Summer Fun

This is just a few of the things Peteifer and Pablo have been up to this summer:

In May, we ran the Deckers Creek Half Marathon and brought friends with us this time.

Peter, Jen, Kristin, Jessica, Elissa
All smiles for the camera, even after 13 miles.
The railroad spike for running fast. Go Elissa!

In June, we went skydiving with Mom and Dad Morris and we have pictures to prove it!

Mom practicing and praying
No turning back now
Mom and Dad parachuting
Back on solid ground
I think Dad had a good time, the smile says it all
Peter and I and a tag along

We were all smiles after this adventure. Great job Mom, Dad and Peter on your first jumps! Oh, also, Mom, Peter and I ran in the RJ Corman 5K too. Thanks for capturing the event for us Dad.

Go Peter
Mom and I
The prize winners

Nothing like an action packed weekend!

Our kayaks got some use in July and I found out that you should not take a water loving dog on a kayak trip because he will want to swim the whole time!

Cheddar doing what he does best - swim!
Pablo doing what he does best - avoid the water!

Rob, Annie and Sylva came to visit in August. I had tons of fun cooking with Rob. And we learned that Sylva can run with the big dogs.

Tuna melts - one of the many delicious meals we ate
Sylva warming up with the little dogs
Now running with the big dogs

What a variety of events this summer. Traveling, new adventures, outdoor activities, time with friends and family – life is good!

Valleys and Mountains

Donan Engineering:

I first have to tell you a little about the amazing company I work for, Donan Engineering. I took part in a Get Fit program earlier this year offered by my employer. The program worked like this:

(1) set a goal – mine was to hike, run, walk a total of 400 miles in six months

(2) use the Nike+ and iPod (both provided by Donan) to track the mileage – easier said than done at times, technology is so challenging!

(3) meet set goal in six months – made it!

The reward was keeping the equipment and getting your name thrown in a pot for a chance to be one of eight spots on a trip to hike into the Grand Canyon with the boss and a coworker, who would lead the trip. Yes, I am totally serious here. A rewards trip for getting fit!

When it was all said and done, I had a spot on this trip to hike the Grand Canyon! What a thrill.

I most looked forward to meeting coworkers for the first time and getting to share this experience with them.  Donan has about 25 offices spread throughout the midwest, so needless to say, I do not know everyone. Spending three days with 11 other Donan employees would create bonds and camaraderie.

The plan was to hike into the canyon via the South Kaibab Trail, stay the night at Phantom Ranch and then hike out of the canyon the next day via Bright Angel Trail. I would then extend the trip and drive to Colorado to hike my third 14er, and my first solo 14er, San Luis Peak in the San Juan Mountains.

The Valley:

Our descent started at 6:30 a.m. at about 7,200 feet on the South Kaibab trailhead, about 7 miles and 4,654 feet above Phantom Ranch. The trail is full of switchbacks and amazing views.

Down and back and forth we go
Still smiling on the way down and taking in God’s glorious creation
Our fearless and experienced leader, Rob
First view of the Colorado River

I realized just how big the Grand Canyon is when it took 3 miles, and a descent of 2,040 feet, before the Colorado River was first spotted.

Where’s Alex?

We had a triathlete amongst us. He decided to run part of the trail. Can you find him in the above photo? I promise he is there. Look way down the trail.

Kaibab Suspension Bridge

We were getting close to Phantom Ranch when we crossed the Kaibab Suspension Bridge over the Colorado River. Phantom Ranch is only about a mile away from the bridge with a sizzling hot afternoon for us. In the sun, a thermometer read 139 degrees! If I remember correctly the thermometer read 115ish in the shade. We spent the afternoon sitting in a creek, in the shade, watching the canyon wildlife. It was a perfect way to pass the time on an otherwise insanely hot afternoon.  This dip in the creek also served as our showers due to a pipe break the day before we reached Phantom Ranch, resulting in limited water usage.

Lots of prickly pear cacti
Canyon at dusk
Home for the night

I spent the night in a bunk house with other ladies.  Pretty nice accommodations for where we were.

The following morning we got started a bit earlier, around 5:30, in order to hike the 10 miles out of the canyon. We crossed the Colorado River immediately and then walked on sand, like a beach, for a ways before heading up up up.

Silver Bridge with Kaibab Suspension Bridge in the background
The beach in the canyon!

One of the pleasant surprises of the Bright Angel Trail is that we were shaded for a huge part of the hike. It was such a blessing. Another pleasant surprise was that we hiked along a stream for miles. The gurgling stream added a nice touch to the challenging hike.

Got to get power down there somehow
Mule train

Mules travel the Bright Angel Trail and we encountered a couple mule trains. Those guys work hard to take supplies down to Phantom Ranch and bring out mail and garbage. Thank you mules for the delicious dinner last night.

Waiting at the top for the rest of the group

As members of our group finished, we gathered at the top to greet others as they finished. It was such a high to make it out of the canyon and have others to celebrate with. Overall, the hike was not quite as hard as I imagined, but way more beautiful. Something I will never forget. The shared experience allows for a unique bond with coworkers that is so cherished.


This next stage of the trip I experienced alone. I drove to Creede, CO to camp the night. Let’s just say God was present during this part of the trip, assisting and guiding me.

A little bit of home in Creede
The sky out west is just indescribable
The trailhead is up a gorge past old mines

I camped as close to the trialhead as my little rental car could get me, when I actually found it. It was a chilly night and I started the hike with all the cool weather clothes I had with me, including socks on my hands as make-shift gloves! I was not alone on the trail. I encountered several hikers at opportune times and had a blast watching San Luis get closer and closer, all the while soaking up the scenery of the mountains, ridges, basins and patches of trees.

Socks make good gloves when needed
Trail around the basin
The tough part

After enjoying most of the hike, I got up to the saddle and things turned vertical and tough. The Grand Canyon hike did not prepare me for straight up at 13,000+ feet. I was sucking wind, briefly wondered why I like conquering mountains so much, then I made it to the top and I remembered – the views and sense of accomplishment!

#3 San Luis Peak 14, 014 feet
What a pretty 14er - San Luis Peak

A large portion of the trail to San Luis Peak ran along the Colorado Trail (CT), which starts in Denver and ends in Durango, 483 miles away. Apparently, it is a popular trail to hike in the summer months. I ran into several conversation starved hikers on their way to Durango from Denver. I think I had a conversation with every hiker I encountered.

Me and San Luis Peak

As a matter of fact, the gentleman who snapped this shot of me was hiking the CT. He is from Nashville, TN. So us easterners hiked together for a while.

Mountain flowers are beautiful

I took more time on the way back down to look at flowers and try to see wildlife. I knew I wanted to ascend the peak as early as possible to avoid any weather hazards. The day turned out perfect for hiking and so the hike back down was quite enjoyable. There is so much variety in the mountain flowers. As far as wildlife goes, I saw so many pikas, no marmots though. I ended at the rental car 7.5 hours and 13 miles after I started, with tired legs and a huge sense of accomplishment.

Made it!