Travel Tuesday: Mountains + Rivers

This marks my last week with a co-pilot in the van, from here on out it’s just me exploring on my terms. I’m excited…but maybe a little scared, too. It’s time for me to start motivating myself to do weird things + get out on the trails for some very long training miles. *deep breath*

Alas, we shall prepare for the solo weeks by basking in the glory of the last week in the van! After many miles on the Outdoor Retailer showroom floor I was ready to get out onto the trails. On Tuesday night I picked my internet-stranger-turned-favorite-person up at the Boise Airport + adventure began, after a stop by Maverik [adequately flaunting itself as “adventure’s first stop”].

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Lynne is my safety squirrel; the voice of reason the floats around in my back of my mind when I’m busy taking on life with a “because, why not” attitude. She has saved me from disaster more times than she knows…so it seemed appropriate to have her here as my last co-pilot! Here’s to a safe summer of adventure! *knock on wood*

Dates: August 8-14

Miles Driven: 1,534 [19.327 – 20,861]

States Explored: 3 [UT, ID, OR]

Wildfires Experienced: 3 [2 in Idaho, 1 in Oregon]

Nights of Van Life’ing: 4 [courtesy of TETON’s showroom + Bend friends!]

Showers Taken: 3

Number of Operating BlockBusters Seen: 2 [holla, Bend!]

Horrible Rap Songs Listened To: 1 [no, we’re not contaminating your ears, don’t fret]

Cliffs Jumped Off: 1, multiple times…after floating down a river #daywin

Maverik Milkshake Craved: infinite, just do it, it’s delicious!

People are Awesome: Idaho locals were all about offering up great recommendations for beautiful hikes, places to camp + cafes worth eating at!

We kicked off our time in Idaho with a pretty leisurely day that we kicked off with coffee while watching people hurl themselves off the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls…to float to the Snake River banks with a parachute slowing their fall. Up next, waterfalls + lake soaks. It’s been decided…chilling in a lake counts as showering.

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With plans to find a sweet camping spot near the mountains we left the city on Wednesday afternoon + headed north. It wasn’t long before we saw signs for the Craters of the Moon National Park + decided a detour was necessary…there were lava tubes, it was worth it! We finally rolled into camp near Bellevue, ID just before the sunset, whipped up a dinner of deliciousness + crashed into our pillows. Who knew driving + “easy” exploring was so exhausting!?

Thursday was our least planned day — the only goal was to get into the Sawtooth Mountains, if only for a few lake hikes with their towering beauty on the horizon. Obviously, any good day needs to start with a breakfast burrito + caffeine…enter Giddy-Up Coffee! The crafty man behind the counter recharged us + sent us up to Chocolate Gulch for our mid-morning hike. Done + done!

IMG_20160811_155013[our post-hike pit stop…one of us likes water more than the other!]

Eventually, we made our way up to Stanley, ID where everyone + their uncle told us we *must* visit. It was a cute little town surrounded by a wide, cattle-filled valley + shadowed by the jagged Sawtooth Mountains. Okay, fine…I could get used to this! We immediately headed up to scope out camp sites. Lynne’s a pretty avid camper + we were hoping for the perfect spot to watch the Perseid meteor shower, a worthy campsite was a necessity!

Stanley did not disappoint — we found an incredible campsite on a ridge with views of the smokey Sawtooth Mountains. We pulled together a dinner of fresh veggies, couscous + andouille sausage then lugged our sleeping gear up to the ridge line to set up for a night under the stars. It was perfect. No, seriously, perfect!

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We woke up with the sun on Friday morning after a night of random “best time to see meteors” alarms where we’d pop our heads outside our rainfly-less tent to better see the stars above us. Unfortunately smoke from a nearby forest fire kept the lighter stars + meteors kidding but the ones we did see were crazy bright! Hola, Mother Nature! Well done!

After packing up our gear we hopped back into the van to check out the Redfish Lake Trail + Bench Lakes…the second most highly recommended *must* do in Idaho! I’m going to be honest here — it was a beautiful hike with some pretty lake views but it was not crazy mind blowing. We did a 9-mile run/hike + I think we both finished very glad we did it but okay with the fact we may never be back. A little harsh, maybe.

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It was beautiful + the Bench Lakes were really peaceful but next time I’m in the area I’m headed for a more remote, less traveled area. I’d compare Redfish Lake to Chautauqua Park in Boulder, CO or Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO — really cool areas recommended by a ton of people that are worth seeing once + taking out-of-state friends to when their visit is too short to go too far off the beaten path.

The rest of our Friday we spent driving to Bend, CO. Our route out of Stanley took us along Highway 21, which had *just* opened up after being closed due to wildfires in the area. There were two big fires between Stanley + Boise. The second we passed was much larger [62,000+ acres burned] + we actually drove past raging flames only a few feet from the highway. At no point was our drive unsafe, but sure did put life into perspective. Sure, we had our own things to worry about but at least our home wasn’t surrounded by flames + smoke!

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Once we made it to Bend, OR we ditched the van for the comforts of a friends’ home…hot showers, flush toilets + feather pillows, FTW! I kicked my Saturday off with a long run with Natalie then reunited with Lynne + her friends [Lucas + Nancy] for a lazy day of river floating, taco eating + cliff jumping. Fun fact; floating down a river on a sleeping pad is totally doable, it’ll just give your abs one heck of a workout in the process! #trainingforlife

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Lynne + I both said goodbye to Oregon with a trail run up the Green Lakes Trail then filled our bellies with brunch before heading to the airport. Lynne headed back to Denver + real life while I headed into Washington where I met up with the Bigfoot 200 organizers for a few days of volunteering at aid stations + along the race course. Trail time is fun when you’re alone + epic when you’re out there helping other people do crazy things [like run 200 miles through the mountains!].

I think this is about as awesomely as I could top off my summer of sharing the #yourlead van with friends + I’m not exaggerating. I’ve had a little bit of everything with my co-pilots + I couldn’t ask for more. Now it’s time to find my own version of fun driving around the PNW, eating random meal concoctions + spending long hours on the trails. My summer is almost over…but I’m not done wandering around just yet!

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The mountains were calling...and she went. While she pretends to avoid cliches this one is true! Heidi is a farm girl from the Midwest living a nomadic mountain girl life. When she isn't working in a myriad of jobs she's out on the trails with her running shoes, snowboard or tent...chasing down her version of adventure + life one day at a time.