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getting in touch with my inner colorado girl


Two days, three mountains

Sometimes I’m a little ambitious with the schedule I create for my life. Like this past weekend, when I hiked three 14ers. Spoiler – I did make it in one piece – but I’m definitely taking next weekend off.

Three summits in two days. No big deal.

The summit fever started with Mount Shavano and Tabeguache Peak on Saturday with my friends Britt and Molly. We met Friday night in Salida for some pizza and beers at Amica’s. Aligning with the overall theme of my weekend, we were a little overambitious with our pizza order. Perhaps we should have only ordered two pizzas.

This is what overambition looks like.

After eating as much pizza as we could, we headed to the trailhead to camp for the night. Again, we were a little hasty in our campsite selection, and as it turns out sleeping on a slope is not a great idea. Following a throughly unsatisfactory amount of sleep, I woke Britt up with “Make a Man Out of You” on my iPhone because I am a great friend like that.

Mulan = personal hero.

The trail for Shav/Tab, as all the cool kids call Mount Shavano and Tabeguache Peak, starts under 10,000 feet, and I knew we were going to be in for a climb. Overall the entire hike had 5,600 feet of elevation gain. And okay fine I only called it Shav/Tab because I had no idea how to actually pronounce Tabeguache.

 Even compared to La Plata Peak, the elevation gain for Shav/Tab was pretty extreme. To make matters more challenging, once we got up to the final ridge before the push to the summit, the wind started ripping. It was at least 25 MPH. I would even say 40 MPH.

Trying not to blow away.

We persevered through the wind and made it up to the summit eventually.

Shavano Summit.

View from the summit.

From Shavano, it was a mile hike with 500 feet elevation gain to Tabeguache. The bummer was that the only way back from Tabeguache was to resummit Shavano. Molly and I are apparently masochists, so we decided that adding two additional descents and ascents to bag another peak would be worth it. And it was.

Looking at Tab from the saddle between the peaks.

Tabeguache Peak, my 15th career 14er.

The tricky thing with all 14ers is that making it to the summit is only half the battle. The hike down from the peak can also be a killer. I had a headache all morning but thought it was due to not having coffee. (I’m definitely a 3-4 cup a day kind of girl.) On the hike down from Shavano, my headache worsened. I’ve never had a migraine, but I imagine it’s probably similar to that. I think I was just severely dehydrated. Either way though, I don’t ever recommend hiking down 5,600 feet of elevation with a pounding headache. When we got back to the lower trailhead, I definitely hugged the sign.

So happy.

Clearly two mountain peaks in one weekend was just not enough! After I spent a really exciting Saturday night back in Denver ordering Thai food and going to bed early, I woke up bright and early the next day for a 14er with my friends Amy and Joel. Amy and Joel had never done a 14er before, so I was going along basically to assure them that being out of breath and questioning why you are voluntarily putting yourself through walking up a mountain is a totally normal part of the 14er experience.

“There are no easy 14ers.” That’s my line!

For Amy and Joel’s first 14er, we chose Quandary Peak, which I hiked last summer. The motivation for choosing Quandary was also that we would then be close to lots of places to grab a beer after we finished the hike. I was kind of worried that maybe I would feel Shav/Tab from the day before, but luckily I felt just fine. Amy and Joel were champs too, and we made it up to the summit in good time.

The first of many 14ers for Amy and Joel!

The view was kind of hazy from the top, which was a bummer, but I took Amy and Joel’s Christmas card 2012 photo and witnessed Amy discovering her spirit animal, the pika, so it was still a productive hike. There were definitely some serious discussions about whether or not you could have a pika as a pet among our group.

Google searches that Paula does.

We followed up Quandary Peak with beers and burgers at Dillon Dam Brewery before heading back to Denver. Getting to eat copious amounts of food was definitely the benefit of doing three 14ers in one weekend. I promise you, french fries have never tasted better to me than they did after finishing Quandary Peak, the third 14er of the weekend.

What’s on my agenda for NEXT weekend? Hopefully some mimosas and absolutely no 14ers. See guys? I am human!




I was grounded this past weekend. You might be asking yourself from what was I grounded? I mean I’m almost 25. Was I sneaking out past my non-existent curfew? Not exactly. You see, I wasn’t grounded for doing anything wrong per se, rather I was grounded from doing too many activities.

I’m perhaps a little too good at keeping myself busy sometimes. There are so many things in my life that I love to do that I have a hard time saying no to anything! But I have lately been realizing that there’s only one Paula, and I can only do so much. This past weekend I had been planning on doing some hiking and attempting a 14er with some of my friends when my roommate Gracie finally intervened and grounded me for the weekend. I was grounded to a weekend of fly fishing and golfing and relaxing – no strenuous activities allowed!

The site where I was grounded. Being grounded was never this much fun when I was 16!

Gracie and I headed out for the mountains Friday afternoon. I had spent the morning at the Denver DMV (don’t get me started on the ridiculous parking tickets I have gotten lately), and I was definitely ready to get out of the city. We made it up to her parents’ condo just in time for an evening fly fishing session. I had never gone fly fishing before this weekend, but ever since I saw Eastern Rises, a documentary about fly fishing in Russia, I have thought that fly fishing looked rad. Gracie’s dad was basically my personal fly fishing guide for the weekend, and he gave me some lessons on Friday night.

We woke up early the next morning, and biked into town for breakfast. Then, we got ready for some more fly fishing action.

On the creek again.

Try not to be jealous of my sweet outfit.

I had snagged my line on enough rocks in the creek that I was well trained at pulling my line out of the water just in case the tug was a fish. To my surprise, one of the tugs finally ended up being a fish! I caught a beautiful rainbow trout, and I was pretty proud.

Here fishy fishy.

I hooked one more big rainbow trout, but it got away before we could get it off the line. I also caught a tiny brown trout that we didn’t bother pulling in to shore. Fly fishing is surprisingly a huge rush. It’s also surprisingly very relaxing, which was sort of the whole point of me being grounded. There’s something so therapeutic about casting a fly into open water.

You haven’t lived until you have gone fly fishing with a Yorkie in a life jacket.

 In the spirit of relaxation, we took a mini-break from fly fishing to go to a beer festival in Carbondale. For $15 we went to the Carbondale Bread & Brew Fest. It was basically my dream afternoon. The beer fest was not crowded in the least, and we had unlimited samples from the Who’s Who of Colorado Brewers (Avery, ODell, New Belgium, Ska, Oskar Blues, Bristol, Fort Collins, and Breckenridge to name a few).


Gracie’s mom bought a frisbee from the New Belgium tent and so naturally we started an impromptu game of catch. It was all fun and games until we plowed into a two year old kid. Oh well. Children are resilient!

After the brew fest, we decided it was time for an evening fishing session. We grabbed our bikes and headed back to the creek. Gracie and I shared a rod, alternating between beer drinking and fishing.

Fly fishing like a G.

Our day ended with dinner followed by a leisurely hole of golf before dessert. We played a scramble, and I was on a team with Gracie’s mom. She was an excellent golf teacher, and I made it across the pond on my second swing. I really didn’t think I was going to make it over the pond at all!

Golf at dusk.

I realize that my weekend sounds like every 65 year old man’s dream, yes. And I now share in this dream because fly fishing is that awesome. Yet most importantly the weekend taught me that slowing my life down a little might not be such a bad idea. Relaxing activities can be just as much fun as climbing mountains.  I think I’m going to have start grounding myself on a regular basis!

Being grounded – it’s not the worst thing ever.

Dear Paula, Please ground yourself in the future. Thanks, Paula