Five Tips for Windy Winter Running

We’re hitting the tail end of winter up in Cheyenne; yes, I know the first day of spring was last week, don’t remind me. Like any other person with a problem, when the first snowfall of the season hit, I frantically Googled “tips for winter running” and the like. I got a lot of the usual advice – Yaktrax for the ice, wear layers – but most of the articles on winter running don’t take one really important factor into account: the wind.

Cheyenne, WY is the fourth-windiest city in the U.S., and I once heard a joke that they must have hit on that number during the summer. In the time I’ve lived in Cheyenne, the wind has been so bad that I’ve been pushed across the street and temporarily unable to breathe, sometimes at the same time. I’m dead serious about that.

Now that I’ve made it to April, I’ve learned a thing or two about running in extreme wind conditions. Thus, for those of you who are faced with the same lack of information I was, I present…

Five Tips for Windy Winter Running

1. If you can’t breathe, don’t run outside.

This seems like a no-brainer, right? You don’t go running when you’re stopped up (or, uh, you shouldn’t). But this past winter I experienced days where I would go outside and immediately start coughing just because it was so cold. For those of you who haven’t had the joy of experiencing this, it usually starts happening when you get into single digit temps, but on particularly windy days, it could happen at 15 degrees fahrenheit.  I hate the treadmill too, but some days you gotta suck it up and go inside.

2. Dress for the actual temperature outside.

Every single article I read on winter running advised to dress for temperatures about 10-15 degrees warmer than those you’ll actually run in. Yeah, that’s great if you live somewhere still, but if you don’t factor in the wind chill, you’ll be absolutely miserable, especially if you do your runs in the evening like a lot of us desk jockeys. Invest in both a good jacket and a lightweight windshell. And speaking of clothing…

3. Protect your extremities.

Wear gloves, wear a hat, wear a Buff. In fact, if you find a pair of mittens you can run in, even better. In Cheyenne, we get windchill and frostbite warnings, and that shit is no joke. I underestimated it when I first got here, and though I haven’t lost any fingertips yet, there were a couple of runs where I felt like I came close.

4. Determine which direction the wind is going beforehand.

I became a fiend about checking the weather in January simply so I could determine this. Figure it out and plan your route about it, especially if you have to run in the city. It’s a little easier to deal with on the trails, since you usually have tree cover, but you should factor it in nonetheless. On a related note, after a couple of months of living in a city-turned-windstorm, you’ll get a pretty good handle on what times of the day the wind is worse. There’s a reason I don’t run at lunch unless I absolutely have to, and it’s not because I don’t want to deal with showering before I go back to work (okay, maybe that’s part of it too).

5. Let someone know when you go and when you get back.

I know, this seems extreme. But remember that frostbite thing? If you’re running in inclement weather, it’s better to be prepared, and severe wind is inclement weather. Besides, you really should be doing this anyway if you run on trails or in other remote places. Feel free to tell me I’m being paranoid – it’s probably true.

Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list – please go check out all of the great winter running articles online to supplement my tips. But hopefully this will help some of you that live in areas like the Front Range where the wind can be truly brutal. And I hope I didn’t scare you off coming up here to run. The trails are gorgeous and the wind is worse in the city, I swear! Happy running!

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One Year Later

These past two weekends, I’ve run six miles. I didn’t run them particularly fast, and it’s not a particularly impressive distance. However, it’s an important milestone to me.

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These two six-milers signify the longest distance I’ve run since my knee injury. Believe it or not, I actually used to be okay at this running thing. I’ve been running since 2011, where my New Year’s resolution was simply to learn to run. I switched over to trails in early 2015 and really fell in love. 2015 was an amazing year. I ran two half marathons, four 10ks, and finished my first 25k. Almost all of those were on trails.

And then 2016 happened. 2016 was a shitty year for me as far as my health went. I had planned to run my first marathon in February, but I managed to tweak my left psoas at the beginning of the year and missed my two longest runs. I dropped to the half, but it was painful. Between the psoas injury and something mysterious going on with my right knee, I mostly remember the last mile of that race being an incredible sufferfest, trying to will my body to get across the finish line in one piece. I figured if I got through the race, I’d be on the other side and take some time off, let all these little niggles heel. I thought that was the worst of it.

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Inaccurate representation of how much pain I was in and how exhausted I was. But hey, beer makes everything better.

I was wrong. None of these pains would be what undid 2016 for me. What really wrecked my year was a fall, hard, on my right knee. It stung at the time, but the pain quickly faded. And then, after taking two weeks off following the half-marathon, I went out for my first run. Within five minutes, it was clear that something was terribly wrong. A dull, aching pain like I’d never felt before settled into my knee and didn’t go away. Within a month, I noticed I had trouble going down stairs and that I couldn’t straighten my knee without pain.

This time last year, I had just received my prescription for physical therapy. A month from now, when nothing had improved, I had the pleasure of experiencing my first MRI. It took two more months and three different doctors reviewing the scan until I finally had an answer: “nobody told you about the bone bruise?”

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Taken on my birthday last year, about a month before the diagnosis. Not relevant, but it sure is gorgeous.

If you don’t know what a bone bruise is, you’re not alone; I hadn’t either until my fall. It’s basically a precursor to a fracture, the last step before your bone actually breaks. They’re normally no longer visible on an MRI at 4-6 weeks post-injury. Mine, though faint, showed up over two months after my fall. That’s how bad this was. However, bone bruises, unlike stress fractures, aren’t usually treated with a boot or a brace. You can get those things, but you have to pay out of pocket. I was basically given the order to strengthen my right quad, which had atrophied, and wait until at least September before trying to run again.

Like a lot of people who run, I had a lot of my self-worth tied up in being a runner. I won’t say it was everything to me, but it was a big part of my life. This major injury had made me absolutely miserable. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t bike. I couldn’t use the elliptical. I couldn’t even kick in the pool. All I could do without pain was walk. To go from running a half-marathon one weekend to losing the ability to be active within two weeks was mind-numbing to me. However, there was one major lesson, one good thing that I took from this injury.

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I stopped seeing myself as a runner. And I started seeing myself as an athlete.

I committed to taking care of my body in a way I never had before. I consistently stuck with my PT. I iced my knee whenever I felt like I needed it. I hiked and walked when I was able, but didn’t push myself. I worked to challenge my body to get stronger as it healed. I focused hard on making sleep a priority. And finally, I learned to let go of the mental anguish. Instead of anxiously waiting for a hard date to start running again, I trusted that my body would be able to do so when it was ready. I stopped caring so much about things I couldn’t control.

Last November, I finally started running again. I’m not 100% recovered – I’m pretty sure that my right knee will always crack in a weird way and occasionally get cranky – but I’m no longer in pain. I’m doing actual workouts (HILLS!) and running long on Saturdays again, and getting lost on new trails. I’m finally hitting paces I saw once upon a time. And these past two weekends, I ran six miles. Back when I was a new runner, six miles was the golden distance, some arbitrary threshold that crossed you over from hobby jogger to a real distance-loving, long run-obsessed runner.

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From last weekend’s six miles.

I’ve made it there again. But I’m not really a runner anymore. I’m an athlete, and running is my sport. I won’t ever be a pro or take home any gold medals, but it’s still a part of me. I may have big dreams and goals, but right now, the most important thing to me is to continue to build my strength and stamina so I can stay on those trails. So I can power up the hills and make it to the top, so I can roll along the single track, so I can get covered in dirt and grime and dig deep into my happy place.

Brewsday Tuesday – Weldwerks S’mores Achromatic

Brewsday Tuesday is a feature where I talk about a craft beer I’ve had lately. This week’s featured beer is S’mores Achromatic by Weldwerks.

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Last week was Weldwerks‘ 2nd anniversary, so we drove down to Greeley to take part in the fun. Out of all the breweries I’ve been to, Weldwerks is the place that has given me the most “Austin” vibe. Large porch, amazing food truck onsite, and actually stayed open past 6 pm. I’m looking at you, Fort Collins. Weldwerks is largely known for their New England-style IPAs, and especially Juicy Bits. While I can’t deny that those beers are good (and I certainly enjoyed Juicy Bits), that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. We’re talking about S’mores Achromatic.

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Yes, that is an all-IPA flight on the left. Juicy, cloudy IPA fans rejoice.

This beer is an entry in Weldwerks’ Achromatic series. These beers are imperial stouts brewed with a ton of chocolate malts – we’re talking over 100 pounds here – and they are absolutely amazing. While at the taproom, we got to try S’mores, Nutella, and Mocha, and all of them were delicious. However, S’mores was an absolute showstopper, and we ended up taking a crowler of it home with us for future enjoyment. Also a crowler of Juicy Bits, because I’m not a monster.

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Proof. Can’t wait to crack into this one.

Like an imperial stout should be, this beer is thick and dark. The nose is sweet and rich, but it isn’t until you taste it that the s’mores flavor really comes out. The vanilla and marshmallow notes are amazing alongside the roasted malt, and the s’mores flavor is really driven home without ever being too sweet. S’mores Achromatic is definitely a beer for sipping and savoring, since it’s essentially dessert, but it definitely does not taste like 10.5% ABV.

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Small but mighty.

Since this beer is a big, boozy treat, I wouldn’t necessarily pair it with food, but I think it would be great alongside some pretzels for a palate cleanser if the flavor gets to be too much. The classic salty-sweet combo if you will. I also think this would be a really difficult beer to pair with cheese. A fromage blanc would have the ideal flavor compliment, but would be too rich. A nutty hard cheese would have the wrong texture, and a blue would not compliment the sweetness at all. The only possible suggestion I can come up with is one of my favorite cheeses, Cremont. This double cream cheese from Vermont has a mildly sweet flavor and is basically a puddle at room temperature.

I absolutely cannot wait to get back to Weldwerks. If you happen to be in the Front Range, it is absolutely worth the detour to Greeley to check out. Happy Brewsday Tuesday, and cheers!

Friday Things

Happy Friday Things, Saturday Edition. Best laid plans and all that.

I had the privilege of meeting Representative Farrar while I was in law school. She’s smart, tough, and savvy, and when I saw that she was the Texas lawmaker who introduced this bill that would penalize men for masturbating, I was not surprised. She’s a real advocate for reproductive justice and getting more women in government.

I’m really excited to watch The Handmaid’s Tale once it premiers. This made me even more excited, and also made me feel like I should read the book.

I still don’t like Kellyane Conway, but this piece was a good reminder of how important it is to frame critiques while keeping feminist principles in mind.

Gorgeous nature photos! That yawning owl is my new desktop background.

This piece about the differences between The North Face and Patagonia was interesting to me. I’d never really thought of them as competitors before reading this. Foolish, I know.

Because everyone needs a laugh: fart facts.

Preventing use of performance-enhancing drugs needs to start early. This made some good points I hadn’t considered before.

RIP Ed Whitlock.

ALL DOGS ARE GOOD DOGS

I know that protest fatigue can really wear us down, but our public lands are still very much in danger.

The cost of summer and the struggles of low-income families. I was that weird kid who hated summer vacation. Really puts things in perspective.

I have conflicted feelings about this piece on food accessibility. It’s really difficult to balance reduced waste while ensuring that people with disabilities, especially those who have impaired mobility or hypersensitivity, have access to fresh food. At least most of the packaging implicated is recyclable.

That’s all for now. Enjoy your weekend!

Trail Guide – Barton Creek Greenbelt, Part 3

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Again, not mine.

Part 3: 360 Trailhead to Violet Crown Trailhead, Miles 3.5-5.25

I guess this is cheating a little bit, but since the first part of the Greenbelt is also considered part of the Violet Crown trail, hopefully everyone will let it slide. It also means that the map above isn’t going to reflect this segment. Picture a line running straight down from Marker 8 to U.S. 290; that’s the section of the trail we’re talking about today.

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Actually, just use this instead. Not mine, obviously.

This is probably my favorite section of the trail to run. It’s almost totally shaded, so runs are tolerable even in the summer. You also get to do a lot of fun scrambling on the rocks here. You can park at either end of the trailhead, and there’s usually plenty of parking in both lots. The 360 Trailhead (3755 S Capital of Texas Hwy B, Austin, TX 78704) is one of the easiest spots to get to: take the exit from Mopac onto 360 going east and turn left at the traffic light. You’ll want to immediately hug to the far left of the parking lot to hit the trailhead. For access at the Violet Crown trailhead, just park at the Spec’s (4970 W US Hwy 290, Austin, TX 78735) and head to your left to reach the trail.

Assuming you’re heading west from the 360 trailhead, you’ll pass under 360 itself and get to check out whatever graffiti is decorating the overpass; there’s usually some pretty cool stuff. It’ll immediately get rocky, so watch your step. After going a little ways, you’ll hit a fork in the trail. Going up and to your left will keep you on the multi-use trail, while going through the wooden gate to the right will put you on a pedestrian-only trail for a little bit. The pedestrian trail is better shaded but less technical. Either way, both trails will spit you out to a wooden bridge at around Mile 4.

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Gives you an idea of the shade. And the rocks!

This is where things really get fun. You’ll scramble up and down narrow rock formations right alongside the creek. One point is so narrow that there’s actually a chain attached to the rock wall to help you get across. Be warned that this portion of the trail is really slick when wet, so I wouldn’t advise coming out here if it’s raining or has recently rained.

Just past Mile 4.25, you’ll hit another fork. Well, sort of. It’ll look like the creek continues to your right and the trail goes away from the creek to your left. If you go to the right through the creek (assuming there’s water in it), you’ll actually continue under Mopac onto the Greenbelt proper and head for Twin Falls. That’s for another day, though. Stay on the path to continue on the Violet Crown trail.

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This is what the fork looks like. Thanks to The Austinot.

The trail rolls gently, and you’ll pass several downed trees and cross dry creekbeds. This section of the trail seems to be less-trafficked at this point, so it’s also a good place to see deer if you’re out early in the morning. There are very few branching paths since this section of the trail is so new, so it’s pretty straightforward.

Just past Mile 5, you’ll hit a switchbacking uphill climb section. This is how you’ll know you’re getting close to the end. Once you make it up the switchbacks, you’ll run past the Wildflower Center and a couple of tennis courts, and you’ve made it to the end! At least for now. Phase Two of the Violet Crown trail is currently under construction, and it’s supposed to be 30 miles long once complete. Keep up with progress on that here.

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Next time, we’ll head to the right and check out Twin Falls! If you’re curious about the rest of the Greenbelt, see Part 1 and Part 2.

Brewsday Tuesday – Bomber Mountain

Brewsday Tuesday is a feature where I talk about a craft beer I’ve had lately. This week’s featured beer is Bomber Mountain from Black Tooth Brewing Company.

This isn’t so much a beer I’ve had lately as a beer I was reminded of this evening. In addition to being Brewsday, Tuesday is also trivia night. I was drinking Black Tooth’s Sheridan Pilsner, a delicious beer in its own right, and realized I’d yet to pay homage to what may be the best amber ale I’ve ever had.

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Black Tooth Brewing Company is based out of Sheridan, Wyoming, which is in the northeastern part of the state. They make four year-round beers (recently released in the first ever Wyoming craft 12-pack): an IPA, a wheat, a brown ale, and Bomber Mountain, a red ale. The other beers are good, but Bomber Mountain blows them all away. I don’t think making a good amber is difficult, but making a great amber is hard to do, and Black Tooth absolutely nails it. This was the first Wyoming beer I bought after moving here, and I reach for it time and time again.

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Bomber Mountain pours a beautiful amber color (as you would expect) with minimal head. It’s malty and biscuity and leaves a nice caramel aftertaste. It does this without being too rich or overwhelming – it’s fairly dry, but not too dry. A really fantastic example of a basic style. Plus, at 4.6%, you can drink this beer all day. I particularly recommend doing so on a crisp fall afternoon as it turns to evening.

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Straight outta’ my fridge. Missing a pour picture this week, so this’ll have to do.

Because this amber is so well-done, it pairs well with most foods. Ideally, I’d love it with a grilled cheese, but I could also see having it alongside a hearty salad, grilled vegetables, or even a bowl of potato chips. The maltiness of this beer makes it perfect for salty foods – get that salty-sweet thing going on. A mixed berry crisp would pair nicely against the caramel notes if you’re looking for something sweet. Cheese-wise, again, this is a versatile beer for pairings. I probably wouldn’t go for a rich, soft cheese here, but otherwise the sky’s the limit. Either a sharp or mild cheddar would be a good pick, so long as the cheddar isn’t too mild. I particularly like the idea of having it alongside a nutty, aged hard cheese like Comté.

That’s all for this week’s Brewsday Tuesday. Enjoy responsibly, and drink local. Cheers!

Brewsday Tuesday – Left Hand Milk Stout

Brewsday Tuesday is a feature where I talk about a craft beer I’ve had lately. This week’s featured beer is Left Hand Milk Stout.

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Now, Left Hand Milk Stout is very special to me. It is due to this particular beer that I got into craft beer in the first place. The smooth, approachable flavor of this beer on nitro combined with vanilla ice cream made me come back for more. Thanks to Left Hand Milk Stout, I was able to start with porters and stouts, branch out into amber ales and lambics, and eventually become the craft beer nut that I am today. When I moved into my first apartment in Austin, my husband and I split a six-pack of this beer after we finished the moving process, and it remains my fondest memory of that place (which was otherwise a shithole). If you think someone in your life needs to come over to the craft beer side, have them try this beer, particularly if they’re already a fan of Guinness.

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This beer is probably most famous for being available in bottles (and now cans!) on nitro. While I prefer the nitro version, I’ll happily drink either.

Left Hand has started billing Milk Stout as “America’s Stout,” and I could not agree more. I was finally able to fulfill a dream of mine by visiting Left Hand in Longmont this past weekend, and while Left Hand makes some fabulous beers – I particularly love Good Juju and their Oktoberfest – this beer is the universal crowd pleaser. I’ll rally for this to be America’s Stout any day.

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My nitro pour at the Left Hand tasting room. Liquid gold, right there.

Now, you’ll most likely find the beer on nitro at any bar you visit, but I think it’s delicious either way. The beer will pour a dark brown color, almost black, with a strong cocoa nose. A nitro pour will be creamier, for sure, but drinking Milk Stout on CO2 doesn’t detract from the vanilla and cocoa flavors. This beer is sweet without being rich, cloying, or overwhelming. I can literally drink this all night, and have done so. Straight up, this is a damn fine beer.

This is a beer for ice cream. Drink it alongside or on top of your favorite vanilla, though I could see it going well with ginger ice cream as well. For cheese, you want a really fudgy blue. Nothing too aggressive or stinky, but something creamy and rich to play with the chocolate notes. That being said, this is a beer that doesn’t ever need food – it stands on its own.

That’s all for this week’s Brewsday Tuesday. Cheers!

Friday Things

It’s March! We made it!! For me, this means that the busiest time of the year is over. There are grumbles of some more business in my specific area of the field, but I’m going to ignore those for now until they become a reality. Let’s get to the links.

Even though things are getting warmer, it’s still the snowy time of year in the Mountain West. This overview of freezing to death is a good cautionary tale. Always check the weather before you go and take the conditions seriously.

March means spring, which means asparagus and radish season! I’m really looking forward to trying these radish and goat cheese muffins sometime soon.

Environmental justice is a HUGE part of environmental activism that doesn’t get talked about enough. I worked in an environmental justice clinic for almost a year and the impact of pollution related to energy production on minority and impoverished communities is catastrophic. Flint, Michigan is the most famous example, but it’s far from the only place in the country where things like this happen. Better late than never to have the conversation, though based on what I’ve seen, it’s too little too late for some places.

Yeah, because this country definitely needs more coal production, and especially in Alaska. Coal is not coming back, both from an economic and environmental perspective.

Speaking of coal not coming back: this piece by a rancher in Gillette, Wyoming explains firsthand the impact coal can have on farming communities. In case you’ve forgotten, by the way, Wyoming is a coal state. It also highlights how much Trump is not for the working class despite his campaign promises, though I feel like that should be evident by now.

This is just depressing.

This article on the correlation between health and weight speaks the truth. BMI does a really poor job telling the whole story. Example: the BMI charts for men and women are the exact same, despite the number of physical differences between men and women’s bodies.

A cool little piece on Oregon Trail to close out. I’d also love to see this. Also, if you don’t own the Oregon Trail card game, you’re missing out.

That’s it for this Friday. Have a good weekend!

Trail Guide – Barton Creek Greenbelt, Part 2

Another chilly day in Cheyenne (seriously – sub-freezing temps AND 20 mph winds? Just cruel) is making me miss those Austin “winters” again, so let’s continue our guide to the Barton Creek Greenbelt.

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Part 2: Spyglass to the 360 Trailhead, Mile 1.25ish-3.5

Parking at the Spyglass trailhead (1500 Spyglass Dr, Austin, TX 78746) is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you’ll be parking right by the original Tacodeli, home to some of the best classic breakfast tacos in town (get the black beans with portobello and rajas, trust me). On the other hand, you’ll be parking right by Tacodeli…so everyone in the world parks here. Even with the ample parking space, I usually had to park at least a quarter mile from the trailhead unless I came at a weird time on a weekday.

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Despite the lure of Tacodeli, this might be my least favorite trailhead from which to enter the Greenbelt. If you head west, you’ll be running through .25 mi of rocks. Not gravel or anything – big, honkin’ rocks that make finding your footing outright dangerous. This portion of the trail gave me many stubbed toes, and I am legitimately amazed I never twisted my ankle here.

If you can make it past the rocks though, you’ll be rewarded. Just past the rocks are some great climbing walls and swimming holes. This means two things for the eager runner: great views and thinned out crowds. Be warned that at around Mile 1.75, you’ll come to what looks like a creek crossing and a prompt to head left. Don’t do this – you can definitely cross, but you’ll have to recross and the portion of the trail on the left side of the river is less maintained.

As you continue down the trail past the climbing walls and up and over the rock formations (lots of fun, technical footing challenges here), you’ll eventually make it to the sign for the Gus Fruh trailhead. In my opinion, the trail gets a little tricky around here because it sort of splits into three forks. You want to keep going straight ahead and cross the creek – left will take you to Gus Fruh, and right will take you to a dead end. I’ve definitely dead-ended myself more than once here.

If you cross the creek and head up a big, soft dirt hill, you know you’re still on the right path. The trail will shortly break out of the trees and head through a field of tall grass. If those seasonal Texas downpours have been raging, this section of the trail might be flooded out – we saw a lobster here once! I love this portion of the trail, though. In the spring, you can see the wildflowers blooming and it’s absolutely gorgeous. As you continue down the trail, you’ll notice several branching paths, but the main trail is wide and evident enough that you shouldn’t get turned around. You can certainly head down one of those paths, though – it’s your adventure.

At about Mile 3, you’ll come to the first real creek crossing. Depending on the time of year, you’ll either hit a big, dry rock bed or a decently strong river. If the river is high, go slow and carefully find your footing. As long as you continue straight ahead, you’ll hit the trees on the other side and get back onto the main path. Always use caution, and if the current seems too strong, turn around.

barton-creek-without-waterWithout water…

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And with water. Thanks to Google – I never took pictures here because I was always focused on crossing.

Once you cross the river, keep right to continue on the Greenbelt. Unless they’ve fixed it, you’ll hit what looks like a gap or a downed bridge over the river. To get around having to make a huge drop, take a sharp left and then a sharp right to quickly drop down and back up. Keep right to stay on the trail. If you head left, you’ll head down a ravine that spits out into a parking lot. Continuing down the trail will lead you into the 360 trailhead, which will be on your left at Mile 3.5.

If it weren’t for the terrible rocky section at the beginning and the thick crowds at Spyglass, I would love this section of the trail. The atmosphere in this leg is very serene and wooded, and it has enough fun technical challenge to keep you on your toes. You’ll climb some granite, hit some rolling hills, and get your feet wet, and it’s all spaced out with some nice flat sections to let you cruise for a while. That being said, the best is yet to come beyond 360 – stay tuned.

View Part 1 here!

Brewsday Tuesday – Porter Culture

Brewsday Tuesday is a feature where I talk about a craft beer I’ve had lately. This week’s featured brew is Porter Culture from Hops and Grain.

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Porter Culture is not Hops and Grain’s most famous or most well-loved beer, but it holds a special place in my heart. On these cold Wyoming nights, I drink Porter Culture and am immediately transported back home. Not to Austin, but to Hops and Grain. This amazing brewery is the reason I lived through my first year of law school, and that’s no joke. The faces have changed and the taproom has changed even more, but Hops and Grain has always put out the same warm and welcoming vibe. We discovered Hops and Grain when we were poor as dirt, and while we came for the prices, we stayed for the people. My husband and I volunteered at their events and invited some of their folks to our wedding, which is coincidentally the source of our Porter Culture. It’s nice to have a seasonally-appropriate taste of home. If you ever make it to Austin and can only go to one brewery, make it Hops and Grain. You won’t regret it.

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Anyway, enough waxing nostalgic. Porter Culture is a Baltic porter, a style that departs from Hops and Grain’s usual fresh hop flavor. Upon pouring it, you instantly get punches of both chocolate and coffee in the nose. The taste is robust, bringing more chocolate and dark roasted malt flavors to the table. However, it’s not overwhelming – while not quite dry, it isn’t too thick either. Definitely a great beer to drink on a cold, snowy night.

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Also delicious when infused with a candy cane.

This is the sort of beer that pairs really well with smoked meats. Have it with a rack of ribs, or a burger. For you vegetarians out there, I also happen to know that it goes pretty well with fries. As far as pairing with cheese goes, I’m going to make a specific recommendation this time: Beehive Cheese’s Barely Buzzed. I had this combo at a beer and cheese pairing hosted at Hops and Grain, and it was out of this world. The smooth, white, coffee-rubbed cheese combined with the chocolate and coffee flavors in Porter Culture produced a truly remarkable combo. Any similar soft white cheese (soft, but not creamy or spreadable) would go well if you can’t find Barely Buzzed.

That’s it for Brewsday Tuesday! Enjoy responsibly, and cheers!