My highest summit yet, Mount Crosby

Life has gotten busy in many great ways but fitting in some adventure time has been tough lately. One way to fix that? Take the day off and go climb a mountain! And that is just what I did a few Fridays ago.

My friend Yvette, who is an amazing peakbagging adventure junkie, invited me to head to a part of our beloved Shoshone National Forest that I had never been. As I do as often as I can, I leapt at the opportunity to get out and spend the day immersed in nature.

I also looked at this hike as an opportunity to really test out my Ahnu Sugarpines.  I was lucky enough to connect with Ahnu at this summer’s Outdoor Retailer Show, and they sent the Sugarpines my way to test out.  While I had worn them to work (they are on my feet even as I write this!) and on a few shorter hikes, this hike would be the start of the real testing (more testing to come before a full review, but SPOILER: they are great, lightweight boots).

Our target for the day was the summit of Mount Crosby, which towers over the old, deserted mining town of Kirwin, Wyoming. As we drove the bumpy road to the trailhead, we went over several creek crossings and wound through stands of timber before emerging into a broad valley with the old buildings of Kirwin across the river from the trailhead.

Yvette making her way towards Greybull Pass

Yvette making her way towards Greybull Pass

As we started up the switchbacking trail, we gained elevation quickly and found ourselves rewarded with stunning views surrounding us. As Yvette pointed out in her post for our hike, the trail simply seemed to disappear and reappear several times before we reached Greybull Pass at which point we followed a series of game trails through scree to the summit of Mount Crosby.

This hike was my first time over 11,000ft on my own two feet, so I definitely had some heavy legs going on for a bit until my body caught up!

Yvette at Greybull Pass

Yvette at Greybull Pass

As we left Greybull Pass and headed towards the summit we almost fell for the false summit that looms in front of you; however, thanks to Yvette’s GPS and our pre-trip reading, we knew this shouldn’t be our summit. As we skirted around the high, rugged false summit and made the final push, we were treated to 360-degree views of mountains to include the Tetons waaaay off in the distance.

Stunning scene thanks to Yvette's photography skills

Stunning scene thanks to Yvette’s photography skills

Taking in the view on my highest summit to date (12,449ft!!), I was beyond stoked to be there and thankful that I pushed myself to make time for adventure.

Yep, I did a summit selfie!

Yep, I did a summit selfie!

My Dog-Boy

In a nod to National Dog Day, I thought I would do a short write-up about the boy who won my heart over seven years ago and still holds major control over it today. It all started with a trip to the Humane Society in Milwaukee, WI…

This somewhat silly looking, floppy-eared four month old mutt bounded towards me with excitement in his eyes; of course I soon found out that he (then named Fuzby) was more interested in tearing up the paper I was holding than playing with me…until I moved the paper away and those big brown eyes focused on me. I quickly decided to adopt him and save him from his silly name, so I renamed him Sydney and took him home.

Sydney with his pack

Sydney with his pack

Those first few years were a bit tumultuous for us as Sydney learned that eating windowsills was not a good thing and taking a quick solo janut to the nearby Culvers might land him in trouble. It was also an amazing time as we bonded, and I learned how to read his cues when he thought I was in trouble or didn’t like someone. I used to have a car magnet that said “Who rescued who?” and that couldn’t be truer of our relationship. I may have taken him home from the shelter, but during those first few years, he saved me in many ways.

As we transitioned from life in the Coast Guard and semi-regular visits to “the farm” to see Momma Sheri and Poppa Bruce, Sydney and I set out on our own adventure. Over the past 4 years, Syd has been my confidant, my adventure partner, and my best bud. He has helped me through heartbreak, loneliness, fear, and sadness. All it takes is a wag from his curled up tail and a look of playfulness in his eyes to make me forget my woes.

Syd & I at the summit of Harney Peak, 2012

Syd & I at the summit of Harney Peak, 2012

Last week, while Brian and I were away on vacation, Sydney (& Brian’s dog Pup) were left with a friend. Apparently Sydney, my little wandering adventurer, decided to escape the fenced in yard and go for a jog. Sadly, his jog took him into danger. I received a phone message saying that Sydney had been hit by a car with no further information. I immediately burst into tears thinking the worst and started hyperventilating at the thought of my boy hurt or worse; I was a major mess and wouldn’t have been able to do anything if it weren’t for Brian. He quickly had us listen to the second message which told us Sydney had been taken to his vet’s office. Brian took it from there and the next thing I know, Syd was going to be ok and would be having surgery the next day for a spiral fracture in the tibia of his hind left leg.

scary spiral fracture

scary spiral fracture

Dr. Moore and his staff at Cody Veterinary Hospital were amazing! They sent me pictures of Sydney’s broken leg pre and post-surgery and kept me updated on his progress.

Sydney a bit doped up post-surgery

Sydney a bit doped up post-surgery

When we returned from vacation this weekend, Dr. Moore made special arrangements by coming in on a Sunday just so I could take Sydney home.

He is resting and healing these days

He is resting and healing these days

My boy has a few months of recovery ahead of him, to include a second surgery to remove a rod in his leg, but before the end of the year, I will have my adventure buddy of seven years back out with me on the trails!

Looking forward to many more hikes!

Looking forward to many more hikes!

This past week has been a great reminder to me of just how important a role Sydney has played in my life since that early-July day in 2007 (& that I am lucky to be marrying the man I am!). I know my life wouldn’t be as full of love and happiness if I had not taken him home that day :)

Hit the trail but definitely take good food!

It has been a bit since I have been inspired/had the time to write a post, but when Sierra Trading Post asked me to write a post about food, I knew I could find my writing groove ;) Let’s face it, I love food and am always up for a good chat about food on the trail!

My history with food and backpacking started out with canned soup and granola bars. By the time my sister and I started backpacking together, it shifted to packets of tuna and chicken with crackers and energy bars. By the end of a three day trip, both Renee and I would swear off tuna for weeks!

Our food for three days in Yosemite in 2009

Our food for three days in Yosemite in 2009

Luckily, my love of food has driven me to spend a bit more time and money when prepping for food for the trail. Over the past year and a half, Brian (my fiancé and adventure partner) and I have tried numerous backpacker meals and also discovered that ramen noodles with summer sausage and cheddar cheese can be the perfect meal when starving on the side of a mountain.

In all of my backpacking, the best prepared meals and desserts that I have had were from Backpacker’s Pantry. We have unsuccessfully tried other brands only to be disappointed by lack of taste when starving after a long day of snowshoeing or hiking. Our absolute favorite pre-packaged meal to date: Backpacker’s Pantry’s Pad Thai. Not only did this meal fill us up, but it was warm (which was important on the mountainside during a cold March afternoon, with a snow storm approaching), easy to make, and so very delicious!

I have to say that while the Pad Thai was great, it is not the best meal that I have had while backpacking. That title falls to a meal of steak, mashed potatoes, and red wine that Brian made for me (using a stick & knife because we forgot our sporks) in May of this year.

My man has some mad camp cook skills!

My man has some mad camp cook skills!

Since we weren’t camping in grizzly country, we were able to be a bit more relaxed about food on this trip. Brian put together a marinade in a Ziploc bag at home, and we soaked a steak in it for several hours in one of our packs while we hiked and fished. That steak, cooked over our small MSR stove, might very well be the best steak I have ever eaten! We made instant mashed potatoes and had taken in some Stack Wine. As we sat in the rain that turned to snow and back to rain again, we savored every bite and sip.

For me, food can make or break your time on the trail. Join the #trailtime conversation with Sierra Trading Post and a bunch of rad peeps on Twitter this (& every) Thursday at 4pm MDT. As you might guess, this week we will be talking food :)

 

Winter backpacking with Teton Sports’ Hiker3700

Mother Nature has apparently decided to keep us in a wintery state well into April here in northwestern Wyoming. While I am more than ready for the new growth and blooms that come with spring, I have definitely enjoyed the later winter/early spring snow that has stuck around in the mountains.

Back in January, I was talking to the amazing people from Teton Sports about a few weekend snowshoe trips Brian and I had started planning. They were kind enough to send us a box o’ goodies to use on these trips. It was like Christmas when I opened the box to find two Hiker3700 packs and two Tracker +5 sleeping bags.

After three weekends of backpacking in the snow, wind, and cold of wintery Wyoming, my love for winter backpacking is here to stay! However, I am pretty sure statements like that, after describing getting blown over on mountainsides by winds gusting 70mph, make my family think I am a bit off my rocker ;)

The last weekend of February we did a quick jaunt up to the top of Sheep Mountain for a night with our dogs. It was a calm, quiet trip to break in our winter backpacking legs. We were beyond thankful for our Tracker +5 bags when temps plummeted below zero. With all of the clothes we had brought layered on, we were toasty warm in our bags, even with icicles forming inside the tent!

Our Sheep Mountain weekend was a blast

Our Sheep Mountain weekend was a blast

The last weekend in March we headed out to our beloved Shoshone National Forest with a friend of Brian’s (also named Brian…I hereby cannot allow anyone else named Brian into my life!) and our dogs. This trip would be Brian’s (the friend) first backpacking trip on the Shoshone, so after getting everything prepped, we hit the Jim Mountain Trailhead. We headed into the mountains with the hopes of crossing the ridgeline leading up to Little Jim and eventually making it to Robbers Roost.

What a view!

What a view!

While my pack fit comfortable enough, I had meant to adjust my lumbar system on my Hiker3700 before we hit the trail, but alas, I forgot. When we stopped for our first trail snack, Brian (my guy…see already confusing, haha) helped me adjust it. Even with a pack weighted down with everything I would need for 2 days, it was such a simple adjustment to make. After moving the lumbar/shoulder strap system down a bit, we tightened one strap and I was good to go. I couldn’t believe how much better the pack fit!

An even better fitting pack & I'm off!

An even better fitting pack & I’m off!

Hitting the trail once again on a trip we dubbed the “Lost & Found” trip (inside joke), we saw new parts of the forest, snowshoed through numerous types of snow, crossed ridgelines above tree line, and were thrown around by incredibly strong winds. While we never made it to Robbers Roost, we (Brian) found more antlers, discovered not all backpacking meals are created equal :(, and had a weekend of fun with spectacular views.

Snow, smiles, sun, & lots of wind!

Snow, smiles, sun, & lots of wind!

The first weekend of April brought Brian and me another chance to get away into the forest with the pups. We headed up Green Creek and jumped on the Table Mountain Trail. The snow added some extra miles to our trip by keeping us from driving all of the way to the trailhead. High above the valley floor, we watched storms move across the mountains on the other side and knew it was a matter of time until the wind began whipping up a storm on top of us. We walked through high alpine winds threatening to blow us away (in case you aren’t getting a trend here, it is very windy in Wyoming), had very tasty meals, bandaged an injured doggie foot, got in over 10 miles and almost 3,000ft on snow that went from deep powder to slush to hard packed icy to everything in-between. 

I can't believe this is our life!!

I can’t believe this is our life!!

After three winter backpacking trips with our Hiker3700 backpacks, both Brian and I are in love with them. It amazes me that a 6’ man and a 5’4” woman can use the same pack thanks to such easy, common sense adjustment systems. The amount of strap adjustment possibilities allows this pack to fit pretty much any frame. This pack has enough padding that my hip bones weren’t rubbed raw, which is a big deal for me!

Brian says this pack is “the most comfortable pack I’ve ever put on.” With plenty of pocket options, you can put things within easy reach for trail snacks, photo opportunities, fluid replenishment (fact: bladders are not the best water apparatuses in the winter!), and quick shifts in the elements (i.e. extra layers in outside pockets). We never ran out of room and in fact could’ve carried more if we needed to. We were able to easily strap snowshoes onto the pack and then back off and then back on.

This is what we think of time in the mountains, snowshoes, & Teton Sports gear

This is what we think of time in the mountains, snowshoes, & Teton Sports gear

At $90 on Amazon.com, this pack will blow you away. I can’t wait to hit the trail with this pack, sans snowshoes, for a bunch more backpacking trips this spring and summer!

As I sit here writing this during a quiet weekend at home, my face has finally recovered from severe wind burn and the subsequent peeling, Sydney’s paw has healed, and I cannot help but think that I am living the perfect life for me :)

A slip, a fall, a softball: A backcountry mistake

Chances are if you enjoy backcountry adventures, you have learned some lessons thanks to a mistake or two.  I would like to think that my past mistakes of mine have made me wiser, so I share this with the hope of making you, the reader, wiser as well!

In June 2010 my sister and I met in Jackson, Wyo to run a half marathon and then head into the Grand Teton National Park for a three day backpacking trip.  After being cheered on by our mom during the half-marathon (my first one ever!), we rested for a day before setting out on our adventure.

Our trip began with taking the gondola from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to the top of Rendezvous Peak where we met up with a trail that would take us to Marion Lake and the Teton Crest Trail.  We had done our research, talked to rangers, and brought our ice axes and yak-tracks because we were told there would definitely still be snow, which was confirmed when we picked up our backcountry permit the day before.

Renee & I getting ready to take the gondola up!

Renee & I getting ready to take the gondola up!

We got off the gondola with our backpacks and headed for the trail, which we got on and began moving through some snow.  We quickly lost the trail and also learned that the snow was not even close to being hard packed, like we had been briefed.  Not to be deterred, we got out our map, oriented ourselves, and figured out what direction we needed to head in.  It was at this point that we began bushwhacking down and up sides of mountains. 

This was the last time we saw the trail

This was the last time we saw the trail

As we continued to posthole through snow up to our waists, we learned that we could take our packs off, slide them down the mountain to each other and move a bit more efficiently.  We were definitely getting a good workout and knew we were headed in the right direction; suddenly we saw a trail (on dry ground!) and were stoked!  We looked at the map and knew that trail would intersect our desired trail.  As we pushed our way through the snow and down the side of the mountain towards the trail, we realized that we were going to have to cross a fast-moving stream that was very full due to runoff. 

This was the stream we had to cross (taken post crossing)

This was the stream we had to cross (taken post crossing)

Let me take a break at this point and say that we were both experience hikers but both relatively new to backpacking (it was my 4th trip and my sister’s 2nd). Ok back to our story…

We got to the bottom of the mountain where the creek was flowing; we looked for the best area to cross.  When we thought we found it my sister began to cross.  She was weighted down with her backpack (which we now know to either throw across the creek or at least unstrap the waist and chest belt of) and the rocks on the bottom of the steam were slick.  Before I knew it, she slipped on a rock and was floating downstream face first!!  I was able to reach her pack and help her pull herself back to the bank of the stream.  We decided that the only thing for us to do was find a way across this stream as going back up the mountain wasn’t possible and the drainage was too narrow for us to simply follow the stream, plus we were trying to reach that darn trail!

After finding a good, sturdy stick, I was able to stay on one bank holding an end and she could slowly walk across holding the other end (we have since learned proper stream crossing techniques).  We crossed the stream easily and were beyond joyous, that is until we realized that Renee had landed hard on her shin during her first attempt. 

We were very thankful for this stick!!

We were very thankful for this stick!!

We took a look at it, let the adrenaline of the situation wear off, and realized that she had a lump that was swelling to the size of a softball on her shin!!!  After getting up a short hill to the trail, we reassessed and decided that our original plans for the trip now had to be scrapped due to her injury, but she wanted to continue on with something.  Taking the map out we found other options that would give us less elevation changes but still allow us to enjoy our trip.

The bump swelling up on my sister's shin

The bump swelling up on my sister’s shin

We set up camp that night and I begged her to be honest with me and that if it hurt too much or looked worse in the morning we could just hike out. After that promise, we were able to still have a great trip and see amazing sights, to include our first bull moose and an elk watching us sleep during an afternoon nap (but those are entirely whole different stories!).

One of many unexpected but spectacular views we were treated to

One of many unexpected but spectacular views we were treated to

Want to learn from the adventure missteps of others?  Join me, some other bloggers, and the fabulous staff of Sierra Trading Post for #STPLive on Twitter this Thursday, March 27 at 4pm MST. 

“David Copperfield” & #OmniGames Team 8

So what is up with the title of this post?? Well, this week-long final challenge for the #OmniGames has been called Charles Dickens.  If you haven’t already figured it out, I have used titles from some of his books for the titles of my posts. I feel that they have all worked pretty darn well. This post has David Copperfield in the title because, much like the book, it tells a story of how Team 8 has found our individual places in the world.

Yesterday my #OmniGames teammate Weston Shirey told you a little bit about himself and that #TryingStuff is not just a saying but is woven into the fabric of his life (check out his post What does #tryingstuff mean to you?).  He is an adventure loving man who has seen great chunks of the world but is always ready for the next journey to come along. 

Today, I would like to tell you a story about a little girl; a girl whose parents always told her she could be and do anything she wanted; a girl who grew into a woman who, regardless of the scar on her chest, will give anything a try, at least once.

Meet one year old Kristie Salzmann

Meet one year old Kristie Salzmann

I kind of think this may have been my cutest stage in life, but underneath the cute face, is a heart that has a hole and will undergo two surgeries to repair it. This heart will cause many tears and fear for her family as her young, then 25-year-old parents, do everything within their power to help her live a life they couldn’t have imagined at the time.

Fast forward 13 years. Meet 14-year-old Kristie.

14, awkward, and happy!

14, awkward, and happy!

She is a bit more awkward than at one, and by this point she has discovered that some people will try their hardest to tell you can’t do something or that you aren’t good enough. Lucky for her, she has a strong family of three surrounding her and still telling her she can do anything she sets her mind to.

Almost two decades later, this same girl has proven her critics wrong by continually #tryingstuff. She has taken leaps of faith by moving across country without knowing anyone, putting herself out there to make the best friends she can ever think of, and always being up for something new, something unknown to push herself further physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Team 8 busy #tryingstuff

Team 8 busy #tryingstuff (courtesy of Gina Begin)

At points, the #OmniGames were physically, mentally, or emotionally taxing for me, but I knew that I had to keep trying; I had to keep pushing myself because I didn’t want to let down my teammate. Along the way I realized that even more so, I wanted to be proud of myself for trying my hardest; to be able to look in the mirror and know that my parents and sister would be proud of me. I know I have once again succeeded :)

As I said earlier this week (“Hard Times” bring out the best in #tryingstuff), Columbia developed the #OmniTen program to challenge themselves, but what they may not have planned on is the family that has come out of it.  All I can say is, THANK YOU for expanding my family…the rest is just icing on the cake of life!

Portland & Park City – “A Tale of Two Cities”

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  This is one of the most famous lines ever written by Charles Dickens.  It is something that epitomizes life in general.  Our struggles as individuals, families, friends, companies, you name it, we go through a series of ups and downs throughout our lives.

Portland – In this town Columbia Sportswear has seen struggles and successes.  It has seen the company fight to stay afloat, and it has also seen the company become one of the most innovative outdoor corporations in the industry.  In this city, Columbia has created great technologies for the everyday adventurer and amazing world-class athletes alike.  In this city the motto of #TryingStuff hasn’t been reserved for the elite few but continues to be spread as a way of life for outdoor loving folks everywhere.

This is just one example of an amazing new technology that will hit the streets from Portland this September:

Columbia's Omni-heat, Omni-freeze, & Omni-dry technologies have taken me around the world

Columbia’s Omni-heat, Omni-freeze, & Omni-dry technologies have taken me around the world

 Park City – This town saw 30+ outdoor loving, social media crazed individuals converge for a few days of competition and saw them leave as a family.  The mountains of this town saw friendships forged and beginners battle to stay upright.  This town has been home to competitions long before the #OmniGames were even a glimmer of an idea and will remain so long after we have gone back to our normal lives.  For three days, we reigned supreme (at least in our own minds!) as we fought, often neck and neck, for 10 spots for the adventure of a lifetime.

Taking the fierce competition by storm

Taking the fierce competition by storm

 But why stop at two cities?  Why not bring a third one into the mix…Petra!  This amazing, historic city will no doubt be on the agenda for the 5 teams who are victors of the #OmniGames when they travel to Jordan this coming spring.  Petra saw hills and valleys throughout its existence.  Founded as a capital in the caravan trade during the 6th century BC, this city later became a hub for many trade routes linking China, India and Arabia with Egypt, Greece, Syria, and Rome.  It saw riches until it became what we now call the “Lost City” in the 18th century AD.  For more information on a place I hope to visit this spring (but definitely will within my lifetime!), check out the Jordan Tourism Board’s website.

My sister visited Petra in the past few years

My sister visited Petra in the past few years

Team 8 is battling our way through this last and final challenge.  As we have been telling you a variety of stories over the past week, we are still competing for those top 10 spots, so stick close as Wes & I make a final push!  You won’t want to miss out on what is coming tomorrow!!!