Snowshoeing in Colorado

I’m back in Florida after a whirlwind weekend in Colorado visiting two of my best girlfriends, Michaela and Leah.

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We had the most amazing time snowshoeing, exploring Denver and Boulder, eating Thai food, catching up and just being together after nearly eight months apart.

I’ve known Michaela and Leah since elementary school (Pleasant Hill for my wonderful northwest suburbs of Chicago readers), and we’ve stayed close through college and multiple moves. Michaela moved to Denver last year and I was really anxious to see her in her new hometown.

I arrived in Denver on Friday night right around dinnertime. Since Leah was getting in late, Michaela, her boyfriend, Kyle, and I all hung out at their apartment until her flight arrived.

Michaela made such a delicious pizza for us to share and I cannot wait to recreate it at home.

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Michaela is gluten-free for health reasons, and made the pizza on a rice-based  gluten-free crust that I absolutely loved. It was chewy and flavorful and when topped with homemade pesto, feta cheese, turkey sausage and red onion, tasted fantastic! It reminded me of something Urban Flats, a tasty flatbread restaurant in Orlando, would serve.

Leah’s flight from Chicago was unfortunately delayed, but she arrived safe and sound and we picked her up at the airport after 11 p.m. and spent the remainder of the night at Michaela’s apartment talking until the early morning hours.

Snowshoeing

The next day, we awoke bright and early for quite an adventure.

We drove about and hour and a half away to a popular state park to snowshoe!

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Thanks to Michaela for outfitting me in snow pants and a puffy coat! I definitely don’t have the proper cold-weather clothing anymore.

We rented snowshoes and poles for $15 and headed out to tackle several miles of hiking.

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Call me crazy, but I totally pictured walking on tennis racquets when Michaela said we’d be snowshoeing. Fortunately snowshoes have come a long way and were really easy to walk in and did a great job of keeping me atop the thick snow.

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Leah and I had a bit of a hard time adjusting to the altitude in the beginning. I swear my heart was pounding so, so fast just walking at a normal pace.

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Man down!

It’s absolutely crazy to me what a difference the altitude makes. I always heard that high altitudes can really take your breath away, and I know I’m affected easily by pressure changes (it takes me longer than most to descend when scuba diving because I need to equalize so often), but this was really shocking.

We took it slow and enjoyed the unbelievable views and scenery.

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Is that not postcard material, or what? Both Leah and I said walking through the snow-covered trees reminded us of the children’s book The Mitten. So picturesque!

The goal of our hike was to make it to two different lakes that were completely frozen over.

Lake number one:

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Lake number two:

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We did it!

Once we reached the lakes and turned around, the hike was considerably easier since it was all downhill. We also packed a bottle of wine and snacks and stopped for a break to make a toast and eat a bit before heading back.

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Wine, cheese and grapes. We’re classy like that. Winking smile

I also ate a ton of nuts (I was craving salty food like mad!) and an apple.

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After eating my apple, I made a big mistake. I threw my core to a nearby hungry-looking squirrel. Apparently you’re not supposed to feed wild animals in state parks, and boy did I learn my lesson.

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That squirrel was INSANE. Longtime readers may know that I already have major issues with squirrels after quite the incident at UCF and this squirrel only further solidified my fears.

The squirrel had NO fear. It would not leave us alone and ran right up to us, grazing our boots and running IN BETWEEN our legs. It did not relent when we screamed like crazy and tried to scare it away and jumped toward us from tree branches. It was literally fearless and we were flipping out and scrambling to gather our food and wine and get the heck out of there.

I’m pretty sure we would win the $100,000 grand prize on American’s Funniest Home Videos had we caught that little escapade on video.

We hiked the remainder of the way back to the car and laughed about the psychotic squirrel and were on a hiker’s high. Downhill was so much easier and we probably hiked back in half the time it took us to hike to the lakes.

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Such an amazing day!

I’ll be back soon with a recap of the rest of our time in Colorado. I miss Michaela, Leah and that beautiful state already!

Comments

  1. says

    That looks like so much fun! I’ve been wanting to try snowshoeing forever and your photos/story only make me want to go even more. Not to mention, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking.

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  2. samHOTmess says

    JULIE!
    This post is making me miss Boulder so muchhh!
    I’ve never tried snowshoeing but I grew up on a snowboard, was it exhausting? Are you tired/sore the day after?

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  3. Courtney says

    My family and I just returned from skiing in Breck and visiting Denver (yesterday actually!). We are originally from Texas so I totally feel you on the altitude issue! Skiing was very challenging in such a big change. :) Glad you had a wonderful time- I know we did!

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  4. says

    Snowshoeing is such a blast! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!
    And it really is crazy how much the altitude can affect you–whenever I go out to Colorado, I am incapable of sleeping more than three hours a night and get massive massive headaches!

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  5. Maria says

    Awww, I miss Boulder so much! I used to study there for 4 years…and I loved it! Look like you’re having such a fun time over there :)!

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  6. Geneva says

    Funny I also thought of tennis rackets as shoes when you mentioned showshoeing, glad to see that the modern world has progressed from that.

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  7. says

    That sounds like so much fun! I’ve never been snowhoeing but would love to try it out sometime. I definitely pictured big, clunky, tennis racquet-like shoes, too, haha. The scenery looks so beautiful, especially that super blue sky! The squirrel sounds scary, I can’t believe he was running in between your legs!! Sound like a great time (minus the squirrel) and the 3 of you girls are beautiful!

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  8. says

    Great! You muste have had a gorgeous time, and the weather was just perfect! I’ve never tried snowshoeing but I love skiing, you really feel free in such a scenery!

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  9. Briana says

    So my family and I go to Estes Park, Colorado every year just to hike at Rocky Mountain National Park. This past christmas we went actually for the first time in the snow and we snowshoed to Emerald Lake also! I don’t know about you but those shoes took alot of getting used to for me, haha. Anyway, I just thought that was interesting!

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  10. says

    These pictures are BEAUTIFUL, I’m so envious!! Snowshoeing has been on my list of must-dos, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.

    And that squirrel would have made me flip out. Running between your legs??

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  11. says

    How fun! I actually really wanted to go snowshoeing this past weekend while I was away with girlfriends but there wasn’t enough snow in Massachusetts. Guess I’ll have to wait until next time in Colorado!

    P.S. Doesn’t everyone pack wine and snacks when they head out into the great outdoors? 😉

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  12. says

    what a fun weekend, I would love to try snowshoeing!! The scenery is beautiful!! I just read your story about the squirrel at UCF and must agree that the squirrels at college campuses are on drugs! The ones at my college were insane and got way to close to you one even ended up hanging out in my library one day!

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  13. says

    Yay, Colorado! I live in Boulder, and when I first moved here I couldn’t run one mile without feeling like I was going to die! And forget running up hills. I walked them ALL. Going from sea level to 5,200 is no joke!

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  14. Kaelin says

    Wow!! I fell in love with Colorado during a trip last there last summer. We stayed near Pikes Peak, but drove all around visiting Denver, Breckenridge, Colorado Springs….. I can’t wit to go back!

    I love that you guys packed wine and a snack! And that squirrel would have made me pee my pants!! Hysterical!

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  15. Laura@ Backstage Balance says

    Colorado is so lovely. My sister lives in Colorado Springs, and I’ve been fortunate to have visited her several times over the last few years!
    The altitude issue is interesting, isn’t it? On my most recent visit, I wore a heart rate monitor while we hiked the Manitou Incline (an awesome, scary steep hike if you’re ever in Colorado Springs!) and my heart rate was definitely elevated from where it would normally be at home.
    I also find that drinking at altitude is an interesting experience… The alcohol hits you about twice as hard!

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  16. says

    ugh I remember when my family took a trip to Colorado and our cabin was located up in the mountains. First of all those mountain roads have NO guardrails and I got undeniably sick from the altitude. But it was a fun trip after I got used to it haha =)

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  17. M says

    that pizza looks great! i may have to make my own for dinner tonight!

    also i love weight watchers string cheese! have you ever tried the colby jack… so good.

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  18. says

    Ah! That looks like Washington! Isn’t it beautiful? I think you need to relocate to the Northwest if you ask me! So many outdoor adventures. I totally know what you mean about altitude. Scott and I were staying in a hotel where the altitude was high and I almost had a hard time carrying my dog (mind you, she’s over 40 lbs.) but still! It can really take your breath away! Hope you had a great time and steer clear of squirrels.

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  19. says

    Colorado is so beautiful – glad you had fun! Also, I hope you try to make that pizza. I’d love the recipe for the crust because my Dad has Celiac and it’s hard to find a good gluten free pizza crust!

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  20. Tracy @ Tracy's Treats says

    I’ve never been but everyone always raves about how beautiful CO is. Your pictures prove that! :-) Looks like tons of fun!

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  21. says

    This looks like so much fun Julie! I love skiing, but haven’t ever tried snowshoeing. I’m sure it was a killer workout!

    Also, my alma mater Vanderbilt is notorious for having crazy squirrels as well. They would jump out of trashcans, out of trees, out from behind bushes – basically you couldn’t walk across campus without being on the lookout. Definitely don’t miss that part of college!

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  22. Shannon says

    I’m so glad you enjoyed my home state! I love it here! You had beautiful weather :-) I’m excited to hear what you did in Boulder! I was born and raised and still live there :-)

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  23. says

    Seriously this post was amazing! Haha, I laughed so hard when reading the squirrel part! “…this squirrel only further solidified my fears.” Too funny! Glad you had such a great time! The wine & fancy cheese/grapes look fabulous! 😉

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  24. says

    Ahhh this makes me miss Colorado so much! We used to go to Rocky Mountain National Park all the time and hike, and I’ve done this hike a few times (minus the snow!)
    Emerald Lake is really pretty! Can’t wait to hear more about your trip! xoxo

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  25. says

    That gluten-free pizza looks delicious! Udi’s has a really good gluten-free pizza crust.

    Wow, they have a lot of snow in CO! I planned to try snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing this year (since I live in MN and you would think snow would be a given), but we’ve hardly gotten any snow all year. The bonus is it is easier to run outside without worrying about falling!

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  26. says

    I’m so jealous that you went snow-shoeing! It’s something I’ve never tried. I was determined to do it this winter- but it hasn’t snowed in DC!! I go out to Colorado every year, but it’s always in the summer.
    That story about the squirrel is insane- and noted! I will make sure that I DO NOT feed them next time I’m out there!

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  27. Stefanie says

    Hi! I just have to tell you, I have been doing some of your at home circuit workouts for a few weeks when I felt like my runs weren’t long enough. I finally decided to browse and have discovered the most amazing thing – to put xanthum gum in smoothies?? hello!!! My son is gluten free and so we have it on hand and I was so curious why you put it in your smoothie…now I know! I love your blog, you are so cute…keep it up!!

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  28. Heather says

    Oh my gosh – you went to Emerald Lake in RMNP – that is a fun hike even in the summer – I have go on up to Nymph, Emerald and Dream – trying to picture it in the winter with snowshoes. Wow – the views must have been amazing! And no wonder you were huffing and puffing – you were way up since that trail starts all the way up at the Bear Lake parking head – I think starting elevation must be around 8,000 at least.

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  29. ash says

    I think snowshoeing and cross country skiing are so much more fun than downhill skiing. It’s easier to me too! And, you get to enjoy the scenery more. I thought I was going to die downhill skiing the first time in CO. I’ve always skied on the east coast in lower altitudes. But, it killed me out west!

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  30. says

    Where we live in Utah, we’re about 7,000 feet… coming from Seattle and starting to run here was so hard for me. I was just starting out running and training for a 5k. Lucky for me, the actual race was back in Seattle so I did all this “high altitude training” and then got to run at sea level which was so much easier!
    We have yet to try snowshoeing out here but we own all the stuff – just need to get out there and do it!

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  31. says

    Daniel and I are looking at going to Denver or Boulder for our 5 year anniversary (just a long weekend) – we’ve never been to either. This post makes me really really want to go!!!

    I had a crazy squirrel incident too! I was feeding peanuts to squirrels in Texas one time, and the squirrels were so used to people – they would literally eat the peanuts right out of your hand. I thought it was awesome (I think I was 15), until my finger was mistaken for a peanut. It bit THROUGH my fingernail! Insane.

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  32. Isabel says

    My hubby and I went hiking last summer in that exact same area in RMNP! Part of the trail was covered in snow and we only had trekking poles to use so it was tough! I’d love to try snowshoes though- very fun! I soooo want to go back- I’m a Texas girl all the way but wouldn’t mind spending part of my year in Colorado! Your hiking snacks for this trail definitely made the Cliff Bars and tuna packs that we took look lame!

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  33. Amelia says

    So neat that you get to experience some winter this year! Even though I’m in VA, we barely got ANY snow, but thats okay with me. Sometimes I feel like all you need is a taste of real winter and you’re set.

    As someone with a gluten intolerance, I’d love to know the name of the company that makes that rice based pizza crust. So many gluten free crusts are not all they’re cracked up to be (corn-based? cornbread pizza=gross). Once I find a good crust, I’m so excited to start experimenting with pizza flavors again.

    Thanks and hope you have a safe trip home!

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  34. says

    I live just outside of Boulder. My husband, daughter and I went snowshoeing in RMNP this weekend too. We were a little worried because there was like zero snow until you’re pretty far into the park. Altitude does take some getting used to. I always forget when we have people come visit that it takes them a while to get used to it.

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  35. says

    I AM SO JEALOUS!!! I have never been to Colorado, and for whatever reason I want to up and move there. I tell my boyfriend ALL the time about wanting to move there!

    I have a friend who recently uprooted and moved to Denver and she raves about it! I’m hoping to get out there soon and visit…and maybe just never come back! hehehe!

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  36. Lyndsi @ RunLiftPlay says

    Oh how I love your pictures! I was hoping to take a trip to Colorado this winter but that didn’t happen so I’m glad I can view the beauty through your pictures. I absolutely love Colorado. I’m a bit jealous of your snowshoeing journey! I went snowshoeing here in North Carolina a few weeks ago but we were forced to do it on ski slopes. The trails you went on are a million times better than a ski slope!

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  37. Suzanne says

    Your squirrel story reminds me of the last time my husband and I went canoeing… We stopped at a small island for a lunchtime picnic and I made the mistake of trying to befriend tiny, cute, seemingly innocent chipmunk. I tossed the chipmunk the unfinished crusts from my sandwich and we couldn’t even enjoy our dessert because the chipmunk started trying to “nip” at our feet since we had kicked off our shoes. Yikes!

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  38. says

    I got a kick out of reading this! I LOVE boulder and going there is going down for me so running and hiking there feel like a dream! I know exactly how you feel though elevation is a killer! Colorado’s where it’s at!!

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  39. says

    Snowshoeing looks like so much fun! My aunt mentioned that she got some snowshoes for Christmas this year and I’ve been dying to go visit her (in Michigan) and try it out. Although I’m planning on moving to Colorado someday (maybe hopefully) so I’m sure I’ll do it all the time then :-)

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  40. Nicole says

    What was the other lake you visited? I live in MN, but I spent one January in Estes Park taking classes and hiking/snowshoeing/squirrel-fleeing in Rocky Mtn Natl Park. So invigorating!!

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  41. Anne @strawberryjampackedlife says

    I went snowshoeing in Yellowstone a few years ago, and totally had to stop due to the altitude. I just remember being so hot and laying down in the snow. It felt so good that I wanted to stay there all day.

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  42. Amanda M. says

    Hi Julie! I’ve been a huge fan of your blog for over a year now and I read every day! I live in Colorado and I’ve never been snowshoeing and I’m wondering where you went and where you rented the equipment from? I want to try to make it out there this weekend after seeing all of your fun photos! I sent the blog post to all of my friends and we’re all eager to go now. Any info is helpful and thanks for writing such an inspirational blog!

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    • says

      oh gosh, i can’t remember the name of the place where we rented our gear. it was about a 15-minute drive from where we began hiking at rocky mountain state park. i know the trail we followed went to many different lakes, including mirror lake and emerald lake…

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  43. Katie says

    Julie:

    Did your friend make that crust or did she purchase it? If she made it do you think she would be willing to share the recipe? I am also gluten-free for health reasons and that crust looks really yummy and much better then the pre-made crust I’ve been purchasing.

    Thanks!

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