My Life in Nine Months at a Time

May 13, 2012 at 7:34 am

G turned 18 months old last month! The transition from 1 year old to 2 year old has been amazing to behold for this guy. He’s talking up a storm, running me in circles, and eating all the food he can get his little hands on.

18 months is a milestone for Mark and I as well. We’ve now been parents for exactly twice as long as the pregnancy. It’s amazing how fast life can change. Based on the lovely post from my friend Anna, here’s a look at how far we’ve come in slightly more than two years!

27 Months Ago

Pregnant in Thailand and I didn't know it yet

18 Months Ago

New Baby G heading home from the hospital

9 Months Ago

Drooly baby hanging out at the crag

And Now!

Now a toddler playing in Vedauwoo!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the awesome Mom’s out there!!

Super Moon and Tiny Town in Vedauwoo

May 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Last weekend we snuck out on Saturday night for an evening of windy camping and grilled steaks in Vedauwoo. Since it was the very end of the semester, we couldn’t get any friends to come along for climbing. So, our goals were more modest: 1) Photograph the Super-Moon Rise in Wyoming, and 2) See if we can locate an interesting new area with a few bolted routes.

Mark using the crash pad as a grill windscreen


I had hoped that with the wide-open prarie in Southern Wyoming, I might be able to get an awesome photo of this supposed Super Moon rising. Of course, as we drove up in the afternoon, the skies clouded over with storms and the prospect was bleak. I held out hope that the storms would move off before sunset, but they never did.

Hiking to a moon watching spot on a cold, windy evening

Later in the evening, I was putting G to bed and the trailer started to glow with a weird silvery light. I looked out the window and saw the edge of the bright, full moon peaking out over the distant cloud tops. So, I handed the baby to Mark and ran outside with the camera!

Super-moon rise over storm clouds

It wasn’t quite the photo that I was hoping for, but the moment was very nice for me. Sitting out in Vedauwoo with the wind whistling by, I watched the distant storms light up with lightening and the full moon surf the cloud tops. It was a peaceful and lovely time to be outside in Wyoming.


A little searching on Mountain Project turned up some interesting new information about bolted routes in Vedauwoo. Apparently, some development has happened on a boulder just past the Reynold’s Hill pull-out. Mark and I were hoping to go check out these climbs, but, again, I forgot all guidebooks or directional printouts.

Hiking back to the Reynold's Hill parking

So, we went with the classic ‘Voo formula and just walked off into the woods towards some rocks that looked promising. Shockingly, we found the area right away!

Tiny Town (5.8) a new bolted line in Vedauwoo

The routes are on a smallish boulder about half a mile from Vedauwoo road. There is a cow trail that one can follow from the tree line in towards the rock – which Mark decided looked like a boob (nipple and all) from a distance.

Currently, there are two fully bolted routes, Tiny Town (5.8) on the west-ish side and When it Pours, it Rains (5.10+) on the north-easterly side. There’s also a third set of anchors on a clean looking wall, which is probably Small Steps (5.12-), set as a project on TR.

The SE side of the Tiny Town boulder (Anchors but no bolts - yet)

The area is very kid-friendly with a nice flat base and short, easy approach. Mark and I are excited about getting back here to work these routes soon – Who wants to come with us?!

The world's longest, most ghetto stick clip next to the 5.10 route

Adorable Climbing Babies

May 1, 2012 at 8:13 am

There is very little in this world that I like more than seeing photos of babies born into adventure. Images of little ones enjoying beautiful wilderness, or rock climbing fun, make me giggly and happy and hopeful for all of our futures. In the last few weeks, I’ve run across some really great ones, and I just had to share!

Our good friends recently welcomed their first daughter into the world, and their amazing newborn photographer Raven Banning got creative with their climbing gear. How awesome is this!

Newborn Climber Baby

Newborn Climber Baby

This is my favorite shot of our little G-man playing with our gear last summer. I was sorting out the Vedauwoo rack (aka WIDE GEAR) before our first trip of the year. Yeah, that cam is as big as he is, and he loves it!

Babies and Big Cams - Love!

Babies and Big Cams - Love!

This little beauty is the daughter of some friends who camped with us in Vedauwoo the summer I was pregnant. She had never seen climbers before. As Mark started getting racked up for the first climb of the morning, she walked right over, grabbed herself some slings, and started getting ready too! Ohmygosh it was so cute!

Climber Baby Ready For Trad!

Climber Baby Ready For Trad!

Do you have any favorite shots of kiddos climbing or enjoying nature? Share in the comments!

Don’t take babies to Combat Rock!

April 29, 2012 at 10:32 pm

The CragMama wrote a great post about the Rules for Ropes when taking babies rock climbing. I agreed with every one of these rules when I read it, and I’ve often had them in mind when planning our outings. Well, on our trip to Combat Rock, I think we managed to break every single one in a short, 3 hour afternoon. Pretty impressive, no?

G distracts Mark while he racks up for the climb

Rule 1: Bring an experienced extra partner.
Weeks agreed to sneak out with us on this trip again. For him, this was pretty crazy. He just started physical therapy for his two messed up knees, and he was squeezing us in between Bingo in Longmont and Dinner in Denver. But the plan was just for one long, easy route on sunny rock on a late Sunday afternoon. What could go wrong?

Rule 2: Know the area.
We have actually climbed at Combat Rock before. I remembered a quick 30 minute drive, solid white granite, a long fun climb, a short straight-forward approach, and a nice, open, flat area at the base of the rock. Perfect! Except, I’m now pretty sure that I was remembering the wrong place.

A little scrambling on the approach keeps moms on their toes

We took more than 45 minutes to drive there, making us terribly late. And without any cell coverage in the canyon, Weeks had actually given up on us (we passed his car on the way out and flagged him down). That short, straight-forward approach turned out to be steep, loose, over-grown and have some interesting scrambling that I wasn’t thrilled to see Mark doing with G clinging to his back in the carrier.

Rule 3: Safe baby placement.
Ok, I have no idea what climbing area I was remembering, but the base of Combat Rock is not kid-friendly. It was covered in deadfall logs, loose rock, steep ledges and probably poison ivy. We couldn’t even get to the bottom of the route we wanted for all of the steep scrambling required, and since we were already running so late, Mark tossed the rope down “near” the climb and decided to just adventure his way up the wall.

Mark decides to start climbing WAAAY off route

Weeks belayed while G and I played with sticks and rocks. At one point, I handed the baby a rock, checked on Mark’s progress and then looked down to see my baby COVERED in ants! Freak out time!

Combat Rock: Not a baby-safe crag base

Mark had the trad rack and a well featured rock. He just led up in the general direction of the route, and eventually found the bolts. This resulted in some bad rope zig-zags and awful rope drag as he got higher. In fact, he took the entire 200ft of rope to reach the anchors.

There are mid-height anchors to the left and down of our route, so Mark could do two rappels to get down. But he needed somebody to climb and clean behind him. This left Weeks and I staring each other down.

If I climbed, Weeks would have driven all this way just to belay and babysit. And he’d be chasing an energetic toddler through unfriendly woods for at least half an hour. If Weeks climbed, I could stay with G and make sure he was generally safe, but we’d be putting more strain on Weeks’ knees than he ever intended.

I made Weeks climb.

Weeks climbing up to Mark on Rambo Santa (5.7)

Rule 4: Expect extra nursing.
Ok, well, G was weened last summer, so I’m going to expand this rule to “Pack extra food.” Which we didn’t do, because we were supposed to be finished with the route by dinner time! I did pack some snacks and baby food tubes, so G had enough in his stomach to keep him happy for the evening. But Weeks didn’t make it back down from the route until well after 6p, and Mark and I weren’t back to the car until 7p. Oops, so much for dinner!

Weeks and Mark climbing Combat Rock

Rule 5: Don’t be a moron!
The CragMama laments those days before babies, where you could brag about being benighted on a climb, or an epic descent in a storm with lightening crashing all around you. Well, as Weeks was finishing up on Combat Rock, the clouds started pouring in, the sun was getting low and temperatures chilled rapidly. I brought just enough warm layers to keep us comfortable until we could get out of there, but no headlamps or hats or mittens.

Plus, I’m pretty sure that we blew the “Don’t be a moron!” rule right out of the water when we assumed we could do a 130ft pitch of bolted climbing in two hours on a Sunday evening. Yeah, that was far too optimistic.

Well, it is a pretty view to end the day with

In the end…
The crazy thing is, everybody had so much fun! Mark was in a fantastic mood all evening. He had a long, beautiful climb under his belt for the weekend. Weeks also really enjoyed the route, and loved that he could go from high on a rocky mountain top to dinner at a mexican restaurant in town in the space of an hour (Colorado is pretty neat). G slept amazingly well Sunday night after getting to play outside all evening with sticks and rocks and climbing gear.

Life is often about assessing and dealing with risk. And when it comes to kids, it is so easy to just cocoon yourself in safety and refuse to move outside of that comfort zone. But fate will always throw curves in your road, whether it’s an unexpected epic when climbing or an unexpected career change. And as my mom says, you can either slam on the brakes and refuse to continue, or you can take those curves on two wheels screaming “Woo-HOO!” the whole way!

Hooray! Success at the anchors!

Though, we won’t be climbing at Combat Rock again for quite a while.

Hiking Red Mountain Open Space

April 21, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Did you know there is a valley, a mere 30 minute drive from our house, that is carved from sandstone so red it looks painted? Where the trail winds through dry sandy washes, past antelope and rattlesnakes, and over hillsides for miles upon miles of quiet landscape? Where you walk over stripes of stone so red and so white that it is like hiking over candy canes?

Where are we hiking? Actually, it's Larimer County!

Where are we hiking? Actually, it's Larimer County!

No? Neither did I, and I’ve been living here for (almost) eight years!

Red Sandstone landscape of Northern Colorado

Red Sandstone landscape of Northern Colorado

On our first weekend of camping for this season, we decided to have a fun trip… without leaving home. We camped at a KOA on the north side of town (with the best play ground we’ve ever seen), and hiked at a local, free, preserved open space – Red Mountain.

This area was opened to recreation (hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking) in 2009, and I vaguely remember hearing about it. It is not a long drive, but getting to the trailhead isn’t entirely easy. Check out the directions and map at And for the nerds, I’m pretty sure the trailhead is at 40.9572830,-105.1619110.

Red Mountain Open Space does not allow dogs on the trails, unfortunately. I think Liv would have enjoyed this hike, right up until she got bitten by a rattlesnake. It turns out, there is a rattlesnake hibernaculum in the area, and we saw a big, fat, happy snake right on the trail. So, wear heavy boots, take a walking stick, and leave the doggies at home for this one.

Also, when hiking in the spring and fall, it might be best to keep kids walking behind an adult. Just in case.

A huge, fat, and relaxed rattle snake

A huge, fat, and relaxed rattle snake

We hiked about 4.5 miles over relatively flat, and very nice trails that day. We ran into Mrs Snake along the Sinking Sun trail, walked along a neat dry wash between huge cairns on the Big Hole Wash trail, and crossed over a lovely Sand Creek before meeting up with the Bent Rock trail. We stopped for a snack and a break at just past the turn off for the Bent Rock loop, and G had a great time running up and down the sandy trail.

Red Mountain Open Space Trail Map

Red Mountain Open Space Trail Map

G plays on the trail during our snack break

G plays on the trail during our snack break

We decided to add on the two extra miles of the Bent Rock loop, and I’m so glad we did. These two miles of hiking were so spectacularly beautiful, they’d be worth the trip alone.

This part of the trail climbs up the side of one of the deep red mountains, and offers amazing views of the red rock landscape. This is where the trail goes from Moab to the Moon and back in the space of less than a mile. It is a really cool hike.

Bent Rock trail covers red and white sandstone bands

Bent Rock trail covers red and white sandstone bands

G fell asleep just after our snack, so Mark and I hiked the last two miles of our trip quietly, in total awe of the landscape as it unfolded around us. Every now and then we would turn a corner, and Mark would stop, look at me, and whisper “WOW”.

G's Saturday Afternoon Nap Location

G's Saturday Afternoon Nap Location

So, if you haven’t gathered it yet, I highly recommend checking this area out if you are in Northern Colorado. Especially if you live in Larimer County, as your sales taxes are supporting the preservation of this beautiful valley. The trails are very mellow, and generally kid-friendly. Keep an eye out for rattlesnakes and make sure everybody stays hydrated and sun shaded!

Oh, and did I mention, in the 3 hours we hiked, we only saw one other person?

Red Mountain Open Space is a great local spot for a taste of desert adventure, high plains solitude, and amazing red rock scenery. Go check it out!

Exciting Changes!

April 15, 2012 at 7:36 am

“May the bridges I burn light the way.”

The New!

Let’s face it, having a baby changes every aspect of your life, and not even this blog has escaped! I’ve been posting photos and writing about our adventures around here at ColoCalders for nearly six years, covering topics from crazy climbing, to crazy weather, and even crazy computer fires. But in the last two years, my focus has taken a decidedly baby-oriented turn, and this blog has changed subjects once again.

So, I took this opportunity for a bit of an overhaul. I’ve updated the theme and the general organization of the site. Check out some of these changes!

  • The “Follow Us!” links on the sidebar will take you to Kate’s social media pages on other sites. Some of these are more often updated (Pintrest) than others (G+), but we’re out there.
  • I’ve updated the About page to include the kiddo! Unfortunately, the “Kate is working on her Phd” is STILL applicable. Perhaps that will change in the next year…
  • There is a new Resources page with lots of links to other sites, blogs and books about getting out for adventures with kids. I’ve recently stumbled upon an amazing community of climbing/hiking/biking/camping/blogging parents who haven’t slowed down (too much) with their babies in tow. Check these sites out for inspiration, how-tos, gear reviews, and awesome stories about families in the wild!
  • The Map page has been updated to… well, actually work. And give a good overview of where we’ve been in the last six years. I also added links to some of our more popular trip reports. I’m hoping to keep working on this page to categorize the adventures better, giving visitors a good overview of where they can find info on kid-friendly or super-epic climbing and hiking.
  • And the Archives have been moved from a rather useless drop-down menu to their own page with a nice visualization plug-in.
  • For the content of the site, well, it’s already been pretty baby-full of late. And, you’re only going to get more of it. I know this may annoy some people who used to stop by and read about our climbing, but life moves on and we’re dragged along with it. As always, Mark and I are more interested in enjoying the journey than focusing on the destination, and we hope that you’ll come along with us for the ride!

As usual, please leave a comment if you find something that isn’t working, or you have any suggestions for links or content. Mark and G and I are all super excited about the approaching summer, and we have some big plans for this year!

Do Babies Belong at the Crag?

April 7, 2012 at 10:50 am

I was going to write this nice post about our climbing outing to North Table Mountain in Golden last weekend. It was going to have all these lovely pictures of us smiling in the sun, playing in G’s little blue tent, and plum bushes in bloom. Weeks came out and climbed with us, even though he has two torn MCLs, and we did a run-out 5.7, a fun trad-sport mixed 5.8 and beautiful little 5.9- face climb. Really, a nice day.

North Table Mountain and plum bushes in bloom

But, I’ve been reading all week long about Peter Beal’s challenges to the climbing media community to examine the place of our sport in the world and our impacts on the environment as we practice it. Here’s one interesting quote:

The issue is never just how many believers but what kind of believers they are or what they will actually practice. And to make the analogy with climbing a bit closer, how many Christians can we fit in a given physical church? Because like it or not, climbing is not all in the mind or soul; it is a practice that happens in a finite physical world, that draws upon resources that are fragile and not easily restored. We can’t keep building new cathedrals or Cathedral Ledges ad infinitum. So yes, more climbers have an impact and not just on the “experience” but on living things, ecosystems, and a natural order that we haven’t much of a clue about and may well not be around by the time we figure this simple truth out.

So, his arguments begin with a classic “oh dear, the sport has sold out, and everybody has lost the true meaning of climbing“, and ends with an interesting discussion on our impacts as a user group on those bits of stone and mud we love so dearly.

I always end up with one picture like this after climbing with Weeks

These types of complaints always get me, because I am a completely sold-out climber. I do nothing to “push the sport forward.” I’m just out to have a good time with my friends at a sunny crag. And now that I have started bringing the kiddo along with us, our impact on the area has probably doubled or tripled. For instance, last Saturday, we added to the circus at North Table by pitching G’s little UV tent right at the base of a rarely climbed 5.12. We ran around making noise, instigating dogs to bark, and probably trundled more than one rock off the side of the trail (erosion!). And, I’m pretty sure we left a couple crackers laying in the dirt at the end of the day, litter bugs that we are. Guilty, guilty, guilty.

Kate and G hanging out at the crag

Babies and Dogs are classic complaints on internet climbing forums. People just love to complain about how much they are disturbed by barking, crying, diapers, messes, and distractions. And they have a point, in a sport as dangerous as rock climbing, really bad things happen if you are not paying attention to the task at hand.

So, should we leave G home with a sitter? Should we give up climbing all together because our impact on the environment is far beyond our contribution to the sport?

G eats an orange in his little blue tent


I love climbing. I love getting my kiddo outside. I love playing in the dirt with him, and I love playing in the sun with him. I love the smiles we get from other climbers and the way friends and complete strangers interact with him at the crag. I love showing G that there are more interesting things to do with your time than playing video games or watching DVDs. I love introducing him to an exciting world, the taste of adventure, and the experience of nature. And I think his contribution to the sport could one day be far beyond anything we can imagine now.

Mark and a very tired G hike out at the end of the day

So, thanks Peter Beal, for making me think a little about why I do what I do. We’ll try harder to make sure we pack all of our trash out with us (and maybe some extra), and talk to G about why the rocks need to stay on the trail next time. We can also sign up for more trail clean-ups and adopt-a-crag days. I can’t obliterate my impact on a crag, but I can try to reduce it a bit. Because it’s true, we’re taking more from nature these days. We can afford to give a little more back.

Weeks and Mark pack up at the end of the day

A Little Ozark Lovin’

March 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Airfare to St Louis is pretty cheep these days. And I gotta say, it is really nice to have grandparents around for a little break now and then. So, I invested $150 and flew a kicking and screaming toddler back to Missouri (thank God it’s a short flight) for a week with my family in a cabin at Montauk State Park.

Grandpa and G throwing rocks in the river

My parents have come down to this state park with their big group of friends every spring for probably more than 15 years now. They rent out a 4-plex of cabins, drink lots of Missouri wine, hang out, play games, laugh a lot, and, of course, go fishing. Because that’s what Montauk is all about – fly fishing for big, beautiful, rainbow trout.

Fishing the current river

I never got into fly fishing. Even though I’d travel each spring to these rivers, I always found the act of fishing stressful. In these clear waters, you can SEE the trout. You can see your fly land right in front of them. You can see them look up at your fly, look at you, stick out their tongue and swim away. I always found the judgmental and dismissive nature of trout difficult to handle. So, I let them be caught by those who are clearly better at it than me.

Jim's heavy stringer!

When I was a kid, I used to wander the woods, bored out of my brains and desperate for some kind of adventure. There was a hill I’d hike every day to get enough cell signal to call my boyfriend. Another one where I found a USGS marker on the summit. I found an old deer skeleton in a ravine with my friend Amy one year. I’d poke sticks down in the bubbling sand springs. Show my friend Matt how to catch crawdads (you have to pick them up with your fingers behind the pincers so they don’t get ya). Or poke through little limestone cliffs above the river looking for caves and bats.

Trees in bloom

While doing all of this, my mom was usually back in the cabin, cleaning, drying waders, cooking dinner and drinking wine. This year, I was invited to participate in the activities of the adult women. And, now that I am a mom myself, I spent a great weekend cooking paleo food, flee-market shopping with the ladies, making my first basket, and drinking lots of wine!

The Licking Exchange

My basket and glass of wine (for scale)

G had a great time as well. He threw rocks in the river, played on the playground, visited the trout hatchery, took about a million walks, and found out that yellow dandelion flowers give him hives. We’ve been home for two weeks now, and he still comes up to me every hour or so and says “Wan go WALK!”

It ended up being a beautiful weekend in Missouri. Much better than last spring when a tornado hit the airport right before we were supposed to head home. On the flight back to Denver, I gave G a little more Benadryl (for his hives!) and he was a much better traveler. I actually hope we get to do this again next year!