Saturday, June 30, 2018

June Books

I am stoked that even with our MoviePass membership, I am still getting in a decent amount of books. Let's be real, not having cable TV to keep me "entertained" gives me more free time to dive into a great book or seven ;)

There were TWENTY-NINE books in the first five months of the year, so when I add June's FOUR that brings the total to THIRTY-THREE for 2018 thus far! If you're interested in what I read (and how I'd rate them) or need suggestions on books, check my previous write-ups! {January's Books / February Books / March Books / April Books / May Books}

  • Love Does by Bob Goff - A friend of mine gifted me this book (and the follow up - Everyone Always) and I was STOKED to get into it. I didn't know anything about it before it arrived, but the sweet note that came with it said the book reminded her of how I lived my life and thought I'd enjoy it. And enjoy it I did. I LOVED this book! And if she hadn't asked me to pass it along to someone else who would love reading it I definitely would have kept it in my personal library. This book is written by an AWESOME man with some FANTASTIC stories... but what is even better is that he is constantly pointing back to his AMAZING God! The whole premise of the book is that love isn't a feeling, but an action. Bob shares personal stories (some of which are so outrageous you wouldn't think they were true) and ties them all back to Jesus. Although it is a Christian book, I would say non-Christians would enjoy it all the same because of the stories Bob tells and the calling to make love something that we DO! This book can literally change your perspective on living and loving! I would give it a 10 out of 10.

  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones - I don't remember how this on got on my library list, but it felt like I had been waiting in line for it for a while, so it had to be good, right?! Well, thankfully it seems like everyone who was on the waitlist had the right idea because I really enjoyed it. I had a hard time putting it down because I just had to know what happened next. It sort of felt like a reality TV show (like you were looking in on two real people's lives and watching it all unfold right in front of you). It's a story about injustice, betrayal, love and forgiveness. The characters all felt real and by the end I was really pulling for them (or at least a couple of them over the others, but shhhhh I'll never tell which ;) ). The author truly made the story come alive. I enjoyed how the format went from a normal chapter book to letters written back and forth between the two main characters and then back to your standard novel format. As with life, there were no real winners or losers in this story - just people doing the best they could with the cards they'd been dealt. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Everybody Always by Bob Goff - Remember how I mentioned a friend sent me Love Does by Bob Goff? Well, this was his follow-up book. And just like his first one, I gobbled this one up. Bob is so passionate about "becoming" love that it oozes off of the pages. His storytelling ability is amazing and the way he relates his life to that of Jesus is unparalleled. I can't believe I had never heard of Bob Goff before, but now I want to try to get my hands on everything he's ever done. Bob's love for others, especially the "creepy" ones seems authentic and one I hope we can all emulate. Similar to the first book, if my friend who gifted me the books hadn't asked me to pass it along to someone else who would love reading it I definitely would have kept it in my personal library - in fact, I better add both of them to my Amazon wish-list right now! Although it is a Christian book, I would say non-Christians would enjoy it all the same because of the stories Bob tells and the calling to love everybody, always! This book can change your perspective on love! I would give it a 10 out of 10.

  • The Wind Blows Backward by Mary Downing Hahn - A friend of mine heard I fancied Young Adult books and brought me a stack when she was in town last; this was the first one I was able to dive into. And let's just say I dove hard and fast because I flew through this book in a few hours. I know I'm almost 34 years old, but man I can get lost in a YA book - especially a love story. This was written back in 1993, back before the age of the Internet and when walkmans were the wave of the future. Unlike many of the YA books today, it's more than just drama - it's deep. I appreciate she touches on topics such as suicide and alcoholism. The underlying theme that we can't save the ones we love, they have to save themselves rings true today just as it did over 25 years ago when the book was first published. Sure it may be a coming of age story, but I think the author did an amazing job telling it. Growing up is hard and Mary doesn't sugarcoat it. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

With that, June has come to a close. My reading may have slowed, but I definitely hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my queue if our library offers them!

What was the best book you read this month?

Friday, June 29, 2018

Movies of the Month {June}

A few months ago the hubby and I each signed up for a MoviePass membership. In case you're unfamiliar with the program, you pay $9.95 per month and can see as many movies in the theater as you'd like (there are a few restrictions... like "unlimited" means one per day, only certain theaters work, no 3D or IMAX films, and can only see the same movie once, but for the most part it's all-inclusive). Although going to the theater has never really been my jam, it speaks the hubby's love language so I signed us up. {FYI - On Tuesdays, our local theater's movie tickets are discounted for $7 a piece, but otherwise the cheapest you can find is $10.70 for a matinee... which means if you go more than once a month you're technically saving money!} Since we're seeing more movies now, maybe you wanna know our thoughts on them.

So, let's get into it already, shall we?! I mean, that's why you are visiting the blog today, right?! You all are sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to get our thoughts on the movies we saw... I guess you can call us the new Siskel and Ebert!

Action Point

I bet you guessed this was one of the hubby's picks... and you were correct! I was never really into the Jackass scene (I'd say not very many females were) - I always tend to cringe instead of laugh when I see people hurting themselves, but the hubby thought this one would be funny so we went to check it out. As I suspected, it was pretty much like Jackass but with a slight plot (and some 80's movie vibes thrown in for good measure). I wouldn't say it was the worst thing I'd ever seen, but it definitely relied heavily on "injury humor" (and a bear drinking beer). I always shake my head in amazement that Johnny Knoxville does all his own stunts. I definitely wouldn't recommend this movie as one you need to see (either in the theater or otherwise) but if you enjoy the Jackass type shows/ films then you may be entertained (although apparently it is very tame compared to older Jackass "comedy" - but that may have to do with the fact that crew is now in their late 40s).


Ocean's 8

This was one that we thought would be entertaining, but wouldn't be one we would normally pay retail theater prices for, so we didn't go in with super high expectations. And, you know what?! We were pleasantly surprised. I still wouldn't say you need to see it in the theaters (it's definitely more of a rental flick, at least for me), but I still enjoyed it. I really appreciated seeing all of these badass women kicking butt and taking names. It isn't often that there is a movie with 99% of the cast as female and have it be about something more than "feelings" or "romance". Oh yeah, and I have to say, I think I saw the original Ocean's 11 movie but haven't seen any other of the follow-ups (maybe there was one or two?), but thankfully this movie stands on its own and you don't need to see the other films to know what's going on in this one.


Hotel Artemis

When I saw this movie hit my MoviePass app I had to look up the trailer on YouTube to see if it was a movie that would peak our interest. Although we go to the theater often, we hadn't seen any previews for Hotel Artemis (which is saying something because it seems like we see EVERY preview). Anywho, in case you haven't heard of it, it's set in the future where Los Angeles is being overrun with riots and Jodie Foster, the nurse, runs a membership-only hospital for criminals. I thought it was an original idea - fresh and not just another remake. The hubby and I both mentioned how it was able to keep your attention even though the majority of the film took place in a single building. There were definitely a lot of stars in the film, but I didn't feel like any really out-shined the other. It was a bit surface-y (no back stories were given for any of the characters), but it kept us entertained for the 90ish minutes. More of a rental in my opinion, but still one I'd watch.



The hubby had read an article in Outsider Magazine about this movie and asked if we could hit up the theater. I will be honest, he did drop a bit of a spoiler on me (don't worry, I won't do that to you), so there were a few parts I couldn't get fully invested in, but otherwise it was definitely gripping. It is based on a true story of love, loss and survival at sea. It was actually a book prior to becoming a motion picture, but it is one I haven't read yet. The format of mixing flashbacks with present day kept the story captivating. And don't get me started on my love for how amazingly strong the female lead character is - not waiting for someone to come rescue her, but taking matters into her own hand and handling business!



When the hubby and I saw this preview we both gave it a thumbs up (when we watch previews, we normally give them a thumbs up - meaning we want to see them, a sideways thumb - meaning if we are bored we will see them, or a thumbs down - meaning we would rather get a sharp stick in the eye than see them), so we were pumped when it finally came out. I was a little worried that all the "good" parts might have been in the previews, but thankfully there was plenty of fun to go around. This movie is inspired by a true story (which, in my opinion, made it even better) and even had some video of the actual guys at the end of the film. Even though it is about adults who are playing a child's game, there is a great dose of heart felt sentiment sprinkled throughout the movie. Both the hubby and I enjoyed it (and had no idea that Jeremy Renner broke both of his arms from an on-scene accident, had two casts on during a portion of filming and had CGI arms in one of the scenes). I don't know that it is a must see in the theaters, but I'd definitely say you should watch it!



I'll be honest, we got an email from Regal letting us know we'd get an extra 500 points if we saw this movie, so we hit up the theater (you can use the points towards popcorn, pop, free movie tickets, etc). I didn't know much about John Gotti prior to this movie (I've never seen The Godfather and was too young to really know what was going on in the world of organized crime when it was happening), so I felt like it was all new to me. With that said, it was sort of hard to keep all of the characters straight because there were so many (and it jumped around a bit which made it a little difficult to follow). It wasn't the most action packed movie and felt slow, but for what it was, the hubby and I both thought it was decent. I don't know that it normally would've been one that I would have seen, but it was an okay way to spend a gray afternoon.


The Incredibles 2

This was actually the busiest we have seen the theater in quite a while and we went at a random time on a Sunday afternoon. Apparently all of the kids hadn't already seen the movie and we had the same idea as most other parents. Without giving away any spoilers, I LOVED how a few of the female characters kicked MAJOR booty throughout the film. I do have to say though, I guessed who the "bad guy" was going to be fairly quickly into the movie... so although it was pretty predictable (at least in my opinion), it was fun, entertaining and PIXAR! It's pretty crazy to think the original came out FOURTEEN YEARS ago! I mean, the majority of the movie-goers weren't even alive when the first one came out!


Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Ryan and I saw the previews for this one a few weeks back and were STOKED for it to come out. Apparently it has been in the theaters for like 3 weeks prior to us seeing it, but it wasn't at our normal theater which is why we didn't realize it. Let me start off by saying although I wasn't a child until the later portion of Mr. Rogers' career, I still remember growing up with his show. He played such a big role in so many children's lives that I was pumped to see him getting some of the additional adoration that he deserved. The film isn't action packed or fast paced, but if you ever saw Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, you know that is just how he rolled. The hubby and I walked away in awe of the film. Don't get me wrong, the documentary itself wasn't anything special, it was all about how AMAZING Fred Rogers' was. He did his darnedest to treat children with dignity and respect, to teach them about real life and to remind us that a little kindness can make the world of difference. The hubby actually said this was his favorite movie he has seen in a really long time. I hope everyone has the chance to see this film and can, in some small way, impact those around them like Mr. Rogers was able to do.


And with that our June movies have come to an end. They hubby and I were both able to see 8 movies this month. I think that is what you consider a WIN for the McDots ;) With our MoviePass membership, our movies each cost us approximately $1.24 a viewing - a MAJOR savings compared to actual box office prices! BOOMSHAKALAKA!

What was the last movie you saw in the theater?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Fall Marathon Plans

It has been quite a while since I have had a time goal on the brain when it comes to my running. In fact, the last race I had a time goal for was the 2017 Chicago Marathon. Since then I've kept up the running and added in some new challenges (i.e. running trails, tackling the Grand Canyon, etc), but haven't felt the need to tackle speed... that is, until NOW!

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I've been lucky enough to team up with the Lexus LaceUp Running Series for 2018. Along with some other awesome perks, I've been comped entry into all of their races - the only thing I needed to do was to select the distances I wanted to run. Most of the events offer a 5K, 10K and Half Marathon distance, but Ventura also offers a Full Marathon. When I was looking into the course I had that "this looks like a fast course, maybe I should try to PR this race" feeling and thought - IT'S TIME! [PS Use "CARLEE10" to save 10% on any of the LaceUp Races.]


My current PR for the Marathon is 3:25:02 (which I set in Chicago last fall). If you followed my journey to BQ, you probably remember my game plan for the Boston Marathon was for it to be a one and done race. Well, I'm sticking to my guns and currently don't plan to return (don't get me wrong - the city, the race, the spectators are AMAZEBALLS, but I know how hard it is to accomplish {literally a lifetime goal for some} and don't want to take that special moment away from another runner who hasn't had the opportunity to experience it), but that doesn't mean I never want to run fast again. Au contraire!

THIS FEELING RIGHT HERE... I don't know if you can top it! And I don't want to take that space
or opportunity away from someone else who hasn't been able to experience it yet.

When training for Chicago, I worked with a coach and had a lot of one-on-one guidance for my training {paces, distances, etc} and goals, but this go-around I'm tackling the challenge on my own. Don't get me wrong, I'd recommend Run Your Race coaching any day of the week, but I think this training cycle I want to see if I can do it myself. So I went online, found a training plan and put pencil to paper (because you obviously can't use pen... that would just be cray-cray!).

You know it's serious business when I bust out the ruler!

The Ventura Marathon is on October 21st, which means I technically have just over 16 weeks to make this happen. We obviously all know A LOT can happen between now and then, and I'll have to realistically evaluate my fitness level once race day gets closer, but currently I'm going to be ballsy and put out for the InterWebs (and world) to see and say my goal for Ventura will be a sub-3:25. HOLY CRAPOLY... I said it... Now I have to put my money where my mouth is and DO IT!


Between now and then I have four races on the calendar (including a full marathon, an 8-miler and two half marathons), but only one of them do I plan on racing - America's Finest City Half Marathon. The training plan I'm using has a Half Marathon scheduled for the same exact day at the AFC Half so I thought it'd be PERFECT! Now I know this course is not necessarily a PR course (there is a decent climb around Mile 11.5), but I'm stoked to use it as a gauge to see where I'm at 8 weeks into my training. PS If you want to run it with me, use code "CARLEESFINEST" to save $10 on your registration!

There you have it - I've got a plan, I'm registered for the race(s) and I'm ready to run! Now all I gotta do is put in the work!

What is your next 'goal' race?

Monday, June 25, 2018

Workout Recap - Week 25

Sunday, June 17th – 10 mile run with the hubby, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Monday, June 18th – 5 mile progressive run for #Active4Asher, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Tuesday, June 19th – 4 mile run with the hubby, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Wednesday, June 20th – 10.5 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Thursday, June 21st – 2 mile warm-up, 30 minute tempo run (3.94 miles), 2 mile cool-down, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Friday, June 22nd  15 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Saturday, June 23rd – Rest Day, Stretched & Foam Rolled

This has been quite the week... It was the first week the hubby has been back in an office full time (since being freelance from home for the last 15 months), as well as the first time we've been sharing a car (we don't want to put extra miles on the van since we are in the process of trying to sell it), not to mention Saturday was a friend's bridal shower so I spent the majority of the day on Friday and Saturday prepping for that. Let's just say that not only are my legs spent from the 52.44 miles I ran, but my body is DONEZO (both physically and mentally) from the week. Once we get into a routine I'm sure it'll be totally fine, but for now we are just trying to figure out the new normal. But for now I need to catch up on my sleep!

How were your workouts this past week?

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Global #SportsBraSquad Day

Today is Global #SportsBraSquad Day! I hope you got out there, shed your insecurities and showed the world what STRONG looks like! Because strength doesn't LOOK a certain way, it FEELS a certain way... and if you're showing up for yourself and putting in the work - you are MORE THAN strong! You are a BADASS and I am immensely proud of you!


This morning I got in 13.3 miles with the hubby (of course I rocked my sports bra because it is summer and the humidity that accompanies June Gloom can be horrendous), but I'm actually not here to talk specifically about this one run or even running in my sports bra... but something a little more. Something I've been wrestling with and feel like I need to confess.


You see, a few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend on IG about the Rabbit crop tops (remember when I had the giveaway for $200 worth of their products?!). I told her that although I think they are SUPER cute, I couldn't get up the courage to order and rock one. It took me a while to figure it out, but I think it's because when I run in a sports bra it seems like it could have been a spur of the moment decision (like I was running with a shirt, got too hot and decided to take it off to cool down/ get more comfortable) whereas if I rocked a crop top that was the intent the whole time. I also have yet to run a race in my sports bra - because, let's be real, running around your neighborhood in a sports bra is one thing, but showing up to the start line of a race with thousands of other runners (not to mention photographers) takes a whole different level of bravery. I know, I know, it doesn't make a ton of sense, but isn't that how our insecurities normally are?! And if we don't speak them out loud we give them all the power and often don't see how cray-cray they truly are.


I "joined" the #SportsBraSquad a while back, even though, at the time, I didn't feel strong or comfortable with my body. Shoot, there are still days (too many, if I'm being completely honest with myself {and with you}) I struggle to embrace the way my body physically looks. But WHY?! I am a runner. I am a marathoner. I am a Boston Qualifier. I am a Boston Marathoner. Not that you have to be those things to be strong, but those thing should be a constant reminder that I CAN do hard things, that I DO do hard things, that I AM STRONG! Why can't I be confident in my strength and rock it?! 

My girl Kelly posed a couple questions on her podcast last week that spoke directly to my insecurities - Why do I care what others think about my body shape/ size?! What would happen if someone said something about me running/ working out in my sports bra?! I think she hit the nail on the head... It's not just about how I see myself, but in the back of my mind, no matter how often or adamantly I tell myself I don't care, it's also about what OTHERS think. I shouldn't care, but deep down I guess I do. And I obviously care too much because it effects my behavior. I CALL BS! THIS HAS GOT TO STOP!


I deserve to feel strong and confident about my body! NO MATTER HOW I LOOK, I AM STRONG! We can't redefine what strength looks like unless we are willing to step up and step out and show the world that our worth isn't tied to our waist size! I put too much time and effort into being the strongest, healthiest version of myself to hide away in fear.

We've got to focus on what we say to ourselves and spend less time thinking about what OTHERS think or possibly say about us. Often times we're our own worst critics, but what we really need to do is be our own biggest cheerleaders! No matter what we look like, no matter what the number on the scale says, no matter what our waist size is, if we're working to become the best version of ourselves then we need CONFIDENTLY claim the badge of STRONG! We need to love our bodies for what they do (whether that's run a billion miles or just breathe), not just how they look. We need to embrace our strengths and work through our weaknesses. We need to rally behind our #BadassLadyGang because together we are a force to be reckoned with. We need to love ourselves and encourage others to love every single fiber of themselves too!


Do you struggle with confidence?

Friday, June 22, 2018

Friday Favorites

Another week down and it's time to share some of the things I have been digging lately! I wish I could say I have been digging the sun, but unfortunately we are still dealing with June Gloom over in these parts... but with only a few days left in the month I'm hopeful Mr. Sunshine will start making a regular appearance! Anywho, on to the things I am loving!

Porch Update

Back in September we had to take everything off of our balcony because they were getting ready to paint the outside of our condo complex. After a few months, they were finally done - but then we had birds... Yup, while we were on our road trip (and then in Boston and the Grand Canyon) we ended up having multiple birds laying multiple nests out there. After the final baby left the nest we cleaned everything out, put up "bird blockers" and were able to get our porch back in working order. Oh yeah, but when we went to put up the screens on our porch (which we've had up for the last 8 years), we were told we had to submit an architectural application to our HOA to get them approved... Thankfully we heard back with a thumbs up and were able to get everything finished this past weekend - just in time to enjoy it for the summer!

Before and After!

Trip Down Memory Lane

My mom shared this post on her Facebook the other day and it made me chuckle. Apparently my "crazy" faces have been around for at least 33 years... And, wait, doesn't everyone have baby pictures with goldfish?! No, just me?! Weird!

Trail Jenny Handmade Soaps

I got an IG message from @trailjennyhandmadesoaps the other day, asking if I wanted to try some of her products. Well shoot doggy, you know I love me some trail running, some homemade goodies and all most things free, so I took Jenny up on her offer! She asked me to check out her Etsy shop and see if anything struck my fancy. I was pumped to give the Honey & Vanilla Soap and Natural Deodorant a try. She even threw in a Sore Muscle Bomb to keep me running strong! Can't wait to give all the goodies a go and report back my thoughts - but for now I can say they all smell super yummy!

Sparkle Athletic Shorts

You read that correctly... Sparkle Athletic just released three pairs of SHORTS and I am stoked to give them a try! Carrie has been working to perfect them for a while now and they are finally loving how they look, feel and fit so have released them to the world. Currently there are three designs - Cat's Meow, Red & White Polka Dots and Unicorns & Rainbows.


What are you loving lately?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

REVIEW: Quest Bars {Peanut Butter Brownie Smash}

Remember last week when I posted a review about the Quest Tortilla Chips that magically appeared at our door step?! Well, apparently the Quest gods have been smiling down on me because earlier this week I received ANOTHER package!

Two boxes of the BRAND NEW Peanut Butter Brownie Smash Protein Bars surprised me in the best way possible and I couldn't wait to dive in and give them a test! I had never seen this flavor and was stoked to chow down on one!

I was really digging the packaging and having one of the bars out!

One box for me and one for the hubby, right?!

If you’ve ever faced the tough choice of which Quest Bar to buy, this is the bar for you. This dual-layered bar combines one layer of chewy, nutty, peanut butter with a delectable chocolate brownie layer (they're an infamous "brookie" {brownie + cookie} in bar form!). Together, they’re the Peanut Butter Brownie Smash Bar and they’re ready to take you #OnAQuest.

Look at those layers!

Normally I'm not a huge brownie fan (if you've been around my neck of the InterWebs for a while you know if I reach for a sweet treat it'll likely be a fruity flavor over a chocolate one), so I was nervous this would be too chocolatey for me. Well, I'm happy to report the chocolate wasn't too overpowering (and the hubby, who has never found a sweet he didn't like, said it was just right for him too). As you know, I've gotta #KeepItReal, so I'll shoot straight and say this isn't my favorite flavor (I much prefer Chocolate Chip on its own or Cookies and Cream), but the hubby digs these and I didn't dislike them.

Came in handy after a run since I had a morning full of errands to accomplish before heading home for lunch!

The box says this flavor is sold exclusively in 7-Eleven stores, but I noticed it is currently available on the Quest website, so if you haven't seen them at a convenience store near you yet I'd suggest hitting up the site and stocking up!

Source: Quest Nutrition's Facebook Feed

What's your favorite flavor of Quest Protein Bars?

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Hiking Mt. Baldy

Friday the hubby and I hiked Mt. Baldy, the highest peak of the San Gabriel Mountains and the highest point in LA County.


The hubby had been to the summit twice before (he tackled the "Three Peaks Challenge" with two friends last summer where they hiked the highest three peaks in SoCal within a 24 hour period and also hiked it another time with a friend to train for their Mt. Whitney adventure), but this was the first time I had been to the area.

Making our way up the first incline!

The views definitely did not suck!

We were actually supposed to be hiking Mt. Whitney (which is the tallest mountain in California, as well as the highest summit in the contiguous United States) but there was still snow and ice covering large portions of the trail so we decided we needed to be safe rather than sorry and forfeited our permits in hopes to tackle the mountain later in the summer. 


Since our game plan changed last minute (we were originally planning on leaving around noon to drive to Mt. Whitney Portal, camping Friday to acclimate a bit to the higher altitude, then hiking by 4am Saturday morning before driving home), we didn't have a ton of the details worked out, but figured we'd make it work. We ended up taking Walt to our friends' place for the afternoon (we don't have a yard, so if he has to go to the bathroom we have to walk him, so it's nice our friends will watch him if we're planning to be gone for an extended period of time) and got on the road. We left Oceanside around 11:30am and got to the parking area near Manker Campground by 2:30pm (we had to drop off the pup, stop for gas and buy some sunscreen since we forgot to pack ours but still made decent time for a 100ish mile drive Friday).

The visitor center was closed when we came through, but I snapped a picture anyway.

The hike is approximately 11 miles round trip. We decided to hike up the Devil's Backbone Trail and hike down the Ski Hut Trail (but I think if we do it again I may want to do it the opposite direction - more on the reason why later). Although when we were driving through Riverside it was in the mid-to-upper 90s, since you're starting at over 6,000 feet above sea level the temps are much cooler (well, by much cooler I mean it was in the 70s when we started around 3pm). If you are planning to hike Mt. Baldy (or any mountains for that matter), make sure to keep the weather in mind! Storms, wind, etc can be disastrous and you do not want to be caught somewhere (especially on an exposed mountain) in the elements if there's any way to prevent it! PS We hiked in t-shirts and shorts but packed jackets for when we got closer to the summit.

Just a few days earlier we were driving on the 395 and looking at Mt. Baldy, now we were climbing it!

The hike up was not as bad as I was expecting (remember, although we did #Rim2Rim2Rim, I haven't done much hiking at elevation and wasn't sure how my body would handle it). We got to the summit (which is a little over 10,000 feet above sea level) in about 2 hours, with a quick stop at the ski lodge for a potty break. The hubby used trekking poles (which, along with his much longer stride, seemed to propel him up the mountain at a much higher clip) but I got by without any. 
Just because I didn't use them doesn't mean I couldn't pose with them ;)

I'll be honest, once we got closer to the summit, it got VERY windy (I think the weather page we looked at prior to hitting the road said there were 20ish mph winds with 30+ mph gusts). There were a few points I got a little nervous because there wasn't much on either side of us and felt like I could blow away (although I'm sure I was just being dramatic). I took a few quick breaks in the last mile before we hit the top so I could regain my composure and give my legs a brief rest.

New signs!

Just a tad over 10,000 feet above sea level!

When we got to the summit we made sure to take a few extra minutes to bask in our accomplishments. Not only did we take in the views and eat a snack (it was around 5pm when we hit the summit so I had a PROBAR BASE bar), but we walked around a bit to check out the area. (We actually had the summit completely to ourselves!) And while we were looking around we came across a big horn sheep and two babies! SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! It was AMAZEBALLS


Mama (or daddy) and one of the babies

Look at how close they came to us!

Apparently my phone thought the summit sign was the important part...
Obviously it doesn't know that SNACKS are always top priority! #FueledByPROBAR

After snapping a few pictures at a safe distance (didn't want to freak out the wildlife) we started to make our way down the mountain. Originally we were thinking that we would hike up and run down, but the Ski Hut Trail is a bit more vertical and rock filled which made running difficult. We jogged some of it, but for the most part we were just trying not to take a tumble on the loose sand or hidden boulders. If we were to do Mt. Baldy again I think I'd prefer coming down Devil's Backbone because more of that felt run-able to me (especially since the vertical climb was spread out over a few extra miles).

We did find a few areas to run.

But you had to keep your eyes glued to the trails so you didn't fall or misstep!

We even found a little stream (but the picture was unimpressive, so here's a selfie of me near it ;) )


By the time we got back to our car we had racked up just about 11 miles (I was a tad short because my Garmin didn't locate satellites right away so did an extra lap near the car to make it an even 11 on my watch) and finished in 3:35. 

Not too shabby for hiking the majority of it!

Before getting back in the car to drive home I made the hubby take one last picture.

All-in-all this is an AMAZING hike that makes you work for the views, but is worth every stinkin' step! I'd definitely recommend you go either during the week or VERY early to avoid the crowds (a friend of the hubby's went on Saturday, the day after we went, and said it was like Disneyland with the amount of people, whereas while we were there we maybe saw a total of 10 people). Even still, this is NOT an easy hike, so make sure you're prepared if you plan on tackling the beast! (We brought extra layers in case the weather changed, 6.5 liters of water between the two of us, snacks for the summit and fuel {PROBAR BOLT chews} for the climb and descent, and even headlamps in case something happened and we were out there longer than we were expecting. In my opinion, you can never be too careful, cautious or prepared!)

PS If you're looking for a good post blog with more "turn-by-turn" directions on the hike so you don't get lost or at least can familiarize yourself with the trails you should/shouldn't take prior to hiking, this post by HikingGuy is a great resource!

What's the highest mountain you've ever climbed?