Here I go, embarking on telling you the story of my most precious gift to date, Kaila Jae. I get teary eyed just thinking about the moment she was placed on my chest. It's hard to put into words what I felt, but from that moment forward, I saw life from a new perspective, I loved my husband harder, and I had a new appreciation for what my body was able to do. The birthing experience and recovery has been a humbling one to say the least and I want to caution you that this is a long one, so grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine, play the station "warm and fuzzy feeling" on spotify, and cozy up on the couch to get a peak into the 4 days it took to get sweet Kaila into this world.
If you have been following my pregnancy journey, then you know I was 2 weeks past my due date. A little advice for any newly pregnant mamas to be that may be in a similar situation... don't announce the due date. Hopefully you won't be in my shoes or you get induced earlier, but it added so much pressure and part of me feels like it stalled me from going into spontaneous labor, because that silly little date felt like a locked in appointment for her arrival, it makes no sense at all why we put so much pressure on that specific date, but it felt like the longest 2 weeks of my life. I did ALL THE THINGS they tell you to do, in order to induce labor. Sex, eating 6 dates a day, red raspberry leaf tea, primrose oil, walking, etc. The only thing I didn't do was castor oil, which I have two bottles in my bathroom now because I ALMOST did, but the side affects of pooping my brains out while going into false labor just didn't seem worth it. Also, there was potential risk to the baby and that's what made it a solid no for me.
After many sleepless nights, baby girl still wasn't getting the memo. Her eviction notice had been hand served, and she was just a few days away from being forced out of that cozy cocoon of a uterus she had made her home for the past 10 1/2 months. But boy was she COZZYYY! Those two weeks were emotionally and physically hard. Looking back, I wish I could tell myself that I was about to be the happiest I had ever been and that it would be well worth the wait (which people did...but that is what personal hindsight is all about, right?).
As a reminder, January 2nd was her due date, I really wanted to go into labor naturally, and have a drugless vaginal birth. I also did not want to be induced, since pitocin, which is what they use to induce you, is a freakin BIOTCH and would make a drugless labor even harder and potentially increase the chances of a c-secton. So I toughed it out, I stayed pregnant for an extra two weeks as I watched my feet swell up until the only shoes that fit me were Rob's dads and I forgot that being comfortable in clothes, well at all really, was a thing humans felt... all in hopes that my body knew what to do and would eventually go into labor.
Spoiler alert, that didn't exactly happen and since we were almost at 2 weeks overdue and the doctors won't let you go past that, due to increases in still birth going up, it was time to go against nature and deliver on that eviction notice. So on January 14th, we started the induction process, with a foley balloon first, as this was the most natural way to start dilating my cervix. It's essentially a balloon that they put in your cervix and fill with saline water. I was able to go home after having the balloon placed, which was really nice but it felt like the most painful, crampy period I have actually never had. Rob got off work early to come to the doctor with me and assisted the doctor in putting it in. I wanted comfort CARBS, so we got sandwiches from The Other Coast Cafe and I ordered some comfort food I was craving. When we got home I tried to nap... Rob's favorite version of me. You can only have the foley in for 24 hours, so if I didn't go into labor naturally and/or if the balloon didn't fall out I would go into labor and delivery the next day to continue induction.
I woke up the next morning and the balloon hadn't fallen out and I was feeling better. So I did a quick workout (insane/annoying or motivating? Not sure), made some energy balls for the nurses, and we headed into labor and delivery. It was about 11AM when we checked in and the doctor on call checked my cervix. The foley balloon was successful in a way, as I had dilated to 4 centimeters, woohoo we thought that was great progress! So the nurses spent the next 3 hours trying to get the IV in my arm to start pitocin, they could not get a good vein on the top of my forearm, probably because of all the water retention (pictures to come later). But this wasn't a great start... finally, they got the IV in and onward with the pitocin. Although this isn't how I wanted it to be, I knew that I would meet my little girl soon so I was ready to start.
The standard measurement of Pitocin is prepared by adding 1-mL vial containing 10 units of oxytocin and increasing the dosage every 30 minutes. I bring this up so you can understand how much I was given. They usually start by increasing by increments of 2, so that is exactly what they did from about 2PM until 10AM the next morning, which brought me all the way up to 23. The nurse had informed me that an average person going into labor naturally has a dosage right around a 7. As they began to increase my dosage, I started to feel contractions every 5 minutes, but they weren't intense enough to be considered "active" labor.
Around 10AM the next day, when the doctors were changing shifts, the next doctor on call came in, which I loved her from the start because she was to the point, hopeful, and empowered me. She checked my cervix and we found out that I hadn't made any progress since I came in, I was still at 4 centimeters. Thoughts of a c-section haunted me, since my body didn't seem to be reacting to the pitocin. (Looking back, I don't know why I was so terrified of a c-section... again personal hindsight, this is helping me realize I am a stubborn one once I have my mind made up). Since we didn't see progress with such a high dosage, she told me at this point my body was completely saturated with it and it was best to give my body some time to flush it out. The chances of me going into active labor using the same approach by continuing to increase the dosage were slim to none. In addition, I still wasn't completely effaced (my cervix wasn't 100% thinned out, which is the end goal and I was only about 40% effaced).
Game plan 2 began... so we turned it off and while my body was flushing out the pitocin, I took misoprostol, which is used to thin the cervix, again working towards that 100% effacement. We waited 4 hours for things to happen, I got to take a shower since my IV was removed and had a chance to power nap and eat something. Those 4 hours felt like a glorious little reset, but I would soon find out that what we are calling "miso" didn't do anything. The doctor reassured me that we still had plenty of time and other options before we would resort to a C-section. She knew I wanted a natural vaginal birth, so next step was to break my water and restart pitocin. This time IT WORKED! Man, were my contraction intense after the first hour when were only at around a dosage of 4. Breaking the water was the magic trick to get things started!
Another hour or so passed and my contractions were still intense and getting closer together, active labor had absolutely started. The thing with pitocin is that your contractions happen every 1 to 5 minutes, and they are INTENSE, compared to a gradual increase in intensity and time between when your body releases natural oxytocin (or so I am told). The nurse had told me that the goal was to get my contractions to be 1 minute apart, mine were not super consistent, they were anywhere from 1 minute to 5 minutes apart. Another few hours of breathing through the contractions and what felt like blacking out (there is a reason people have another kid) took place. It was around 8PM when the contractions REALLY became unbearable or it felt like I couldn't power through them, they were 1-3 minutes apart and I was compulsively shaking between each contraction, so I needed to use a different pain management technique other than white knuckling through. The nurse and Rob walked me to the room with the jacuzzi and filled it up with warm water. Here I labored drugless for another 7 hours, time really wasn't a tangible thing and Rob doesn't seem to have had a concept of it either, so these are all estimates. The water was such a relief, but still painful, I vomited twice from the pain (which I have only puked 2 other times in my life before this). Rob was MY ABSOLUTE ROCK, he helped me breath through the contractions and the bathtub really was a game changer. I had never seen him in that light and really don't think I would have been able to do it without him. The water helped me relax my cervix during contractions and in my mind, dilate. I was still compulsively shaking between contractions, so my body never really had a break... although the shakes felt like heaven in comparison to the contractions. The nurse took my temperature and since I was on the high end, I had to have my blood drawn... ALL WAS GOOD. I was passing out in between contractions, as this was my body's way of shutting off before it needed energy to push through. Each time the nurse came in to increase the pitocin, internally I was screaming "NO! I can't take anymore pain!", but that is the goal folks! So I tried to close my eyes and internally go somewhere else. I really don't know how long I was in that tub, it was almost an out of body experience.
After about 7 hours, so a total of about 36 hours of no sleep and having pitocin pumped through my body (minus the 4 hour break) I felt like I had made a lot of progress. I even felt a sense to push. I told the nurse this and she was really excited, but I needed to get back into my room in order to get checked. Since they broke my water, they could only check my cervix a few times, due to increased chances of an infection. My body felt like FOR REAL DEATH, if I could ever guess what that feels like. They had to wrap me up in sheets and put me in a wheel chair, as I compulsively shook to get me back to my room. Once they got me back on the bed, I was hoping I was somewhat close to 10 centimeters. I actually remember laying on the bed and passing out again between contractions, my body couldn't handle it. As the doctor came in and checked my cervix, I was shocked but had ONLY DILATED TO 5 CENTIMETERS... meaning that in the 10ish hours of intense active labor, I had only dilated 1 centimeter... FUN!I had no energy to cry, but it was defeating. At this point, the doctor looked at me and said "I know that you want to go natural (no drugs), but I would HIGHLY recommend an epidural. This is going to be a long night and my fear is that you will have no energy tomorrow to push if you don't get some sort of relief, given how long it has been." With every fiber in my body wanting to say no, I quickly did the math in my head and it took awhile but I decided I didn't need to be the hero. I needed to go 5 more centimeters... if it took me 7 hours to dilate just 1, who knows how much longer this could take. It came to the point where it was either get the epidural or more than likely I would need a C-section because I would have nothing in the tank to push.
It was around 2AM when I decided to do it, to get the epidural. I know I had made the plan to go natural and I still do wish that from the beginning I just went into labor spontaneously and could trust that my body knew what to do, but given my circumstances, it was absolutely what made sense. As soon as I felt relief, I told my husband, "I don't regret this ONE BIT!" He told me that he couldn't stand to watch me suffer like that any longer and was happy that I made the decision. We both agreed I would have had a c-section if it wasn't for the epidural.
What could have been 10 minutes or 3 hours later (time is a little blurry, sorry friends), the lights in my room were turned on and my body was flipped over, as 4 unknown faces stormed into my room and placed an oxygen mask on my face. My heart dropped (literally and figuratively), causing baby Kaila's heart rate to drop too... it may have been one of the scariest moments of my life. I immediately asked them to take the epidural drip out, really thinking I had made a mistake at this point, but apparently that wouldn't help anything. She was a rockstar throughout the entire process, with her heart rate staying strong, and luckily as soon as they gave me oxygen, her heart rate leveled but they did have to stop the pitocin completely in that moment. Which meant this was going to take EVEN more time, as they had to gradually bring the dosage back up. They told me this was normal and at this point I had to just trust. Birth truly is a life or death situation. Every mama out there knows what I am talking about. it is instinctual and you are willing to do anything in that moment to give life to a healthy babe, you really have no other option.
They say you can sleep when you have an epidural, but that didn't happen for me. Not only were my eyes glued to the heart rate monitor, but I continued to compulsively shake between contractions. Although I couldn't sleep, I could relax through my contractions and felt the pressure as I dilated, it was really cool. Around 8AM that morning, they checked my cervix and I was 8 centimeters! This was great news and we thought the push would begin soon, but due to Kaila's heart rate dropping at the end of my contractions, they had to closely monitor the pitocin and this slowed everything down even more. At this point, I think the new doctor on call thought I would need a C-section but our amazing nurse was our advocate as she had been our nurse on a previous shift and told us later she fully communicated that I was strong, that I was an athlete, and that I COULD do this. Around 10AM, I felt an extreme urge to push and the doctor was no where to be found. It was becoming extremely painful, so the nurse decided to check my cervix. She announced that I was in fact 10 centimeters dilated, 100% effaced and ready to push! A light at the end of the tunnel after 3 days of obstacles continuously being placed in the way. I tried to hold back so the doctor could confirm, but Pam the nurse made the judgement call as she couldn't watch me suffer any longer and told Rob to grab my other leg and we started the to push.
My contractions were not as intense or close together as we would want for this part of labor, this is also why I pushed for 4 hours, rather than the typical 2 hours tops! I had to really push when I felt a contraction so basically for the next 2 hours, I worked to get her head to crown. Rob was absolutely amazing, coaching me through it and his excitement level when her head crowned was indescribable. We got the mirror so that I could see her head as well and this helped me immensely. It was incredible to see her head actually coming out! The doctor on call came in to assist and when she was there, my pushes were much more efficient. Mid contraction and push I began to projectile vomit and at this point I was physically and emotionally defeated, but there was no turning back, I was so close.
What was amazing was that in the last half hour, our doctor who knew us and our journey and we absolutely adored, showed up to save the day! She was working in the outpatient office, so we had the pleasure of her getting to deliver baby Kaila! As we were approaching the final push, my doctor compared this to the finish line of a marathon being in sight, so I knew it was time to give it everything I had. With "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beattles playing in the background (a song that reminds me of my childhood, that my dad always had playing as a kid), the contraction came and I pushed! I pushed past the end of the contraction knowing I was emotionally and physically done and just had to get her out. With that final push, Kaila entered this world. What a beautiful moment that there are absolutely no words for. She let out a small whimper, was placed on my chest, and both Rob and I were in a euphoria state of love, fatigue, and absolute shock at what we had created. Tears may have been involved.
She was more than we could have ever imagined. Our world was forever changed and a piece of me died that day. I truly went to battle for this little girl, which is symbolic for how I hope to show up for her every single day. And let's be real, there are no glamour shots of me during labor. It was tough and my body took a toll, some may even say it looked like I had been beat up. But I had a new appreciation for my body and what it is capable of.
I left with a new meaning and appreciation for this life. Knowing that what may seem impossible, is in fact possible. It was humbling and yet empowering and if there is one thing I can say for sure it's that every ounce of pain was worth it. The woman's body is incredibly strong, beautiful, and resilient. My birth story is just that, mine. No judgement or comparisons. It took 4 days to push this peanut out and I am a strong and more resilient woman because of it.
I left the hospital with a battle wound that rocked me and I am still recovering from, but that will be a story for a different day. A part 2 of this birth story that I will share.
Are you a mama? What was your most memorable moment of birth? Can you relate to my story? What questions do you have for me? Comment below!
It's a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you're ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any. - Hugh Laurie
This goes for most things in life and although a baby is a HUGE decision, I knew I would never actually be ready. I always pictured myself with kids and building a family and I knew that there would always be one more goal I needed to accomplish, so why not start now? My hope is that I continue to Conquer My Summits, even when it may be a little harder. The harder it is, the sweeter the reward after all.
I will be 31 weeks pregnant this week and wanted to give a second trimester bump update, to also include product recommendations based on what I have found super helpful so far! Second trimester seems to be the BEST trimester yet, watching and FEELING baby girl grow has really helped me embrace the journey. It has also flown by as we have had lots of travel with our babymoon in Hawaii, to then visiting family in Cincinnati and spending a week there for my baby shower.
My second trimester is when I began modifying my workouts, especially towards the end. Although I had more energy, compared to my first, when it comes to core moves and any move that puts a lot of pressure on the core or pelvic floor, (AKA burpees, push-ups, and plyometric moves) had to be modified. My biggest advice is if you see coning of the abs, skip the move or chose a variation.
All in all I have been doing whatever feels good for my body, which is key. Everyone has opinions on working out during pregnancy, but I would encourage every pregnant woman to discover what works for them and to educate themselves on what is safe.
I have incorporated more strength and cycling to my workouts, in place of body weight plyo workouts and have tried to add more barre/pilates moves into my daily workouts in hopes of strengthening my transverse abdominal. If I am being honest, I haven’t put enough focus on it. This is something I will continue to commit to over my last trimester.
When it comes to cardio I have been doing the same cardio routine a few times a week on the tread prior to strength, because it’s one of the only ways I can get my heart rate up without feeling too uncomfortable or adding too much pressure on my pelvic floor. My workout has been variations of hill (treadmill at a 12-15 incline) lunges, side shuffles, backward walks, with the occasional run up hill.
Here is an awesome prego safe lower body strength workout to checkout as well!
I am still teaching at Bassline, but tomorrow will be my last class as I take some time to focus on getting ready for baby girl and hopefully putting my energy more into this platform! I also don’t want to let any of the members down or push my body past it’s limits. I have learned that there is a difference between what I “can” do and what I “should” be doing and I am trying to remind myself of that.
If you follow us on Instagram regularly, then you know that in the beginning it was hard for me to slow down, before I could feel her little kicks and her body rotating inside of me or her booty sticking out of my side. Once I knew she was there, I also had a greater reason for staying healthy and started to enjoy the process of pregnancy. My why for working out has always been a huge part mental endurance, I love the challenge of pushing myself somewhere it has never gone. This has changed slightly since pregnancy... now, my workouts are not only for me, but also this little human inside of me who I want to give every opportunity I possibly can. There are benefits not only for the little one growing inside of me but I am also preparing my mind and body for labor. My hope is to workout until the day I give birth.
My cravings haven't been anything different from normal (I know this is supposed to be the fun part of pregnancy right!?), but you can always follow Sympathy Weight on Instagram if you want my husband's humorous twist on this pregnancy journey... he apparently has a lot of cravings.
What I can tell you is that I am progressively getting hungrier every day... baby girl is going to triple in size over the last trimester, so bring on the snacks, let's grow this baby! I have been trying to eat smaller meals, because I get full SO fast (everything is squished) and am uncomfortable if I eat too much in one serving. In general, my diet has been normal, filled with whole foods, fruits, and veggies, with the occasional treat (insert pizza and vegan ice cream... I should admit to having a pint of Frankie and Jo's ice cream in the freezer at all times the past couple of weeks). Also, a great resource for keeping me motivated, because knowledge is power, was through reading Jillian Micheal’s book Oh Baby!
I pulled the trigger when it came to buying clothes that actually fit me! I have a hard time spending money in general (story for a different day), especially on clothing that I can only wear for such a short period. So, it's been nice that it's been Fall for most of my second trimester and was fairly easy to buy big chunky sweaters (mostly from H&M) that I can wear after pregnancy too! I did splurge on one pair of maternity jeans from Madewell and I am SO GLAD that I did. As much as I love wearing leggings, having a nice pair of jeans that you feel confident in, goes a long way! I would recommend the pair that I linked to and I am hoping that they fit under the belly through my third trimester... I will probably wear them post pregnancy as I get back into pre-baby shape as well.
For workout clothes, after our Athleta event a month or so back, I found a few key pieces that were super stretchy and comfy for my growing belly, again I am so glad I stopped trying to squeeze into my form fitting athletic gear and opted for some leggings and sports bras that have more give. Their Powervita fabric, is buttery soft and I will definitely still wear my purchases after pregnancy, which is the best part. I have also heard Lululemon align leggings are amazing and am planning on purchasing a neutral pair to live in post pregnancy, every day ALL DAY!
As I feel baby girl kick and MOVE even more each day, what I hope she knows one day is that she is so loved already. I am scared to be a mom. I am afraid of all the mistakes I am going to inevitably make as I am only human, but will try my hardest to go with the flow while also ALWAYS being her rock. I want to understand her, I want her to feel heard, to feel loved, to feel like she is safe, protected and always has a pack to look after her. A pack that cherishes her individual characteristics and wants to foster them so she feels confident in her own skin. Above all else, I want her to be kind and experience this life I have been able to give her. At times, I still can't believe that I am giving her life, physically creating her, and soon enough giving birth to another soul. Now THAT is crazy and all you other mamas and mamas to-be out there should know that no matter where you are in your pregnancy journey, you are doing something miraculous. I have struggled in many areas... balance, being extra feisty and sensitive all around, a few nights of crying for no real reason, but it's all a part of the process. 65 more days to go!
Third trimester, I will be focusing on getting ready for birth, which will include birthing classes, putting together my hospital bag, getting baby girl's nursey ready (we did SO much organizing this weekend, so now we can focus on ensuring we are prepared). If you have any recommendations or have specifics that you want to hear about, comment below!
If you are anything like us, we want to take advantage of the cool crisp weather and get outside whenever rain isn’t in the forecast. Since we both have dogs, we wanted to provide you with a quick hit list of dog friendly fall hikes, where the autumn foliage is shining! Check out the following hikes throughout Washington, we tried to pick out a variety of distances and throughout the different WA areas. All hikes are linked to the Washington Trail Association for you to find further details!
Also, if you decide to embark on any of these hikes, let us know by tagging @ula.and.us on Instagram and hashtagging #ULA and/or #CONQUERYOURSUMMIT !
1. GRANITE MOUNTAIN
Area: Snoqualmie Region
Distance: 8.6 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3,800 ft
2. SPRUCE RAILROAD TRAIL
Area: Olympics- North Coast
Distance: 8.0 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 250ft
3. SKYLINE DIVIDE
Area: North Cascades
Distance: 9.0 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2,500ft
4. Lake Ingalls
Distance: 9.0 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2500ft
5. Larch Lake
Area: Central Cascades/Stevens Area
Distance: 12.0 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2,450ft
6. ICICLE RIDGE TRAIL
Area: Central Cascades/Leavenworth
Distance: 6.0 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,800ft
We met Katie during our ULA Bootcamp and Goal Setting event at U Village’s Athleta store earlier this year. After a 30 minute sweat session, we encouraged individuals to reflect on a goal they have by applying our SUMMIT acronym. In September, it was so exciting to see Katie back at our Stronger Together Bootcamp and learn that she had CONQUERED HER SUMMIT and that our workshop had helped. We asked if she would be willing to share her story.
Hello, I'm Katie and this is how I have conquered my summit.
For a long time, I was plateauing with my workouts. My sister's wedding was coming up and I was not getting an effective workout at the gym, I just felt like I was doing the same thing over and over. I wasn't giving myself a proper workout.
One random weekend in late February, my friend dragged me to Athleta to buy new workout clothes. As someone who was only exposed to limited workout clothes, I immediately wanted all the pants, tops, sports bras, etc. I noticed a sign that displayed workout events for March taught by various instructors in the Seattle area. I thought “sure, why not? I’ll sign up because I need to mix up my workout routine anyway.”
My first class was bright and early in March at 8am on a Saturday for the “Sweat & Goal Set with Ula. Oh boy, that class was challenging. I was super sweaty, but I felt like I actually got a good workout. After the workout was done and we were cooling down, Ives and Christy started talking about goal setting. Christy told her story on training for a half marathon. She was very inspiring, how she couldn't just start running 13.1 miles. She needed to slowly progress to her goal (it's a summit after all, you need to train for it). When the class was over, I started thinking of what my own summit could be as running is not my jam. I knew I wanted a proper challenge, not just the "I want to get in shape for a wedding". Recently at the gym, I started swimming. I was inspired to swim because my mom swam 3 times a week after she had my sister and wanted to get in shape for her own sister’s wedding. Plus I love the water. I learned to swim before I could walk (per my mom). However, I would only do about 15 or 18 laps. Before I left the class, I decided my summit challenge would be to swim a mile.
A bit of background, 1 lap is going back and forth across the pool (25 yards each way). I was told I had to do 36 laps to get to that mile. Currently, I was already swimming half a mile so I had a good start. My typical routine is 1 lap of freestyle, 1 lap back stroke and 1 lap breast stroke. Once I completed those 3 moves, I was finished with 1 round. Each new month, I would add an extra round. Thus, my goal to reach that mile would be August with an aim to swim 2-3 times a week (or really whenever I needed to wash my hair. If you’re going to take the time to shampoo and condition your hair, might as well get a good workout in).
I never did swim in high school (I did dance team instead) so I was really challenging myself in completing this goal. Oh boy, was it a real challenge. There were times, I was mentally telling myself, “nah, just stop at 21 laps, you can make it up on the next swim.” Thank goodness for my accountability partner and I had to text her whenever I finished. I mentally overcame the block and continued to push myself. But remember, it’s ok to stop if you’re pushing yourself physically too hard. Over the next few months, I felt myself getting stronger and plus my breathing improved (bonus!). It got to the point where I started to adding in extra rounds before the following month hit. Before June, I was at 10 rounds (30 laps). One swim session, I decided to go for that 11th round. Once I completed it, I realized I had the energy to do 1 more. I successfully completed my mile goal a month and a half early and before my sister's wedding. It felt amazing to complete my goal, both physically and mentally. I knew at this point, anything was possible.
Just because I conquered my summit, doesn't mean the journey is over. Some of the new summits I plan on conquering is to swim a mile in under an hour (currently at an hour and 5 min!), participate in the Park to park swim next August (swimming across Lake Washington) and perhaps do a triathlon (except I hate running so we'll see about that one).
I would like to thank Ula and Us for inspiring me to push myself. I would also like to thank Athleta for holding these amazing workout events. This community is strong and amazing and I'm glad to be apart of it. Finally, I want to thank my friends and family for being supportive and holding me accountable. I could not have done this without their encouragement.
Finally, I am writing to you about part 2 of our road trip, which is really the best part! For those of you reading, if you go to Banff I would absolutely make the time to drive from Banff to Jasper National Park, this drive alone is breathtaking and you may have a few life revelations. After our hike around Lake Louise we started the drive, but landed early at a campsite to wake up to beautiful blue skies for our morning coffee and breaky.
From Banff to Jasper you are on Icefields Pkwy, which again is insane. We stopped and did a stunning hike called Parker Ridge, which was 1,000 feet elevation gain and 5 miles total. We wanted a fairly short hike given our long hike the day before and the effort put in was SO worth the views. This short hike brings you to a ridge-line with views of peaks and glaciers! What more can you ask for? A bit chilly at the top, but this hike is doable for beginners to advance, just be prepared for the elevation gain in 2.5 miles:).
We spent the rest of the day driving into Jasper, taking in all of the glorious views, each way you looked for about 2 hours there were lakes, glaciers, and mountainous terrain. Jasper is a less touristy version of Banff in my opinion. I would love to go back to Banff and explore more, but it was nice to get out of the crowds to unwind and connect with nature, what we had came out there for in the first place. Jasper is a little ski town with breweries, coffee shops, and lots of local outdoor shops. We grabbed a bite at a local brewery and then stopped at a local grocery store to grab one of my must haves (dairy free- coconut ice cream) and found a campsite nearby. If you need a place to do laundry, get connected to WiFi, take a shower, and grab a good cup of coffee (holy genius right?!) check out SnowDome Coffee Bar ! There were also little shops in the area to pick up gear if you forgot anything.
After grabbing a bite, we decided to head up towards Miete Hot Springs and came across a lake that was so shallow you could walk to the other end and the water only went up to your thighs! As far as the hot spring goes, I wouldn't suggest going here for a natural hot springs experience, but it was nice to get a little soak and also take a shower since this was the first of the trip. I felt pretty phenomenal after the soak and shower, so we quickly found a place to pull off and camp for the night as the sun was beginning to set. The next day we would make the drive to Mt. Robson National Park. Below is a quick map of the driving route, so you have an idea of what that looks like. We had to drive back down towards Jasper, then NW to get to Mt. Robson National Park which is in British Columbia, as this is where we would be starting our 3 days, 2 night (or so we thought) backpacking trip to Berg Lake.
I had done a lot of research to find one of the most beautiful and diverse backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies and continued to stumble upon the Berg Lake Trail. Google pictures of it yourself and I guarantee you will add it to your bucket list. It's a 26 mile (42 km) hike, which takes you through diverse landscapes including turquoise lakes, waterfalls, glaciers and around the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies - Mount Robson, landing you smack dab in front of the beauty herself, Ms. Mt. Robson. We packed up our gear, slapped on our bags, checked in at the visitor center and got ready for the first part of trek to our campsite for the evening at Whitehorn.
On a personal note, after all the initial excitement of our longest backpacking trip to date with just the two of us, we realized we didn't think about the fact that I was about 3 1/2 months prego, would it be okay to strap the bottom strap of the backpack? But without the strap it's extremely bad for your back, especially with the distance we were going. We decided to put all of our heavy stuff in Rob's backpack and the lighter items in mine. Still, we were a little freaked out, so my amazing hubs carried both packs (one on the front, one on the back and trekked 6 miles to the campsite.. practice for future baby hikes if you know what I'm saying). This was our first fail, but let's get back to the hike. After hiking about 4 miles, you will pass the first campsite, Kenny Lake. It is absolutely stunning and I would not have minded camping here but it just doesn't make a significant dent in the trip, so we made it to whitehorn.
It started to rain us, so we were excited to get to the little shelter and make dinner, but this is where we discovered we FORGOT fuel. So guys, lesson to everyone, enjoy this hike, just make none of the same mistakes we made. Luckily, we met a friendly family (who actually were hiking to Berg Lake to get married, HOW FUN!) who let us borrow their fuel so we could heat up our Good to Go meals. The catch is that we were also counting on boiling water for hydration, so we were in a predicament. With this being said, our original plan was to spend the night at Berg Lake the following night, then hike back down to head to the airport the third day. We decided we would leave our packs and tent at the first campsite and do 19 miles in 1 day. Call us crazy, but we didn't want to miss out on essentially one of the biggest reasons for our trip!
So with this, after a good nights sleep, we woke up as early as possible, had breakfast and began our trek. This part of the trail is up hill, but oh my goodness it is worth every step. At this point, I was happy to not be wearing a backpack. After about 3.5 miles up hill, you are rewarded with the beauty of a waterfall. We were pushing through the hike, so unfortunately I didn't snag any pics, but definitely take a second to grab a snack, drink some water, and savor the views.
The trail does flatten out after you pass the falls and just over a mile further you will begin to get your first glance at Mt Robson. From there you will hike through valleys, across the Robson River to what was our final destination, Berg Lake. In an ideal situation, I would recommend spending a few nights at Berg Lake. There are so many side trails you can explore. This will be one I add to the list to do again and spend a few days exploring and really getting to take in all this area has to offer! After taking in the views and eating our lunch, to make a long story short, we headed back to our first campsite, picked up our packs and made the trek back down to our van. I will save all the details, but we were dead, delirious, ate a HUGE meal consisting of burgers, fries, and all the things but in all honestly had a blast and would do it again.
My husband, Rob and I had been wanting to explore Banff National Park since we discovered this magical land existed, which wasn't until we moved to Seattle about 2 1/2 years ago. If you know us, then you also know that we love to explore via camper vans. From Hawaii to New Zealand, and now Banff, Jasper, and Mt Robson National Parks it's our favorite way to explore to see as much as possible!
With Rob turning 30 we decided to make this road trip one for the books and booked our flights for June, just after his birthday. June-August/September is the best time of the year to go weather wise, but it is also CROWDED. So you may want to consider off season if you are trying to avoid the crowds and are okay with a little bit of snow and colder weather. With that said, I do have some tips to avoid the crowds and see just as much beauty if you want the warm weather and blue skies, so continue to read on.
We took a late flight after work on a Friday into Calgary, Alberta and when we arrived we spent the night close to the airport (where I made friends with the only cat I will ever like). The next morning, we took it slow after a long work week, went for a short run (the elevation got to us), picked up some coffee, showered (because who knows when we get our next shower) and headed out to pick up one of the coolest (decor wise) vans we have rented thus far from Karma Camper Vans. They are a newer company and we were the first to take the van out, so this gave me all kinds of giddiness and feels.
After picking up our camper van, next stop was to a grocery store where we needed to stock up on food for the week! Cooking on the road is one my favorite parts. I can't really explain why. I think it's because we take it back to the basics and who doesn't like to cook outside? There is something freeing and liberating about it, no distractions, just connecting with the outdoors and paying full attention to the food you are preparing and putting into your body. There is no better way to reconnect to our most basic needs than being outside exploring and camping. After we picked up groceries, we headed off towards Banff, which is about an hour and half west. Since we took our morning slow and spent a decent amount of time learning about the van before we headed off, we didn't have much daylight left, so once we got into Banff we decided to find a campground close by to settle in, make dinner, relax, and plan the rest of our trip.
After cooking up some dinner, we decided to hit the hay early so we could venture to the famous Lake Louis a 50 minute drive NW in the morning.
Day 2: Lake Louis and The Plain of Six Glaciers Hike. The drive was beautiful, but when we arrived to the town of Lake Louis, we soon realized we were not the only ones with this idea. Since it is a huge tourist attraction, we were re-rerouted to shuttles, with over an hour and a half wait, which would then take you from the parking lot (11KM away from Lake Louis) to the Lake, should have done a little more research on this ourselves! This is not the way Lake Louis was marketed to us through the instagramsss... AnyWHO once we got to the shuttles, I asked one of the rangers if there was any way to walk up to Lake Louis, rather than waiting over an hour. He suggested we park in the town of Lake Louis which was only 5KM away from the lake and walk from there rather than the shuttle parking lot. This was genius, because there was a hiking trail we found along the way that took us from the town to the lake, but “OH SNAP!” once we arrived, DISNEY LAND on steroids once again. Tourist, selfie sticks, Instagram models ERRYYWHERE. My recommendation is to go early (like 6AM early) we got there around 10AM and this most certainly was not early enough.
To our relief, the further you trekked down the lake path, the more dispersed the people were and the less crowded it became. There are a few hikes you can take around the lake, but I would recommend doing one of the tea house hikes, which start at Lake Louis.
We did The Plain of Six Glaciers hike to the Teahouse, a 13.8 km out and back hike. This hike was incredible! Not only were the views breath taking, with views of Lake Louis from behind and Glaciers in your face, but you also get to enjoy a treat at the painfully charming tea house, tucked in the Glacier Valley. Fill your belly mid hike with your choice of freshly baked scones, pies, cakes, hummus, breads, and of course TEA- which will be at 3.7 miles in! Everything is made from scratch and all of the ingredients are either hiked in or flown in by helicopter. The servers hike in themselves and spend a few days up in the valley. This sounds like an epic summer job to me for college/high school students! If only I could go back in time. We stopped prior to heading to the top of the trail. There are also out houses available, if an emergency arises!
After stopping at the tea house, we trekked to our destination, which is where we found the most solitude. We hiked atop the ridges of old moraines on the north edge of the Victoria Glacier, where you eventually end up at a dead end on steep rocks, over looking the glacier and for us, a waterfall.
Since we hiked from our car, this ended up being close to an 11 mile day for us so we were pretty pooped by the end. We hiked our way down, which was just as breathtaking, met a friend from Australia, relaxed a little at Lake Louis, and headed to our next campsite for the evening. Although we wanted to explore more in the Banff area, we also wanted to get away from the crowds, so Jasper was our next destination. If you can, Lake Moraine is another destination in Banff close by. The next three days of our trip into Jasper and Mt Robson will be posted soon!
Adventures can be found in any city. I have shared bits and pieces of my heritage on the blog and social interwebs. If you follow along on Instagram, I am sure you saw that my recent two-week vacation included some sweats with a view. I owe my favorite one to my husband. He wanted to find a unique activity for us during our time in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unlike the PNW, there is not a huge trails association in Bosnia. You can imagine my surprise when he suggested we change our plans for a ride on the new cable car in Sarajevo to a hike to the top of Trebević Mountain.
He found a few blogs through a quick google search that supplied limited information on hikes, including this one. The blog posts were fairly new and did not give the clearest directions on how to find the trail, but we took some screenshots before departing the safety of wifi! We drove to the Pino Nature Hotel, which is where the cable car ends its journey from Stari Grad (Old Town) Sarajevo, and spent a couple of hours exploring the old bobsled track that remains from the 1984 Winter Olympics. If you are in Sarajevo on Holiday, I would highly recommend walking through the track. It has deteriorated and is riddled with graffiti, but there is something stunning about the way it is shaped by the mountainous landscape.
After exploring the bobsled track remains, we decided to continue on with our planned hike. I will admit that we were a little confused by the prior blog directions and drove up to a second lodge that sits above the new Pino Hotel. We parked our car and argued about where the trail markers could be. We knew from a video that the trail should be marked by paint on the trees—a white circle with a red outline. Andy found a trail, but it was for one of the smaller, side hiking trails leading to the “Planinarski Dom.” We saw the appropriate markings and a screenshot of the trail map that I took by the Hotel confirmed that the side hiking trail would link up with the main trail. We were warmly greeted by a stray dog, who was unexpectedly friendly and decided to join us for the adventure. Meet “Smoki”, who I named after a nostalgic Bosnian snack of peanut flavored puffs that kids enjoy.
Andy, Smoki, and I set out on our adventure expecting the hike to take about 3 hours round trip based on previous reports. We had water, pretzels, dried apricots, and cashews in our pack and turned on Map My Run to log the hike. It had been raining in Sarajevo for the past few days, but our Seattle souls weren’t going to a let a little sprinkle stop us. UNTIL WE GOT LOST. Or disoriented might be a better description? The side hiking trail linked us up to a gravel road, but without wifi or google maps, it was difficult to discern which way to go. We looked at our screen shots and the satellite signal we were getting on our phones, and tried to sort out which way to go. Unfortunately, due to the recent rain the trail was muddy and turned into a slip and slide for Andy and I in our Nikes. Smoki did just fine. We eventually stumbled across the real, main route after a minor panic attack by me. For those of you that aren’t aware, the mountains surrounding Sarajevo is where numerous snipers and ammunition resided during the war. There were also mines planted throughout the mountains and for years I was warned about this. It was a little paralyzing, but my husband calmed me down with some logic and promised me we would stick to the trail and not off road it anymore. Continuing on despite this mental obstacle and our limited knowledge was the first summit of the day.
Once you are on the main trail, it is clearly marked and a steady climb with a 1079 meter elevation gain including some switchbacks to the top of Trebević Peak (sits at 1629 meters). The three of us did not encounter any other hikers and only crossed paths with a lone mountain biker. There was something therapeutic about hiking in my hometown, on an unknown trail, with no other souls. We entertained ourselves by teaching Andy more Bosnian (he can now proudly count to 10). When we got to the top we found a bulletin that shared details of the trail, including that the beginning of the work and end occurred in October and November of 2017, respectively. It was new! No wonder my family wasn’t aware of the trail and it was impossible to find blog posts or much info out there. The bulletin shared additional information, including the total length of the trail which is listed as 10 km roundtrip (6.2 miles). The total hike distance we tracked ended up being just about 7 miles and took under 3 hours round trip!
Andy and I enjoyed the views of stunning Sarajevo and Bosnia at the summit and shared our hiking snacks with Smoki, who was loyal to us throughout the whole adventure. We saw other towns in the distance, mountain peaks for kilmeters on end, and below us a sheep herder with his flock. I felt a different type of pride in accomplishing this peak with Andy. It was not the most challenging hike we have done together nor was it the most breathtaking view (Mount Rainier and Vesper still take the cake), but it was the most meaningful. In a way my two worlds collided –the little girl who was born in Sarajevo and returned to see her country and family and the younger woman I am today who loves chasing summits.
I wanted to make this hike simpler for anyone who chooses to visit Sarajevo and take a chance on adventure. Drive up to the Pino Nature Hotel and park in their lot. To the right of the café/restaurant you will see a children’s playground. Walk past that and you will see the trail markers for Vrh Trebevića (Trebević Peak). Follow the marked, painted trees that will take you to your destination. If it’s been raining, I would recommend hiking shoes in place of tennies, although it is doable albeit dirty. This trail is year-round and can be used for mountaineering in the winter. After you accomplish your summit, enjoy a treat at the Hotel. Word to the wise, it is a “dry” hotel so no alcohol on site. Hoping for more trails to conquer on future travels back to Bosnia.
I have been an inspirational quote and motivational book junkie since I can remember. I have always craved something more and I was able to gain bits of wisdom and advice here. Although my roots shaped me, they do not define me. I also recognoize that fear is a real thing. It creeps in when clarity arises, it will do everything in it's power to stop us from from making decisions that are aligned with our greater purpose. For me, it has become increasingly important to feed my soul with bits of motivation and truth to remind myself that I am the owner of my dreams and that fear and excuses are the only thing standing between my dreams and reality. No matter what you believe in, I think we can all agree that it's important to deepen our soul, grow personally, and gain clarity on what we want out of this life.
One tool Ives and I both use to nurture our personal growth is podcast and motivational books. We wanted to provide you with a list of some of our personal favorites that have helped give us energy towards this dream of ours and that we continue to use to gain clarity and light us on fire for life. The first inspirational book I ever read that I can remember, which made a huge impact on my mindset at a young age was, The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. It goes through 10 rules to fuel your life, work, and team with positive energy. It's all about refocusing your thoughts and although it's been so long since I read it, I truly think it changed the way I think and has helped me stayed positive throughout the years.
-The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris: It's more than just a motivational book, it's the definition of "busy doesn't always mean productive". He helps you navigate how to escape the 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich.
-You are a Badass by Jen Sincero: To give you a taste, here's a quote from the book: "The Universe wants us to succeed and wants us to partake in all it can offer by sending little wake-up calls. The only thing we need to do is to learn to be aware of them. The things that we want to have already exist in the universe. The money that seems elusive is already there for the taking. The life partner we want to meet is already alive. The things that we want to experience are already available to us. We just need to manifest those things into our reality."
-The Universe Has Your Back by Gaby Bernstein- tranform fear to faith, I just started listening to the audiobook and am going to put the meditation practices into place!
-The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F by Mark Manson: I haven't read this one, but have heard crazy good things about it and is another Ives has dug into.
-Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson: This is one is also one of Ives' favorites, but who wouldn't want some insight from Richard Branson??
On the list to read:
-Girl Wash your Face by Rachel Hollis
-The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
-How I Built This with Guy Raz - Hands down my favorite podcast, Guy interviews the founders of now HUGE companies like Lululemon, Kate Spade, 5 Guys, Patagonia, Sam Adams... the list goes on and they give you the good, bad, and ugly from the very beginning!
-Side Hustle School with Chris Guillebeau - Any curious in what goes into a side hustle? Chris shares real life stories and advice on how to make your side hustle a success! I also have the book, Side Hustle (which I didn't mention above, but it's a great step by step guide on how to get your side hustle started)
-Goal Digger with Jenna Kutcher- This is a business specific podcast, giving expert advice on how to conquer your goals and create a thriving business!
-Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations- Need I say more?
Some I have been wanting to check out:
-Eventual Millionaire with Jaime Tardy
-This your Life with Micheal Hyatt
-The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes
-Bulletproof Radio with Dave Asprey
In order to see big improvements, you have to put in big effort.
I am a firm believer that you cannot just want or wish for something and expect it to be handed to you. Making goals reality, no matter how big or small, takes effort. Now, I also believe there are different types of effort. So let me share a little bit about my marathon running history with you. I am by no means an expert on the topic, but I have 3 years and 4 marathons of real life experience.
I was never a “runner” or an “athlete,” but I have ALWAYS been stubborn and driven. Running intimidated me, but one year into my running affair, I signed up and completed my first marathon –Rock n Roll Seattle in 2015. It was more to prove to myself that I could train for and succeed at a race. I will be honest, I had wanted to time qualify for the Boston Marathon (BQ) on my first race. Probably not the most realistic goal for a first marathon, but that should give a lil insight into my personality. I trained by running 2 days per week and cross-training with spin classes and HIIT classes. I had fractured my ankle in 2012 and didn’t want to run “too much”. One of my running days was my long run, which increased each week by about 10-20% of the previous week’s mileage. The other run day was usually anywhere between 3 and 8 miles. I didn’t do a run taper and I didn’t really have anyone to train with so I had a lot of solo time. I didn’t realize they had updated the Boston Marathon qualifying times and I thought I had for sure made the cut off based on my pace (3 hours 37 minutes 22 seconds). I ended up missing the BQ by a little over 2 minutes! I was devastated, sore, and hungry. Literally, hungry from running 26.2 miles, but also hungry to sign up for another marathon and make my BQ dream a reality.
I took some time off running and signed up for the Wenatchee Marathon in 2016, which was a fairly flat and fast course. Only downside is that this race is in April, which means the bulk of training is during cold, rainy Seattle winter (not V FUN). I did not really learn my lesson and trained in a similar way, but with the encouragement of my husband and pup on the course I PR’d and made the Boston qualifying time by just under 3 minutes (3 hours 31 minutes 53 seconds)! I don’t know if I was more excited when I BQ’d or when I actually found out that I was accepted to run the Boston Marathon in 2017. BUCKET LIST! Boston would be marathon number 3 and about 6 weeks before the race, I joined Club Seattle Runners Division (CSRD).
So logically, I signed up for marathon number 4 –California International Marathon (CIM) 2017 with her and I slowly integrated a bit more hill and sprint training, running 2-3 days a week instead of just 2. My two goals for this marathon: don’t get injured and help my friend BQ. I even told Christy the weeks leading up to the race to not let me hold her back. If I felt the old injury bothering me, she should keep reaching for her goals. You can read more about our race in her blog post, but spoiler alert: WE DID IT. Both of us ran our fastest marathons on this notoriously quick course (3 hours 27 minutes 57 seconds). After running Boston and racing with no pain at CIM, I decided that I wanted to run all 7 Major World Marathons by the time I turn 35. This led to signing up for Chicago Marathon 2018.
I have decided to try something different for marathon number 5. I could be wrong, but I know that I am ready to commit to a more runtensive (mileage intensive) training program. Limting my running to twice weekly and augmenting my training with cycling classes works, but I also truly believe that I can race smarter and faster. The train smarter part: I decided to focus on strength training more intensively the past 2 months to build more core and glute stability before logging extra miles. I also started going to Tangelo Health 1-2 days per week a few months before training to prepare my body for the mileage it would be taking on. I cannot say enough POSITIVE things about the team at Tangelo! The train faster part: I reached out to Ashley, former collegiate track star and badass group fitness instructor for help. I wanted to ramp up the mileage gradually, integrate tempo runs/sprints/hills, and still be able to cross-train with weight lifting. She created an amazing training guide for us. She also shared some wisdom: not to become obsessed with following the guide to a T. LIFE HAPPENS. If you can’t get the miles in on a particular day, adapt and add some more on another day. I hope to keep you all updated on how this training cycle goes with blog posts along the way. In the mean time, I encourage you to take a step closer to your next big goal. TO THINK YES, NOT NO.
It's FINALLY here. We promised to share our ULA Travel Guide for Palm Springs with you all and man does it make us want to go back! If you followed along on instagram, we went to Palm Springs for a wellness weekend girls get away in April. Both of us needed a reset, a break from work, and wanted the perfect mix of sweat and relaxation.
When To Go:
We wanted to avoid the Coachella crowds and did not find out until after we booked our flights that we were going during the Stage Coach Festival weekend. Oops! Honestly we did not have any issues with the festival being the same weekend as our trip since we avoided the Coachella Valley. The city itself was probably a bit sleepier because most of the visitors were either at the festival grounds or at their Air BnB rentals. The airport is literally less 5 minutes from the main strip of restaurants and bars in the city and we were able to get around easily with our rental car!
Just a heads up that the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival takes place the middle two weekends of April and Stagecoach Festival wraps up the last weekend of April.
The best time of year to visit Palm Springs is between January and April. The temperature is perfect and for us PNWers it's a great time to escape the grey and rain. If you really LOVE THE HEAT then you can brave the weather in May through September, but expect the temp to creep into the 90s to 100s! We don't know about you all, but that makes it hard for us to lay out or hike. Alternatively, in the Fall, October to December, temps start to cool down. So you could also plan a getaway then as a good mental reset before the stress of the Holidays :)
Where We Stayed:
Everyone has different preferences when they travel. We both prefer to spend our money on activities and food (duh) rather than a fancy resort. Renal options were also limited given the Stagecoach Festival attendees. We did a lot of research on Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park, Desert Hot Springs, and Palm Dessert. We were definitely leaning toward glamping in Joshua Tree so that we could sleep under the stars, but decided for our first trip that we didn't want to just limit ourselves to the park. Palm Springs hotels tended to be a bit pricier so we picked middle ground and stayed in Desert Hot Springs. Desert Hot Springs is known for it's mineral spas and a spa treatment was a MUST DO for this wellness weekend.
The El Morocco Inn & Spa was a great, quirky oasis to relax for the weekend. This quaint, boutique inn has all the amenities. We stayed in a cute poolside room decked out in Moroccan-inspired tapestries. There was cold water and iced mint tea lemonade available throughout the day, as well as an assortment of dried fruits. The complimentary breakfast was a perfect way to start the day. There were hardboiled eggs, granola, fresh and dried fruits, avocados, veggies, and plenty of other light breaks goodies. Our favorite part of our stay was the onsite spa with various packages. We booked a combination of the Marrakesh Melting Massage with their Moroccan clay treatment. IT WAS DIVINE. Note to anyone that is trying to party, this isn't the place for you.
We may have gotten a few looks for too many belly laughs when we enjoyed a homemade marg before heading to dinner on Saturday night.
If you are looking for alternate places to stay, this article from The Everygirl gives a great breakdown on where to stay based on various budgets.
Where We Ate & Drank:
Your girls LOVE to eat and enjoy a good adult bevvie. We received so many great recommendations from friends are places to eat. I think we had about 15-20 suggestions and with less than 48 hours, there was only so much room in our bellies. Below is a quick breakdown of our meals, but here is a list with some noteworthy options!
Our flight landed around 10 PM and we decided to celebrate right away. We found ourselves at Bootlegger Tiki. The cocktails are so fun and the name of the bar describes the vibe and decor perfectly! The bartenders are a great resource if you find yourselves stuck choosing between drinks (menu anxiety is a real problem and we both have it). The tiki bar also shares a space with THE BEST coffee spot in the city. We literally drove back Saturday morning for cold brews before our Bikram pilates class.
After Pilates we went back to Palm Springs and hit up the ACE Hotel Pool Party. This pool was highly recommended by friends and it was so different than we expected. Most of the pool parties we have attended have been Vegas style. The ACE Hotel opens its pool to guests of the hotel and outsiders for a small fee. We mingled with bachelor/bachelorette parties, families, and faces from all over. It was actually a great chill vibe with a DJ spinning in the background. YOU MUST ORDER THE FROZEN WATERMELON MARGARITA. Game changer. (If anyone has a great recipe, please share.) Along with our cocktails we inhaled our favorite version of lunch. We preach balance and our food choices reflect it. The frites and season crudités were the perfect combo of savory, salty, greasy, crunchy, and fresh wrapped into one meal.
After day drinking we went back to our inn to relax and freshen up for dinner back in Palm Springs. If you can only make it to one place to eat in Palm Springs, then make it Birba. From the cute courtyard dining to the mouthwatering wood-fired pizza, this is the type of restaurant you want to keep going back to. We split the three kale salad and a pizza. Literally, the perfect dinner. After dinner we made our way to the Workshop Kitchen and Bar, but to be honest we were exhausted from a full day and ride-shared back for some much needed zzz's.
We bought snacks on Saturday to bring on our hike/road trip to Joshua Tree. Lunch ended up being a typical hiker's meal: hummus, fresh cantaloupe (we snagged from our break buffet), crackers, wasabi and soy roasted almonds, chocolate, and coconut H2O. Nothing fancy, but so satisfying. After our adventures, we went back for our luxurious spa day and decided to continue the simple, healthy treats with a vegan dinner pre-flight. Native Foods Cafe dishes up some amaze vegan cuisine. We opted to share the kimchi bulgogi jack fruit tacos and the BBQ chicken salad. If you are looking for great vegan, another spot that we wanted to check out was Natural Sister's Cafe by Joshua Tree.
Breakfast daily was enjoyed poolside at our inn. However, there are SO MANY PLACES we wanted to try.
Where We Sweat:
We wanted to a bit of everything while on this wellness getaway: a hike, a run, and a studio/group fitness class were on our to-do list. Desert Hot Springs has plenty of hikes and activities in the vicinity. We woke up early on Saturday and decided to explore our city with a road/trail run combo. This was a great way to get some mental clarity before venturing out for the day! After our sub 3 mile run, we freshened up and hit the road en route for that epic cold brew before our pilates class.
Inferno Pilates HIIT. It's as pleasant as it sounds. Leave it to Christy to find the hardest, hottest yoga and pilates studio on vacation ;). The class was at 11:15 which allowed us plenty of time to ease into the day and lasted an hour so we had the whole afternoon to enjoy poolside after. Since the studio is heated to 95 degrees and 40% humidity, the desert heat poolside didn't phase us one bit after the class. This is a great bodyweight, dynamic work out that leaves you in pools of sweat. Detox to retox anyone?
Sunday was our Joshua Tree exploring day. Initially, we had wanted to do a sunrise hike, but that was before tequila came into the picture and we realized sunrise was at 6 AM and we had an hour to commute! We woke up and drove the hour from our inn to the start of Ryan Mountain Trailhead. This 2.7 mile round trip hike boasts 1062 ft of elevation gain, but the summit views are worth the steep ascent. If you regularly hike in the PNW, this trail won't seem too bad. At the top we did a little content shooting with some HIIT workouts, but we also took time for ourselves. Mindfulness and reflection was a great way to enjoy the desert. There are so many other trails in the park, but due to our limited time, we stuck just to the one.
Why We Want To Go Back:
So obviously our list of restaurants and bars alone means we need to do another adventure to this gem in the desert. But there are a few other activities that we are dying to check off the list.
Our Palm Springs Bucket List:
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway + Hiking Mt. San Jacinto State Park
Joshua Tree Overnight (starry skies and desert hikes sounds pretty spectacular to us, Barker Dam is a trail we'd love to see)
Bike Tour of the Neighborhoods/Architecture
Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
Indian Canyons Trails
Azucar Bar for cocktails
Cheeky's or FARM for Brunch
Copley's or The Pantry for a fancier din din
If you have any recommendations or other activities that we might have overlooked please drop a comment below!