Pole Creek Mountain

One of our biggest, or should I say the biggest adventure of our time (always too short) in Colorado this year was hiking to the summit of Pole Creek Mountain, a beautiful unique mountain in the San Juan Mountain Range.  When we speak of the incredible view we have from the cabin, this is the very mountain we are referring to, but really…it is just the beginning of the beauty that surrounds us!  I have been to this area since before I was born (if we want to count that).  After all my time in Colorado, even after spending the last 2 summers in the presence of this mountain, this was my first time to the very top!  I have hiked and rode horses on Pole Creek Mountain many times but have never been to the summit… the tippy top!  Now that I have done it, I would really like to do this hike again in the future and even better would be with my husband along! He would love it I am positive… and I intend to sign in on that ledger once again!

On this particular day, the hiking crew consisted of my dad, brother, sister and I, and what a wonderful day we had together.  It was full of adventure, beauty, thrill, dare, challenge and just pain fun!  We crossed quite a bit of snow once we got above tree line  (often as deep as our hips)  and a snow bridge over fast-moving water which was quite thrilling, especially for my brother that broke it on the way back! Yikes! He recovered well and stayed safe and dry. The whole hike had beautiful views but the top was absolutely breathtaking and I did not want to come down for a long time.  The weather was super too which only helps! I have not organized all my pictures yet  but there are some below for you to check out!  If I get around to it I have a few others that show the summit well.

On a deeper note… as there is always some kind of lesson in things (at least for me) as I/we were while hiking along, one step at a time, I had a lot of time to think!  There was plenty of time to talk myself out of the hike if I had wanted to, but I had already made up my mind that I was “going to make it” before we even started out that day.  There were however a  few factors working (or trying to work) against me on this particular day…

  1. The hike itself, the terrain, snow and all that if we want to count that but it was well within my ability I believe – I mean, I made it after all!
  2. The altitude which can be a challenge before and even after proper “acclimation”. You see, I had arrived to the cabin just 3 days before (from sea-level) but I had decided before I even left Florida that the altitude was not going to defeat me no matter what adventures we got into.
  3. The non-joys of the dreaded “monthly cycle”… (yeah I know,  too much information for you and I apologize) of which for me is hardly even tolerable… I mean it is rare that I would normally be able to get out and walk a few steps, let alone hike all day… but again, I had already made up my mind that this would not ruin my week or any activity I wanted to accomplish.
  4. My hiking gear consisted of my hiking shoes,  camelback (which I have had since I was in highschool), a windbreaker/rain shield, sunglasses we found on the side of the river the day before, my mom’s pink hat she insisted I take,  and my headlamp incase it got dark… no hiking boots, gaiters, fancy gear or equipment… but I guess it is my style though and I like it, and it has worked so far!
  5. Half of me was missing – My husband did not get to come along which was sad. I operate the best with him around!

I had decided that it would not be a physical limitation (which really means mental I think) that would prevent me from reaching the top… it would be due to weather or impossible route or the like. All that may be odd, to you, but it works for me and it helped me on that day.  What I am getting at is that if I do not fill my head with undesirable thoughts or outcomes, I will have so much more room for excitement and be able to more clearly see the beauty and greatness in a day or activity.  Because I was not focused on how much hiking we had left, how tired my legs felt, my breathing or all the excuses I could have had to disqualify me for the hike I was free to just enjoy!  There were times I had thoughts enter my head about being tired for example but the faster I excused them, the sooner the enjoyment would come back!  I was able to dream of what adventure could be next rather than when the current one would end.  I also knew I could do it which also helps because I never questioned if I would be able “to make it” or not.  I make the hike sound so hard but it really was not bad… I can just see how if I would have been exhausted in my mind it would have worn me out physically too… I still had some energy to spare when we got home after our 3,500 elevation gain!

Although the hike was challenging for me, I know that I want to continue doing this… not just for the current trip but in the years and years to come.  I don’t see a line in my life that I will cross that would disqualify me from adventure.   My dad is someone who I look up to because I admire that he is still out doing things like this – planning and executing adventures… engaging in physical activity, adventure  beyond the normal Joe.  He has enough aches, pains, tears and patches to disqualify himself years ago from many things he still does… but he still presses on because he knows that the benefit he gets from his activity outweighs the pain that he feels. He is not one to accept that he is just “too old” to do this or that and quit.  I am so thankful that he is able to get out and enjoy life.  There are so many people his age (even younger) that cannot fully enjoy life because they have deemed themselves “too old for that”…  I know people my age that make comments like that too and it makes me sad!   I think about how many years I have left to live and enjoy and I want to enjoy them fully!  I do not plan on excusing myself anytime soon.

Take this as an encouragement for you to strive in whatever stage of life you are in and don’t accept defeat… always at least try! Defeat happens, but moreso when you do not try or give up before something is over. I’m not saying you have to summit mountains for adventure or to avoid defeat. Come up with your own adventures and always try – give it your best.  You never really know the outcome of something unless you don’t try!  If you don’t at least try, the outcome is already lined out for you.

Have a great day and keep it up!

Interesting read on Sunscreen….

Summer is upon us (at least here in sunny Florida) and I am pretty sure we all love that beautiful sunshine!  Here is an interesting article we read today about sunscreen, written by Dr. Phil Maffetone. If you have not heard of him, check out his site if you care to – he has some interesting information about health and related stuff!  I have pasted his exact article below if you want to read it here, or you can click on the title to be directed to the actual website.  Sunscreen is a big topic lately – with continued growth. I have noticed that as the years go on, the SPF or UVA or whatever else gets higher, I saw “95”  in the store the other day or maybe higher, I feel like 45 used to be the high then it moved to 60, then 80…  Not only is the SPF/UVA protection increasing but so is the price – good golly! I don’t feel like I have strong opinions about sunscreen but honestly, I don’t really like it and I know I don’t really want to buy and it slather it all over myself.  I can never put it on even because I don’t want to take the time to do it when the beautiful beach is calling or that hike ahead, it is a pain to even put on… how am I supposed to cover all my body in that goo and no I don’t want to breathe it either out of a spray can….it is itchy, smelly, it washes off when you swim, gets in my eyes and they get red, watery, itchy and irritated… and that is just the start!  If I use it I like to use something like the “15” and then on top of that the non oily, hypoallergenic stuff – goodness, high maintenance sunscreen girl!  But back on track, he does make some interesting points that I feel are worth considering and looking into further. As a dietitian I know the importance of Vitamin D and getting it in the form of a pill is not ideal.  Many times people don’t eat a proper diet and then it is compounded with staying indoors most of the day and when sun exposure is upon them they slather or lather up with sunscreen…  I have seen and heard about this with moms who don’t let their kids outside or even let them look out the window without sunscreen… I know that is a very extreme statement, but honestly,  I heard of someone putting sunscreen on their kid when they played by the window inside at home….

Here is the article finally!

Sunscreen: Natural vs. Artificial

By Dr. Phil Maffetone

The use of sunscreen dates back at least to the ancient Greeks who used olive oil on their skin
(which is still used today by many people). Christopher Columbus observed
natives in the New World painting their skin to protect it from the sun. In the
1930s, after getting sunburned, chemist Franz Greiter was inspired to develop
one of the first commercial sunscreens. By 1962, Greiter created the “sun
protection factor”—SPF—a rating of a sunscreen’s ability to block the sun, which
would become a worldwide standard in skin care and sunscreen
products.

Studies of the relationship between cancer and the sun, and the
importance of vitamin D, first occurred in 1941, in relation to death rates from
breast and colon cancer. But by the post-World War II era, the sunscreen
industry was about to explode, and talk about the good aspects of the sun and
the importance of vitamin D to prevent cancer, would be almost lost.

Many people have used sunscreen with the notion that it will prevent cancer. And
while many studies have attempted to show a relationship between reduced cancer
rates and the use of sunscreen, it’s not clear that’s always the case. On the
contrary, the use of sunscreen may increase your risk of cancer in three ways.
First, using sunscreen gives many people the false sense that it’s perfectly
okay to stay in the sun for longer periods of time. Sunscreen won’t block all
the sun’s rays, it’s often used incorrectly, and, despite what the label says,
washes off easily with water and sweat. As a result, increased exposure
increases your risk of sun damage raising cancer risks.

According to a 2011 published study of 292 national sunscreen brands and 1,700 products by the
nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG), based in Washington, D.C., it found
that over fifty percent of the sunscreens on the market do not provide adequate
UVA protection. Many of them actually contained potentially harmful ingredients.

Second, there may be a relationship between the chemicals used in
sunscreen and cancer development. Early formulations of sunscreens contained
PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) to absorb sunlight, but these sunscreens quietly
disappeared from the market when it was learned that this substance causes DNA
damage (which can trigger cancer). Subsequent products were found to promote
free radicals, which also can contribute to cancer. The latest sunscreens
contain elements such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to scatter or reflect
sunlight, but unfortunately these chemicals can also form free radicals on the
skin; titanium dioxide has been linked to DNA damage as well.

The most popular chemical used in the majority of sunscreens since the early 1980s is
oxybenzone (also called benzophenone-3). Absorption of this chemical occurs
quickly through the skin, and its accumulation in the liver, heart, muscle,
adrenal and intestine has caused significant health concerns that range from
allergy to hormone disturbances, and breast cancer risk.

The EWG also urged sun-loving consumers to avoid retinyl palmitate, a form of synthetic
vitamin A that is used in 30 percent of the sunscreens that were analyzed. In
studies, this ingredient has shown higher rates of skin tumors.

Third, the proper use of sunscreen can reduce vitamin D production in the skin, and as
discussed in my other articles, reduced levels of vitamin D can increase the
risk of most cancers.

In June 2011, the FDA released their long awaited
new rules about sunscreen products—it’s taken 33 years. Reynold Tan, a scientist
in FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Regulation Development, says the FDA has
been developing, testing and labeling requirements for sunscreen products for
decades. It will still be one to two years before new labeling rules are
implemented, so manufacturers can use their old inventories and create new
labels.

Under the new rules, sunscreens labeled “broad spectrum” must
protect equally against UVA and UVB rays, and display the SPF on the front
label. Those with a SPF of 15 or higher can state that they help prevent sunburn
and reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. The FDA is still
considering whether to allow SPF numbers above 50 since they don’t offer
additional protection. Higher SPF ingredients are the most irritating to the
skin, and are more easily absorbed into the body.

Products with SPF values under 15 will now require a warning that reads, “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging
Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early
skin aging. This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin
cancer or early skin aging.”

Manufacturers will no longer be able to claim that sunscreens are “waterproof” or “sweatproof, and will require to state
on the label how much time a user can expect to get the declared SPF level of
protection while swimming or sweating, based on standard testing. Two times will
be permitted based on the manufacturer’s tests: 40 minutes or 80 minutes.

In addition, manufacturers won’t be allowed to identify their products
as “sunblocks.” Also, sunscreens won’t be able to claim protection immediately
on application—so-called “instant protection”—or claim protection for more than
two hours without reapplication.

Some of these changes are healthy, and prevent companies from making false or exaggerated claims like they’ve been
doing for many years. But it won’t prevent people from midday summer sunbathing,
grabbing as much “holiday” sun, or feeling a false sense of protection just
because they slopped on some sunscreen.

The real sun protection for the skin comes from our diet—groups of natural compounds such as antioxidants,
carotenoids, flavonoids, and other phytonutrients, and essential fatty acids, to
name some. It’s how human skin has been protected for millions of years.

My recommendation about sunscreen, like all other products used on your
body, is this: Don’t put anything on your skin you’re not willing to eat (since
it usually absorbs quickly into the body).

For most people with light and medium skin, reducing the risks of sunburn will significantly lower the risk of
sun-related cancers. This can easily be accomplished by slowly developing and
maintaining a good tan, avoiding midday sun, especially in the summer months,
and wearing protective clothing as needed, including a hat. In addition,
maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D is key.

Fresh Wild Mountain-Grown Raspberries!!

My husband and I picked some fresh raspberries a few days ago that were growing in the rocks by the Rio Grande Reservoir! What a treat!  We stumbled upon them at the very beginning of our hike to “ditch camp” where our bosses work to maintain a ditch that flows down through the Weminuche Wilderness… anyways we hiked up there on their few days off and stayed at camp for a night! How beautiful it is up there, and also neat to see what they do when they are hard at work up in higher country.  Here is a picture from our hike of the “window” and Rio Grande Pyramid…

The window and Rio Grande Pyramid

ok… now back to the raspberries!  I was so excited to get back to the beginning of the trail so we could pick raspberries.  We picked about 4 cups of fresh berries! It was raining so I did not take any pictures of the berries on the bushes, but did take some pictures of what I made with the berries (in addition to eating them fresh as well) and hopefully I can post recipes sometime soon! The problem is that I don’t really measure everything and it is hard for me to leave a recipe alone… always trying something new! Ok, here we go…

Raspberry Coffee Cake

Raspberry Dutch Baby

wonderful week 7! (more pics)

It is amazing here.

I love it.

I don’t want to leave!

 Thats it.

Part 3: … Community

I both like communtiy and think that it is important.  Even in the middle of nowhere you can find it. I mean find it because out here in the high country your closest neighbor is not going to be in the house that you can touch from your window or the people that live on your block.  Up here, your neighbor may be in the cabin down the way, in the tent nearby, or the hiker you merge with on the trail. You can come here and completely do your own thing and maybe even manage to see nobody, or seek the community of those that call this place home, have been coming up here for years or are even here for the first time.  I say “in the middle of nowhere” but  I guess we’re not really in the middle of nowhere – we are somewhere and somewhere very special, beautiful, breathtaking… the list goes on. It seems like those that see it as the middle of nowhere may not see its value and enjoy what it has to offer. I think the reason it comes out of my mouth is because it is a quick sum up for what some people call an  “elevator conversation” (starts and ends fast). Anyways, I don’t see community as just those that you live around, but those you communicate with, value and share something in common with.  Up here we share a love for this place and everything that goes with it.

The first time I came up here I was in my mom’s tummy, now 24 years ago.  I think there has been once or twice that we went somewhere else for vacation… but every other year we have been on a vacation it has been here.  That is not a bad thing as I could be happy coming here forever.

The reason I started this post was to talk about community and I of course got carried away with too long of an intro that may not even fit. Oh well. No rules about that right?

Something I enjoy about this place and look forward to  is the community here. There are still people here that knew my great-grandparents and that is always very exciting to me because I never knew my great-grandpa, so hearing stories about him is always a treat.  Plus, if they would not have built a cabin out here, I doubt I would ever have the opportunity to be at such a beautiful place. I can’t even imagine not coming back here let alone not ever experiencing it! 

I would say that you can tell pretty fast who the community is up here.  This may not be the case, but people that don’t wave, or even make some kind of eye contact are probably not you neighbors, but maybe those that are here exploring for the first time or are here for themselves.  It is pretty hard to come here by accident, so people are not merely just passing through like they would in a town. Up here, you drive in to visit.

The more time I spend here the more I see, experience and participate in the community. Trips to town are generally few and far between, so when someone goes it is often with their list and a few others’ lists too. There are trips to the post office, getting each others mail, delivering baked goods, sharing meals, helping with projects, throwing bonfires with smores, and the list goes on. Community makes this place even better – most people keep to them selves, but know that if they need something there are people to help. It seems that most people are connected somehow. There is probably not more than one person between each person, as with those that have cabins in the area. So, if one person does not know so and so, the next will.

Your nearest neighbor here may be from the other side of the country or anywhere in between. Before you know it, you have met more people than names you can remember.  I may have a hard time remembering someones name the first time I meet them, but they will be people you won’t forget.

So, something else we do here is community and it is a wonderful part.  I have been spoiled to be up here all summer and meet many more people and have a chance to participate in events I otherwise would not have. There are tremendous people everywhere and everyone I have met have been such. Those that take the time to come all the way out here to stay really love it here and cherish it.  Unfortunately, there are always going to be the people that come and treat it otherwise, but I hope we can be an example to them and prove to them that this place and everywhere else for that matter is worth respecting in addition to the community here.

Over and out for now, this got too long so I better quite before I keep going!

I’m behind big time! (week 4, 5 and 6 pictures)

I am playing catch up with my blog! Yikes. How embarrassing. I wanted to post pictures each week and here I am 3 whole weeks behind! The weeks keep getting better and better so I have more and more pictures to decide between!  Since I last did a weekly update, my family has been here so is a big reason I have not been on the computer much.  Before I type too much, here are some pictures from the last 3 weeks here.

Slumber under the Stars

The glimmer from my candle out under the night sky!

The glimmer from my candle out under the night sky!

I spent a few nights this week sleeping  out under the open sky. I have always though that it would be neat to do, but never did.  I have probably freaked myself out about the idea or not had the right opportunity. OK, I was probably terrified at the thought of being in the mountains sleeping outside because I would get eaten. I lived and really enjoyed it!

 When the sun goes down out here, it is very dark – no street lights, no cities in the distance, but these few nights just the moon and stars. So it is quite amazing to be out and enjoy the night sky this way. I made up a place to sleep in the bed of my truck and it was perfect.  In the past I have always been cold up here, even when I sleep inside, but my parents gave me a great graduation gift that has changed my sleeping life! They got me a hard core down comforter (which I would reccomend in a heart beat)… so I was actually warm and cozy – no hint of cold, even outside (during this particular season).

I’m not sure there could have been a better few nights for me to do this.  There was not a cloud in the sky all night and the stars were numerous and bright.  I was so comfortable when I got in bed that I could hardly stay awake for the moon-rise. It was beautiful falling asleep with the sound of the river below me and the light, fresh mountain breeze slowly moving about. I also loved waking up with the sting of the sunrise on my cheeks. That is a neat feeling. It was fun to lift up my head and see the horses grazing nearby lifting their heads to say hello. Pretty amazing few nights I must say.

Part 2: … Family and Friends

2009 Crew

Here is the whole crew together!

So, as some of you have noticed, I have neglected my blog for the past few weeks. This post on family and friends is fitting as a continuation of my series because the number one reason I have not posted is becuase I was busy hanging out with my family and friends that were here.  My parents, my brother and his girlfriend and my boyfriend were all here throughout the time it has been since I posted last.   All of our time was a blast and it all went too fast.  I always love family time and can’t get enough of it. So it is a fitting topic because it is a large majority of what goes on for us (family time) and is the basis for many other activities that go on.  It seems like the majority of people that come out here to this area are either family, friends or both. It is rare that I see people come our here to spend time alone.  We fill about our whole time here doing things together. We find new adventures, play a lot, relax and enjoy our time here together. Rarely do we choose to do things alone.

This year was extra fun and special for me because my boyfriend was finally able to make the trip out. It feels like I have been trying to get him out here for years! There was just not enough time to do it all, so he will have to come back I guess!

Enjoying time by the fire 

Enjoying time by the fire. This is where you would find us most mornings, usually before others woke up!