How do you have an epic Summer of Adventure? That’s the question I asked myself in March when I started to plan out what always feels like the shortest three months in my life. I knew I wanted to hike some 14ers, take a few camping trips and above all work as little as possible. As a flight attendant summer is our busy season but as a fitness instructor summer is slow. I needed a way to fund my adventurous lifestyle so I wouldn’t have to spend too much time indoors or up in the sky.
My friend Dawnelle who owns the yoga and cycle studio QiFlow in Denver had been meeting since the beginning of January every Wednesday to have a weekly adventure date. The only condition of our weekly dates was that the adventure had to be something at least one of us hadn’t done, weather permitting it needed to take place outside and above all it had to challenge us. We had been posting photos on social media and inadvertently gotten a huge response to our excursions. I told Dawnelle that people wanted to join us on our adventures and what if we could find a way for them to do just that? Better yet, what if we could find a way to be paid for our time training so that a person could conquer the ultimate in Colorado bucket list items – a 14er.
So QiTopia Summer Adventure Training was born and this is how I kick started and funded my summer.
The 5:30am boot camps on Monday were a bit painful to grow accustomed to at first but this habit made it easier for me to get up for the sunrise at Mesa Arch in Moab in May. We took a road trip to Arches and Canyonlands for my birthday at the beginning of summer which prepped me mentally and physically for future hiking trips. Utah has very strict liquor laws and so the best you can usually find is 3.2 beer. I was very glad I brought a case of Denver Beer Co with me to celebrate happy hour on the trails. My friends who joined us also delighted in my beer selection which truly elevated everyone’s camping experience. If you’ve ever been camping you know life outside is pretty simple. We’d hike during the day, come back and cook dinner and then sit around the fire having a beer and sharing stories. I made it a point to stay off social media too much so I could enjoy the company.
Taking a week off gave me a fresh start for starting adventure training. I would take the group on hikes every other Wednesday night to various locations across Boulder and Golden from the Royal Arch to Mount Galbraith. When I could I joined Dawnelle on her Monday nights biking up Lookout Mountain or trail running. Something one should know about me is that in no way am I a road biker or trail runner but in the spirit of trying new things I dove in. Summer, to me, is about getting out of your comfort zone and saying yes to opportunities that present themselves. It’s so much easier to leave the house when you don’t have to dress in multiple layers or worry about driving through snow so I decided to take full advantage of the longer days.
You can’t teach someone else how to camp unless you do so yourself so my family and I took a road trip to the Great Sand Dunes with two other couples. This was our second camping trip of the summer although our first only lasted one night due to freezing temperatures. That’s the curse of living in Colorado – just because it’s warm in Denver doesn’t mean the mountains will have caught up in the beginning of June. The sand dunes were certainly warm but they were also full of mosquitos and of course sand. I decided to leave everyone at the campsite one evening to hike up to the top of the dunes with my Princess Yum Yum and have my own happy hour. When you’re camping with 4 small children there’s no predicting when they will go to sleep and it’s not always easy to enjoy a beer when you’re watching them. I took advantage of the fact no one wanted to join me and had an amazing time watching the sunset from the top of the dunes. Princess Yum Yum always reminds me of long summer days because it appears in stores this time of year but, like the warm weather, it’s gone before you know it.
I’ve only been a Denver Beer Co Explorer Ambassador a few short months but I have immensely enjoyed combining my two favorite things – beer and outdoor adventures. From Graham Cracker Porter to Sun Drenched Ale, there’s a flavor for every expedition. I recently completed the 26 mile Four Pass Loop in Aspen Colorado and one of the downfalls of backpacking wasn’t being able to bring any beer along with me. I fortunately had a simple reminder of home in the form of my Denver Beer Co hat which I wore with pride along the way. If hosting adventure retreats has been the way to fund my summer than working with DBC has been what’s added the flavor.
On our way back to the car the shuttle driver who took us out of the Maroon Bells Wilderness made a comment to us backpackers how hard it can be to acclimate when re-entering society. For the past four days we had hardly seen anyone else, had no access to phones or social media and lived off peanut butter, ramen made over a camp stove and water we had to filter ourselves. Part of me didn’t want to leave the wild and the other part was glad to be getting back to a real bed and wear something other than hiking pants. I had completed one of my grandest adventures of the summer and there was no reward or medal to collect at the end of the trail just satisfaction. While I may have missed work, missed happy hour on the patio at DBC with friends and missed my family, what I gained on the trail was a deeper understanding of myself and just how strong yet vulnerable I am. As I mused on how hard it would be to leave the simple life, yet how much I had waiting for me at home the driver said, “I’m just living the life I love and loving the life I live.” I’m someone who’s getting paid to teach others how to adventure and get in shape. Yes, I couldn’t agree with him more.