If you live in the Pacific Northwest, chances are you have heard of this beautiful area in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Since moving to this part of the country, I look forward to hiking season every year. Last year we decided to sign up for The Enchantment area lottery. This was a BIG deal because it would be my first official backpacking trip. Andy and I had signed up to climb Mt. Rainier for our anniversary so we figured we would be able to handle an overnight camping adventure! Here is a quick break down of how this lottery works, but you can read more details on the website.
All visitors must obtain a permit if they are planning to overnight The Enchantment area May 15th through October 31st. If you want a day use permit, this is free and available at the trailheads. There are three ways to get a permit. The first, is the pre-season lottery, which is held February 15th through March 2nd every year. About 75% of the permits are reserved for the lottery. After the pre-season lottery, the remaining permits are available first come, first serve basis by making a reservation online. There are a handful of permits that are unreserved and available daily at the ranger station on a walk-in basis (more about that later).
For the pre-season lottery, you create an account on recreation.gov and request your preferred zones and dates. Only one application is allowed per person with up to 2 alternate choices. A $10 non-refundable fee is charged. If you are one of the lucky applicants that wins the lottery, you still need to confirm your date and site online. The individual that is the permit holder, must be present when you overnight! Also, you have to include your party size on the permit and keep a printed copy along with photo ID with you while you camp.
UPDATE: Soooo I tried for the pre-season lottery (second year in a row) and still did not get it! But then I lucked out and snagged the Stuart Zone for the first weekend of October when the remaining entries were available online (they post these April 1st). Christy and Rob, as well as a few other friends were all signed up too...I was SO EXCITED...it was finally happening. Fast forward to October and all the forest fires :(. Unfortunately, the Stuart Zone was impacted by the fires and we lost our permit/camp site. Christy and Rob could no longer make the backpacking trip due to a wedding and our other friends backed out due to the lack of permit and potential snow on the forecast. This is where my stubbornness really shines. I am luck to have an amazing, supportive husband that is equally as stubborn. We decided to drive up bright and early and try to get one of the unreserved day use permits. Worst case scenario, we don't get it and we still hike part of the trail. Best case scenario, we get it and I get to find out if I truly love backpacking as much as I think I do!
IF YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THIS DAILY "WALK-IN" PERMIT SITUATION, READ THIS:
Andy and I arrived at the Wenatchee River Ranger District Office in Leavenworth around 7 A.M. on Saturday and I had the same adrenaline and nerves that I do on race days. I wanted the day use permit SO BAD. For a much needed distraction, we stopped at a cute bakery for a coffee and treat while we waited for 7:30 A.M. This is when you should arrive to put your name in the drawing. The rangers will draw the names for the permits at 7:45 A.M. There is ONE permit per zone in the walk up lottery, which typically means 5 permits but with Stuart closed there were 4 remaining permits. There were about 10 of us, which honestly is not that bad since per the website there can be up to 50 people there in the summer months. I would say we were lucky because it was cold and definitely going to snow. FYI the daily "walk-in" permits are only available Monday-Saturday, so don't try to do this on a Sunday!
UPDATE: There was only one couple that wanted the Eightmile zone and they got it, but there was a smattering of us that were interested in the other zones --Core, Colchuck, and Snow Lake. We put our names down for Core Zone (ambitious). I have never won anything in my life. Okay that may be an exaggeration, I am sure I have won things but I do not consider myself a lucky person. Somehow our name was called!!! [Insert victory dance]
It took about another 20 minutes to get our map and permit from the ranger station and then we were off driving toward the trailhead. We decided to hike in from the Snow Lakes Trailhead. We did not want to worry about hiking through to Colchuck Lake and Aasgard Pass since the forecast was snow and we were getting a later start. We wanted to hike the greatest distance, but still be able to set up camp and enjoy the larches and views before nightfall. We had our backpacking packs, hiking poles, Yaktrax, plenty of water, food, and a bag of wine (duh...and no it was not Franzia --college glory days). All I can say is that this overnight is TOTALLY WORTH IT. If you decide to hike through, you need to coordinate leaving a car at each trailhead and the distance is about 18 miles. We ended up doing a similar distance (maybe a bit more), but we were able to enjoy the views, take breaks along the way, drink wine in a tent while snow flurries came down around us, and sleep through the snowfall. Our campsite was at Leprechaun Lake and the view was EVERYTHING. The best part was waking up naturally with the sunrise. We had time to enjoy warm oatmeal and hot coffee for breakfast before packing up our camp and slowly making our way back to the car. We saw a mountain goat family on our way out, which is more wildlife than you typically get hiking in the Seattle area! We were back home that same afternoon and were able to decompress, clean up, and get ready for the work week without feeling exhausted.
I cannot wait to explore The Enchantments again this Summer or Fall and try the Colchuck Trailhead for some more Alpine Lake views!
“Simplify your life, to make room for what matters." This quote struck a chord with me in 2018, as we are continuously trying to optimize our time. I am 100% guilty of being SO optimistic that I over estimate how much I can get done in a day. The first step is to recognize your own struggle and from there, determine what tools you can put in place to help, because I realize it ain't just going to go away... so how can I help myself, help myself? Ya with me? Ya girl needs help!
One easy way to simplify life and save time, is to determine what you can outsource. Taking something off of your plate and paying someone else to do it, so you can focus your efforts on something more meaningful or maybe just something that is needed in your phase of life. Sun Basket, a meal kit delivery service is one example of how I have been doing just that.
Sun Basket is my solution to provide nutritious meals to me and my little family, without the hassle of meal planning or grocery shopping! Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoy recipe searching and grocery shopping is one of my top favorite things to do, but I needed a little time back in my Sunday. When I received a discount for Sun Basket, with a coupon code for $40 off, I thought why not give it a try, I can always use a hand in the kitchen!
So here's my review for anyone that may be pandering the idea of meal kits.
The Low Down:
You get 3 delicious recipes per week for 2 or 4 people, $11.99 per serving. They are delivered on auto-pilot weekly (each Wednesday in my case) and I recently found out that they launched a feature where you can schedule a basket every two weeks, or once a month rather than every week! Long term, I will probably opt for this!
If you only want it occasionally and when you decide, you can set the default to skip so that you only schedule a basket at your convenience.
Why it wouldn’t work for you:
All in all, I really enjoyed it. It does take away the creative freedom, but you can absolutely add your own ingredients/spices if you chose to do so (obviously, whose stopping you!? Unless you are a rule follower stopping yourself😊). The meals were SO delicious (husband approved), we loved them ALL (no joke) and have stashed some recipes away to make on my own, even without Sun Basket meal kit delivered. It’s a good way to try new recipes that you typically wouldn’t want to buy all the ingredients for or just simply wouldn’t think to give a whirl!
If you are interested in checking it out, use the following link to claim your own $40 off here and let me know what you think!
Well ULAs I did it. One week ago I completed my first triathlon. I want to share a piece of this ridiculously exciting and at times stressful journey with you. We all have fitness goals and one of mine has become to do something that challenges me physically and mentally every year. At first my goals were running related --I wanted to BQ and sign up for a Ragnar Road Relay. Then last year, my hubbae and I summited Mt. Rainier for our one year wedding anniversary (that's a post for a different day). Today I want to highlight Lavaman. I bet some of you are sitting on the other side of this screen thinking... there is NO WAY I would ever want to do a triathlon. Believe me, I never thought I would want to do one either.
It all started a year ago. My sister-in-law, who is one of the most BA single mama's out there was competing in her second Lavaman and my in-laws were there to cheer her on. They were so psyched on the triathlon that they decided they wanted to celebrate their retirement in Kona and all do the triathlon. Alright, let's PAUSE right there. My in-laws are the definition of "fit fam". My family, on the other hand, vacations lounging seaside or poolside so this was a whole new outlook on vacation. I was convinced to sign up and then I put off training for ooooh you know 9 months. Oops. Disclaimer: I am a runner and just ran the California International Marathon in December with Christy (one of the best run-cations of my life). But I am by no means a swimmer or a cyclist. I didn't own a road bike until this Fall when I bought my mountaineering guides girlfriend's used 2005 Cannondale.
My idea of cycling involved sports bras and skin tight leggings on a stationary bike in a dark room with music blaring out of the speakers and a stunning instructor motivating me to tap it back (insert Flywheel, Soul Cycle, Burn Cycle class).
Okay, so I basically gave myself 3 months to get my act together. Also, the worst three months to train in Seattle, because IT. RAINS. EVERY. DAY. But with the help of friends and family I stayed motivated. I used the local UW campus gym and YMCA pools and would swim 30-45 minutes. I went a total of 8 times to the pool. Nowhere near enough training, but I knew I would likely not drown (my goal for this portion of the triathlon). To be honest, I couldn't get myself motivated to bike in the Seattle rain. I had a paralyzing and irrational fear of biking in Seattle. Mainly because I work at the hospital and have seen too many bad bike accidents come through the ER. I refused to use clip-ins, so my father-in-law purchased basket pedal (he's a saint). The first time Andy took me for a spin in the neighborhood it ended in tears. No chill. We then decided it may be better to try to take the relationship emotions out of the equation and I went for a 15 mile bike ride with a friend on nice paved path. Got my groove & some confidence back. Went on a third and final bike ride with my husband. The rest of my training was all indoors with spin classes about 1-2 x per week. I am fortunate enough to know an amazing group of ladies who take 60 minute Flywheel classes on Saturdays and then run a 10K around Lake Union and I joined them a few times.
Still with me? Are you wondering where the excitement and fun comes in?!?!? Fast forward to 2 weeks ago. We arrive in Kona on the Big Island and my sister-in-law is the best support system. She knows I am terrified and plans for us to spend one day focusing on each event: the 10 KM run, the 1500 meter swim, and the 40 KM bike. We rented bikes for the week and... IT WAS SO FREAKING FUN. I don't know if it was the sunshine, the wide bike lane, or the stunning ocean views --but I felt so much relief after that practice ride. The following day we went out early to practice the swim. Since I was the least prepared triathlete in the family, I also needed to test out swimming in a sports bra and Oiselle running shorts. Surrounded by legit swimmers in wetsuits, I again felt intimidated. I grew up spending summers at my grandparents place on the Adriatic Sea, but this was open water. Add in a healthy fear for sea critters and let's just say the nerves WERE REAL. But we did it. I remembered what Christy told me, when you get nervous just find your breath and focus on it. Use your breath to center you. Those words helped me so much.
Race day: March 25th 2018. It rained for 24 hours before the event and there were flash flood warnings on the Big Island. Cool. I tried to remain calm and confident. My goal was to try my best, to have fun, to finish the whole triathlon and if I am being honest... I wanted to finish in 3 hours or less. The night before, I was looking at the course map and results and was shocked at how few women were in the top 100 finishers --only 15. This got me more excited to go out there and prove myself because GIRL POWER. The day was actually perfect. It was slightly overcast and the roads had dried from the rain. At 7:44 AM I entered the water and it was GAME ON. The swim was hard. I followed my sister-in-law's lead and positioned myself in the middle-back of the pack at the outer edge. I knew I wouldn't be the fastest swimmer in our age group and I wanted to minimize getting swam over or kicked in the face. We fought a current and waves heading out to the midpoint, but we had that same current helping us back to the beach. I wasn't able to swim freestyle the whole time, but would do so for 10-20 strokes and then alternate freestyle. All I can say is, I need to work on my breathing pattern. Then it was a scramble to rinse off the sand and run to the bike transition. I took my time drinking water and fueling up with cliff blocks and a Go Macro Protein Bar and then I was off. The adrenaline rush I felt on that road was like none other. The part of the race I dreaded most, ended up being my favorite. I got such a kick off charging hills and feeling that quad and glute burn and would embrace and pedal faster on the downhills. The best part was that all the women were encouraging each other.
If I was passed or I passed another female, she'd shout "you go girl" or "you got this girl".
ALL THE FEELS. This gave me even more fire to work it. When I got back to the bike to run transition, I wasted no time chugging water and chewing two blocks before hitting the lava rock. Perk of not clipping in: wearing my Brooks Levitate shoes the whole time. I felt SO SLOW. I realized after the fact that going so fast biking, running felt like I was in quicksand or barely jogging. I chose to not wear a watch for the event so that I wouldn't get in my own head about time. I am usually good at knowing my pace without a watch and I felt like I was going 9-9:30 min/miles. I just kept thinking of each of you, of family and friends, of everyone who had wished me luck and churned my legs and arms faster. My one goal during the run: do not get passed. Yes, I am competitive. Of all three events, this was my thing. I succeeded. Mile 5-6 was lava rock and beach and the last 0.2 miles was sand. But I saw that finish line and heard my fam cheering me on and I sprinted across. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't talk. I didn't know my finish time. It didn't matter. My time was 2:42:36 (33:21 swim; 1:20:48 bike; 43:17 run). I was not the fastest. I was not the slowest. I had conquered my ultimate summit for 2018. I would do it all over again, because there is nothing quite like the feeling you have after your first race finish.
Next year the event is March 31st 2019. Verdict is still out on whether I will repeat Lavaman or be convinced to do an Ironman 70.3 by my sister-in-law. Regardless, I AM HOOKED and signed up for a sprint triathlon this summer and cannot wait to work on these new skills.
Ives Hot & Christy Talamo
Always searching for the next summit.