TBT: EMERALD BAY CAMPING

Out of all my Tahoe posts I was really struggling which one to pick to re-share.  This was such a special memory for me, I was super nervous about picking the ‘right’ one and doing it justice (almost as nervous as I was writing them).  But, this has to be may hands-down winner.  It gives a quick overview of the trip and some insight into the relationship Stetson and I have.  It’s funny this post talks about how we were starting to get so busy and were getting less time together… it’s almost like I want to shake 2015-Sydney… she had absolutely no idea how much more true that would become.

Originally posted: July 30th 2015

Our last night on Lake Tahoe.
Our last night on Lake Tahoe.

Initially, when Stetson was telling me about the Tahoe trip, he had planned I was a tiny bit apprehensive. Maybe even, a lot to panicattack level apprehensive. He was keeping me pretty much in the dark about everything we were doing. Every single detail; right down to where/what we were going to eat for each meal. For someone who loves a solid plan as much as I do, to say it was overwhelming would be a serious understatement. However, I have to hand it to him, he did such an amazing job. I’ve talked about different bits and pieces about the trip in several posts, but it has been broken up into smaller chunks. Now, with this post I want to focus on the tail end of our trip and tie it all together.

Here’s how the trip ended up breaking down:

  • Day 1- arrive in Tahoe, grab some phenomenal dinner at Mountain View BBQ, set up camp at a nearby campsite and settle in
  • Day 3- get backpacking map and insight from the lovely people at Alpenglow Sports, paddle board, quick little hike to an awesome lookout point, cook burgers at camp
  • Day 4- pack up camp, ridiculously-slow-but-incredibly-delicious breakfast at Rosie’s Cafe, take off on our backpacking adventure (see Backpacking Day 1 post)
  • Day 5- hike, hike, jam toes into end of shoe, hike, get sort of lost, find incredibly disappointing lake, sleep (see Backpacking Day 2 post)
  • Day 7- paddle board and kayak, jump off rocks, paddle board and kayak
  • Day 8- load up camp, paddleboard and kayak back to our parking area, load up and hit the road for Wyo!

Just remembering all of that and putting it on paper (or into a computer screen) is pretty exhausting. But, unbelievably cool. Basically, I have covered everything that Stetson and I did all the way through backpacking (and I went super link happy, so you can read any of the posts you missed). Afterwards, we just set up a campsite and explored the lake until it was time to come home, real relaxing way to wrap up the week.

Stets relaxing once we finally made it.
Stets relaxing once we finally made it.

Oh yeah, I should probably tell you where we camped. No biggie, really, it was just… EMERALD BAY! The Emerald Bay.  The most beautiful place I have ever seen. The world-renowned, scenic camping area. The place people cram the side of the road just to get a picture of. Yeah, we were camping there. (And as I have mentioned, my geography or knowledge of important places in general is not top notch. So, I didn’t realize just how famous Emerald Bay was until after I got home and started noticing pictures of it everywhere.) It was absolutely stunning. And we were at a ‘boat in’– or kayak/paddle board in if you can’t afford a boat like us– campsite, so it was extra secluded.

While our location was absolutely picture perfect, getting there was not. Like I said, Stetson had done all of the planning and was incredibly meticulous.   He knew every single detail: from where we were renting our gear to what restaurants we would eat at to what meals we would make each day at camp (they were even pre-portioned and labeled), he had thought of absolutely everything. Except as we were pulling into the parking area for the campsite he had booked (which was across the bay from the actual site) we noticed something a little strange—it was closed. A bit of a curveball for us because Stetson had booked the site in advance and had even looked at the map to see where we would park and how far we would have to kayak/paddle board with out gear to get to our spot. What either the website failed to mention or we failed to notice, was yes, the campsite is open, but no the parking lot is not available until the next month.

Thankfully, this wasn’t a huge deal, as Stetson knew of another area where we could park overnight and depart from that beach. Everything was good to go! The only minor change was that now instead of a 15-minute trip across the bay, loaded down with everything we needed to camp and Stetson’s dog, we had a 2-hour trip (still, loaded down with everything we needed to camp and Stetson’s dog). Just a small change. But, clearly no big deal for Stetson—who had paddle boarded once before in his entire life—and myself—who had never kayaked–  ever.

Attempting to kayak without losing all of our gear.
Attempting to kayak without losing all of our gear.

Because Stetson was on the paddle board and was already in charge of balancing a Golden Retriever on there with him, I was kayaking. Oh, and carrying all the gear. On my first trip. Ever. Luckily, we could fit most everything that we needed into our 2 backpacking packs, with just a few added luxuries (like new craft beers and a classy bag o’ wine). We tossed Stetson’s pack behind my seat and placed mine in between/on my legs in front of me. I’m sure onlookers at the beach were taking bets on our success/failure rate, but eventually we made our way out into the water and away from the shore. Which is promptly when my over thinking/nervousness kicked in—“Stets, I think I’m going too far from the shoreline!…Stets, my paddle is pushing me a lot more right than left!… Stets, I accidentally turned around!… Stets, can this kayak even support this much weight?!” All within our first 10 minutes. So, Stetson promptly and very gently told me he ‘needed me to grow up for just a second.’ And I stopped pestering him.

*A bit later, while we were still on the 2 hour trek, but both markedly less stressed because we were getting the hang of it, he apologized and I explained that as the younger sister I just needed him to answer my questions in whatever way would make me feel better, even if he didn’t really know the answer for sure. I had done this as a little kid too—“Stets, can this little seatbelt really hold me in on this rollercoaster?” I just liked the blind reassurance.*

Finally, we made it to our campsite. And it was completely worth it! First of all, I looked at all of the people bringing in their gear off of their insanely fancy/fast boats as total posers. And second of all, our campsite was AMAZING. We were, in fact, pretty happy campers. We again set up camp; we were getting pretty skilled in that area by this point in the trip. Then, it was time to crash. I mean, we had started the morning backpacking out of the hell, that is more commonly known as ‘Frog Lake.’ It had been a long day.

DCIM100GOPROThe next morning we had a lazy breakfast with some camp coffee—which is just regular coffee that you drink when you’re camping. It was incredibly nice to have a morning where we didn’t feel rushed or like we needed to hustle to keep on schedule. But, we did want to take full advantage of our day with the paddle board and kayak, so after clean up we set off for the water. We spent the entire day out on the lake (I talk about this day in detail in my previous post, Paddle Boarding and Kayaking). Then made it back, just in time thanks to a little windstorm, for our last camp dinner. We stayed up that night finishing off the last of our provisions (camp wine mostly). It was a really strange feeling to be so utterly exhausted, but completely relaxed at the same time. Our week had been very go, go, go, so we were pretty worn out by this point. But, we were also in that full-on vacation mode, where you aren’t really worrying about anything that’s going on back at home or at work. It was definitely a different mix of feelings, but not in a bad way at all.

DCIM100GOPRO
All packed up!

The next morning we packed up and hit the water. We weren’t necessarily in a hurry, but we did have a 14-hour drive ahead of us, so we wanted to get to the car in decent time. By this point I was an expert, so I looked pretty much like Carl Lewis gliding on top of the water out there. We made it back to the car in good time and got all packed up to head home.

***

Early on in the week, I made the comment to Stetson that I was glad we were doing this trip, because it would probably be the last solely brother/sister trip we got to do. Of course, he gave me hard time the entire week about that comment, pretending I was being all pessimistic and such. But really what I meant was how jacked I was that we actually were doing this. I’ve tried to explain it before, and it’s a little difficult: but I just don’t feel like people are used to a brother/sister pair that are such good friends. Yes, for sister and sister or brother and brother it’s almost expected, but brother and sister is different. People are usually pretty surprised.

Friends for the longest time.
Friends for the longest time.

But, we have been this way my entire life. Honestly. Not, in the cheesy “Oh, we are best friends—but really we only hang out when forced to at family holidays way” or the #bestfriends post on Instagram for #NationalSiblingsDay (which, let’s be honest, comes about 7 times a year). We are honest-to-goodness friends. We hang out and watch baseball games. We go to happy hour. We fish. We get into fights. We eat 3 entire pizzas, as a team. It’s a real friendship. So, yeah I thought it was pretty darn neat that he planned this whole weeklong trip for us to take together. Plus, we are getting older and both of us are starting to get busier with work and our relationships. And that’s a great thing! And I’m definitely happy for both of us. But, it does mean less time with just us. So, no matter how much he made fun of me, I still mean what I said. I’m incredibly glad we took that trip.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

THE PERFECT BALANCE: Wild Mountain Ink

I love shopping small.

I love stuff made in Montana.

I love anything that distracts from my continually messy hair.

I love Wild Mountain Ink.

Showcasing creators that I care about is hands-down my favorite thing to do here on mgg. And Hailey from Wild Mountain Ink is the absolute best.  I found out about her through some low-key insta-stalking.  First, I was incredibly jealous checking out her artistic skill, adorable (and much better behaved than mine) dog, and Montana adventures.  But, I did manage to harness that jealousy into some solid 21st-century-you-go-girl style support.  And I am so glad that I did because her jewelry has made me look much cooler than I actually am.


I am definitely partial to the stud earrings.  I love that they are simple and pretty, but don’t get in my way.  Day to day, I tend to just wear earrings and my engagement ring (oh, you didn’t know I was getting married? Have you not been following my obnoxious Insta posts or seen me walking down the street with my left hand shoved in the air for the past month?).  These pieces are an everyday essential for me.

Hailey also carries her outstanding mountains and tree designs to dangling earrings.  If you prefer that slightly more feminine touch I HIGHLY recommend checking those out.

For those of you who are a little fancier than me on the day to day (it’s not hard…), or want some extra beautiful necklaces to mix into your wardrobe WMI does carry GORGEOUS pendant necklaces.  Her mountains pieces are what initially caught my eye, but right now there is a birch tree series that I am in love with.  Every piece is unique and detailed, but still simple.

Finally, feel free to put off all responsibility and get lost checking out the illustrations Hailey offers in her etsy shop.  It’s the absolute best time-waster and truly impressive.

*Bonus: WMI now has tie-bars and they such a subtlety cool touch on a classy shirt and tie combo.

      
The mountains are calling… Get it?

Seriously, check out Wild Mounatin Ink –her goods are way better than my jokes.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

13 THINGS YOU LEARN DURING A HALF MARATHON

This year I decided to run a half marathon each month.  Of course, I had never run a half marathon before.  Ever.  But, starting with 13 in 2017 seemed like the perfect move (yes, I know there are only 12 months in a year, but I am throwing in a bonus one for a nice even 13).

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Now, with how much I over-think/over-stress/over-analyze everything, this decision came shockingly quickly.  One night, in the last week of January I couldn’t sleep and this thought popped up in my head (along with 3,458 other thoughts).  The next day I told Brady about my idea, so I had someone to hold me accountable.  Then, that weekend I ran 13.1 miles (on the treadmill, with my iPad catching me up on all of my favorite ABC shows like any truly dedicated runner).

Continue reading 13 THINGS YOU LEARN DURING A HALF MARATHON

END OF SUMMER FISHING

Summer is winding down.  And we wanted to say goodbye to it in the most fitting way: catching the prettiest (and teeniest) mountain trout in Wyoming.


This summer Brady and I weren’t able to get in near as much fishing as we would have liked.  Honestly, we hardly got to fish at all and were pretty pouty about it (okay, I was pouty and Brady was stuck dealing with me).  So, for our last day before we got back to meetings, lesson planning, and a sea of smelly/sweet/moody/in-your-business/hilarious middle school students we headed out to one of our favorite fishing spots.

No, it is not a go-to spot to pull out a monster trout.

Not, at all.  It’s up on top of a mountain.  The stream is freezing.  The fish are tiny. And we love it.

These little trout absolutely SMASH your fly.  It’s fantastic.  It’s like they think they are the size of a freaking tuna. Which makes for the most fun fishing!  (Even if I did go through a small dry spell while Brady was still killing it and then decided to show off by fishing left handed…) 


I’m sure there is some metaphor here.  Something about me starting back into another school year and attacking it like these fish attack the fly.  But, I don’t want to force that.

Really, it’s simple: we loved it.  We got to relax.  I didn’t pepper Brady with 2,358 questions while we were there.  I didn’t force myself to make a mental ‘to-do list’ between casts.  It wasn’t about anything more than fishing.  And it was perfect.

Catch ya later, summer.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

TOP 9 REASONS TO STAY HOME THIS WEEKEND

#wanderlust is a serious thing right now. But, like most trends, it’s way overrated. Sure, you get to experience new things and broaden your horizons and blah, blah, blah… But can that really replace the feeling you get when you hunker down for a solid Netflix and Nachos (I want that to be my new motto– #netflixandnachos) session on your very own, dog-hair-covered couch?


Of course, I was lucky enough to go on my fair share of trips these past few months.  And I loved them and wouldn’t take them back for a second.  I just want to spread a little Staycation love.

Here’s all the stuff you can only do while you’re at home:

  • Complain about tourists (I mean, I live in Laramie, Wyoming– so, I don’t get this opportunity much, but I can imagine people enjoy it).
  • Curl up in your favorite (torn and stained and massive and definitely not carry-on friendly) blanket with a glass of cheap wine, a good book, and a stinky dog.
  • Use ALL the liquid products you want– even if they are over 4 ounces.
  • Feel zero guilt about never leaving your house for the entire day, thus staying in your jamas all day.
  • Walk into a bar, immediately be served your favorite beer, and be greeted by name.
  • NOT have to choose between absolutely God-awful coffee or paying $5+ for a cup (that isn’t even as good as you make it).
  • Not feel shame every time you look at your gyms clothes that you packed, but definitely aren’t going to use at that gym with the ridiculously priced day pass– just put them on an head to your gym or shove them out of sight in your drawer like a normal person.
  • Spend the entire weekend without having to listen to that condescending b***h on the GPS.
  • SLEEP IN YOUR OWN BED.

So there you have it! Stay home. Embrace your inner homebody with pride.  You have my full approval.  Feel free to take a nice, long staycation this weekend, on me.

*Obligatory Disclaimer: it’s all about balance.  Get out there and explore, but don’t take your home for granted.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

HIKE TO MEDICINE BOW PEAK

I have F I N A L L Y hiked Medicine Bow Peak! I have now lived in Laramie for 6 years (oh. my. goodness. how has it been that long?), and this summer was the first time I actually got around to checking this feat off my list. 

Medicine Bow Peak is a super popular hike here in my little slice of Laradise because it’s the highest peak in the Snowy Range Mountains. The peak measures at 12,013 feet (according to the always accurate/reliable Wikipedia). The hike itself isn’t too rough. It’s only about 3 miles and the vertical isn’t anything insane. 

Although, I am exceptionally rugged and tough, so it may be more difficult for others. 

Just kidding. I’m a bit of a diva. And incline hiking is NOT my strong suit. Witty comments and excuses for water breaks are much more my thing. 

Always the athlete. And graceful. And not at all embarassing to Brady.
 Of course, climbing a 14er (or a few) is still on my list. But, I felt like I needed to complete this hometown hike first. And it was so worth it.

Also, shout out to these prAna shorts for their killer anti-thigh-rubbing-together-technology (that’s not trademarked yet but it should be– these shorts are from last year but can still be found on amazon). They are the real MVP. 

 I swear, though, anytime I actually get in a hike I start to question why I don’t do this every damn day. It’s beautiful. It’s active. And it’s free. Once again, I’ve definitely been bit by the hiking bug. 

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

SUMMER ADVENTURES TO-DO

To-do lists suck. There’s no real way around it. But, they are a bit of a necessary evil. So, I found a way to make them much less terrible. 

I am a major list-er. I make lists for anything and everything. Most of these lists are full of very menial tasks: laundry, grocery shopping, mow the lawn, feed Teton (yes, I put that on my lists. Of course, I would still feed my dog if it weren’t listed, but I really love the satisfaction of checking it off– especially on those days where that’s pretty much the extent of what I accomplish). However, there are lists you can put together that will actually make you smile rather than immediately cringe. 

Adventure To-Do List 

  • Climb a 14-er
  • Visit San Fransisco
  • SUP at Horsetooth
  • Try all the Wyoming beers at Brew Fest
  • Go to a Rockies game
  • Camp… A LOT
  • Spend time in Torrington
  • Catch more fish than Brady
  • Take a new brew tour
  • DISNEYWORLD
  • Take a cooking class
  • Get home to Montana
  • Hike Medicine Bow Peak

*not many lists get to include San Fransisco AND Torrington– that’s pretty darn special

So basically, my summer will be spent drinking beer, traveling to visit family, and putzing around outside with Brady. I’m not mad at it. 

I do tend to throw around the word Adventure extremely casually here on MGG. But, I don’t care. These are my adventures. And they can be as non-hard-core-adventure-y as I want them to be. 

Of course, I can keep adding to this list. But 13 is the perfect number to start with.  I don’t want it to get overwhelming and I want my fair share of time sitting in the yard with Teton and reading. 

Without lists I tend to be exceptionally lazy, so I love this idea to keep me active. Plus, a lot of times I’ll think about these things, but let all of the other boring/time-consuming/bleh stuff get in the way and I never get around to it. I get major joy out of crossing things off my to-do lists, though, so this will hold me accountable. And I’m thinking I may make one for every season. 

I would love to hear what’s on your Adventure To-Do List! 

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

THE KEY TO TOTAL RELAXATION

There is no way I’m the only high-strung, type-A, stress-about-stressing-and-the-act-of-stressing-and-maybe-I’m-not-stressing-enough person out there.  If you are in that boat with me: I have found the perfect way to relax.  If you are nowhere near that boat with me: I have found the perfect way to relax.

The Roo Hammock.

Kammok Roo Hammock + Python StrapsI was never a big hammock person (is that even a thing? a big hammock person?),  until I went backpacking with my brother last summer and he brought his stuff-and-go hammock along with him.  There was literally no better feeling in the world than curling up with a beer, book, and pup in the hammock after a seriously grueling day of hiking.  It’s also perfect after mowing the lawn.  It’s also perfect after a long day of running errands.  It’s also perfect after an entire day of laying around in your pajamas doing absolutely nothing.  It’s just perfect.  There are no rules.

Of course, the inner wannabe hipster/hippie inside of me really wanted a handwoven, locally made, one-of-a-kind hammock.  But, the Roo Hammock + Python Straps honestly is just… better.

Here’s why this is the hammock you need:

  • It include hanging materials- so many of the hammocks I looked at did not include this.  Meaning I was either going to need to spend extra money OR attempt to rig it up myself and I do no trust that option.
  • It includes a easy to use stuff sack-  perfect for taking gear on the go AND it’s water resistant.
  • It is tear resistant-  this is incredibly important if you are going to take this item with you camping.  It’s so easy to get your hammock caught on a stick, tree, rock, or dog’s claw (Teton inherited high-anxiety from me and loves to bite his nails into razor sharp points…) and this will give you some peace of mind.
  • It can hold two people-  only if you feel like sharing; if you want to keep it to yourself– LIE.
  • It comes in pretty colors-  I like the grey because I’m boring and love all grey e’rything.  But, the green is awesome, as well.

I’ve mentioned before that I love Huckberry (cool products, awesome customer service).  And RIGHT NOW through the 31st Huckberry is offering free shipping on  e v e r y t h i n g,  plus they have tons of other gear on sale.  It’s the perfect excuse to do a bit of stocking up for all of your summer adventures.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

RIDICULOUS(ly cool) FISHING TERMS

Today, I want to cover the very first, and most important, step of becoming proficient with any skill:  The Lingo.  Now, I am not, nor have I ever claimed to be, a good fly fishing angler.  But, I am all about talking like I know exactly what I am doing.  So, below are a few phrases that I have picked up from some much more accomplished fly fishing aficionados to share with you.

Brady and his cousin, Michael, are both much better anglers than myself and much cooler than myself.  So, I stole a few lines from them for this post.
Brady and his cousin, Michael, are both much better anglers than myself and much cooler than myself. So, I stole a few lines from them for this post.

I am a fair-weather fisher-woman. Finally, some nice spring weather is starting to creep its way into Wyoming which means I need to brush up on my fly fishing trash talk.

Working on that "dead drift."
Working on that “dead drift.”
  • “Rip lip”- What you say about setting a hook while fly fishing.  But, no, unless I accidentally get much too overzealous with a teeny brook trout, no actual lips are ever ripped.
  • “Let ’em run”- My dad always tells me this when I hook a trout.  Trout can’t literally run, but they like to swim around like crazy and tire themselves out before being reeled in.  As long as you keep your line tight, this is a great way to make the fish do the work for you.
  • “Dead Drift”- This refers to the perfect drift you get on a fly when it is moving at exactly the same pace as the current.  I have heard of this, but I rarely achieve it– if I do it’s by accident and I get so excited I immediately mess it up.
  • “The river is milky/chocolate milk”- The river is muddy and yucky.  Not exceptionally good for fishing.
  • “Statue of Liberty”- The pose I make when setting a hook (well, really I add in a highly ineffectual and unattractive squat that our Lady Liberty definitely does not do, but it’s the pose I aim to make).
  • “Trigger finger”- A finger that you keep on your slack line.  Then, when you do get into your Statue of Liberty pose you can immediately get the slack out of the line and set your hook. ‘Rip lip’ if you will.
  • “That is a sexy fly”- I have heard more than one bearded trout-bum use this phrase to describe a fly that has been particularly successful in a certain area.  I guess it kind of makes sense… I always buy the fly, at least.
  • “Nervous water”- This was pointed out to me early on as a good place to catch fish, so I always cast into ‘nervous water.’  This is a spot on the river where a slow moving current and a fast current meet up and create a sort of wiggly seam (that’s the technical term).
  • “Roll your own”- uh, fly patterns that is.  This means making your own flies.
  • “There are no fish in here”- I heard it once and now I say this EVERY time I get I don’t catch a fish.
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Stetson “rippin’ lip”

What are some of your favorite fishy sayings?

Thanks for reading,

Sydney