E = Easter Bunny Paddle

E

Date: 5 April 2015

River: Arkansas (Pinnacle Rock)

Level: 434 cfs

Paddlers: Me, Frank, Sharlene, Ed, Katy, Jose, Jim, Jim, Rich

On Easter day, many people have their traditions.  Church, staying at home, easter egg hunts, chocolate, the list goes on!  I am proud to say that I did not consume ANY chocolate yesterday, but I did participate in a pretty cool tradition here in southern Colorado! The Annual Easter Bunny Paddle on the Arkansas River!  The local paddling group, Pikes Peak Whitewater Club gathered folk for an easy paddle followed by a potluck picnic on the shores. I considered myself lucky to be invited along.  The rules of the Easter Bunny Paddle is that each paddler had to attach a stuffed bunny on the bow of their boat.  Some even took it a step further and duct taped bunny ears to their helmets!  Note for next year: find bunny ears for my helmet.

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This section of the Arkansas was one I hadn’t paddled before, and it was at low water so for this big water boater, it was a bit of a challenge maneuvering my short playboat around rocks. The Pinnacle Rock section was a fun class III run, which apparently gets even more awesome as the water level rises!

The weather was so great (23 degrees celcius) along the way, we saw fishermen along the shore and families having Easter picnics and having fun along the river.  It was so great to see people taking their children out on Easter and spending it in the outdoors together as a family!

Enjoy the photos!

Group poses for a photo!

Group poses for a photo!

What a beautiful April day on the Arkansas!

What a beautiful April day on the Arkansas!

Everyone brought a mascot!

Everyone brought a mascot!

Sock Monkey Bunny ready to go with Angry Fish!

Sock Monkey Bunny ready to go with Angry Fish!

Getting the boats ready at the put-in

Getting the boats ready at the put-in

Convoy on our way!

Convoy on our way!

D = Dubrovnik

DAs part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, once we post our blog entry for the day, we are supposed to go through this list, visit other blogs and comment.  I’ve been checking out the next four blogs after mine,and one (TR) or Travel blog each day! The other day I found this great blog entry written by Jeremy about traveling alone. Travel can be a completely different experience whether you’re in groups, as a couple or on your own.  I quite enjoy “lonesome traveling”.  It prevents distractions and allows me to see things more clearly and better immerse myself in the local culture.

One place I visited alone was Dubrovnik, Croatia. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dubrovnik is a fascinating walled city on the Mediterranean. Despite its protected status, the Yugoslav People’s Army didn’t seem to care and besieged the city for seven months in 1991 and 1992, destroying more than half of the city’s infrastructure. It didn’t take long following the most recent Balkan’s conflict to begin rebuilding efforts in the original style and originally used material.

Back to traveling alone:  I spent four days in Dubrovnik, simply walking around the city, taking in the sights and sounds, and concentrating on the remnants of a not-forgotten war. It was amazing how much was reconstituted in only eight years and how quickly the city gave the appearance of returning to a normal life.

** Neat Fact: Most recently, Dubrovnik has been used as various sets for the television show The Game of Thrones, depicting the city of King’s Landing.

Enjoy my pictures.  Taken in 2000, before I could afford a digital camera!

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Walled city with Lokrum in the background

Walled city with Lokrum in the background

Narrow streets and stairways

Narrow streets and stairways

Dubrovnik from above

Dubrovnik from above

Dubrovnik from above.  Looks like they had cable cars prior to the war - see bottom right corner of photo.

Dubrovnik from above. Looks like they had cable cars prior to the war – see bottom right corner of photo.

C = Cross Canada

C

I found this awesome opportunity posted on my Facebook feed and wanted to share it with everyone.

Woods Apparel is holding a contest for two people to win the ultimate Canadian dream job: follow the Trans Canada trail  for five months and test their gear. I want this job so bad!  What an incredible opportunity this would be! Unfortunately I have a career that is 4 years away from a permanent pension, and although being spontaneous is often great, being smart and planning for your future is also very important!.

Here’s the link: http://woodsdreamjob.com.  All you have to do is submit a 60 second video of why you should win this job by April 17th if you are a Canadian resident over the age of 18.

Although this sounds amazing, it reminded me of my cross-Canada journey in 2003.  Myself and 19 other riders bicycled across Canada, starting in Victoria, BC and ending in St. John’s, NL. It was an incredible opportunity to see my own country up front and personal, and further enforced my desire to travel and see not only the world, but take an in-depth look at my roots.

White River, ON is known as the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh!

White River, ON is known as the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh!

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Heading up Signal Hill in St. John’s, NL. Final stretch!

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Stopped for a photo op on the north shore of Lake Superior

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Cycling through the Canadian Rockies was no easy feat!

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Contrary to popular belief, riding through the prairies was more painful than the mountains. Endless field and oh! that headwind!

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B = Bullets

BNot just any bullets, which I’ve noticed you can find just about anywhere across the United States (this Canadian is still in awe at the relative ease of accessibility of weapons and ammo here).  These are special bullets.  They tell a story. One that happened before most of us were born.

In mid to late August, 1944, Canadian Major David Currie’s armoured battlegroup near St. Lambert-sur-Dives, France managed to repel attacking German forces with a final tally of approximately 2,000 German casualties.

In one tightly controlled corridor,the majority of the action resulted in a ton of casualties and incapacitated military equipment and vehicles. So much, in fact, that when I did a France Battlefield tour in 2007 (63 years later), we didn’t have to dig very deep to find artifacts from that very battle. The interesting thing about the bullets I found was that two were rather heavy, while another was significantly lighter.  Our guide explained that due to the numerous explosions, one of the bullets was so hot that the lead leaked out of the casing.

What is the story behind these bullets?  Are they strays that were simply fired downrange? Did they hit someone, or something?  We will never know, but they hold a small piece of history in them that will remain forever encapsulated in these artifacts.

It is incredible to think of the remnants of war that stay for decades and generations after peace has been achieved.

WWII Bullets from Falaise Pocket

WWII Bullets from Falaise Pocket

The story: there was an armoury explosion and this rifle got stuck in a tree and grew with it for 60+ years.

The story: there was an armoury explosion and this rifle got stuck in a tree and grew with it for 60+ years.

Digging for artifacts in Falaise Pocket

Digging for artifacts in Falaise Pocket

My collection of sand and rocks from various beaches

My collection of sand and rocks from various beaches

My collection of sand and rocks from various beaches

My collection of sand and rocks from various beaches

A = Aspen

A

One of my Colorado Bucket List items is to check out Aspen, Colorado.  The place where all the celebrities go to show off their cool ski suits, stay in their million dollar condos and generally live the good life!

I was able to snatch up this sweet deal for the last weekend in March. $250 got me a room in a luxury condo, 2 days of lift tickets at any of the three nearby hills (Aspen, Snowmass, Buttermilk), a Wine & Cheese welcome, and shuttle transportation to and from Colorado Springs.  Sweet! How could I say no?

So here’s what I found.  Aspen is pretty darn cool. The area is simply gorgeous, the condos are out of this world (I shared a three bedroom, four bathroom condo with five friends), the shops are amazing, the restaurants are divine, and the overall vibe is one of relaxed enjoyment.  Even when we went to the Ajax Tavern for dinner (which had amazing food, but not-so-amazing service), as I looked around the restaurant I noticed every table was full of conversation, laughter and interaction. There was a decided lack of smartphones – people were actually conversing with each other AND having fun!

Here are a few photos from my super weekend!  If I can snag a deal like that again next year, I’ll be all over it!

Aspen was a bit steep for this newb boarder...

Aspen was a bit steep for this newb boarder…

Hello from Snowmass Village!

Hello from Snowmass Village!

Yes, I made it look like I was posing, but really I fell down.  A lot.

Yes, I made it look like I was posing, but really I fell down. A lot.

The best Snowmass/Aspen shuttle driver ever!

The best Snowmass/Aspen shuttle driver ever!

Enjoyed a flight of beer at Glenwood Canyon Brew Pub!

Enjoyed a flight of beer at Glenwood Canyon Brew Pub!

Subscription Boxes for Outdoors Aficionados? Yes Please!

I’m a bit out on the loop on anything new or cool.  I don’t have cable TV, and I rarely listen to the radio, so the latest craze is sometimes lost on me.  Earlier this spring, I found out there’s such a thing as subscription boxes when we got an opportunity to have an online chat with the Social Media manager for Birchbox. I was intrigued.  It’s like a birthday present every month!  That you pay for!

So, me being pretty lo-maint, I wasn’t interested in getting boxes of makeup or craft supplies each month and I started googling for subscription boxes for the outdoors.  I was actually thinking I should start one up. Don’t know why I thought I could pull that off with full-time work and part-time school, but hey, I’m a dreamer.

This is where Cairn comes in. It’s a monthly subscription ” of carefully curated gear [that] will show up at your door”.  It’s the only subscription service for us outdoor nerds that I could find.  And it’s just getting started!

So I watched the company for a while and read reviews online.  The boxes were arriving with one awesomely cool piece of gear, and a collection of smaller items.  People were getting Hydro Flasks, and hammocks, and LifeStraws! The subscription cost $25/month with free shipping, but you were always getting at least $35 worth of outdoors items, so I signed up!

** Right now, Cairn only ships to U.S. addresses until they grow**

Here’s my review of Cairn’s August and September Boxes!

AUGUST BOX

This was my first box, and when it arrived in the mail, it was so light, that I thought they forgot to put stuff in it!

August Box

Here’s why. The August box had a Gosamer Gear Q-Ditty storage bag in it!  This thing weighs .02oz and is super strong! My thoughts were that if your entire storage system was made out of this stuff you could cut some serious weight from your pack. For me though, I don’t know if I would spend that kind of dough on an entire system. The Q-Ditty small is worth about $16 by itself.  But yay!  I have one.  Of course I was going to use it!  Here’s what I did with mine on our recent hike to Kroenke Lake, Colorado:

What I carry in the Q-Ditty

What I carry in the Q-Ditty

Spare paracord, matches, spare batteries, a spork (not shown) and my trusty Canada flag for picture taking!

Also in the box were a pair of Sea to Summit accessory straps, which were great for attaching the air mattress to DH’s rucksack, a Paleo Eats Cro Bar and a tube of Sunsect Sunscreen & Insect Repellant Combo. Both in one tube! Used by the U.S. military!  Total worth in August: $38.50.

SEPTEMBER BOX

My September box arrived this week! It was heavier!

What's in the box September Box!

Check it out!  Our big item was the new insulated Stanley Vacuum Pint with bottle opener. I am sure I still have my classic green Stanley thermos with insulating carrier in the basement somewhere.

So here’s the thing about this item. It’s supposed to keep your drinks cold or hot for a very long time, but there’s no sealing lid, so it’s for nursing a beer around a campfire, not for carrying your drink anywhere.  It also weighs quite a bit, so I wouldn’t bring it with me on a 4 mile hike up 2,000 feet of elevation when I’m trying to minimize what I have to carry.  BUT, this will be my backyard, car-camping, bonfire pint glass from this point forward and I’m excited to get to use it! Oh, and Miracle Loki the Siberian Husky also seems to really like it:

Loki loves her Stanley Vacuum Pint!

Also in this month’s box were two samples of Skoop A Game drink mix, which holds the equivalent of 10 servings of fruits and vegetables in a powder, and two samples of Sierra Sage organic outdoor first aid balms. One for muscles pains and one for stings, itches and healing.

Bring your A Game!

Bring your A Game!

Apparently, the salve smells good enough to eat!

Mmmm salve....

Mmmm salve….

The September box contains a worth of $42.20!

SWEET DEAL FOR YOU!

So, when I ordered my first box, I was able to use a $5 off coupon code provided by a fellow outdoor adventure blogger, Val in Real Life, making my first box only $20!

I would like to pay it forward to my followers.  If you liked what you saw (and here’s a list of all the boxes they’ve sent out so far and what was in them), I would like to offer you a $5 off coupon code for a new subscription as well!  Yay!

Just go to http://www.getcairn.com/products/cairn-subscription-box, use the coupon code JENNYRIGHTSIDE and Cairn will grant you $5 off your first box! Also, be sure to tell them when you sign up that Jenny Right-Side referred you with the email address jennyrightside [at] gmail [dot] com!! This offer is good through November 30, 2014!!!

** Right now, Cairn only ships to U.S. addresses until they grow**

ENJOY!!

** Disclaimer: I paid for both of these boxes, and did not receive any free products from Cairn or Cairn’s affiliates. This review is completely based on my experience subscribing to this service**

Jetpack America Contestant: Jenny Stadnyk

I am so excited! I’ve been selected as a contestant in Bucket List Publications’ Jetpack America Contest!

This thing looks cool! This one looks like it uses water to get you airborne and totally looks like a chance of a lifetime!

Please, please, please help me win this by sharing my contestant page below on all of your social media profiles! If I win, not only will you get GoPro footage of me screaming my face off, but I’ll bring Lil Guy up with me too!

Please click here and share my page: Jetpack America Contestant: Jenny Stadnyk.

Thank you so much!

xoxo
Jenny

Skipping a 14er for Stanley Canyon Trail

Part of the reason my blog is called “Stumbling into Adventure” is because I don’t often plan things through.  I get an idea in my head and I make it happen.  It always seems to work out for me – somehow.  My husband likes to carefully plan and be prepared for every excursion – the complete opposite!

So I had it in my head that we were going to climb Pikes Peak (14,115 feet) today. We were going to take the Barr Trail, camp overnight, summit tomorrow morning and hike back down.  With the dog.  My husband thought we should summit the same day and camp on the way down. So we had it all planned out before realizing that Barr Trail gains 7,615 feet in elevation in 13 miles (not to mention the 13 miles back down!).  We then decided to go with an easier mountain, a class 1 but the highest in Colorado, Mount Elbert. Until we saw that a storm was supposed to roll in this morning around 11am in the region.  So we sat down.  And had a chat.  About starting with the biggest.

We settled on Stanley Canyon Trail.   This was close to home and would be a good practice trail with some good elevation, but that we could do in about 4 hours, round trip. 

Loki is ready to start hiking!

Loki is ready to start hiking!

It gains about 2000 feet in elevation in about 2 miles.  The beginning is the worst and requires scrambling over rocks at times. But the views, they were breathtaking!  There were a couple of spots where you could look back and see over the entire city of Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy.  Once inside the canyon, the steep walls make for a surreal experience, and at the top of the first section of the climb there is a beautiful, sunny, waterfall area filled with butterflies!  

Flowers in a clearing

Flowers in a clearing

The geography of the entire trail changes about 4 or 5 times along the way up.  Fields, forest, rocky climbs, waterfalls, canyon walls, and finally at the end, a hidden reservoir.

Scrambling up the rock/scree

Scrambling up the rock/scree

Scrambling down the rock/scree

Scrambling down the rock/scree

The reservoir at the top was a nice secluded location for a lunch or in Loki’s case, a nap!

The Stanley Canyon Reservoir

The Stanley Canyon Reservoir

It was a great day and a great hike. And yes, I admitted to my husband that maybe going after the biggest 14ers right away wouldn’t have been such a great idea!  We have decided from this point to work our climbing endurance for a while before going big!  We’re going to try to do two trails a week, alternative between easy, level but longer trails and steeper, moderate trails!

Looking out over Colorado Springs

Looking out over Colorado Springs

Hiking Buddies!  Loki was a champ!

Hiking Buddies! Loki was a champ!

I is for Incline!

Since I arrived in Colorado Springs, the Manitou Incline is one of those things that all the “fit” people talk about doing. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that climbing the Incline was the start to every day!

I’ve heard rumours of old men jogging to the top. Women with babies on their backs strolling up as if they were walking around the block. Children scrambling to the top with boundless energy.

The hike is a 2,000 foot incline in less than 1 mile. You are practically one degree from having to climb up a ladder to get to the top!

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When I first got here, I hadn’t acclimatized to the altitude yet, so wasn’t sure it was a good idea. Then winter in Colorado came and I figured it would be best to not tempt Mother Nature. Now I have almost been here for a year. I can handle steps without gasping for air, and the Incline is closing in August for a couple of months in order to do repairs. It was now or possibly never!

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I have to tell you, the rumours were true. The 80 year old men zipped past me as if I was standing still. The uber fit moms carried their babies to the top with ease. Colorado hippies ran up and down wearing nothing but shorts and flip flops, their dreadlocks waving behind them. It was surreal!

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Me? I started gasping for air on the first three steps! But it wasn’t so bad. Everyone was super friendly, it was a beautiful day and the higher we got, the more beautiful the views! It didn’t suck half as bad as I thought it would!

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My friend who climbed with me was 23 weeks pregnant, but a hardcore cross fitter. There was no way I was going to complain! We took it slow and made it up in just under an hour and a half! By the way, the world record is just under 17 minutes. Yeah. Probably by one of those 80 year olds!

All I can say, is that I want to try it again and better my time! What a way to get fit!!

Here’s a video of what it’s like!

 

P is for Pike’s Peak

Yes, I missed a few. And it’s no longer April (in fact, it’s no longer May either)!

So I have lived in Colorado Springs for just under a year now and the over 14,000 foot Pike’s Peak has been looming over me almost every day, watching my every move. The mountain is to the left of me as I drive to work and to the right of me when I drive home.  It is standing there directly across from me as I walk out of my westward facing front door. The only time I don’t see the peak is when the weather systems roll in and the entire mountain range is engulfed in clouds.  Even at night I can see the light flickering from the top of the mountain.

I always feel like somebody's watching me. And I have no privacy... ~Rockwell

I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
And I have no privacy… ~Rockwell

Pike’s Peak was named after Bridagier-General Zebulon (if anyone knows the origin of that name, please let me know) Montgomery Pike who “discovered” the mountain on an expedition to find the headwaters of the Red River. Ironically to me (the Canadian in Colorado), Brig.-Gen Pike died in battle during the war of 1812 in York (now Toronto – so sorry about that Americans, I’m glad we’re friends now).

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There are three main ways you can get to the top of Pike’s Peak:

1. The world’s highest Cog Train: For $36 a head, you can ride the train to the summit of the mountain.  It lets you off for about 30-40 minutes while you scramble to take #summitselfies and try the freshly baked altitude donuts, before taking you back down to the bottom. Total trip time: 3.5 hours.

 

The Cog Train waits while its passengers gouge themselves on mountain donuts...

The Cog Train waits while its passengers gouge themselves on mountain donuts…

2. Drive the Pike’s Peak Highway: Pay between $10-$12 at the tollgate (hint $2 off coupon) and drive all the way to the top! Not for the faint hearted though – although the train probably isn’t either! There aren’t any guardrails, and the right just simply drops off the side of the mountain. My husband was like, “Jenny, you can get a little closer to the right. You have lots of room.  You don’t have to crowd the line,” to which I retorted, “No, I’m good.  Thanks for the advice but I’ll just keep driving up the centre of the road.”  Also, word of advice, if you don’t have hill assist on your car/truck, don’t ride the brakes on the way down or you’ll have to stop halfway to let them cool off.  Not good for your car, and you really don’t want to lose that thing that will stop you if you need to!

Loki is the Queen of the World!

Loki is the Queen of the World!

Lil Guy made it to the top!

Lil Guy made it to the top!

3.  Hike it: The Barr Trail ascends 7,900 vertical feet in just over 11 miles. You could do it in one day – the average ascent time is between 6-10 hours – or you can spread it out over two days and stay at Barr Camp half way up. Doggies on leashes are allowed! How do you get down?  Have a friend meet you at the top, take the train, or hike back down another 5-7 hours! (I’ll opt for the train…)

Someone looks a little pooped!

Someone looks a little pooped!

Some neat events based on Pike’s Peak:

The Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb: every year in June, racers of all shapes and sizes test their skills and fear of heights to race to the top of Pike’s Peak. I wanted to go and watch in person, but once you’re up there you can’t get down until after the race is over.  Haven’t decided yet.

 

The AdAMan Climb: Every year, a select group of climbers ascend Pike’s Peak on December 31st (actually I think they start on the 30th) along Barr Trail and pop off Fireworks at midnight to ring in the new year.  Here’s the view from Garden of the Gods with my first-time attempt at using a tripod in pitch black and no professional skillz to try and get a photo of this cool phenomenon.

11,000+ feet of pure firepower!

11,000+ feet of pure firepower!