REI Dividends? Yes, please. We need legit gear.

sleeping bag

Our Full Price Buy – Marmot Scandium bags. Click on the pic and check out these sleeping bags we picked up from REI tonight.

There’s something to say about a company that gives money back to you because you believe in their vision, products, and services. REI has been really helpful in getting us involved more with the outdoors here in CO. Don’t get it wrong – it’s not that we don’t support local stores. That’s not it at all. We are happy to shop local, and support local businesses and often do, but really appreciate the knowledgable, friendly staff at REI.

With a $35.55 dividend, a 20% off 1 Outlet item, and a 20% of 1 Full-Priced Store/Online item, we walked away today with one new tent and two sleeping bags. You guys may remember last year that we camped before tackling Mt. Democrat for the Colorado 54. I’m not sure if we mentioned that we got about 2 hours of sleep before freezing our asses off and needing to head back to the car for another hour or so of sleep before hiking.

This goes to show how important it is to have properly rated equipment – have to have the right temperature rating for bags and tents, and a pad to keep you off of the cold ground. Camping in Michigan always meant a gathering of some sort of bedding, using someone’s tent, and bringing a few pillows… well, at least in the summer and first part of fall. Colorado is so different because of the different elevations and climates the different vertical feet present; camping at sea level is a lot different than camping at 12,000 vertical feet. Try starting a camp fire at Kite Lake in August before hiking Democrat! Good luck, rookies. 🙂

How do you get REI dividends? Pay a one-time, $20 membership fee & collect percentages of your purchases back over the year. They’ll mail you your dividend coupon with other coupons to use on sweet stuff. Again, the fee isn’t yearly – you just pay it once. Pretty sweet deal! Membership has given us discounts on classes (avalanche safety, snowshoeing, etc…)

people in tents

Having a great start on the right gear, we’re totally pumped for some epic camping in 2015. Again, huge thanks REI for giving back to their customers. They’re a company we can rely on and has always treated us right with their extensive knowledge and awesome gear.

tent

Our Outlet Buy – a sweet, 3 person REI tent. Click on the pic to check out the specs on the tent.

If you’re in Denver this weekend, check out the Garage Sale happening on Saturday! For more details on the lottery system they use for entrance and what the garage sale is, check out REI.

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Snowshoe Adventures on Squaw Pass

Trees Brown DS

Hiking Squaw Mountain. Click on the picture to check us out on Facebook. Make sure to hit that Like Button! Photo Credit: Denverspeax, 2015.

Once again, we rented a few pairs of snowshoes from REI (roughly $25 bucks per pair for the weekend) and made the run from Denver to Squaw Pass.

These are the same directions for heading to Echo Lake, however we stopped about 12 miles early at a parking area off of the Pass in front of a large, open grassy area.

We parked, got our gear on, (visit our first Snowshoeing Adventure post to learn what gear will keep you warm and happy!) and headed across the Pass from where we were parked, and picked up a trail in between the cabins that lie a little off of the pass (you can see them from the road).  Continue reading

HAPPY 100th POST! Snowshoeing – Trying Something New

A few of us have been talking about trying Snowshoeing for a while now, and just never got around to researching it… until today!

Step One: Gear
While scouring the inter webs, we gained a pretty good understanding of what will be needed for our snowshoe excursions:

  • Waterproof Hiking bootsREI Denver has a great supply of hiking shoes that will also work for snowshoeing. Because of my (Kirsten) wide feet and love for the brand, I went with Keen’s Women Targhee II Mid Hiking Boots. They’re weatherproof, breathable, and wide. I purchased a half-size bigger as they’re noted to run a half-size small.

    hiking boot

    Check out the reviews on the Keen Targhee II Mid Women’s Hiking Boot online and shop around for a pair for yourself! Credit: Google Images, Jan 2014

  • hiking bootWarm clothing – both outer layer and underneath. Luckily, we have plenty of wool socks (SmartWool socks work really well), warm hats and gloves, waterproof snow pants, and different weight jackets from skiing and snowboarding. Depending on where you’re snowshoeing, you’ll need to pack a daypack with changes of clothes to adhere to weather conditions.
  • Snowshoes and Poles – did you know that many places provide snowshoe rentals? REI is one of those places, so while we bought hiking boots, we checked out the rental situation. You can pick up snowshoes and poles at REI on Friday, drop them off the following Sunday before they close, and only be charged a one-day rental of $18 for members, or $22 for non-members. There are a ton of places in Colorado that rent snowshoes – try googling it to see who has equipment available for rental in your area.
  • Snacks – Not only have we read, but we’ve also been told that snowshoeing can be pretty labor intensive. Make sure you bring a daypack with not only changes of clothes, but also water and snacks. Hydration and carbs are going to be key in generating energy to keep going, just like while hiking.

Step Two: Trails
While checking out at REI today, we came across an area by the checkout that had FREE trail maps for snowshoeing. Of course, the internet is a great place to find trails and read through reviews of people that have experienced them firsthand. Here is a list of trails that we’ve found that accommodate both cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter:

Bemrose Ski Circus
Difficulty: Easy to more difficult

Burro – FDT 80
Difficulty: Easy

Keystone Gulch Road – FSR 175
D
ifficulty: Easy to moderate

steamboat snowshoeing

The majority of ski resorts have snowshoeing equipment rental, classes, and trails available for patrons. Above, snowshoers enjoy the trail at Steamboat. Credit: Steamboat Resorts, Jan 2014

Meadow Creek – FDT 33
Difficulty: Easy to more difficult

Peru Creek Road – FSR 260
Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area
Difficulty: Easy to more difficult

Even Van Bibber Park in Wheat Ridge has a trail perfect for beginning snowshoeing. Also, check out Arapaho National Forest and Roosevelt National Forest for additional snowshoe trail ideas.

1907 snowshoe

Snowshoeing was even cool in 1907! Credit: Wikipedia, Jan 2014

Step Three: GO! 
Next, we need to plan when we are actually going on our first snowshoeing excursion. We will watch the weather to prepare according clothing, snack, and traffic-wise. Additionally, while we are snowshoeing, we will make sure to use the Strava App to track our progress.

Snowshoeing looks to be an incredible, aesthetically pleasing and fitness providing adventure. We’re excited to try out the REI rental process and get out there in the next few weeks to experience this firsthand and report back to you all. If you have any comments or suggestions as we plan for our first Snowshoeing adventure, make sure to comment below! We’d love your feedback.

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For All You Bikers Out There – Strava

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Screenshot of the “Explore” tab in my Strava account. Click on the picture to be brought to their website to check it out. Credit: Strava website, July 2013

A friend at work told me about this free app for my iphone (works for droids as well) called “Strava“. So far, I’ve learned that you can set goals and challenges for yourself, keep track of your progress with your phone / laptop, and find other rides that Strava members have mapped out. Today, a few of us are going for a bikeride from 17th & Colorado to REI in the Highlands. I’m totally going to record my ride using the Strava app and check it out for you guys! I’m sure it isn’t the most sophisticated, incredibly accurate bicycling app, but honestly – that’s not what I’m looking for. Just something to help me with tracking my progress. 

In a town like Denver, you get hooked on exercise like bike riding, and I’d really like to see if this app motivates me, and helps me get back into shape. I’ll let you all know how it works! 

If anyone has used the app and has some tips or comments, we’d love to hear!