A Yoga Retreat 🧘🏻‍♀️, and I am the Caterer👩🏻‍🍳 😬

That’s a scary thought huh?! You might be wondering how this happened, I know I was!

Last January we went Mexico to attend a yoga retreat. I did a few posts on that trip. This was the same location as the previous yoga retreat, which we loved! Our yoga instructor, Lisa Shifler for both of those retreats, recently moved to Twisp, WA, 4 hours east of our home in Redmond. She told us that she was building a “yoga Shalla” on her property and would be holding retreats this summer.

We were all sitting at breakfast, talking about her plans when she said she was looking for someone to do the cooking for two weekends in June, during the women’s only yoga retreats. I blurted out “I will do it!” And she said “great!” 😳

What was I thinking!! After my head stopped spinning, I realized that this would be a great challenge and experience for me. And, with the first one in the books, I can honestly say it was a blast!

I had never been to Twisp before, which is located in the Methow Valley. I have heard great things about the area so I was excited to see the area. It is as advertised!

This is the Methow River, and it is so relaxing and I love the sounds of the water flowing along.

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I drank a lot of coffee sitting next to this beautiful scenery💕

And all the blooms were out. 🌼🌸🌹It is sunny on this side of the mountains, as they get less rain than the Seattle side.

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Lisa’s yoga Shalla was so cute and inviting!

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Lisa decorated with articles from her two trips to India

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And, bought Mexican blankets, a nod to our other retreats .

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But I had a job to do! I made two desserts, both gluten free, dairy free as one of the ladies has Celiacs. Friday night we had a chocolate cake with bruleed bananas. Saturday’s dessert was this angle food cake with triple berry sauce and ice cream (for the dairy folks). Some of you may remember these from instagram, as I have been recipe testing for the last few weeks.

Then I had two brunches to prepare, both had gluten free options as well.

Our first morning we had crustless quiche, one with cream cheese and one without. There was also fruit salad, mango-orange Greek yogurt, gluten free granola, breakfast potatoes (not shown), cranberry & pistachio biscotti and sourdough bread that I had made a few days earlier.

Sunday’s brunch also included the yogurt and granola option, along with a French toast bake, gluten free pancakes and bacon.

Lisa also made some gluten free steel cut oatmeal both days and I never got to taste it! Hopefully I will next time😊.

I am happy and proud to report that no one got sick!! That was my biggest fear, and we all were pleasantly full for the weekend.

The weekend wasn’t all about yoga, we had some creative time. We painted inspirational rocks from the river. I have a couple weeks to think about the next design and am hoping to come up with a better idea for my second rock!

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We also went into the town of Winthrop to do some shopping. I had never been there before, and found it to be a cute town. I have travel blogged about Leavenworth, a nearby town that has a Bavarian theme. Winthrop is fashioned after an old western town.

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This dude was in front of the Putt Putt Golf Course.

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Like most tourist towns, there were plenty of ice cream and coffee shops. I love the mottos and sayings of these two in particular!

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The weekend was a success! The 8 of us had a great time shopping, eating and stretching!

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The Yogis, relaxing and shopping

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Lisa, (left) is our instructor and Teena (right) also teaches in the Seattle area.

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And I am now thinking about what to prepare for the last week in June, when I will head back for the next, and final, retreat. Any suggestions??

 

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Spelunking in Colossal Cave

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Most of you already know that we are a rock climbing family. We tend to spend a lot of time going up, when we are outside. So, when I told them that I wanted to go under the rocks, I was met with “why?” from the kids and “uh, how deep?” from the hubby.

Our kids would never choose to spend their precious down time exploring caves with mom, when they could be hanging off the side of a mountain instead. And hubby, well he is not super excited about the close quarters that are 80 feet below the surface. To be fair, he is not always happy with how far above the earth we take him either, but he is getting better with the heights!

Colossal Cave is located in Vail, which is about an hour south of our home in Tucson. I was not able to get the kids there, but I did managed to talk my husband into it!

There are three tours to choose from, the regular tour which is an hour, the ladder tour that goes for 1 1/2 hours and the wild cave experience that is 3 1/2 tour. Knowing that I was already pushing the boundaries of my marriage, I stuck to the shorter hike that did not require belly crawling through small openings.

It was a cold day, by Arizona standards, when we decided to visit the park. The site is dedicated to preserving the old mining history of the area. We were greeted by a statue and sluice used for separating the sediment from the desired minerals, mostly crystals at this site.

Additionally there is a map. The regular tour centered around the “sink hole” formation on the left. The more advanced tours head into the middle and right sections of the cave, which is still being developed today.

Although the temperature outside was in the high 50Fs that day, the cave is always around 70F, with fairly high humidity. It was quite comfortable! And there was plenty of room to accommodate the entire group. Perfect conditions for my hubby!

The cave is dark and picture taking was not always easy, but I did mange to get a few shots that show a small fraction of the beauty found here.

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There were plenty of stalactite and stalagmite formations to impress us.

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The guide was great! He was funny and provided a wonderful historical perspective as we moved from one cavern to the next. Along the way we were told about the life of the average cave worker, back in those early days.

One of the corridors contained display cases, which contained clothing and tools utilized by the laborers, hard to believe this was the “state of the art” equipment back then.

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Do you see the “head lamp” above? This cloth cap was attached to an open flame that was used for light and visibility,  in the dark cave. Imagine walking around, in pitch black, with a 6 inch open, blue flame emanating from your forehead. That is a cloth hat!! And, all the rope and clothing were cotton, yikes.

 

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There were no power tools, and no explosives were used to excavate the cave. Just hand tools and muscle.

Two of my favorite features are depicted below.

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This column formed when a stalagmite and stalactite fused together.

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This is a picture of “cave ice”. Remember, its 70F or more in the cave all year long. So, this ice is really a unique structure that forms from a particular combination of minerals, which came into contact with slowly dripping water for an extended period of time (like eons). It is white due to the crystal structure and it is slippery, much like the surrounding limestone found in all the rock climbing areas! I know this from trying to climb in the nearby Cochise Stronghold Area. It is hard to climb a bar of soap🤨!

My hubby was happy that the tour was ending and we went for a short hike, out in the wide open spaces.

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He is definitely happier out here! You can see the stone structure behind him, which is the cave entrance and visitor center.

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So I finally got my cave adventure😊 I will be going back in late April for one of the more extensive tours, and can’t wait to see the other areas of the cave. I will be doing that one solo as hubby has said “NO!” but that’s ok. I totally understand 💕

Yoga Retreat, One More Time

Last January I let my hubby talk me into attending a yoga retreat. He is a big yogi and his instructor told him about a retreat she was holding just north of Manzanillo. I was skeptical. I don’t love Mexican food, we had been to Mexico many times and it was always way too hot for me and I only do yoga when I can’t rock climb or run. So, how much fun could I possibly have?

The answer: So Much!!

Our goal last year was to meet fun people and do some yoga. We greatly exceeded those expectations, so much so that we signed up to go again this year. We even hosted a reunion last summer at our house. My blog posts from last time Good Morning from Manzanillo!, Exploring Bara de NavidadHappy Hour,Snorkeling and Lunch in Santiago Bay! and Our Yoga Retreat Wrap Up! are full of pictures and images that we were privy to this time around as well. So, for this year’s post, I tried to focus more on what was different.

Bill and Susan, our hosts, were once again, fabulous! They made most of our meals and they both are great cooks! Additionally, they would take us to places that no other tourists go-we had day trips to Colima and Comala and they chose restaurants that the locals frequent. They are a big reason why we chose to repeat this experience. Of course Lisa, our yoga teacher, was another big draw to the event! Once again we met wonderful people and had even more adventures. We did repeat the snorkeling trip but otherwise the experience was unique.

We began each day with meditation at the nearby beach then morning yoga, at Bill and Susan’s home. Look at these views!

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The infinity pool at the lower house

 

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View from the lower house

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Another angle from the lower house

We did all our yoga at the upper house, under the palapa. You can see the pool at the upper house as well

We had morning and evening yoga sessions. This year Lisa challenged us with partner yoga poses. She would give us a pose and then we had to interpret that pose in a creative way. For example, Dennis and I did a “moon pose” on the beach.

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And, Janet and Annie did this interpretation of the fish pose, in the pool

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So these were more creative poses than the traditional forms. It was fun to see what everyone would come up with for their assignment.

In between all the yoga were the adventures. Snorkeling, hiking, museum visits and lots of shopping.

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And the food! Oh my god, did we eat!! If Bill and Susan weren’t cooking then we were at some amazing restaurants! I have a few images, many of which were on Instagram, of some of the cuisine we were fortunate to enjoy.

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Breakfast was wonderful! Bill’s granola and yogurt, with local fruit was a fan favorite. And with this sunrise, hard to beat!

 

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Bill and Susan always served dessert-This is a Poncho Villa. Amazing!

 

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Lunch in Colima, these crepes could have been from Paris

 

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Bill and Susan selected this restaurant near Colima. So glad they did!

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Many of you know about my coffee “issues”, This Sunday brunch spot, Los Portales de Suchitlan, was a true highlight. A young girl served as our translator as this was a local place, no tourists around!

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And then this…A Swiss restaurant (?) in Comala, Mexico! Piccolo Suizo was spectacular!

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You can see why we are trying to eat lighter after coming back to Tucson! We ate constantly on this retreat, and it was worth it! So good 🙂

We had another wonderful experience this year, just like last time. One of the tasks I undertook was to organize a slide show for the final night, I was the only one who brought a computer (what a nerd, right?). I took the partner poses and some fun images of our experience to attempt to capture the feel of the week. It is short, only 2.5 minutes and our yogi buddies wanted to see it again. I thought I would post it here for anyone who wants to see a few more images.

 

So what is next for Dennis and I? We need to spend some time on the homes for now, no trips planned right now, but you never know!

The Final Family Climb in Tucson

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Our kids have left to return to their lives in Seattle. Dennis and I were surprised at just how much we miss them 😦 Of course, we expected to feel a little sad when they left, but it has hit us harder than we thought it would. Perhaps that is because we know, as parents, that the window to have them available to us is closing. They are strong, independent young adults with dreams and bright futures ahead of them, which is what all parents strive toward for their children. But now, when they are fun and capable we want more time with them, not less!

We all got to have one last climb in Mt. Lemmon. We climbed “feed the sweed” on Barnum Rock. This is an easy three pitch ascent that we all enjoyed!

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We climbed to the top of this guy!

It was a gorgeous day, really perfect for climbing! We drove to this spot in the picture above, crossed the street and started the hike up to the base.

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This is the base looking up to the top

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The view from the base looking over the valley. We started at the 6000 ft. level

Ryan led, of course, and Dennis followed. Alex and I were next.

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With four people and just as many iPhones, we had plenty of photos of everybody.

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Alex is making her way onto the top of the first pitch

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Alex is belaying me as I climb, while Ryan supervises.

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spoiler alert, I made it!

The view from the top of pitches 1 and 2

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Some pictures of us climbing pitch 3

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Ryan at the top!

Eventually, we all made our way up to Ryan. What a view!

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Dennis at the top

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Alex enjoying the view

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Ryan and I packing some gear, getting ready for the decent

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The obligatory summit selfie!

We had such an amazing time. The kids are really patient with us and chose a fun and simple climb. No one fell (I usually fall at least once!) and the rock conditions were perfect.

As I said before, Alex and Ryan are back in Seattle working and getting ready for classes. Dennis and I will be coping by heading to Manzanillo Mexico for a yoga retreat. We leave tomorrow, so don’t feel too sorry for us as we miss the kids!

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Standard Route on Mt. Lemmon

Ryan and I first climbed on Mt. Lemmon near the base, at “the wall of the flying scorpions”. This was a single pitch crag and near 1500ft. elevation. We had fun, even though I did split open a couple fingers in the process.

This time we decided to head up near the 4000ft area to a multi pitch climb named “the standard route“. This climb is located on Chimney rock and is only a 200ft climb, divided into 5 pitches. Perfect for me but pretty lame for Ryan!

It was a gorgeous day when we got to the base of the wall.

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Ryan placed his rope and some gear near the base and we “suited up”.

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There was a party of three ahead of us, so we waiting our turn. I watched the two women ahead of us in the hopes of learning the best way to maneuver the route.

Then Ryan lead up to the first anchor.

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There was a big ledge here to sit and wait for our turn on the second pitch.

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The view just keeps getting better!

This is the start of the second, and my least favorite, pitch. This is the chimney, which is just large enough for your body to squeeze into the gap. You can see the last climber in the group ahead of us as she tries to work her way up the rock face.

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Eventually, Ryan and I got up, through and over this pitch. Below is the top of the chimney and the start of my favorite pitch, number 3.

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We waited here for a bit while the other group made their way up.

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Helmet hair!

 

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Ryan was tired of waiting at this point and was ready to head up.

The view from the top of pitch 3.

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After talking with the group ahead of us, we all decided to combing pitches 4 and 5 and went to the top!

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This rock teetering on the spike, was another 1000ft or so above us. Would love to climb in that area!

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The obligatory Summit Selfie!

 

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We waited for our turn to rappel off the top.

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Ryan goes first and I wait for him to yell clear, then I head down. When we are both on the ground, we pull the rope through the anchor.

But the rope did not cooperate this time. Ryan had to climb back up and retrieve it!

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This happens sometimes! Luckily he knew what to do because that rope is $300.00, Yikes!

After a fun climb there is only one thing left to do!

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Happy Hour at Zona78!

Our next climb will be with the whole family!

The Climbing Adventure Continues on Mount Lemmon

Ryan and I have been climbing in the Southern Arizona area, and have been to the Cochise Stronghold area a couple times. We like that area, but it is a two hour drive from our home in the Catalina foothills and makes for a pretty long day. We decided to head over to Mount Lemmon, in the Coronado National Forest, which is only 40 minutes away.

The day was perfect for climbing with the temperature at 73F and no wind. And, since it was a weekday, we would not have too many other climbers to contend with on the wall.

There are many crags here, mostly single pitch climbing, all well bolted with “lower offs” in place.

We chose the “wall of the flying scorpions” because it had several routes, some low enough for me, and most harder, for Ryan to climb.

This is the view from the parking area and our routes are on the far right rock wall.

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We had a bit of a hike to get through the gully and over to the crag. One thing I have learned about hiking in the desert is that the cactus are not the worst offenders. I used to believe that the cacti, with their sharp spines, were the only foliage to be avoided. But the cactus are not the biggest problem!  The brush and bushes, none of which are the iconic saguaro variety, are the real danger. Look at the spikes on this bush!

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This, and the many large aloe vera plants with their razor sharp leaves, are the real obstacles along the path.

We made our way to the other side of the valley and found the wall.

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These are the easier routes, so just a warm up for Ryan! I made it up this first, 5.8 just fine.

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But, 1/3 of the way up the second wall (5.9) I had a little problem.

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Turns out this rock was a little sharper than I had hoped. As I pulled up on a finger tip hold, I sliced my index finger. It wasn’t too bad, but the blood made the rest of the route a little slippery and I then took a larger piece of my thumb off.

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That was ok because these were the only two routes I was going to attempt on this wall anyway. So I finished off the climb and we moved down the wall to Ryan’s routes, 5.10b, 5.10b/c and a 5.11-.

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Ryan’s routes were longer and obviously harder. At this point I was just belaying him and taking some shots from the base of the wall. A pretty view!

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The view from the base of the wall, looking back on the road leading up Mount Lemmon

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Ryan’s favorite climbing shirt. Last year’s Christmas gift from his sister.

We were not alone at the crag, a few other duos were there working the wall as well. We caught a glimpse of them as we drove away.

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Zooming in on the wall, you can see one of their back packs (circled) where the belayer is standing and the arrow indicates the climber on his way up.

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This must have been how Ryan and I appeared from the other side of the highway.

There are so many other crags to explore on Mount Lemmon and we will be heading back to check them out!

Ryan and Dee Dee’s Excellent Adventure

You may recall that my husband and I decided to buy a second home in Tucson about six months ago. As soon as we told our kids, our son, Ryan, began planning a climbing trip. He wanted to leave Washington the minute his fall semester ended and stay at the new house, which would serve as his base of operations, through the Christmas holiday.

This plan was not practical for Dennis and Alex (our daughter) as they needed to work and was not poplar with Grandma as Ryan and I would not be around for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner! But, this is our first year with the new house and everyone has been gracious in allowing Ryan and I this great opportunity 🙂

We decided that Ryan and I would be in Tucson until the end of December and then Dennis and Alex will join us so we can all climb for the first week of January. So, Ryan and I had our first foray into Southern Arizona yesterday.

We left the house at 9:30am for the 2 hour drive to the Cochise Stronghold climbing area in the Coronado National Forest. There are over 1000 different routes to choose from. Ryan decided on Euphoria for our first climb. Armed with two guide books and the Mountain project website we began our search for the route.

For any of you that climb or hike, you know that finding the parking area is the first challenge. We turned onto the well marked “primitive road” and began the 10 mile drive toward the general area.  We were pretty sure we were on the right track when we saw the domes off in the distance.

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About 8 miles into the gravel road we saw this…

 

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How is a school bus making the 16 mile round trip on this road? And where are these kids coming from??

Anyway, we kept going.

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Getting closer!

We had been making good time, up until this point! Somewhere we missed the tiny little sign that indicated the forest road that split off toward the parking area. This cost us an hour as we tried to back track and listen to the disembodied GPS voice telling us to take the private, padlocked road to our destination! Finally, we found it.

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The dome on the far right was where Euphoria lives, and where we needed to hike over toward. This hike would take about an hour, according to the guide books, we managed to get there in 40 minutes.

We now are beginning the climb at almost 1pm! The sun sets at 5:22pm and we were hoping to climb the five pitches (plus the hour hike back) before it was so dark that we needed head lamps, so we had to be efficient!

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Ryan began flaking the rope

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This is the view from the base, lots of trees and rocks!

Ryan lead the first pitch and set the anchor, you might be able to see his yellow jacket at the top of the orange rope.

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I climbed up and Ryan took this shot at the top of pitch one.

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From here it gets colder! The wind picked up big time and we climbed the next four pitches. No pictures there as the focus is now on not dying! Both hands on the rope at all times. As we went higher the cold became a factor as our finger tips and toes were really starting to suffer! Ryan, of course, never fell. I, of course, fell twice!

We finally topped out about three hours after the initial pitch and we were both shivering! Ryan snapped a summit selfie.

I found out later that a “unusual cold front” had moved into the area and would take the temperature into the low 20s. The first frost warning of the season-lucky us!

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It was now pushing 5pm and we had to get back to the car. The hike down was steep and we had all the gear to balance. The sun was going down and we took a few last shots of this beautiful place.

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We did make it back to the car before it was too dark to see without the head lamps. I was rather proud of that!

I am not going to lie, I am bruised and sore today! But we will be back! There are many more routes to explore in this area.