Backpacking Challenge in the Rockies

When the opportunity for a backpacking adventure in the Rocky Mountains arose, my thoughts raced back in time to when I hiked with a group of friends from Snowmass right outside of Aspen. My girlfriend had pointed to the peaks way out in the distance and said, “That’s where we’re going.”

I had laughed.

We had started in a dense forest and emerged above treeline. Several miles and thousands of feet in elevation later, we scrambled over boulders as big as Volkswagens straddling deep dark crevices between. Near our destination, we all took baby steps while sucking in the thin air. We were over two miles above sea level.

That night, we camped in an otherworldly atmosphere next to aptly named Moon Lake. Some of the campers woke early to climb a 14er, (a peak 14,000 feet above sea-level.) I was happy to get a few extra hours rest (I doubt that I slept), to build reserve energy and strength for the trip down. It had to be so much easier with gravity pulling and oxygen increasing with every step, right?

When we hit the boulder field again, I found it super challenging to scooch over those enormous rocks while wearing an exterior frame pack. The metal “feet” caught the rock and threw me off balance. A few times I steadied myself to catch my breath while gazing down at those gaping crevices. I breathed a lot easier once we entered the forest. When we reached the car, I dropped my enormous backpack and vowed to never go again. It was too hard.

On our way to a backpacking adventure

Decades later, I jumped at the opportunity to backpack to Sawtooth Mountain. What had changed? I’ve been weight training since March and figured I could carry twenty-five pounds a couple of miles. My husband, Danny, and daughter, Courtney, and I wouldn’t be in a race and we could rest on our way up. I looked forward to the challenge!

Danny had planned the trip. It would be a four-mile hike up to Coney Flats. Right.

“I can see Sawtooth from my house,” I said in a Palin-like voice as we packed up the truck. We would camp below its crest. It would be cool to see it all up close and personal after all the years of admiring it from afar.

When we arrived at Camp Dick to park the truck, Danny informed us that we would take a different route. We would hike six miles. Whoa! It was too late to back out now. What were two extra miles anyway? I could do it.

I picked up my pack, surprised by its weight. Large and unwieldy, I needed help putting it on. The climb would be steady but the final destination name, Coney Flats, relaxed me, somewhat. I figured the hike would flatten out.

A rocky climb

At first, we strode up the trail along with many young families. Watching little kids trucking on their short little legs inspired me to keep up a quick pace. After a couple of miles, my pack dug into my shoulders. It didn’t fit my body properly. I discovered that reaching behind and clasping my hands behind me lifted the bottom of the heavy pack above my shoulders.

Courtney and I resting after the first two miles.

Sawtooth adventure Susie and Courtney

Courtney used GPS and tracked our progress. We hiked two miles in forty-five minutes. At mile three, our pace slowed. I couldn’t wait to take off my pack and set up camp. Three more miles.

After another mile, we realized the bad news. It would take us another four miles to reach the summit. Eight miles to Coney Flats. EIGHT MILES! I’ve never been a quitter. I sighed and we continued to hike up the mountain path.

Backpacking Challenge in the Rockies

We crossed a river and hit a gravel mining road. It was hard to keep from slipping while navigating the treacherous, gravel, uphill climb. From there we thought the lake would be around the corner. Nope. We found the wilderness trailhead and then continued through a bog.

Sawtooth Danny and Courtney

When we made it to the sixth mile, Courtney gave us the bad news. We still had a long way to go. GAH! We zigzagged through the muck while swatting at various nasty pests. Finally, we hit solid ground and re-entered the forest.

A few day hikers traipsed down the trail toward us.

“How far is it to Coney Flats?” I asked. I was out of gas after hiking for four hours straight. I prayed he’d say it was around the corner. It had to be.

“About another hour,” said a young hiker.

NOOO!!! My pack felt like it held bricks instead of a sleeping bag, tent, and clothes.

The group passed and a young woman brought up the rear. She must have overheard her friend. “It’s only twenty minutes to the lake, but the river crossings are tough.”

“Thank God!” I could do this.

We marched on until the trail met the river. We had to cross it by walking over the trunk of a tree. I used a walking stick for balance. The second crossing wasn’t as bad.

tree crossing

The third was insane.

The rushing river was much wider. First, we had to step up onto a small fallen tree and balance on its trunk to cross the narrow part of the stream. I didn’t have the strength to push up on my weak left leg with the extra weight in my pack. I found a walking stick and finally stepped up. As I crossed the stream, I lost my balance. I plunged the stick into the water. It kept me upright. I made it. But the second was a forty foot crossing. Slow but sure we all made it across.

By now daylight was fading. We continued to climb uphill. When would we arrive at Coney of Flatness? We had been walking for five hours. My pack felt like it weighed fifty pounds.

After another half hour, my legs hit a wall of exhaustion. I remembered my personal trainer, Sam, who recently competed in a Half Iron Man. He said that when you become a mouth breather, your body has used all of its energy. I fought that impulse and made myself breathe through my nose.

Sawtooth

Soon the forest broke open to a beautiful meadow. I stopped to take pictures and rest. It couldn’t be far now.

As we hiked up a knoll, Courtney hooted and hollered.

“Thank the Lord,” I said.

We had made it to Coney Flats after six hours and eight miles of hiking. It wasn’t flat at all. There was a campsite at the top. As Danny and I climbed up the hill Courtney strode down the other side. “The lake is right below us!”

I glanced up at the sun. We had about fifteen minutes to set up camp before it set behind Sawtooth. A cold breeze picked up and we hustled. Just after we staked our tents, I found a much nicer and protected site out of the prevailing wind. The tents flew behind Danny and Courtney like kites as they picked their way down the narrow trail. We set up camp a second time.

Coney Flats at Sawtooth

By the time we made dinner, it was dark.

All night long, I heard little animals foraging around our campsite. I slept for about two hours. The next morning, we enjoyed the early morning sunshine. We ate breakfast, then hiked down to the lake to filter water for the trek back home.

Coney Flats Lake

We were the only people around. It felt good to breathe fresh air and stretch sore muscles. We broke camp and packed up. My backpack seemed a ton heavier the second day.

Enjoying the elixir of the gods with an elfish grin.

Susie at Sawtooth

Just like my last backpacking trip, the hike took half the time on the way down. We entered the parking lot just as rain fell in huge drops.

Danny, Courtney, and I hit the road and talked about the trip.

“I would definitely backpack again, but only if we cut down on the miles. Sixteen in less than twenty-four hours was way too much.” We all agreed on that.

I reflected on what had changed for me. I had grown up camping and had missed the quiet solitude, being outdoors, and exploring a new area. When I backpacked years ago, I didn’t need to challenge myself. I was young with nothing to prove. If I didn’t feel like doing something, I didn’t do it.

After going through a heart ablation, breast cancer, and a partial knee replacement, I wanted to prove to myself that I had completely recovered and in some ways, was in better shape than the last time I backpacked. Challenging myself built confidence. Perseverance prevailed. Next year, I’ll plan the trip.

Click for more adventures on the Wild Ride.

Related posts:

Hiking Chautauqua: Slip Sliding Away!

The Moose is Loose!

Are You Adventurous? Take the Quiz!

Have you ever backpacked? Have you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone? Have you been to Colorado?

Blog Party Time: Build Your Readership!

Blog Party Build Readership

It’s a Drop and Hop Blog Party!

It’s time for another Blog Party where you Drop a link and Hop to other blog sites. September is all about the change of seasons and the expectation of holidays. There’s a lot to write about so why not build your readership?

I love bringing my friends together so they can meet each other!

Here’s how it works:

CHOOSE ONE link to your blog and paste it in the comments. Include a hook where you tell everyone what you blog about. Then click on a few links and meet a few bloggers! Or meet all of them. It’s up to you. The more you click, the more friends you make!

Leave a comment on your new friend’s blog and tell them, “Susie sent me,” and they might click back to your place.

This is a social party so be sure to mingle in the comments. Make some new friends. Subscribe to their blog. They might subscribe to yours!

The party will roll all week so stop back anytime. This is all about you. Once it starts, I’ll let it roll!

Remember, if you leave TWO links, you’ll be thrown into the spam filter. That can be so embarrassing for both of us. The worst part? Your comment won’t post and I usually don’t notice right away. 

The drinks are flowing and the barista can whip up anything you like. The buffet includes exquisite treats from around the world.

DJ Chuck Shadow is in the house, so you know the drill… DON’T FORGET TO STAND UP AND DANCE!

Please tell your friends by sharing on Twitter and Facebook or go ahead and feel free to reblog this post. The more the merrier!

Click for more adventures on the Wild Ride!

Related posts:

Autumn And An Early Arrival!

Going for Gold – Fall Photos

Use Me and Abuse Me Day – Rolling into Roctober

I hope you’ll consider following my blog too. It’s always a Wild Ride!

Autumn And An Early Arrival!

After a week in Wisconsin, I packed up and headed to the Rocky Mountains to see the autumn colors. What I didn’t expect was an early arrival.

Silverthorne fall color with Lake Dillon

These are drive-by shots, meaning, I jumped out of the car to shoot the picture. Don’t worry. No aspens were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Color peeks out from the trees.

The color was stunning due to the clouds and slant of the sun.

Clouds build over the colorful aspen trees

I made the unfortunate decision to stop for lunch while the clouds continued to build.

Fall color in Silverthorne, Colorado

I thought I’d head back up to hike and take more photos.

Autumn in colorful Colorado

Instead, stormclouds descended on the mountains and an icy wind blew.

And then this happened. Click on the photo to listen to the thunder snowstorm!

It’s still snowing. There’s an inch on the deck. If it lasts all night I might have to go sledding tomorrow! I’ll keep you posted.

September snow on the deck

What’s the weather like in your part of the world? Are the leaves changing or is spring arriving?

Click for more wild adventures!

Related posts:

An Unexpected Visit from Wild and Wonderful Old Man Winter

Bike Hike to Bridal Veil Falls – Photo Essay with Altitude

To Hell You Ride – A Photo Essay that Ends in Whoa!

Discovered with 6 Ironic Twists!

Welcome new blog followers! I hope you’ll sit back, relax, and read how a surprising discovery was ironic in six twisted ways when one of my posts was featured on WordPress Discover.

Discover badge

Last week, while sipping coffee and checking my Twitter notifications, I noticed WordPress had tweeted my blog post, 18 Best Blog Tips: New Ways to Promote, Increase Traffic and More! It had been Discovered! The first thing out of my mouth, (second, after the coffee) was, “How ironic is that!” In more than one way. I’m cracking up as I write this.

I’ll get to the ironies, but first I want to thank WordPress editor, Ben Huberman for Discovering me! It has been such an honor. I may have gotten his attention through leaving this post in a Community Pool comment explaining one of the following ironies:

Irony #1.

One of my 18 Best Blog Tips is to try not to spend too much time on blog posts.

That post took hours and hours which turned into days.

Irony #2.

I wrote it for WordPress bloggers.

None of my followers saw it in the Reader. Which brings me to…

Irony #3.

18 Best Blog Tips also dove into mistakes I have made through six years of blogging. Here’s another one to add to the list.

I had upgraded my site to Business back in March, which allows me to use Google Analytics. That has been super interesting. I can check demographics and see which cities and countries are fans. Last week, London was my super fan city. Santa Monica (my beloved surfing spot), was the worst city in the world for viewing my blog. The US was the best country, but Israel was the worst. I have some work to do.

Mistakes were made.

Recently, I noticed I could start using plugins. My daughter, Courtney works in web analytics. She suggested I install Yoast to point out what I need to do for SEO. I attended a WordPress Meetup and was told installing Yoast would be easy and I could uninstall it if I didn’t like it.

When I arrived home, I shook while I pressed the Install button. Instead of getting the notification that it had worked, it said I wasn’t up to date with the basic WordPress Jetpack program. I had to call a Happiness Engineer, who rescued me and installed it. Whew!

The next day, when my scheduled story, A Day in London with Charles Dickens posted, it was to the sound of crickets. Of course, it was another one of those posts that took tons of time. It didn’t end up in the Reader for my followers. Bummer!! I contacted the Happiness Engineers and found out it was because I wrote and scheduled it before I installed the plugin. Apparently, the structure of the site changes after installing a plugin on a Business site.

 

For days, no one followed my blog. I asked my daughter to check her phone and the floating Follow button had disappeared. I had been warned but several other bloggers who use Yoast continued to have the happy little green floating Follow. Not me. Dang!

That was the deal breaker. New followers are more important to me than views from SEO. Someday, I’ll have books to roll out to them. I started blogging to build community.

Once again, Happiness Engineers to the rescue! Several of these angelic and patient computer geniuses jumped in to help over the next few days. My Chuck Dickens post returned to the Reader without likes but with all of its comments intact. Whew!

Irony #4.

I made the same mistake TWICE!

After working on 18 Best Blog Tips for several days, I scheduled it for the following week. It was written while I used Yoast. When it posted after uninstalling the plugin, it didn’t end up in the Reader, again. GAH!

Blog tips from six years of blogging. New ways to promote, increase traffic, grow community, and more.

Cue the sound of crickets.

Luckily, some of my followers click from their email. Fellow blogger, Words from Anneli helped me solve that.

I had written it for WordPress bloggers. Most would never see it. It was my six-year Blogoversary post!

Sharing it on social media made me feel better. When my friends reblogged it, their post appeared in search. That was a relief.

Then I remembered Ben Huberman’s Community Pool. He hosts this event through the Daily Post on Mondays. The next one is September 18th. Bloggers share posts, ask questions, or jump in and help others in the comments. I shared 18 Best Blog Tips and explained how it was written for them after six years of blogging but how it wasn’t seen in the Reader because of my Yoast fiasco.

Irony #5.

Which brings me to coffee splatters on my computer screen. After all the nervous perspiration and lots of tears, it got Discovered. WOW!

Irony #6.

The last time I was Freshly Pressed (the antiquated term for Discover), I was heading to the Pikes Peak Writers Conference for the weekend. The word got out that An Open Letter to My Boobs (an irreverent letter to my fake boobs after double boobectomies), had gone somewhat viral. Writers introduced me as The Boob Lady.

grabbing my boobs

This time, I was on my way to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Colorado Gold Conference. What were the chances? I became the Blog Lady. (Not as popular as boobs, by the way.)

So, good for me. Whoopie ding dong day.

How does this article help you?

  • Upgrading to a Business site with the ability to install plugins is perfect for a blogger who knows their way around the back end of websites or is willing to learn. You’re still a part of the WordPress community and have the interactive black bar at the top of your site. When I have books to sell, I may try plugins again. Like I said, the Happiness Engineers are super talented and are one click away. (It always amazes me how fast they are!) They hope to fix the Reader Search and make plugins easier and more compatible for Business sites and community bloggers like me.
  • I would highly recommend following the Daily Post. They have daily prompts and share helpful information for WordPress bloggers. Leave a link, once in a while, in the comments of Community Pool and be sure to help others. You might get noticed!
  • There’s an About option on the top right corner of the Discover page. This is where the editors describe what Discover is all about. Scroll down and you’ll see a form. You can fill it out to nominate other bloggers for Discover. I discovered that yesterday!

Thank you again, Ben, the Happiness Engineers, and my followers. It’s time to clean my computer screen and get back to writing books.

Have you ever won an award? Have you ever made any mistakes here on WordPress? Are you willing to experiment or are stories like mine terrifying? Ha!

Click for more misadventures on the Wild Ride!

Related posts:

18 Best Blog Tips: New Ways to Promote Your Blog, Increase Traffic, and More!

An Open Letter To My Boobs

An Open Letter From My Boobs

An Open Letter to New WordPress Bloggers

 

Pinterest Group Board Party!

Pinterest Group Board Party to Increase Blog Traffic

Pinterest is one of the best ways to increase blog traffic.

Joining Pinterest group boards can assist you in a big way. The idea is to pin across many boards to get traction and increase the number of repins. In other words, instead of waiting for others to build your numbers, you can pin on your boards then repin on group boards to get each pin started. By the way, when you join group boards they are added to your Pinterest home page along with the boards you’ve created.

Pinners also see your pins in their feeds. If someone chooses to repin one, most will click to your blog to make sure the link works. I alternate pins since I don’t want to spam the same pin every day all over the place. Soon, you’ll be unfollowed and thrown off group boards. It’s important to repin others. If you only pin your own, you’ll never get anywhere.

I haven’t gone viral yet, but there are many pinners, like SuzieSpeaks and Elena Peters who have. They tell me it takes patience and consistency.

Don’t have a Pinterest account?

Sign up! Start by creating a board with the title of your blog. Then add boards in your interests and have fun pinning!

I’ve been pinning for a long time. Pinterest is an excellent source for information. You’ll find everything from recipes, travel, photos, health, beauty, design, blogging, and humor to DIYs and how to use Pinterest.

Increase your views and join my Group Board!

Leave your Pinterest name in the comments and I’ll add you to my group board. Then pin one of yours to my group board and share at least one pin to one of your boards!

The party will rage all week, so join us anytime.

It should be a fun party where we all benefit. Happy Pinning!

Have you found success with Pinterest? Do you have an account? Be sure to follow my pins at Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride!

Related posts:

18 Best Blog Tips: New Ways to Promote Your Blog, Increase Traffic, and More!

Crush Procrastination, Boost Your Blog Rank, and Improve Writing

An Open Letter to New WordPress Bloggers

More from the Wild Ride.

 

Invaded and Homeless in Paris: Photo Essay

When I planned the trip to Europe, I wanted to wing it in several countries, but not in Paris. The last thing I wanted was to panic and become homeless during high season. I booked an Airbnb near the Arc de Triomphe two months in advance. Super cute and fairly modern, I thought it would be the perfect location for touring Paris for a week. I would never have guessed it would be invaded.

Arc de Triomphe

Once we arrived in Paris, there was a problem with communication. We sat at a nearby café and tried to get a hold of the host. It took a while to find the apartment and the key. When we finally entered the apartment that evening my husband, Danny, and I were pleasantly surprised. It looked exactly like the photos on the site. We settled in and I set up my computer.

The host had left a couple of water bottles in the fridge so I walked across the room to quench my thirst. That’s when I noticed something. Something crawling on the counter. Ants. Okay, so a couple of random ants isn’t a big deal, so I sat back down at the computer.

When a few more ants found the computer cord and crawled to my laptop, it creeped me out. I walked to the cupboards and opened one. The clean glasses were crawling with them. Euw! We were booked for a week. What would we do? I didn’t want to spend hours cleaning. I called the host, but he was on vacation. What? I always thought there was supposed to be someone available.

This is a screenshot from a video I took for Airbnb and the host. Continue reading

How to Paddleboard and What I Learned

Venice gondolierThe first time I saw paddleboarders, they reminded me of the Venice gondoliers without the striped shirts and skinny, long canoes. Then I learned it builds core, leg, and upper body strength. I’m all about exercising while outdoors. Being landlocked in Colorado, adopting a new water sport intrigued me so I reserved a paddleboard. I wondered if I would spend more time in the water than on the board. I didn’t know I would learn some life lessons too.

Union Reservoir in Longmont only allows power boats to put around and fish, so it’s a paddleboarders’ paradise. I rented a board and grabbed a paddle. I set the lifepreserver on top of the board where it taunted me. I wondered how many times I would spill and if I should put it on. I looked around at the graceful paddleboarders gliding across the lake and tensed, knowing grace was a gift given to other people. I must have been sick that day.

Paddleboarding Paridise Continue reading