Friday, October 30, 2015

Second Hike, Part 2

My husband loves exploring….so when there's a trail…he likes to see what's at the end of it.  And so, after Odessa Lake, we took another "spur" trail to Spruce Lake.  

A sign at the start of the trail warned that it was "unmaintained" - okaayy…..   Considering the trails we'd already seen, this one looked much the same - rocky!  Sure, there were lovely bits of grass like above, but mostly….rocks.  We even had to scramble over some bigger ones to get to…..

Spruce.  This was a very nice lake….but I was getting tired and my non-existent sense of exploration was done already.  Ha!  And so we hiked down to Fern….and all the way back down to The Pool - about 2.5 miles from Spruce.

Once down, we took a break before our next leg.  We decided to make a loop instead of taking the same trail back to where we started.  This loop looked innocuous on the map and would get us to a new lake.

In no time, however, this innocuous trail started gaining elevation…it turns out we were going up and over a ridge…instead of staying flat as we'd expected.  Great.  At this point, I ache…Mr. Higgins aches….we're a bit unhappy.  Add to that the unrelenting sun - there was no shade on this trail - and we were ready to be done.

Cub Lake, which we found on the other side of the ridge (1.2 miles from The Pool), was a bit of the letdown.  Outside of the odd lily pad formation, there was little to see.  A fire had gone through this area not long ago and the trees have not yet recovered.  

Once at Cub, we thought we only had a little bit to go to the car.  Well, we read the map wrong and had 2.3 miles to go.  We were miserable, at this point.  At least the trail was nice enough to provide some shade along the first mile or so.  

On this day we walked 14 miles, 40,000 steps.  We went up and down all day long.  My feet hurt, my shoulders hurt (from my backpack), and my hips hurt (of all things).   I'm glad we did this hike but it was just a bit too long to be pleasant. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Second Hike, Part 1

Our second hike - the longest of our RMNP hikes earlier this month - was unplanned.  The winds that plagued our first hike were still blowing like crazy and that eliminated higher elevation hikes.  

We just happened to hear about the hike to Fern Lake - and how nice it was.  And so we decided to try it, starting early in the morning.

For the first hour, the trail was lovely - and flat!  The cool morning was nice but, thankfully, not too cold. 

We were delighted to see aspens and their fallen, golden leaves, softened our path.

After an hour and two miles (yay, flat trails!), we reached Fern Falls.  It was a very nice waterfall - and a great place to take a break.

Another 1.8 miles later - the trail was no longer flat - we reached Fern Lake.  And it was gorgeous!  I was unused to seeing so many trees lining a lake - and I loved it!  I could have stayed here for a very long time.....

But Mr. Higgins wanted to explore.  Odessa late was just up a short (ahem!) we should go see it, right?  We gained quite a bit of elevation quickly on the way - but the views were incredible!

And then the trail flattened and we walked beside a river.....and then the winds picked up.

Odessa Lake opened before us....and she was beautiful!  Similar to Fern, but unique.  Across the lake from us, there was a beach!  

We couldn't stay here long due to the gusting winds but I hope we can go back sometime!

After admiring Odessa, we turned back and headed down to Fern Lake.  And once we got down there, Mr. Higgins saw another trail to another lake.....  Something tells me my feet will be hurting by the end of this day!

Stay tuned..........

Monday, October 26, 2015

Post-Vacation October Workouts

Even though we hiked tons in Rocky Mountain National Park last week, I ate horribly.  It was vacation, after all!  

Now I have one week until my next Peak 10 I need to get back in the game!

Monday: Michelle Dozois' Rockin Body Cardio + weights

My first workout after vacation is always this - an oldie but a goodie!  And my heart rate picked up in no time and I sweated like crazy.  Ha!  It was good to move again!  And then to stretch!  Ah.  At lunch, I was super proud of myself for going to the rec center on my first day back to do weights.  I couldn't do as many reps on some machines....but none of my weight amounts dropped.  Yay!

Tuesday: Ilyse's Dance Intervals 101 + Dozois' Calorie Burning Cardio Blast

It's nice looking forward to working out this week, especially since it's the first week back from vacation!  And Ilyse always makes me happy.  This one is pretty jumpy but it still makes me smile.  Ha!  Michelle works you hard in this Blast, but it's effective and fun, as always.  No lunch workout today.

Wednesday: McLean's Kickbox Your Way to Fit + Amy's Kickbox Power + weights

I always think this workout by McLean is going to be easier....and then he's doing lunge jumps in the first 10 minutes.  Thankfully, after many repeats of those, it gets better.  Sigh.  Amy's kickboxing is always fun and this new workout is, too.   At lunch, I powered through weights - again - and was proud of myself - again.  LOL!

Thursday:  Ilyse's Heart-Pumping Groove + Scott's HIIT - Sports Inspired Intervals

In honor of my birthday today, I took a bit easier.  Ilyse's dance workout is so much fun.  I did it all, except the cool down/stretch.  And then I wanted a bit more, so I did Scott's intervals - they're not too bad because the breaks are longer.  I skipped a workout at lunch so that I could work and leave early!

Friday:  Michelle Dozois' BodyFit 360 Vol. 3: Athletic Conditioning

I wanted to take it easy today, my "rest" day.....but I wanted some cardio.  I got through about 20 minutes of Athletic Conditioning's cardio before I called it quits.  My stomach was a bit upset and I felt yucky.  So I finished off the workout with the 20 minute stretch, which was lovely.  After vacation and my first week back, that stretch was wonderful!

Saturday: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix

CIBs are always difficult but this one is fun, at least.  The peaks are the only thing I dread about this workout.  Since this was my first Peak 10 workout since vacation, I was a bit worried….but I got through it with little pain.  Yay!  Afterward, I spent 10 minutes stretching and doing ab work.

Sunday: Peak Fit - Fit Test + Amy's All Around Energy

I'd been dreading this day - the official start of my fourth Peak 10 Challenge.  The Fit Test is difficult - a series of "peaks" that will measure you now and at the end of the Challenge.  It's not fun and it's hard to catch your breath…..but now it's done for 2 months.  Yay!  After all that huffing and puffing, I did something a bit more low-key: Amy's Click and Glo workout.  It's fairly low-impact…but effective.  It combines weight training, cardio, and a bit of yoga/balance.  Very good!  After all that, a stretch and sit-ups.

No calories this week - in honor of my birthday.  Ha!

Friday, October 23, 2015

First Hike, Part 2

After our stop at Dream Lake, we turned around to catch the trail to Lake Haiyaha - a new lake for us!

The trail went up - gaining quite a bit of elevation.

But that elevation gain led to some great views.  We could even see Bear and Nymph Lakes!  We'd just been there!

Once we got to Haiyaha....we didn't know if we were there.  Huge rocks and boulders led to....nowhere.  We finally found the lake and it was quite pretty.  After a short rest, we started back down to Dream.

My favorite part of this hike was definitely the views of the valley below.  Just incredible!

And my second favorite part: the chipmunks!  I love these little guys!  

That concludes our first hike!  It was a short day of hiking - about 4 hours.  We took our time and took a lot of pictures, trying to make the most of the day and our time in the park.  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

First Hike, Part 1

Yay!  Trip pictures!  I can't wait to show you around our time at Rocky Mountain National Park last week.  

Our first big hike in the park happened on a very special day: the five year anniversary of Mr. Higgins' wedding proposal.  We started at Bear Lake and headed off on the trail toward Emerald Lake.  This hike, five years ago, was my first-ever real hike in the mountains.  Wow!

The first lake you encounter on this hike - after Bear Lake, of course - is Nymph Lake, best known for it's lily pad population.

The second lake is the best, in my opinion - ha!  It's Dream Lake.  If you go a bit further past the first "turn off" where everyone stops for pictures, you'll find our spot....  The place of the proposal.  Beyond the lake you see Flattop Mountain to the right (not at all flat at this angle) and Hallett Peak to the left (very flat looking here).

We decided not to continue to Emerald Lake.  We've been there twice now and the trail is the busiest in the park.  Also, the wind was crazy strong - and Emerald lake always gets the worst of the wind on this trail.  So, we turned off to go to Lake Haiyaha, a new place for us.

More on that later!  

The last time we were in Colorado in October - five years ago - it snowed on us!  This October was much warmer - so warm that Estes Park was much busier than we expected.  However, the warm weather meant we could do better, longer hikes on this trip.  So I have lots to show you!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Good Food, Good Times

I'm dying to share with you all of our hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.  But!  We ate so well on this trip!

It all started when we stopped for two nights in Colorado Springs to see friends.  Said friends are foodies and they took us to some fantastic restaurants.  

A brunch scramble with sweet potato hash browns - yum!

Dinner - a burger to die for!  

And drinks.

And more drinks.  With pansies!

Our last brunch in CO Springs.....  A Bacon Jam Breakfast Burrito for me.  To.  Die. For.

Chicken and Waffles for Mr. Higgins.  

I think I gained five pounds in Colorado Springs…..and it was only day three of vacation when we left!   Wow.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Back to the Start

It's been five years since a very special thing happened.  Mr. Higgins proposed!  

The only way to celebrate such an occasion is to go back to where it started, at least officially: Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

It's been three years since we've been to Rocky and it's such a joy to be back.  There's something about mountains that feeds the soul - at least this Texan's soul.  We're doing some hiking this week and I can't wait to explore new areas of the park.  New trails, new sights, new mountains, new views….  Lovely!

I love vacation!  And anniversaries!  And Mr. Higgins!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week Eight: Combat Challenge #2

It's my last week of the Challenge!  And a short week, too, so I better make the most of these workouts!

We leave for vacation early, early Friday morning.  I must be ready to hike mountains by then!

Monday:  Les Mills' Sh'Bam #17 + Michelle's Calorie Burning Cardio Blast

I'll cancel my Les Mills On Demand subscription this week so it was my last time to do any of these workouts.  I've really enjoyed Sh'Bam and last week reminded me that #17 is my I did it again this week.  Ha!  But it's SO much fun!!   I finished off my morning with Michelle's cardio intervals.  These intervals are always great!  Business interfered with lunch so there was no additional workout.

Tuesday: Les Mill's Combat #59 + weights

Combat was on the agenda today and that made me happy.  Actually, anything other than Grit makes me happy these days.  Ha!  I didn't really remember this Combat from last month, but it was fun!  It lasted about 35 minutes.  I then did my own cardio.  At lunch, I did weights at the rec.  

Wednesday:  Les Mills' Grit #5 + Ilyse's Heart-Pumping Groove + walk

So today was difficult.  This Grit is led by Les Mills Jr. and he's tough.  My heart rate had to be sky high!  But it was good to feel maxed out - weird, I know.  After that 25 minutes or so, I tuned into Ilyse's low-key Groove, which is tons of fun.  At lunch, I did my last session of inclines on the treadmill.  I went as high as it would let me, slowly working my way up, stayed at the top for 3 minutes, and then slowly came down.  Again, over 200 calories in 20 minutes.  Dang.  I'm glad this was the last session of inclines. 

Thursday: Les Mills' Combat 60 - Extreme Cardio Fighter + walk

I was happy to do this workout today.  It's fun and not too traumatic starting out.  This was a good option since my On Demand subscription is no more (as of last night).  I meant to do weights at lunch but my nose was sniffy and I feared I was getting sick.  So, sharing space with a bunch of undergrads did not sound fun.  Instead, I walked the 1.2 mile loop around campus.  At a little over 20 minutes, it's the perfect length!

And now it's vacation time!

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1296
Tuesday - 1257

Wednesday - 1257
Thursday - 1297

So proud of myself this week - since I was so hungry!  Ha!  

Friday, October 9, 2015

Angels and Demons

I've always had a few issues with Dan Brown.  However, Mr. Higgins loves his fast-paced novels and appreciation for history.  And that's one thing I can concede: Brown writes good, suspenseful fiction.

After Mr. Higgins re-read Angels and Demons, he really wanted me to read it, so I did.  Grudgingly.  

My Goodreads review:

After having seen the movie, I had my doubts about Dan Brown's first novel featuring Robert Langdon. But the book brought a nice surprise: it made so much more sense than the movie! There were plot twists and turns that the movie ignored. Those twists and turns brought a welcome depth to the story. 

Dan Brown has a gift for making ancient and medieval topics available to the public. My only complaint is his "history" - at times not at all accurate and sometimes heavily reliant upon myth, not fact. But he writes engrossing novels, and Angels and Demons held up nicely to the DaVinci Code.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sea Salt Progress

My first adult sweater is progressing.  I'm now done with ALL the hard stuff.  Yay!!  I'm so happy.  Last weekend, I finally started on the last bit, which is actually the largest bit, the body.

Still working on the last sleeve.
The previous weekend, I wanted to pull my hair out and cry.  I misread the pattern and started knitting the body completely wrong.  I frogged rows and rows....which is so frustratingly hands ached, my fingers ached.....  

I then finished the neckline last week.  

Now, I'm on to the body, after picking up over 200 stitches.  Whew!  At least I knew what I was doing since I'd already picked up those stitches the first time around, only to knit the rows wrong and rip it all out.

I keep wondering: why do I knit?  Why torture myself?  Well, I love yarn (how it feels, how it knits up).  And I love making things.  Once done - if you ever get done - the sense of accomplishment is priceless.  And as much as I hate making mistakes, I like learning how to fix them.  

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week Seven: Combat Challenge #2 thyroid meds are screwing with my weight again.  Note to self: in my next life, have better thyroid genes.  Ha!

Hopefully this gets straightened out sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, I'm still working out.  As usual.

Monday: Les Mills' Sh'Bam #17 + Scott's HIIT - Sports Inspired Intervals + walk

This one is my favorite Sh'Bam.  Very little trendy stupid stuff and some really fun dances!  Love it!  After that ended, I tuned into Scott's HIIT routine, which is always fun and effective.  It was a good morning of cardio!  At lunch, I wanted (amazing, I know) to do weights at the rec...but the rec had no power.  So, I walked around campus - quite quickly - with a co-worker.  I got as many steps as I do with my morning workout.  Cool!

Tuesday:  Les Mills' Combat #60 + weights

Wow.  These streaming Combat workouts are tough.  I still don't understand why they affect me the way the do....and why I sweat so much!  I guess cardio is cardio, whether jumping or punching, as long as the intensity is there.  And it's there with Combat.  At lunch, I did weights at the rec, since the power came back on.  Yay!

Wednesday: Les Mills' Grit #4 + Ilyse's Heart-Pumping Groove + walk

Oh, how I dread every single Wednesday.  This Grit was tough but then they all are!  Ugh!  I got through it, subbing the burpees with something else.  I was still huffing and puffing.  After that fun-filled time, I tuned into Ilyse's much-less-intense workout.  This one is my new favorite, I think!  Such a fun, level 2, dance workout!  At lunch, I did the treadmill, upping and upping the incline percentage.  Dang!  215 calories in 20 minutes.  Only one more of these incline sessions before the real inclines begin in Colorado.  Yay!

Thursday:  Ilyse's Your Best, Sweaty Self + McLean's Fit Physique

Since the rec was closed on Monday, my weights schedule got screwed up this week.  I was forced to them this morning.  Bleh.  I began my workout with Ilyse's no-nonsense cardio.  Dang, it's tough!  But fun.  McLean's weight workout was new to me and good.  I didn't love it but it challenged me in new ways, which is always good.

Friday: McLean's Barre Blend - Athletic Sculpt

I was torn this morning.  This was my last chance to do Flow on Les Mills.  But I wanted cardio, needing to burn calories. I compromised and did this workout by McLean - athletic barre, I'd call it.  It got me moving but was not too impact-ful.  I stopped a bit early to do some sun salutations and stretches.  So, a good morning!

Saturday: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn - Fat Blaster

I was really looking forward to this CIB, since I hadn't done it in quite a while.   And it's so much fun!  I really do enjoy it.  The peaks are tough but the dance moves are just fun.  The choreography is more complex but after a few tries, it gets easier.  I finished off my morning of cardio with five minutes of squats and lunges, and then a stretch and sit-ups. 

Sunday:  Michelle's Cardio Strength 2 on Glo + Ilyse's Easy to Follow Dance Moves

This workout….I always dread it.  It's so tough - just going up and down to the floor.  I got through it but it was not pretty.  Ha!  Thankfully, it's gotten easier… that I'm almost done with it for a while.  Ha!  I finished off with 15 minutes of Ilyse's dance workout.  So much fun!  And the stretch and ab work I did afterward was even better.  I love a good stretch!

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1292
Tuesday - 1292
Wednesday - 1292
Thursday - 1458
Friday - 1426
Saturday - 1372
Sunda - BAD

Friday, October 2, 2015

Maple Pumpkin Scones (2015:18)

Since we're on such a strict diet leading up to vacation (in a week!), the only way to bake is to take stuff to work.  And since my co-workers love all things pumpkin - and I want fall to start already - I decided to try these Maple Pumpkin Scones, which I've been eyeing for a while.

I didn't substitute anything - or add anything - even though I was tempted to add more spices (nutmeg!).  As I was mixing all the ingredients, I realized there was no sugar.  What?!  So I immediately started to worry.

When the scones came out of the oven, I was perplexed.  They looked pumpkin.  They were dark, unlike the recipe's picture.  They tasted alright, but not great.  Not really sweet.  I was going to do the Greek/yogurt and syrup glaze but instead opted for a powdered sugar/orange juice concoction in the hope of adding a bit of sweetness.  It didn't do too much.  

I like the idea of these scones but I won't be making them again.