Sunday, May 11, 2014

Bear Peak, Boulder County, Colorado.

Bear Peak is the highest and most prominent peak in the Front Range, along the foothills of Boulder, Colorado.

With just the elevation of 8,461 feet (nothing compared to a 14er), it offers no less than 3 miles of at least 3000 feet gain. My friends and I took the Fern Canyon trail (which is the steepest and most difficult route) and I'm not gonna lie, it was quite strenuous and difficult for me. This trail was a stair-suckfest, or stair-heaven depends on what kind of freak you are. However, we really enjoyed the rock formations throughout the hike with a great amount of shade, beautiful green grass and exotic wild flowers. It was also amazing to feel the cool air from the rocks. 

There were a lot of hikers, with their adorable dogs and screaming babies. There were also tons of runners who wear nothing but short shorts to show off their sickening endurance-injected muscular bodies. One of these days, I'll get there, I promise. But for now, I'm happy with my crawling "2 hr/mile" speed and a backpack full of snickers bars, beers, and a camera. 


Friday, January 31, 2014

2014 Enlightens Me With Changes!

Where do you begin when everything has changed?

People collect strange things, like coins, habits, and friends. I collect mountain peaks and photo albums after every trail I've hiked on. It's a childhood habit originating from an evident lack of "stuff I'm not supposed to do because I'm an Asian woman, but it makes me feel important anyway."

I've reached my goals last year, which means I have the opportunity to set some new ones this year. In 2013, I moved to a new place that allowed me to live the dreams, shattered my salary, found my love for nature, and took many wilderness escapes. 2014 opened my book of journey with a pleasant trip to Salt Lake City, with a purpose of meeting new people. I love networking, and I love interacting with people, especially the outdoor enthusiast ones.

The weekend in Salt Lake City was quite eventful. It's a nice little town with lots of live music and healthy adventurists. Over the few days course, I didn't see a troupe of naked bicyclists like Boulder. However, I drove among the mountains and did a bit of boutique shopping to finish everything off. Ironically, driving through downtown and witnessing the major event, the OR show I've been hearing all week, were the most experienced aspect of the trip. Think of 2,000 interactive marketers all gathered into one place for inspirational speeches, techie-marketing savvy, and free stuff. It's all about free stuff. Turns out, the internet isn't just a passing fad and there's a lot of awesome stuff happening with it. Keep your eyes peeled on this internet thing, it's a big deal.

A yoga session with live DJ jamming in psychedelic tunes was quite refreshing, especially after being enclosed in a tight-little-car space for 9 hours.

The food has been excellent; there was a band, and surprisingly good Latin music. Three-hour, nonstop, Salsa dancing at a "Best-in-Town" venue turned out to be exhausting. Wouldn't it be cool if we all had thought bubbles above our heads? I hope someone invents that before I die, because it'd make dinning with strangers a lot more entertaining.

The snowshoeing hike on the following morning was spectacular. The event was put together by TetonSports (an newer outdoor company that makes camping gear). The hike was far from strenuous; it was short and sweet. Beautiful scenery is an understatement. I've always been so impressed with the mountains. They're quite big, sometimes snowy and often filled with trees. If you're lucky, there'll be a rushing mountain stream gushing down the rocks with trout cavorting the slippery slopes. I've done sea caving, kayaking, shipwreck exploring, and overlapping waves of the ocean, but my heart belongs to the vertical gain. Much thanks to Shawn, who did a phenomenal job at organizing our adventure to the Donut Falls up in the Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Donut Falls.
The best part about the hike was the people I've met through social networking. These folks are from all over the states, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, and even from Texas. They all came with a bag of adventurous souls. Beautiful spirits and positives make the time spent more memorable. A family who currently resides here in SLC invited me into their home for a night of delicious food, and stories with enthusiasm, optimism and intellect.

Leaving downtown before dawn makes the flickering city lights a  lot more surreal. Salt Lake City reminds me a bit of a rural, upper class town. Only with "Trust Jesus" painted on the sidewalks (except for one, where it was scratched into "Don't trust Jesus. He hates you.") Besides skiing and disappearing in the mountains, I can't imagine what people do here. I don't think I'd make a very good Mormon, after all.

I'm thankful for 2013, for the people I've met, and epic adventures. Innovation has become a currency, although a great deal of wisdom has been passed down as well. Looking back over the past year, I finally have the perfect foundation to launch tomorrow with. Each year, I'm amazed at the memories and possibilities that are revealed. When it's all done, everything falls into place exactly as it should: the good, the bad, and the spectacular. I'm excited for 2014. The year of an ongoing quest for new, interesting friends, the people who cross my paths, things I'll do, and continents to conquer.

Photo Credit to MBybee.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Peak Bagging in 15 Months.

Starting in August last year, 2012, to November of this year, 2013, here's a summary of my accomplished peaks in the bag!
In 15 months, I've learned to face the ultimate fear of my life: I was scared of being alone and abandoned. Over half of my adventures, I've done it solo. Some with one or two friends, or my former coworkers, others would just be me and myself.
Fear is central to solo-ing anything. When it is objective and informed, it can be less fearful. After all, hiking and climbing is dangerous; embarking on certain routes under wrong condition can yield disastrous results. Obtaining good information about the trails can help managing the fear rationally. Understanding it, fear management has take on new dimensions. It offers the challenge that I'm somewhat addicted to.
People think that it is riskier for women to hike or backpack alone. I don't think it's true. Culturally, women tend NOT to do as many of the idiotic things as solo men do, like picking up a rattlesnake. In general, women suffer through a higher level of fear of violent crime then men. That's just a fixation that's been ingrained in our mind. Crimes in national parks are hundreds of times lower than in civilization. When you're out in the wilderness, it doesn't matter if you're male or female to be in danger if you don't do it smartly and safely. I highly recommend everyone to try it at least once in their lifetime, not to prove that you're stronger or better, but to feel free, to fight over your fear, and to be WILD.
I've never thought of hiking, climbing, mountaineering to the summits as ascending to the therapeutic bliss. One moment you're walking on gentle green hills with fields of flowers; the next, you witness the endless panorama of icy peaks and glaciers with the unknown journey ahead. I define this "activity" as an escape from the constraints and safety of everyday life: a step away from society, into the wild.
Despite the criticism from my family, as I'm quite abnormal from being a typical Asian woman, I follow my happiness and seek for more adventures, even if it requires living life on the edge.

1. Gannett Peak - My very first summit. Wyoming's highest peak. 13,809 ft. 55 miles RT.
  Sun light slowly shined on Gooseneck Glacier.
Look straight ahead and keep going!
Travelling on Dinwoody Glacier with the sunrise.
Crossing Gannett glacier and successfully made it to the summit of Gannett Peak.

2. Cloud Peak - Highest peak of the Big Horn Range. 13,166 ft. 16 miles RT.
View of Cloud Peak glacier and Glacier lake.

The summit of Cloud Peak

3. Random peak that I stumbled across while backpacking in Wyoming. Elevation: unknown. Probably 12,000 feet?

4. South Arapaho Peak - 2nd highest summit in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. 13,399 ft. 16 miles RT.
Looking at South Arapaho from west ridge.
View of South Arapaho's false summit from the east.
Glorious morning sun was just peaking out on the summit.
A bashful fox also peeped out to say Hi.
Panorama view of the South Arapaho summit, and there were 2 of me. 

5. North Arapaho Peak - the highest peak in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. 13,502 ft. 18 miles RT (about a mile traverse from South Arapaho Peak).
Taking a break on the "knife-edge".
View of North Arapaho from east ridge.

Finally made it to the top of North Arapaho Peak
Biggest pile of cairns I've ever seen.
Looking at Arapaho Glacier from the summit.

6. Hallett Peak - A mountain that's full of surprises. The gem of the RMNP. 12,720 ft. 11 miles RT.
Sunrise over Hallett Peak!

Mountain goat meets mountain goat!
And we agreed that the summit view was pretty freaking phenomenal.
A little piece of heaven!
Lovely Hallett in the background.
Amazing view of the mountains and beyond on the summit.

7. Flattop Mountain - Very windy, but beautiful. 12,354 ft. 9 miles RT.

People climbing up a couloir.

Flattop Mountain.

Summit cairn on Flattop.

8. Old Baldy - a lazy way to see the mighty Arapaho Peaks. 13,038 feet. 15 miles RT.
Wind-surfing is a sport, right?

The early morning view on top of Old Baldy

9. Mt. Democrat - my very first Fourteener. 14,154 feet. 3 miles to the summit from trailhead. Not too bad! 

Summit air on Mt. Democrat.

10. Mt. Cameron - my least favorite peak, but it was right next to Mt. Democrat, so "minus-whale" (might as well). At this point, I was pretty loopy from high elevation and the champagne ~14,238 ft.
Looked just like a hill!
It was quite windy up here.

11. Mt. Lincoln - less than a mile from Mt. Democrat. 14,295 ft.
Full view of Mt. Lincoln from Mt. Cameron!
The peak of Mt. Lincoln!

12. Mt. Bross - 14,177 ft. The final push before heading back to the trailhead.
Boring looking 14er! I was trying to make a "b" for Bross.
"First 4 peaks! FOB Anh T." in a "flushable-wipes" box. How classy.
The summit air on Bross. Giggly as I was still pretty loopy.

13. Mount Bierstadt - this easy Fourteener with only 3 mile hike up to the summit was the most brutal climb I've ever done. And, the reward was very well worth it. 14,065 ft.  6 miles RT.
Early morning when life was still asleep below the horizon.
Frosty hair and frozen body on the summit.
Sunrise on Bierstadt!

Glowing light on the clouds as the sun was rising.

14. Mt. Elbert - Colorado's highest peak. 14,440 ft. 10 miles RT. Made it to the summit for the sunrise.

Gorgeous sun rays!
Ze summit view of Mt. Elbert.
The joy to be on top of Colorado!
And, the world is mine!

15. Harney Peak - South Dakota's highest peak. 7,244 ft. 7 miles RT. There was so much air here.
I made it to the summit of Harney Peak like a tourist!
On top of Harney Peak with the view of the Needles in the Black Hills.