The Alpine Tundra at Rocky Mountain National Park

Never Summer Mountains - View from Fairview Curve
Do you know how it is to go somewhere so beautiful that each corner you turn just takes your breath away? Driving from the West to East on Trail Ridge Road through the Alpine Tundra in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) did this for me, it was one of the most beautiful things I have seen.

Fairview Curve: Never Summer Mountains

Our first stop on Trail Ridge Road was at Fairview Curve (10,120 ft) that had phenomenal views of the Never Summer Mountains, the only volcanic range in RMNP.  I thought "Never Summer Mountains" was a funny name for a mountain range but Summer probably never reaches that mountain range.  The day before we hiked at the Colorado River Trailhead in the valley bellow called, "Kawuneeche Valley".

Continental Divide: Milner Pass

What is the Continental Divide? It is the line that divides the flow of water and snow melt.  On the East Side of the Continental Divide all the water flows to the Gulf of Mexico, part of the Atlantic Ocean and on the West side of the Continental Divde flows to the Pacific Ocean.  To be able to stand at Continental Divide - Milner Pass (10,759 ft), a section of natural occurrence was pretty exciting!

Podre Lake flows to the Missouri then to the Mississippi and ends up in the Gulf of Mexico!

Beaver Creek which is down Ute Trail flows into the Colorado River all the way down to the Gulf of California.

The Alpine Tundra and Visitor Center

The RMNP Alpine Tundra will always hold a special place in my heart.  I felt like I was in another country, I felt like I was back in the place I long to return to, the Peruvian Andes.  The cold, thin air brought me right back to my memories of hiking the Inca Trail.  I instantly fell in love with the Alpine Tundra.

We stopped at the Alpine Visitor Center at 11,796 ft., so we could get our "Passport To Your National Parks" book stamped and let the kids run around.  Amazingly my kids had no issues with adjusting to the elevation change, we live at sea level!  This was also a very memorable moment for me as a mother when my son saw "snow" near the Visitor Center.  He turned to me and with a giant smile and eyes as wide open and says, "Mommy!! That is SNOW!! Let's go get our our snowboards and go down the mountain!".  Soon little buddy...

As we left the Visitor Center, I saw a stairway on Alpine Ridge Trail to Huffer Hill.  I wanted to go to the top but we were headed to hike at Glacier Gorge Trailhead. We had already made too many pit stops so we jumped back into the car and headed down to Glacier Gorge Trailhead.  The beauty of the Alpine Tundra didn't stop with the mountains, we also saw many wildlife in particular the North American Elk all over the tundra.

Many elk roamed the tundra in the far distance when we were going to Glacier Gorge, but on the return trip to Grand Lake after our hike, the Elk were so close to the road that we actually had to stop so the cars would let them pass.  The kids were ecstatic to see them from the safety of the car, we had a very close encounter on the trail, story to come!

Chasqui Run: Alpine Tundra Huffer Hill

After a full day of hiking near Glacier Gorge, on our drive back on Trail Ridge Road to our cabin we stopped at the Alpine Visitor Center.  I wanted to go up Huffer Hill but not walk ...RUN up the hill.  My husband told me I was crazy but I wanted to do it so of course he indulged me,he stopped and waited in the car with our sleeping kids.

I took off running the second I closed the car door, I hit the stairs and ran as much as I could and walked until I caught my breath and ran again until I reached the top.  It was mostly dark, terribly cold, the air was thin but I had such a HUGE adrenaline rush.  I made it to what I thought was the top then end of the stairs and I may have done a "Rocky" victory dance....

The end stairs was not the actual top but there was still another 20-30 feet of paved trail to reach the very top so I finished running it.  I'm not going to lie, I was dizzy, my chest was rattling, coughing but it was the most beautiful thing in the world.


On top of a gorgeous mountain, with the sun barely peaking from behind the mountains. 360 degrees of me and pure mountains.  It was a moment that I will never forget.  I felt so connected to God, so alive, I was on top of the world at 11,938 ft in the sky.  I enjoyed my alone time for a few more minutes and started running down Alpine Ridge Trail.

I was still on my adrenaline high and ran all the way down back to the car.  I got back to the car and my husband turned to me and said, "I saw you running and thought you were going to tumble down!".  I told him, I have now had a "Chasqui Run" in the Alpine Tundra in the Colorado Rocky Mountains an ode to my ancestors.

To my surprise once back in cell phone service territory, I checked my Strava stats on my "Chasqui Run" and I had earned my first Current Record - Queen of the Mountain (QOM) on Old Fall River Road Climb. 

The Alpine Tundra took my breath away....Have you ever experience a place so beautiful that it took your breath away?

Related Post and Links:
  1. The Colorful Colorado River Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park
  2. Dinosaur National Monument, Oh My!!
  3. Summer Road Trip 2013
  4. Rocky Mountain National Park - National Park Service

Quarry Turkey Half Marathon Training

Running is going to be in my regular routine again.  A few of our current and former youth group students are interested in running 5K/10K/Half Marathon, so as a good youth leader, I will join them.  Two of the three youth leaders (myself and Nate) will be running a half marathon and I'm trying to convince my husband to run a 5K while pushing our double stroller with our tots in tow.

Photo Courtesy of Nate Rische
Last year, I ran the The Giant Race in San Francisco which was a very picturesque run which started at the San Francisco Giants Baseball Stadium, went along the Piers and Fisherman Wharf, Crissy Field down to the Golden Gate Bridge and back.  My first half marathon EVER. Never cared about time, I just wanted to finish it and not die.

Nonetheless now that I'm going to run my second half marathon, Quarry Turkey Half Marathon on November 30, 2013 (Yes that is the Saturday AFTER Thanksgiving) I need to compare my times and train so I can try to beat my previous times.

The Giants Race - September 16, 2012
Time: 2:24:32
Pace: 11:02/mi

This year I'm going to cross train with road biking as well as hiking on Saturdays when we can.  I will see how it goes but here is my tentative training schedule, with a weekend of backpacking thrown into the mix.

My only goals this time is to beat my previous race time and to motivate our youth who chose to participate to complete the training and actually run the race.  Personally, I think the training is harder then the intended race.  If you have any suggestions in my training schedule please leave a comment in the comment section.

Related Posts and Links: 
  1. San Francisco Giants Half Marathon
  2. Quarry Turkey 5K/10K/Half Marathon
  3. The Giant Race - SF Giants

Where Did We Go in 2012?

Two thousand twelve has been great! The only thing I wish that was different as many parents of little ones wish they could have was more sleep!! Praying that in 2013 my prayer is answered.  Here's a recap of what 2012 brought us.

January 2012 - Still trying to get the hang of being parents of two little ones, this was my daughters FIRST hike at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont. She was barely three months old.

February 2012 - We headed out to one of the 60 Bay Area Hikes on our list. San Bruno Mountain State Park.  It was a gorgeous day, first time I was able to see the Pacific Ocean and the entire Bay Area.

March 2012 - Oh March, took us to one of God's most beautiful places in the world, Hawaii. I still haven't had a chance to blog about our Hawaii trip.  This is Beach 69 on the Big Island.  I fell in love with snorkeling.

April 2012 - My husband and I are Youth Leaders at our church, and we took our youth group an awesome youth conference called Planet Wisdom.

May 2012 - This year I turned 30 and loving it!!

June 2012 - We led a youth missionary trip to Ensenada, Mexico, where we served our fellow Mexican brothers and sisters.  We camped at at Rancho el Refugio for one week.

July 2012 - We enjoyed camping at Sunset State Beach over the weekend with our church family.

August 2012 - Brought us to Highland Lakes, where we camped and hardly hiked due to being so sick.  We later made up for no hiking at Highland Lakes with a hike at Jack London State Historic Park.

September 2012 - My first half marathon,  San Francisco Giants Half Marathon.  I don't even know my exact statistics but I think I finished in 2 hours and 25 minutes or something like that.  I was just glad to be finished.  It was really awesome.  We also celebrated my little girl's First Birthday!!

October 2012 - Hiking at my favorite hike of this year, Portola Redwoods State Park.  My kids LOVED this hike!

November 2012 - We found a little gem east bay park, Dublin Hills Regional Park.  It was amazing to see how many people loved this picture on Facebook and Instagram.  People thought I went out of the country, haha.

December 2012 - We went on a mini mission trip, where my husband did his Engineering work at Rancho El Refugio and we visited our local pastors.  We also had the joy of celebrating my little boy's 3rd Birthday!!  I also haven't had a chance to blog about our Disneyland adventure.

I always tell my husband that we need to travel more but as I write this posting I notice that we do travel a lot.  I guess we like to travel and have family adventures.  The one thing I can say is that God is very good to us by allowing us to see the world He created and I can't wait to see what He will have in store for us in 2013.  Happy New Year!!

San Francisco Giants Half Marathon

Tomorrow I'm running my first half marathon, San Francisco Giants Half Marathon. I'm excited to run, hoping I can run my 10 minute/miles as I hoped to when I first started training three months ago. My last run, I was running 9:30 minute/miles but I only ran 4 miles.

I got my running gear ready, had my pasta dinner tonight, now I hope I can get a goodnights rest. That's all dependent on my daughter Sophia, she kind of hasn't slept through the night her entire one year of life. So I'm praying for a miracle tonight, that my daughter can sleep all night long.

Yay! I'm just glad this day is finally here. Happy running!!

Living Up To My Name

Chasqui Mom my blog name, I explained in an earlier post what Chasqui means, it's an Incan runner who would carry secret messages for the Incan emperor. They ran......a lot, from one side of the Incan Empire to the other. They ran so fast the Emperors could get fresh fish from Peruvian coast if they requested it. The Chasqui's had their tongues cut off so they couldn't talk about there secret messages, instead they carried their messages in a knotted rope system that no one to this day knows how to translate them. I'm rambling.  I'm not an impressive runner, I'm slow but steady, average 10:30 min/miles.

I run. I started running consistently since the end of June. Why? I signed up for the San Francisco Giants Half Marathon a few months before. I tried different exercises and diets to get my pre-baby body back but I could never be consistent due to crazy baby sleep schedules, constantly colds that would run through each family member at different times, etc. Excuses, excuses, some legitimate, some not, like "I just am too tired."

Today, I ran 12 miles, the most I have ever ran in my entire life. From my house to Lake Elizabeth, three times around Lake Elizabeth (2.0 miles around) then the long way back home. I go through so many emotions while running that long. Happy, angry, sad, blah....lots of things go through my head for those two-ish hours. I pray, plan, stare at people wondering about who they are, what their lives are like, anything to keep me from thinking about how heavy my feet or legs feel.  Today I saw a few people from my church walking and running and Lake Elizabeth.  I also "met" another runner that was training, we just kept passing each other at the Lake that I think on our sixth time passing he yelled, "Good Job!!!" thumbs up sign, I said the same. That is Lake Elizabeth Central Park, with Mission Peak in the background.

To train for this half marathon I done 12 weeks of pure running preparation, no cross-training other than the occasional hiking. I needed to be consistent with running, so my husband and I planned, made sure the kids could handle being with my husband for long periods of time.  My two year old son has no problem being with daddy, but my daughter has had some issues due to her being extremely clingy to me, acid reflux, constantly being sick for almost two months.  Either way the kids got used to mommy running, so much that my son would say, "Bye mommy, you running!!" Sometimes on my shorter weekday runs I'd take them if they were having a hard time being away from me.

I'm really glad I started running.  It gives me my mental and physical break from my kids five days a week.  It has helped me lose some of my pregnancy weight, not all of it but I've slimmed down quite a bit.  It helps me sleep better during my two hour intervals that my daughter allows me to sleep.  Trust me if I can train for a half marathon consisting of minimal two-hour sleep intervals then anyone can train.  I feel like I can take the world if I get four hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Just glad that I've made it this far and in two weeks I can mark off one of the goals in my life which is to run a half marathon.  Happy running!!