I Cross Country Skied Alone in Colorado and It Was Awesome

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Solo adventures usually mean no pictures of me,
or awkward pictures of me using my camera's timer!
In the middle of January, my partner in crime and I flew to Colorado to go skiing. We picked Winter Park because (1) it was affordable to rent my friend's ski-in-ski-out condo, (2) she found a link on the resort's website for four-day lift tickets for $189 (!!!), and (3) because I've been to Winter Park twice in the summer, but never in the season it's named after.

After three days of skiing in ideal conditions on a massive mountain, two things became obvious. First, I was completely spoiled by our little ski-in-ski-out condo. I'm going to have a tough time staying overnight at a resort where I can't go directly from my bed to the slopes. Second, I didn't want to ski anymore.

Not forever, just on that trip. I was done. I called it early on the third day because I wasn't having fun anymore while my partner in crime kept skiing until the lifts closed. We both did what we wanted, and we both enjoyed the day. It was an ideal scenario for both of us.

Hiking Pennsylvania: Wind Gap to the Leroy A. Smith Shelter via the Appalachian Trail

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Rocks, rocks, everywhere!
A while back, I tried to standardize how I title my trip reports to make them easier to find and to use for anyone interested in trail details when they're planning their own trip. The syntax is generally "Activity Place: Trail Name."

When I started writing up a recent hike along the Appalachian Trail (AT) in Pennsylvania, I toyed with a few non-standardized title options:
  • Hiking Pennsylvania: How to Trip on 5,000 Rocks While Hiking and Still Have Fun
  • Looking Down for Eight Miles of Walking Really Isn't That Bad
  • The Rockiest Section of Trail I've Ever Done
Anyone who's hiked in Pennsylvania, or read Bill Bryson's comments about Pennsylvania's section of the AT in A Walk in the Woods, knows we've got a few rocks here. I'm used to it, and even seek out rocky trails like the Pinnacle/Pulpit and Hawk Mountain because scrambling over boulders is fun. But this section of the AT, as friends and I discovered, is an entirely different ballgame.

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Women's Deviator Hoody

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Hanging out in the Colorado cold in the Deviator.
If I've learned anything about winter outdoor fun over the years, it's the importance of finding a
layering system that helps me manage my body temperature and is comfortable to move around in. Too many layers can leave me feeling like a stuffed sausage and guarantee I'm going to sweat, which is a recipe for disaster. Too few layers, or the wrong layers, and I'm cold, another recipe for disaster.

But the complexity of layering in the cold doesn't have to stop you from getting outside. And as it turns out, some ideal next-to-skin layers might not look like traditional next-to-skin layers at all, like the Outdoor Research Women's Deviator Hoody.

As part of another season of the #ORinsightlab team, Outdoor Research provided me with a complimentary Deviator Hoody to test out.  Given the praise Backpacker Magazine shared for it, I had pretty high expectations, and (spoiler alert), the Deviator met them all.

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Women's Melody Tights

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Spoiler Alert: My legs feel like
they're being hugged in this shot!
I'm picky when it comes to next-to-skin layers. If a piece of apparel is itchy, scratchy, or abrasive, you can bet I won't wear it.

So when I read that the Outdoor Research team describes the Women's Melody tights as "a soft hug for your legs," I was intrigued. How could it be possible for a pair of tights to be that soft?

I received a complimentary pair of the Women's Melody tights to test as a part of another season of #ORInsightLab - a chance to see what "a soft hug for your legs" really feels like. I was glad to put the Melody tights through their paces inside, outside, and at the gym to see how they performed for my first of three reviews for Outdoor Research this season.

Fit and Feel

One touch of the fabric to bare skin and it was clear the "soft hug" Outdoor Research promised I'd get when I put these tights on had been delivered. The Melody tights are constructed out of some of the softest material I've worn next to skin, outside of pure fleece.

Hiking the Catskills: Kaaterskill Falls (and the Worst Airbnb Ever)

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Starting up the trail to the falls. (PC. D. Herscovitch)
I'm completely in love with Upstate New York. My adoration is rooted in the fact that I grew up in the Fingerlakes, spent my formative years in the 1,000 Islands and Adirondacks, and discovered the beauty of the Catskills in the past decade or so.

My partner in crime and I set our sights on the Catskills for a New Year's getaway (to the worst Airbnb I've ever stayed in, but more on that later), and we knew we wanted to visit 260-foot Kaaterskill Falls while we were in the area.

The falls are a long-storied Catskill Mountains attraction and are accessible via a yellow-blazed trail maintained by the state. It's an extremely popular spot despite being the site of some controversy around safety, but nonetheless, I couldn't wait to spend some time there under the veil of new snow.

Getting to Kaaterskill Falls

The trail to the bottom of the falls is accessible via a small parking lot off of NYS Route 23A. In the vicinity of the falls, Route 23A bends, twists, and turns up, down, and around prominent, beautiful mountains.