Wanderlust Wednesday: Pryor Mountains, Montana

Pryor Mountains of Montana

July 2009

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When I was younger, I was OBSESSED with horses. It’s dissipated a bit as I’ve gotten older, but the obsession is still in my veins. I jumped at any opportunity to be with horses, collected model horses, volunteered at a therapeutic riding center, and watched every horse movie out there.

So, when I discovered the popular PBS documentary about Cloud the Wild Mustang, I wanted to visit his herd and homeland in Montana.

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Film-maker Ginger Kathrens discovered Cloud as a foal and documented his journey into adulthood– from scampering foal, to rogue teenager, to herd stallion and father. Cloud is special. Usually the horses are darker colors to blend in with the environment, and light horses like Cloud are targeted by predators (and BLM mustang herders) when they’re foals. Miraculously, Cloud has survived to adulthood, is re-released after BLM round-ups because of his coat, and still roams the Pryors today. In fact, Cloud will turn 19 at the end of this month!

Anywho, in 2009 while touring colleges in Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana, my parents and I decided to take a detour to the Arrowhead and Pryor Mountains!

After a long drive, we finally made it to the visitor’s center! Inside, there were posters and information on the mustangs and Cloud.

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The guide informed us that our vehicle would require 4WD in order to get to the valley where Cloud’s herd resided. Although our rent a car was a Jeep, it was not equipped with 4WD and my dad didn’t want to risk blowing a tire or anything, so we couldn’t make the journey I’d dreamed of.

I was bummed, but we were still able to see some mustangs in the lower foothills!

We pulled over and ventured out on paths near canyons, lakes, and flowers. It was beautiful! And the mustangs were scattered across the plains.

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Right before leaving, I spotted a determined, dark bay stallion making his way through the brush. We decided to pull over, get out of the car, and quietly observe his route. My mom stayed in the car, but my dad and I ventured carefully to a gully where he disappeared.

Turns out, his little herd was hiding in the bushes with a fairly new foal! We made sure to keep our distance, but it was so awesome seeing them 🙂

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I hope to return one day and visit the higher mountains where Cloud’s herd and relatives live, but until then, I’ll cherish the mustangs we did get to witness!

Cool sidenote: While attending Colorado State, I had the chance to meet Ginger Kathrens when she visited the campus to speak on mustang preservation!

ginger kathrens at CSU

She shared photos, stories, and encouraged us to save America’s mustang heritage. Her friendly nature and passion for horses definitely re-ignited the desire to see Cloud. One day! 😀

To learn more about Cloud and wild horse conservation, you can click here to visit the Cloud Foundation! 🙂

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Wanderlust Wednesday: Turtlehead Peak, Hoover Dam, and Las Vegas

Turtlehead Peak, Hoover Dam, and Las Vegas

March 2014

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Wow this is the first Wanderlust Wednesday I’ve done in eons!!

School has been consuming me a lot lately (hence my extreme lack of posting). Per usual, the semester cranked up to level 20,000 intensity during the final months. But today is “reading day” and I only have one test left before I graduate college (HUZZAH!!), so I thought I’d finally write up a recap of our family trip to Nevada over Spring Break!

We landed in Las Vegas and spent some time touring the city, doing all of the tourist-y stuff like playing slots at Caesar’s palace (I made 10 cents!! haha!), seeing the Bellagio fountains, and checking out the Mandalay Bay aquarium. Let’s just say the city wasn’t my cup of tea. The amount of X-rated porno ads/alcoholics/druggies/smokers circling around every place you turned got very disgusting VERY fast. I’m not used to that kind of atmosphere at all, and wanted to leave after about an hour of exposure.

VegasThankfully, Vegas wasn’t all we had planned.

The majority of our vacation was spent outside of the city; exploring Red Rock Canyon, hiking to Hoover Dam, and taking in some great scenery!

I’ll begin with Turtlehead Peak!

Turtlehead Peak TrailJust some quick stats on the hike itself:

  • Difficult hike with rock scrambling
  • Route climbs about 2,000 feet in 2.15 miles, but the hard part is climbing the 800 vertical-feet in the rocky, gully/chute system that leads to the summit ridge in only 0.4 miles
  • Marked trail signs end after 0.6 miles
  • Summit is 6,285 feet
  • Offers views of the city and all of Red Rock Canyon

The weather was perfect for hiking–cold enough to need a light jacket, but warm enough not to be teeth-chattering cold. The skies were clear, the trail wasn’t busy, and the birds were singing songs that invited us to have an adventure. My dad and I were stoked!

The beginning of the hike was pretty easy, just very gravel-y and rocky, so you constantly had to be looking down to prevent rolling an ankle on the random rocks. I guess it was a blessing in disguise though, since it also made you keep an eye out for snakes.

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After about an hour, we got to the rocky, runoff/chute area, and it started to get steep. Since there was no clear, marked trail at that point, we kind of hopped around, looking for the safest, best route up the mountain. Soon, it got so steep that we had to crawl like monkeys up the big boulders and rocks that littered the landscape. Even though our heavy, water bottle-laden backpacks made it a bit of a challenge, it was SO fun!! I am definitely a fan of rock scrambling.

Eventually, after some pit stops to catch our breath, we made it to the plateau before the final climb up to the summit.

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Once we reached that point, the wind that had been blocked by the peak hit us like a tidal wave! It was cold and extremely gusty, so we had to bundle back up in the layers we’d stripped off during the hike.

Then we finally made it to the top! A random dude from Chicago was up there in shorts and a t-shirt with no backpack or water, so we offered him some agua and he offered to take our picture!

Turtlehead Peak Summit

We didn’t stay at the peak very long because it was so windy and cold, but we still managed to snap physical and mental pictures of the beautiful scenery.

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The way down was dicey at times due to rocks that would avalanche under our boots, but it was definitely easier to see a trail route from sky view. And it was nice to be out of the wind once we rounded the peak’s corner.

Once at a lower elevation, we explored some of the red rocks near the base of the peak. We saw people and dogs hanging out near the top of these tall formations and decided to scale them ourselves. They sure looked a lot harder to climb from the ground, but we were surprised to find out easy it was to climb!

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After driving around the park for a bit, we got out of the car and roamed around Red Rock Canyon.

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We took a random trail and saw some rock climbers scaling massive vertical walls! It was amazing! It started to get late, so we figured we should head back to our hotel to hang out with mom after her “spa day” 🙂

The next day, my dad and I took an abandoned railroad trail to Hoover Dam!

Here are some stats on that hike:

  • 8 miles round trip
  • Trail follows an old railroad bed high above Lake Mead
  • Runs through five 25-ft-diameter tunnels cut through volcanic ridges
  • Easy, pleasant hike with no major elevation changes
  • Destination is the Hoover Dam visitor’s center

We started out early to beat the sun and boy was the weather perfect again. There were little informational signs that told you about the history of the railroad along the path, beautiful views of Lake Mead, and big volcanic-like rocks everywhere. But my favorite part was definitely the tunnels! They were huge!

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After walking through the 5 tunnels and a railroad “graveyard,” we finally made it to the Hoover Dam!

It was a lot more massive than I pictured, and it was bustling with a lot of tourists. The Arizona/Nevada line is located on the Dam so my dad and I joked about “walking to another state” haha!

Hoover Dam Hoover Dam Overlook

After exploring, we decided to turn back. It started getting hot by then, but we got to see some neat little lizards and this HUGE iguana dude sunning on a rock!

Hoover Dam hike

Also, a lot of helicopters taking tours over Lake Mead and the Dam flew overhead really low and it was cool to be surprised by them when they’d pop out through a canyon! 🙂

All in all, it was a pretty neat experience! While some aspects of the city scarred me for life, the hiking was awesome! I definitely recommend checking out Red Rock Canyon and all of the hiking opportunities if you’re ever in the Vegas area!

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Chocolate PB and PB Fudge Fat Bombs

Fat bombs.

The initial mental picture of that word combination may be disturbing, but I assure you, there’s no need to flee from this blog post! In fact, fat bombs are far from an exploding pile of lard; they are a delicious, healthy treat!

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So a little background: I find that my body functions best on a “carb backloading” style diet which involves high fat/low carb meals during the early portion of the day and high carb/low fat meals at night in order to refill my glycogen stores for weightlifting the next morning. Usually, I eat the majority of my carbs post workout, dinner, and in my before bed snack, so for lunch, I like to eat a lot of fats and protein.

Looking for some new high fat recipes, I came across the concept of “fat bombs” on a Paleo/Keto diet forum thanks to Pinterest. (What would I do without that site?!) The concept: a low-volume, fat-loaded rocket that can be eaten as a snack or as an addition to a meal in order to hit your daily fat recommendations. Low volume, high in healthy fats, and supposedly taste like fudgy Reese’s cups?! COUNT ME IN!

So I did some experimenting with ingredients and hit the jackpot. My body doesn’t digest fats very well, so when I find something that doesn’t make me lethargic and queasy, I hold onto it for dear life! These fat bombs have been a Godsend. I make them every day and they make a delicious addition to lunch! And another plus? They genuinely taste like FUDGE!!

peanut butter fat bombThese are my two “go-to” fat bombs, but they’re super customizable, so feel free to change around the ingredient amounts to suit your tastebuds! You could try different nut butters, add spices…the possibilities are endless.

Also, I use ghee (clarified butter) in these recipes, but feel free to use regular butter. Since I have dairy issues, I find my digestive system handles ghee much better because all trace amounts of lactose are removed in the clarification process. It’s also a pretty awesome food since it aids in vitamin absorption and is high in butyric acid. To learn more about the health benefits of ghee, you can read here.

Anywho! Prepare yourselves to be converted to the dark side that is Fat Bombs! 😀

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fat Bombs

(keto, gluten free)

fat bomb ingredientsIngredients:

  • 18g Ghee (or butter)
  • 13g 100% cacao unsweetened chocolate
  • 38g Peanut Butter (or any nut butter)
  • 18g Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Nuke in microwave for about 1:30 until you get a melted consistency.
  3. Stir well until no clumps remain.
  4. Pour into silicon cupcake molds and place in freezer for 10-20 minutes or until solid. Keep in fridge or eat immediately!

Makes one serving: 63g fat / 11g carbs/ 10g protein / 5g fiber

(Also, you could keep the peanut butter out and place it into the center of the chocolate mixture after it’s been poured into the silicon cups. That way, you can have a peanut butter center, like a Reese’s!)

chocolate PB fat bombs

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Peanut Butter Fudge Fat Bombs

(keto, gluten free)

PB fat bombsIngredients:

  • 22g Ghee (or butter)
  • 46g Peanut Butter (or any nut butter)
  • 10g Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Nuke in microwave for about 1:30….
  3. …Until you get a melted consistency
  4. Stir well until no clumps remain.
  5. Pour into silicon cupcake molds.
  6. Place in freezer for 10-20 minutes or until solid.
  7. Keep in fridge or eat immediately!

Makes one serving: 57g fat / 9g carb / 10g protein / 3g fiber

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Both of these recipes make 2-3 fat bombs, depending on how big your silicon molds are and how large you want them. They are very rich, buttery and will make your mouth water. You’d never know they’re actually healthy for you! 😀 I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!