Lil’ Training Update + I love Fall!

Thought I would spend today doing a training update… since it’s been a few weeks since I’ve done one these:)

Oct 13 041

Check out these colors in my parent’s yard in NH!

I must say, Fall is the BEST time of year for training! Although, figuring out what to wear can be a challenge (how many layers?) the dry, cool temperatures are perfect for breaking a sweat. For some reason this year’s foliage in New England has been absolutely gorgeous!  The colors are just so vibrant, more so than usual.  I heard this has to do with the fact that we had a dry summer? Not sure if that’s accurate or not, but whatever the reason, I am obsessed with fall this year.  Fall is always my favorite season, but with the beautiful colors this year, my love for fall has jumped up a notch. Not to mention, the apples this year are delicious and I’ve been stocking up weekly at the local farmer’s market!

Here are some photos from over the weekend:

Oct 13 011

Oct 13 057

Oct 13 045

Oct 13 053

I am currently following a training plan for the Manchester City (New Hampshire) Marathon on November 2nd. Let’s just say it looks a little hilly…

MCM 2012 Elevation

Crazy to think it’s less than three weeks now.  Two months post Ironman, my body feels good.  I am still dealing with random aches and pains, but nothing I didn’t have before the Ironman.  My biggest problem child is my TFL (tensor fasciae latae).  This stubborn hip muscle tends to tighten up big time on long runs and after running.  I describe it as a constant dull ache.  I’m currently seeking a new treatment for it, hoping I can finally get over it.  Ugh.

My current training block incorporates upper & lower body strength work, plus core work every week.  Most of my strength work is done on the TRX and using body weight.  I’ve also been doing band work to strength my glutes and help relieve that TFL muscle that’s overworked. Last week marked my biggest training week since about two weeks before IMMT.  It’s been a while since I’ve trained this much! Maybe that’s why I’m really feeling it?!

Most of my runs last week were done on the trails in the surrounding area of where I live.  I am SUPER lucky to live near a few networks of trails.  I pick trails over pavement any day!  Over the weekend,  I did my long ride (~3.5 hours) outdoors in New Hampshire. The temperature was in the 40’s at first, but moved up into the 50’s.  I had LOTS of layers on, since I was so afraid of being cold.  I actually got really hot in the middle of my ride, but better than being freezing cold.  It was really fun to ‘leaf peep’ on my bike and check out the foliage!

Oct 13 044

I trained for 15.5 hours last week, which included:

  •  45 miles of running,
  • 100 miles (approx.) of riding
  •  4 miles of swimming

I can’t tell you the last time I ran a 45 mile week.  Holy crap. Since I am focusing on that marathon, I am running more often, but I’m also biking and swimming.  The truth is, none of my future training plans will ever be JUST running. I’ll continue to bike and swim during this Marathon training and when I start training for the Boston Marathon.

Oct 13 070 Oct 13 074

Training Recap:

Monday 10/6

  • Recovery Swim @ Walden Pond
  • My (old) wetsuit zipper decided to break, so I went without a wetsuit.  The water was 62 degrees and it was COLD.  I thought I would warm up while swimming, but honestly, I never did.  My feet felt numb and my face was freezing cold everytime I put my head in the water.  I saw another person without a wetsuit, but everyone else had one on.  I know 62 doesn’t sound that cold, but to me it was!

Tuesday 10/7

  • Bike: 1:20 on the trainer @ Z1 HR
  • Run: Brick Run 32 mins @ Z1 HR
  • Strength work: TRX Upper Body workout

Wednesday 10/8

  • Swim: 2,700 yds with sprint intervals
  • Run: Recovery run 35 min easy

Thursday 10/9

  • Bike: 1:30 Tempo Ride (with 2 x 25 min low cadence at 70 RPM and Z2 HR)
  • Run: Tempo Run 1:10 @ Z2 HR (fast!)
  • Strength: TRX lower body exercises

Friday 10/10

  • Swim: 2,900 yds at Masters Practice
  • Run: Recovery run, 35 mins easy

Saturday 10/11

  • Bike: 3:20 Z1/Z2 Ride (hilly New Hampshire)
  • Run: Brick run @Z1 HR 35 mins

Sunday 10/12

  • Run: 1:10 @ Z1 HR
  • Bike: 1:00 at recovery pace – add in 10 x 30 second sprint intervals
  • Run: 1:10 @ Z1 HR

Whew! What a week.  This week I have even more training.. then I will be tapering for the Marathon.  Bring it on!

Oh,  and as a side note… can we just talk about the Ironman World Championship for a second?! Watching Mirinda Carfrae win after a 14+ minute deficit after the bike! AH-MAZING. Total girl crush, total inspiration.  Absolute ROCKSTAR!


The YOU Challenge: TWO Songs

Happy happy Friday! So happy it’s here! This week in cube life was painful #thestruggleisreal. I’m on a mission to get out of cube life.. but that’s for another day.

I’m back today with the YOU Challenge (which I have kind of been slacking on, sorry!).

Today’s topic is TWO SONGS.  When thinking about two songs, I thought I would highlight two of my favorite songs. It’s really hard to pick only two songs to talk about… I like so many!

10 day you challenge

If I had to pick a genre of music I like, it would be indie rock.  I really like those indie songs, the kind of songs you would listen to during a long car ride or a walk or when you just need a mental break from life.  To be honest, I kind of like ‘sad’ songs, more mellow songs. Obviously, if I’m doing a hard workout with music, I love upbeat songs like rap, but in general, I prefer something softer. Or as my hubby says ‘depressing.’

A little fact about me is, I NEVER run to music (unless I’m on the ‘dreadmill’).  When I run outside, I run without music and I like to just get into my own head and focus on what I’m doing.  I’ve been running without music for years now and I don’t think I’ll ever go back. Plus, I think it can be really unsafe to run with headphones.  And those people that bike on the road with headphones…don’t even get me started! #deathwish.

Without further ado, here are two of my favorite songs…

On Top of the Wold by Imagine Dragons

Listen here

I considered this song to be the theme of my first Ironman.  When I finished months of training and was ready for Mont Tremblant I felt on top of the world.  This was actually one of the songs that I used to sing in my head on the bike.  It really helped to boost my confidence and know that I could handle anything… including the hills of Tremblant.

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.

Skinny Love by Bon Iver

Listen here

I LOVE Bon Iver.  While ‘Skinny Love’ it’s definitely not the happiest sounding song, it has that melancholy beat that I love so much.  The lyrics are definitely random, but it’s just something about this song that puts me deep in thought.

again.. not the happiest lyrics, but I like sad songs:)

And I told you to be patient,
And I told you to be fine,
And I told you to be balanced,
And I told you to be kind,
And now all your love is wasted,
Then who the hell was I?
‘Cause now I’m breaking at the britches,
And at the end of all your lines.

 What are some of your favorite songs?


Scituate Duathlon Recap + the Podium!

I’m sorry if this sounds conceited… but I”m getting used to the podium and I like it! I’m just really proud of myself for making it onto the podium at every race in 2014 (besides my Ironman). My husband even says that he expects me to be on it with each race that I do.  Something to think about going into Mont Tremblant next year!

Scituate Duathlon logo

This past Sunday was the Scituate Duathlon, a local race just south of Boston.  It was my first ever Duathlon and I didn’t know what to expect. Wait… you want me to run BEFORE I bike? Hmm interesting concept. Here was the course breakdown:

  • 2.0 Mile Run
  • 10.3 Mile Bike
  • 2.3 Mile Run

The goal was to go at 5K race pace for the first run, as fast as I could during the bike and then again, as fast as I could during the second run.  The transitions were supposed to be as quick as possible and the entire race was pretty much intended to be done at MAX effort.

Race day was a gorgeous fall day with temps in the 50’s. We drove to Scituate, about an hour’s drive from where we live, and parked about 1.5 miles from the race start.  I had to bike to the start (a nice little warm up) while Todd took the spectator shuttle.  No parking was allowed at the race site.

Phone 10.9.14 059

Once I got to the race site, I picked up my bib and set up my transition station.  Again, SUPER weird not having a wetsuit, goggles, a swim warm up, etc.  I felt lost without having to get ready for the swim. While getting ready, I realized that my Garmin 310 XT was NOT charged like I thought it was… in fact, it was completely dead!  Well, there was nothing I could do.  At first I was pissed, but then realized this could be a good thing!  I have always wanted to race without a watch, and what better way to do it than with a short race.  I would just go ‘all out’ and see that that got me for a time. Plus, at least I had my computer on the bike. I actually put it in my pocket (my bike computer) but never looked at it during the run.

Todd's IPhone UTAH 324

Before I knew it, it was time to toe the line at the race start.  All of the men went first, followed by all of the women (67 total).  There were no age group starts, just mass gender starts.  I moved my way to the front of the women, knowing that I wanted to go out FAST.  Unlike the swim start, I am VERY confident with a run start (if only I could be this confident when swimming!).

I raced in my HOKA Cliftons for the first time and LOVED them! I honestly think they contributed to my speed:)

Todd's IPhone UTAH 326

Run # 1 (2 Miles)

As soon as I heard ‘go!’ I was in the front of the pack. I was seriously flying… not knowing my pace, but moving my legs as fast as I could. I passed a bunch of men, and that was fun.  For the first time in a while, I went on how I felt for the first time ever and didn’t pay attention to my time or heart rate.  As I was running those first couple miles, there were no other women near me.  Even as I turned around, I couldn’t even see one… I was definitely gaining some distance. I was the first female and thought maybe others would catch me… but they never did. 

I finished the 1st run as first female, that was awesome. I knew a few fast girls weren’t far behind. Especially this girl that was warming up on her fast bike with race wheels and a disc… I had neither. The thing with a short race like this, if you get passed on the bike, it will be hard to catch someone with just 2 miles in the second run. 

Run # 1 pace: 5:48 min/mile, 11:36

Todd's IPhone UTAH 329

The Bike: 10.3 miles

I had a pretty fast transition into the bike, except like a dummy I dropped my bike computer and had to pick it up (I took it off my bike at the start thinking I might want it on the run, but never used it). I grabbed my helmet, threw on my shoes and was on my way. At about mile 5 , ‘fast bike girl’ passed me, crap! She was flying. The course was rolling hills, a few of which I came out of the saddle. The bike went near the ocean, so beautiful! I was going all out effort , my quads were on fire. I’m not used to going all out in the bike so it was a bit of a wake up call. I was going 23-25 mph on the flats but the hills slowed down my avg speed. I finished the bike at 20.1 mph pace. I wanted closer to 21 but I’ll take it. It’s hard riding fast when you just ran two miles at 5:48 pace. Talk about a wake up call!

Bike Results: 20.1 mph pace, 31:01

Run # 2 (2.3 Miles)

Now back into transition for run #2. I had to untie my sneakers and re-tie them, which definitely slowed me down.. Ugh.. Should have put my yankz laces in. This definitely cost me some time.  I also packed another pair of sneakers, but really wanted to wear my HOKA’s for run # 2. 

The second run went by really fast and before I knew it I was at 2 miles, just .3 to go. My legs surprisingly felt good, but I could tell I wasn’t keeping that 5:48 pace from before. I was hoping I could catch that fast bike chic but with the short distance it was tough, she was about 1 minute ahead of me. I’m convinced if the second run was longer I would have burned her.

Todd's IPhone UTAH 332 Todd's IPhone UTAH 334
Run # 2 pace – 6:48 min/mile, 15:34

Total time: 100:49, 2nd Place Female Overall

Overall, loved doing a shorter race. I love going at a maxed out effort I loved not wearing a watch, which wasn’t even my choice. My legs burned, my lungs were on fire, I suffered and it was all glorious. This was definitely an anaerobic race, It hurt so good!

After the race, I did a cool down run for 30 minutes (part of my training plan) and then enjoyed the PODIUM!

Phone 10.9.14 061

Me & the hubs post race.  He was such a trooper that morning. It was his birthday and he got up at 5:30 AM on a Sunday to come with me to my race:)

Phone 10.9.14 065


#1 Lesson learned from my first Duathlon, have a faster transition next time!

Have you ever done a Duathlon before? 


Utah Recap Part II {Fun in Park City}!

I’m back today recapping the second part of our Utah trip, Park City!

After all of the adventuring in southern Utah it was time to head up to Park City!  We rented a condo and were excited to explore the area and spend time with friends. Park City is generally known for it’s skiing and snowboarding, but I thought Fall was the perfect time to visit!  The aspen tree foliage was just stunning.

UTAH 2014 570

UTAH 2014 567
Thursday was our first full day in Park City.  That morning, some of my friends had arrived for my friend Annika’s wedding, and I was excited to have some ‘girl time.’

Thursday morning included Pilates at 9:00 AM (an hour long class taught be a bridesmaid that’s a certified Pilates instructor) #amazing.  She taught the class at the (massive, beautiful) house the bride’s family was renting. I never do pilates, so I was feeling the burn!

Early afternoon Thursday I was itching to go for a run (what else is new) and I had Todd drop me off at the Mid Mountain Trail at Deer Valley Resort.  It was about a 15 minute drive to the start of the trail and while a little tricky to find at first, but I finally found it. It was a well marked trail, which started right near the resort. Aspen tree foliage was abundant throughout my run and the trails were well maintained. It is a popular mountain biking trail, so I had to move out of the way at times for bikers. Running the mid mountain trail wasn’t easy! Given the elevation being approximately 7,000 feet (I live at sea level), it generated a little more ‘huffing and puffing’ than usual.  I ran for 1 hour 10 minutes and it was glorious… mmm the FRESH air was fantastic. I seriously felt like I could eat the air, ha ha. There is actually a Mid Mountain Trail Marathon every year, sign me up!

UTAH 2014 572

UTAH 2014 586

UTAH 2014 571

Thursday late afternoon, we all met for a couple’s hike, led by the bride to be.  Me and Todd plus some of my girlfriends and their spouses hiked the Jenni’s Trail from the main Park City resort.  It was about 3 miles round trip and was so great to catch up with friends along the way.

photos below courtesy of my friend Megan:)

Thursday evening came quick and it was time to get ready for Annika’s Bachelorette Party!  A few of her Salt Lake City friends rented a house and we had the party there before going out later in the evening.  It was so much fun to have some girl time! We also had delicious Mexican food for dinner, sooo good!

On Friday we had the day to ourselves, and we decided to check out the Wasatch National Forest for a hike!  The Red Pine Lake trail was recommended to us, and we were told it was one of the BEST hikes in the area. The hike included two lakes, Lower Red Pine Lake and Upper Red Pine Lake.  It was about 3 miles to Lower Red Pine and an additional ~1 mile to Upper Red Pine.  Round trip the hike was around 8 miles. I know I say this all the time, but this was honestly one of the MOST beautiful hikes I’ve ever been on.  I felt like I was in a commercial.

UTAH 2014 602

Lower Red Pine Lake

UTAH 2014 618 UTAH 2014 624 UTAH 2014 626 UTAH 2014 628

The view from near Upper Red Pine, just WOW!

UTAH 2014 636

Lower Red Pine Lake below (where we just hiked from).  The last mile up to this point was very challenging for us, due to the elevation being close to 10,000 feet.  We were feeling it!

UTAH 2014 638 UTAH 2014 643 UTAH 2014 654

Enjoying lunch back at Lower Red Pine

UTAH 2014 656 UTAH 2014 663

Bonus… we saw a moose on the way down!

UTAH 2014 670

Friday night we met up with some of my college friends for dinner and drinks at High West Distillery.  I’m not a Whisky drinker, but Todd enjoyed trying a flight:) Such a fun place for dinner if you are ever in Park City!

Saturday, Annika’s wedding day, started as a rainy day… like really rainy. It rained ALL day long. I went to the local gym to spin on the bike for 1.5 hours, then went home to shower, got my hair done and it was off to the wedding!

UTAH 2014 681

The wedding. It was a gorgeous wedding and despite the rain (and chilly temperatures), everyone made the best of it! Her wedding venue was the Red Cliff Ranch and it was just beautiful.

UTAH 2014 695

UTAH 2014 687

UTAH 2014 683

I felt so sorry for Annika and her husband, Zac. You could see the vision they had (without rain) and to have it be soaking rain, it was so sad!  However, they are the most positive people on the planet and they really didn’t let it ruin their day! We all danced until the late hours, enjoyed spiked apple cider, a smore bar, yummy food and laughs with friends!

UTAH 2014 697 UTAH 2014 711

We ate dinner in a barn! So cool!

UTAH 2014 720

Danced the night away in cowboy boots!

UTAH 2014 724

Girls from college:)

UTAH 2014 725

Me & my friend Laura

UTAH 2014 727

Me & my friend Deena

UTAH 2014 728

We all stayed and danced until the wedding was over… so much fun! Lucky for us, we got to sleep in on Sunday because we had a red eye flight back to Boston.  Todd and I were definitely tired, so it was nice to be able to have the day and relax. We went to brunch at Annika’s parents house.. which included Green Smoothies! Annika’s Mom manages a chain of smoothie stores, so it was incredible.

UTAH 2014 730

Well that’s a wrap… I must say, we absolutely maximized our time in Utah! I am still thinking about how much FUN it was! I can’t wait to go back one day.




Adventures in Utah Part I {Salt Lake, Zion and Bryce}

UTAH Sept 2014 051

There is just no other way to say it… Utah is BEAUTIFUL. This state honestly has everything… you can go from the airport to the mountains within a few minutes. Going from the mountains to the desert takes less than 5 hours of driving. Honestly, if my entire family wasn’t on the East coast, I would be tempted to move there.  I love it THAT much.

Continuing from my previous post, it’s really hard to come back to ‘normal life’ after (an amazing) vacation. I’ve been wanting to share my Utah trip on the blog for days, but work has been crazy! This post has been a work in progress all week, and finally here is the first part of our trip. We honestly did so much and I have tons of awesome photos. In a nutshell, it’s hard to find the words to describe how amazing our trip  was. I think our pictures say it all.  It also helped that we had FANTASTIC weather.  If rained on the day we arrived, and it rained on the day we left… but in between, it was perfect. Todd and I were able to check everything off our wish list plus more!

I thought it would be appropriate to split it up into two blog posts: Zion + Bryce Canyons and Park City. You are being forewarned… there are LOTS of photos!

Saturday 9/20 – Travel Day

Looong day of travel…. We flew Boston to JFK then to Salt Lake City. The first leg of the trip Boston to JFK (New York) did not go as planned… we were delayed 3 hours due to ‘winds’ in NY and some kind of ground delay program they are doing in New York.  Who the hell knows, but it was annoying.  We were supposed to have a lay over in JFK, but since we were delayed in Boston, we had NO layover.

UTAH 2014 001

There were many times we thought the flight would be cancelled all together.  Thank God it wasn’t! The pilots actually held the plane for us and 11 other people coming from Boston, phew!  We literally sprinted through the airport to catch our flight.  Then it was 4.5 hours to Salt Lake City.  We finally got to Salt Lake around 11 PM, which was 1 AM Boston time.  Completely exhausted, we settled into our hotel. Dinner that night was microwave Digiorno Pizza in the hotel lobby…classy and delicious:)

Sunday 9/21: Woke up early and drove to my friend Annika’s house in Salt Lake.  She is my friend who was getting married on 9/27 (the reason we went to Utah in the first place!).  The plan initially was to pick up our camping stuff from her and then drive to Zion, but the weather was crummy, and we wanted to spend time with her and her fiancé, since I had never met him before! The day started with a trail run in Mill Creek with Annika and her sister.  This trail was gorgeous!! The girls joined me for 3 miles and then turned around… I kept going for a few more and then turned back.  Running a total of 9.5 miles literally on the side of a mountain. It was quite honestly the most beautiful run of my life.  Even though the weather was foggy and rainy, it was STILL gorgeous.

UTAH 2014 011

UTAH 2014 014

UTAH 2014 044

Me & the bride-to-be

UTAH 2014 038

After our run, we headed back to her house where we ordered yummy Thai food and lounged around on the couch.  It was so much fun to meet her husband-to-be for the first time and their dog, Ozzy… an adorable mini aussie shepherd (I wanted to steal him!).

UTAH 2014 048

At around 2:00 PM we grabbed the camping equipment Annika and Zac lent us, stopped at the grocery store, and we were on our way to Zion!

The drive alone to Zion was breathtaking.  For most of the drive, all you see if mountains.. which eventually turns into canyons.  Along the way we stopped at a rest area that had a petting zoo!  Only in Utah:)

UTAH 2014 052

UTAH 2014 065

UTAH 2014 067

UTAH 2014 072

UTAH 2014 076

UTAH 2014 077

After 4.5 hours of driving, finally we made it to Zion National Park, at around 9:30 PM.  We have set up our tent in the pitch black before, so we weren’t too worried..that’s what headlamps are for!  I reserved a camp site at the Watchman Campground (highly recommend this campground), and we were able to park near it, very convenient!  While Todd set up the tent, I cooked us delicious, buttery grilled cheese sandwiches on the stove, yumm! I swear everything tastes better when you’re camping. After dinner it was off to bed, and we were excited to wake up and see the sites around us.  It’s always exciting to arrive somewhere you’ve never been at night, because you get a nice surprise in the morning! We borrowed Annika’s 2 person tent, so it was nice and cozy in there.  Temps were in the 60’s at night, which was perfect for sleeping.

9/22: Hiking agenda: Angels Landing Hike + Watchman Trail Hike

This was the view from our campsite when we woke up:

UTAH 2014 088

UTAH 2014 091

UTAH 2014 098

UTAH 2014 108

Angels Landing Hike:

Angels Landing is the steepest and probably the most strenuous hike in Zion. It was on our to-do list and we were excited for the challenge.  We started the hike at around 10:00 AM (I wanted to start earlier to beat the crowds, but we were tired).  In order to do this hike, you need to take the Zion Shuttle bus to the trailhead.  Most of the Zion hikes you actually need to take the shuttle bus to get there and you can’t drive yourself.  The $25 weekly park fee covers the cost of the shuttle.  We packed PB&J sandwiches for lunch and we were on our way.  The hike started on the East Rim trail, and was a steady climb from the start.  The start of the trail was along a river and the rest of the time there were lots of switch backs, twists and turns.

UTAH 2014 115

Hiking the East Rim Trail towards Angels Landing

UTAH 2014 126

UTAH 2014 130

UTAH 2014 134

UTAH 2014 142The trail was crowded and we passed a lot of people on the way, politely of course.  It can get frustrating when big tour groups are taking up the entire trail!  The entire hike is about 2.7 miles one way.  The last 1.5 miles is literally straight vertical.  There are literally chains to hold onto in the rock where you can climb up.. without holding on, there is a big chance you can fall… and die.  The most fatalities at Zion have occurred on this hike (at least that’s what I heard).

UTAH 2014 146

Looking at the top of Angels Landing

UTAH 2014 143

UTAH 2014 145

UTAH 2014 147

UTAH 2014 148

UTAH 2014 150

UTAH 2014 152

UTAH 2014 153

Finally made it to the top!

UTAH 2014 157


UTAH 2014 179

And why not do a plank:)

UTAH 2014 184

It was HOT at the summit! We had lunch at the top (which was crowded) and enjoyed the view:

Not a bad place to eat lunch…

UTAH 2014 188

UTAH 2014 191

Best lunch spot ever!

UTAH 2014 192

After eating out sandwiches and taking lots of photos, we headed back down… going down was hard because it was getting more crowded and there was a lot of ‘traffic jams’ on the trail.. since the steep section could only fit 1 person across, you had to stop and wait for people to go up or down and vis versa.  Overall, I highly recommend this hike, I just recommend that you go REALLY early… like 7:00 AM, to avoid piggy backing on the trails and the crowds. Also if you are afraid of heights, this hike is NOT for you.

Looking down at the trail we climbed up!

UTAH 2014 199

Overall, the Angels Landing hike took us about 2.5 hours to complete the entire hike.

Watchman Trail Hike:

As if Angels Landing wasn’t enough, that afternoon we hiked the Watchman Trail.  This was 4.3 miles round trip and was a gorgeous hike!  You could start the hike right from the visitor center, which meant no shuttle and very convenient.  We started at around 1:00 PM, which meant it was VERY hot! Lots of sunscreen!

The view from the road walking towards the Watchman Trailhead

UTAH Sept 2014 001

UTAH Sept 2014 002

UTAH Sept 2014 004

By the end of the Watchman hike, we were both really tired and STARVING.  I decided to make pasta with a meat sauce for dinner on the camp stove… yum!  And then it was early to bed for more hiking tomorrow.

Starting this night, we slept without the rain fly on our tent (since it was blowing around in the wind the night before).  This allowed for cooler temps while sleeping AND seeing the stars from ‘bed’… it was awesome and I’ll never forget the stars there.. you could see the Milky Way Galaxy from our tent!

9/23 The Narrows AND Watchman Trail round two

Today was the adventure we were most excited about THE NARROWS. The day prior, we each renting a walking stick for $25/day, which was highly recommended for doing the Narrows.  We also heard from some insiders that we didn’t need to rent waterproof shoes (which a lot of tourists do), and we could just wear our own hiking shoes.  At first we thought this might be a little crazy, but then were really happy we didn’t rent them.  Our shoes just dried afterwards in the hot desert sun.

We woke up really early that morning, wanting to beat the crowds.  We caught the shuttle at 7:30 AM, and got to trail-head at the narrows for around 8 AM.  It was chilly and I wore a lot of layers on top to keep my core warm (very important to prevent hypothermia!)

UTAH 2014 204

To get to the start of the Virgin River i.e. the start of the Narrows, you walk for about one mile on a paved trail.  When you get to the end of the trail, you can either go in the river or turn around:)

UTAH 2014 206

UTAH 2014 208

When hiking the Narrows, you have a few different options:  to hike from the TOP DOWN or the BOTTOM UP.  The Top-Down option, is about 16 miles in length and often has people camping along the Narrows (which requires a backpacking permit). I also believe that doing this longer hike in general requires a backpacking permit. Some people do the 16 miles in one day, which is very strenuous.  Since we only had a few days in Zion, we decided on the more popular, shorter option, Bottom-Up.  We hiked into the Narrows for approximately 3.5 miles, and turned around when it got so deep that we would be up to our shoulders.  On the way out in the river, there were not many people at all and it was fantastic (early bird gets the worm!).  I was so excited because it appeared that we beat the crowds! The people we did meet along the way were from all over the World and did not mind taking some photos of us.

UTAH 2014 304

UTAH 2014 331

I can’t even put into words how beautiful and spectacular the Narrows are.  I’m sure my photos say it all… It honestly felt like we are on Mars. The red rocks, the blue/green water, the sunlight peaking through, it was glorious! I could not get over the shear BEAUTY of it all.

UTAH 2014 292

Seriously, is this place for REAL?!

UTAH 2014 289

UTAH 2014 281

UTAH 2014 276

UTAH 2014 228

UTAH 2014 235

UTAH 2014 256

UTAH 2014 260

UTAH 2014 223

UTAH 2014 222

September is a great time to hike the Narrows because the water levels are typically pretty low (unless there is a storm).  It is actually one of the ONLY months where it is safe to hike the Narrows. We lucked out and the water ranged from ankle deep to waist deep.  I would say the majority of the time we were walking in knee deep water.  The walking stick was a great guide and allowed us to judge the depth of the water.  It got tricky when crossing the river from side to side, because there was definitely a current.  I was pleasantly surprised that the water wasn’t too cold, but actually refreshing.  Think of it as a constant ice bath for your legs, sign me up!

After the Narrows it was back to the campsite for lunch and a little bit of rest.  Let me just say it’s REALLY hard to find shade in Zion.

Sadly, our SD memory card crapped out on us from the day prior and we lost all of our photos from our DSLR Camera. This meant all of the photos from the Narrows and the Watchman trail taken were gone (if anyone knows how to recover a memory card.. .please please let me know).  Luckily, I took a TON of photos with my iPhone in the Narrows.  We bought a new memory card and decided to hike the Watchman Trail again.  The views were spectacular the day before and we wanted more photos! We even saw two guys that we made friends with at the campsite at the summit and they took some photos of us:)

Watchman Trail Photos:

UTAH Sept 2014 027

UTAH Sept 2014 040

UTAH Sept 2014 037

UTAH Sept 2014 046

UTAH Sept 2014 051

UTAH Sept 2014 011

All in all it was about 11 Miles of hiking on this day.

That evening we had a nice little campfire and had more grilled cheese… I love camp food!

UTAH Sept 2014 053 UTAH Sept 2014 054

9/24 Bryce Canyon: Fairyland Loop

On Wednesday it was time to leave Zion and head to Bryce Canyon for the day.  It was about a 1 hour 45 minute drive to Bryce from Zion.. not bad at all!  We decided to do the Fairyland Loop Hike, which was a hike just outside the park.  Since we had to drive up to Park City (4.5 hours) after the hike, this was our best option… plus we had a late start at 12:00 PM.

UTAH Sept 2014 201

UTAH Sept 2014 202

UTAH Sept 2014 203

The Fairyland Loop hike is approximately 9 miles and it absolutely gorgeous.  The hike is pretty strenuous due to the sun exposure and the elevation (topping out around 9,000 ft!). The total evelcation gain throughout the hike was 2,300 feet. Lots of ups and downs! The trail wasn’t crowded at all and Todd and I just had a blast hiking it.  It took us about 3 hours to do the entire loop.  I did notice the elevation on some of the climbs… was definitely more short of breath than usual:)

Bryce Canyon is so unique because of these rock formations called Hoodoos:

Hoodoos are tall skinny spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of arid basins and “broken” lands. Hoodoos are most commonly found in the High Plateaus region of the Colorado Plateau and in the Badlands regions of the Northern Great Plains. While hoodoos are scattered throughout these areas, nowhere in the world are they as abundant as in the northern section of Bryce Canyon National Park. 

While the Fairyland Loop has less Hoodoos than the rest of the park, we did get the chance to see a few of them!

UTAH Sept 2014 103

Climbing a Hoodoo

UTAH 2014 448

The entire hike was very magical… it honestly didn’t feel like I was in a ‘real’ place.  From the bright blue sky to the contrast with the orange rocks… it was just amazing.

UTAH Sept 2014 211 UTAH Sept 2014 139 UTAH Sept 2014 098 UTAH Sept 2014 090 UTAH Sept 2014 113 UTAH Sept 2014 182 UTAH Sept 2014 185

I highly recommend the Fairyland Loop hike to anyone who is visiting Bryce and is short on time. I was sad we didn’t get to see the rest of the park, but we will definitely be back!  This hike was well worth the effort required.

After hiking, we were on our way back to Park City.  At this point it was 4:30 PM and we had a long ride ahead of us. I will be writing more about Park City in my next recap post!  Let’s just say the drive to Park City was beyond beautiful…

UTAH 2014 548

If you are looking to visit Utah, I HIGHLY recommended both of these National Parks (and the hikes that we did!). I will always keep the days we spend exploring Zion and Bryce close to my heart.

Stay tuned for the recap of the second part of my trip! Have a lovely weekend!!