room essentials with you.  Let’s delve in!

 

 

An oil diffuser – I got mine as a Christmas gift and it has made a huge difference in the coziness of my dorm room!  I love mixing up what oils I put in depending on my mood that day – sometimes I prefer something with peppermint to give me energy, while other days I like a touch of cinnamon to fight off oncoming sicknesses.  There are tons of oil diffuser and essential oil options out there; I have the AromaSphere by Serene Living which is great because of how small and easy it is, and I received a kit of Seasonal Change essential oils from NOW Foods which have proven amazing.

A pin-board (or something else to display memories from throughout the semester) – once you start attending events, taking pictures, or receiving letters and cards, it’s nice to have a cute reminder you can look at throughout the day.

A low-maintenance plant – I always have some sort of plant in my living space, whether it be bamboo, flowers, or succulents.  Right before the semester started, my boyfriend gave me this grafted cactus (which I’ve named Frijole in honor of my favorite food).  Hopefully I have better luck keeping this one alive than the one I had last semester which I managed to overwater….

A planner and/or journal – Although I need to keep a calendar and reminders on my phone to keep on track throughout the day, I also find it helpful and stress-relieving to have an actual paper planner where I can see big-picture plans and events and actually write things out.  Additionally, I think it can be really beneficial to have a small journal or even a penpal who you can write letters to – it’s so cathartic to take the time to write out what’s been going on in your life and what your thoughts/feelings are.

A reusable water bottle – My water bottle goes with me everywhere: classes, car rides, workout sessions, hikes.  Not only is it a cool place to collect stickers and a handy reminder to stay hydrated, but it’s also better for the environment!

Non-traditional sources of light – While lamps and overhead lights are obviously helpful and sometimes necessary, I also make a point to use unconventional light sources, like salt lamps and string lights, to help brighten my room.  They feel cozier and more welcoming than a harsh, overhead light, and they’re a lot cuter!

Your favorite movies/books/board games – Honestly, you may not have much time to take advantage of them, but having them around is still great for those rare days you have some free time to kill and want to unwind with an old favorite!  (Pardon my inclusion of Twilight and the Hannah Montana Movie, it was a moment of weakness with my fellow dorm-mates.)

Personal wall decorations – I didn’t stress too much about having a “theme” or “design” for my room; instead, I found some cool prints, postcards, and wall decorations I liked that didn’t clash, and I used those to add a pop to my otherwise boring dorm walls!