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One day late last week, my man and I were sitting around drinking a beer or two after work and we decided that we needed to go camping. The next day. We started gathering our gear and making a shopping list, and the next afternoon, we were ready to leave after work. Thank you drunk-self for deciding on such an awesome and spontaneous adventure!

A few weeks prior we had done some off-roading in the Jeep and discovered the most beautiful lake, White Rock Lake. This lake is located in the Tahoe National Forest off of Highway 89. Disclaimer: this is not a destination that I would recommend for a regular passenger car. You will probably get stuck or high-centered and your weekend is surely to be ruined. You could probably get here in a Subaru Outback, but I am not going to endorse that. You’ll have to make that call yourself, but there is something that makes the adventure all the more fun when you add a little challenge to it. Right?

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A little over a year ago I saw an amazing picture on Instagram-a pristine Alpine lake scattered with little granite islands that had pine trees adorned on top of each. The backdrop was a towering granite mountain and beautiful blue sky that Sierra Nevada is known so well for. One of the tags under the picture was #desolationwilderness, but I wanted to know where. I had to go here. After asking the photographer, he simply replied back with, “I’ll give you a hint. It is a Scooby Doo character.” I did my diligent Google research and put two and two together. It was one of the Velma Lakes.

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Airolo Lookout

I’m back! Like literally, back. Well okay, I have been for about two months now, but there has been so much going on, I have been neglecting this little blog of mine. That is going to end right here, right now. I miss documenting all of my adventures on the trails and in the kitchen, and plan on doing more of that now that things have settled down.

This entire year has been a little bit of a whirlwind for me. First of all, I wrapped up my MBA and can officially put initials after my name. Woohoo! Secondly, I bought a house! Like a real adult! It has been a dream of mine as a child to own a tiny chunk of land in Lake Tahoe and I did that a couple of months ago, with a cute house on it to boot! Lastly, I explored Switzerland for three weeks in June as part of my last MBA class. What an awesome experience and a great way to end my MBA. I promise it wasn’t all hiking and yodeling in the Alps. We really did do some school work learning about leadership in different cultures while we were there, buuuuuut, we also did do some awesome backpacking in the Alps for a week, which is what this post is all about.

The Trans Swiss Trail consists of 488 kilometers (or 303 miles) and 32 stages, spanning the entire length of Switzerland. How cool is that? You can literally hike across Switzerland in 32 days. We didn’t do the entire trail (obviously), but we did stages 21 to 27, with a slight detour, for a total of roughly 79 miles and countless elevation gains and losses. Did you know the Alps are NOT flat? Anywhere. Up and down and up and up and up and up. The area we were in is Andermatt and the trail travels over the Gotthard Pass.

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Seaside

The past few weeks have been some of the busiest of my entire life. Between work and getting ready to graduate with my Master’s degree in May, I was starting to feel pretty burned out. When this past weekend came around and it was time for a road trip with my favorite person, it could not have been at a more perfect time. And what better way to rejuvenate the soul than with sand, sun, and the sea??

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The last time I was in Fort Bragg was when I was a little girl. It is an easy 5 ½ hour drive from Lake Tahoe and now I am wondering why I haven’t explored there more. We got out of town around 8:30 and the wildflowers and green hillsides of California made for a beautiful drive the entire way. As we started to get closer to the coast and entered the Jackson State Forest, the landscape turned to second growth redwoods that are absolutely breathtaking.

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Helmet

I hope you have been having an awesome winter! In Tahoe, the winter started out great, with December and January dumping some amazing powder all over our mountains. I love it when the same trails you hike in the summer turn into a frosty winter playground. I have definitely been taking advantage of it and trying to get in my riding time as much as I can.

When it comes to riding, you might say that I am more old school. This is my 20th season riding (where did the time go?) and growing up, I have NEVER worn a helmet on the slopes. It just wasn’t something that we did as kids and when helmets started to grow in popularity over the past few years, I never adopted the new thinking that one might actually just save your life. In fact, I have been pretty anti-helmet whenever someone suggests that I wear one.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, there wasn’t any snow and me and the guy decided to go play a round of golf in the valley. Being that we are a wee bit on the competitive side, we decided we needed a bet. If I won, he had to shave his baby (aka his one-year-old beard). If he won, I had to buy a brain bucket and wear it every time I ride. For some reason, he doesn’t like the idea of having to teach me the alphabet all over again.

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All. Most. There.

Do you notice anything different? No. That’s okay. I’ll tell you anyways… new year, new blog name!

When I first started this little blog over a year ago, I had two main purposes: complete a project for my MBA class and share my passion for running and, well, eating. That’s when the site runningprimal.com was born. It was a combination of running stories and adventures in the kitchen cooking healthy, paleo recipes to keep me going.

Over the course of the following year, this little way to share some of my passions turned into so much more. I spent the summer backpacking and hiking to the tallest peaks in the area, and continued to blog about it along the way (even in the absence of a professor assigning me blog posts for homework). This silly blog became an outlet to reflect on the adventures I’ve had, share them with family and friends, and hopefully inspire some others along the way.

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A couple of weeks ago I had to travel to beautiful (ahem) Las Vegas for a big work conference. While the work part of the trip was well, work, we managed to have some fun, too. When we got there on Friday night, a group of my coworkers and I went and saw the Cirque du Soleil show, LOVE. If you like the Beatles, or even if you don’t, I would highly suggest this show. The performers are all amazing and the experience is one you won’t forget. We sat in the front row and had some of the performers in our faces. Literally. While I liked being that close, I think I would opt to sit in a section back further if I were to see it again. That would allow you to take in the whole experience without having to constantly look up and strain your little neck.

The other highlight of the trip was the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon. When we knew that we would be traveling to Vegas for work several months ago, a coworker and I saw that there was also this race taking place at the same time. There was no way that we couldn’t make this one-of-a-kind race happen. The race was on Sunday night (that is right, at night) and they close down the ENTIRE strip for the race. Along the race course are bands, DJs, and spectators the entire way. Not to mention, it was just so f’ing cool to run on the closed-down strip at night!

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Sierra Buttes Hike

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I did it!!! I bagged my 15th peak in 2015 a few weekends ago… and to make it even more special, it was on my bday! Happy birthday to me! When I set a goal earlier this year to summit 15 peaks in 2015, I wasn’t really sure if it would happen. In fact, there were times when I thought it would be downright impossible, but one by one, I started to check them off. When I climbed to the top of the Sierra Buttes on Halloween, I checked the final one off of my list for the year. I got it just in time, too, because the past few weeks in Tahoe have been pretty snowy and it would have been a challenge to try and get any more in.

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South Camp Peak, Lake Tahoe

When I set a goal earlier this summer to summit 15 peaks in 2015, I wasn’t really sure if it would happen. Then one after another, I started checking them off. With each peak came an increased motivation to get the next and the next. Since I started on May 31st, I have managed to check 14 peaks off of my list. Each one is a different experience and none have ever disappointed.

Yesterday, I grabbed peaks 13 and 14 with a solo adventure that was interesting and exhilarating, to say the least. I summited South Camp Peak and Genoa Peak, which are both accessible from the Tahoe Rim Trail. One day I would love to do the entire Rim Trail, but until then, I will settle for some awesome out-and-back day hikes on this well maintained and beautiful trail.

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Rose Knob Hike

Rose Knob Peak, North Lake Tahoe

I haven’t posted anything in a couple of weeks, and man, those weeks have been jam-packed with adventure. To start, the weekend before last I took a road trip with one of my besties, Jenn. First, we went to San Bernardino for an amazing music festival. All of the bands that I grew up listening to were playing and we had so much fun. After that, we had another two days to do whatever we wanted. We tried to get into the Half Dome lottery, but were unsuccessful. So, instead, we decided to take a road trip up the California coast to Big Sur. We did some camping there last year and had a great time, so we went back. It did not disappoint. If you have never been to Big Sur, you should definitely put it on your list. The coastline is so dramatic and gorgeous. Pictures don’t do it justice, but below are a few (P.S. Have I told you how much I love the camera on my new iPhone 6s!?! Well, now you know.)

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Maggie’s Peak Hike

View from Maggie's South Peak. Looking down at Cascade Lake, Granite Lake, Emerald Bay, and the rest of Lake Tahoe.

Another fun weekend has come to a close and another peak is in the bag, Maggie’s South Peak. I was hoping to get two peaks this past week, but weather and school had different plans for me. This still brings me to 11 peaks out of my goal for 15 this year. Only four more to go and I really hope that I can squeeze them in before the mountains are covered with snow. The weather is starting to turn in Lake Tahoe and it feels like we skipped completely over Fall. On my runs last week, the aspens went from a little color to all of the leaves being knocked off in a matter of days. What is up with that? I am sure it had something to do with all the rain we got this last week, but come on Mother Nature. Can’t we enjoy Fall for just a little bit?

Speaking of interesting weather, yesterday was no different. Jenn and I made a pact earlier in the week that we would get a peak yesterday, rain or shine. Well, it was a little bit of both, but still an awesome adventure. We got a little bit of a late start (I guess that’s what happens with late nights, oops), and left the North Shore for Emerald Bay at around 1:30. The trailhead is located at the far end of the Bayview Campground near Emerald Bay, across from Inspiration Point. If you have never been to Inspiration Point, I highly encourage you to stop and check it out. Get inspired!

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Castle Peak Hike

From the top of Castle Peak looking North with Basin Peak in the background

I checked peak number 10 off of my list this past weekend on my quest to bag 15 peaks by the end of the year, Castle Peak! It was definitely one that I had to work for and am still feeling it four days later, but it was so worth it. If you are looking for a challenging but rewarding hike, this one is for you! Not only is the view amazing, but the peak itself is one of the most unusual peaks that I have been on. It was formed from an old volcano and the turrets on top of the peak are crazy interesting. There are so many places that you can climb around that even on a really busy day, you could still feel like you have part of the peak all to yourself.

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Mt. Rose Summit Hike

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Another fun-filled weekend has come and gone and I have a lot to fill you in on. First of all, I got a new iPhone 6s! The thing I am probably most excited about is being able to finally take good pictures. My stupid little 4s just wasn’t cutting it anymore and had to be replaced. The only thing is, my new phone keeps acting up on me and I am starting to get super frustrated. It keeps dropping service and then I have to restart it to get a signal back. Sometimes I won’t notice for a while after it happens and then people think I’m ignoring their texts or calls. So weird. Any Apple people out there know what is going on???

Then Saturday, I got another peak in my bag, Castle Peak! That puts me at number 10 of my #15peaksin2015 goal! I’ll write up a post about that with some pictures in a day or so, but first I have to tell you about peak number 9, Mt. Rose. With a mission to get to 15 peaks this year and some serious catching up to do, I decided to do this on a weekday after work. I knew that it would be tight trying to get it in before it got dark, but we made it happen by running half of it.

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I know what you are thinking. ‘Cauliflower crust pizza? That is so overplayed.’ And yes, I agree that there are thousands of variations of this super trendy pizza. But if you haven’t tried it, I have to tell you it is played-up for good reason. While this is still “pizza” it is definitely much healthier than it’s not-so-distant cousin, regular flour-crust pizza. While I wouldn’t recommend making this all of the time because of the cheese, I do think that it is a great way to indulge a little, as long as you can tolerate dairy okay. After all, who doesn’t love pizza? Come on.

I’ve tried numerous recipes for cauliflower crust pizza, and after lots of trial and error, I finally have refined a recipe that is delicious, holds together pretty well, and still makes you feel like you are eating healthy. You can pretty much put whatever you want on the basic crust recipe below, but I have to say that figs and prosciutto are one of my favorite flavor combinations.

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Pyramid Peak. It has been on the top of my list for the past few months. I attempted it once several weeks ago, but couldn’t go because of a fire that had closed the road to the trailhead. Well, this past weekend, I officially checked that one off of my list. At the same time, I added one of the most pride-filled moments I have had in a long time.

The weekend started with taking Friday off and heading out backpacking with my big brother. It was the first time that I had been backpacking with him and was totally looking forward to some brother/sister time (especially since we now have something in common after years of being typical siblings that thought the other one was retarded. kids). We began at Lyons Creek Trailhead off of Hwy 50. To get there from South Lake Tahoe, take Hwy 50 for 15.75 miles to Wrights Lake Road. Take a right on Wrights Lake Road and follow it for about 3 miles to the Lyons Creek Trailhead.

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After my 14-miler yesterday, I posted a picture of my awesome view to Instagram (IG: emilyp775) with the caption, “trail therapy.” This morning, one of my friends asked me, “Is everything okay? You mentioned needing therapy on the trail.” LOL. Although I know she had nothing but the best intentions, my reaction was, “Really? Of course I’m okay. I’m excellent! I’m a trail runner.” By saying that the trail, or running in general is my therapy, I don’t mean that in the literal sense that I actually need therapy (…okay, some might disagree), but I meant that the trail is my safe place. The place that I go to get all the crap out that builds up in our daily lives. If you aren’t a runner/hiker/biker, you might not exactly understand what I am talking about, but I would challenge you to give it a try. Go out in the middle of nowhere, all by yourself, and let me know how you feel when you come back. Alive? I think so.

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Guess what day it is?! Hump day long run! I don’t intentionally save my long runs for the middle of the week, but when your weekend is consumed with the typical Labor Day festivities, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get in a long run, hence why I decided to run 14 miles after a full day at the office. Ewwww.

Before I  get to that, let’s talk about the weekend! On Saturday morning, I participated in the Butterfly Effect 5K. The nicest girl that I used to go to school with was diagnosed with thyroid cancer a couple of years ago and her and her awesome friends decided to put on a 5K to raise money and awareness for this horrible disease. Their website does a much better job explaining it than I ever could, so go check it out. Overall, I was happy with how the race went. I finished 20th overall, but still managed to get 5th in my age group. Errrrr. I guess the field of 30-39 year old women was stacked. Next year I’ll get on that podium!

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Ellis Peak Hike

View from Ellis Peak looking South at Lake Tahoe. Desolation Wilderness and Pyramid Peak are to the middle right.

I hope you all had an amazing weekend like I did! The summer might be coming to a close and I am back in school, but that’s not going to stop me from having a great time. No way. Team Fun right here. On Saturday, I had my Mindful Leadership class, which I can tell is going to be a great class for me personally and professionally. My professors are top notch, there are some great people in my class, and we get to meditate and do yoga as part of the curriculum. How cool is that?! If you haven’t heard of mindfulness, I suggest you look it up. I’ll give more details throughout the semester, but it in a nutshell, it means being present in the moment in a non-judgmental way. Let go of the past and don’t worry about the future. I think we could all benefit from a little more of that! It is crazy to think about how much stress is wasted each day thinking (or obsessing, like me) about things that you have absolutely no control over. I am definitely going to try and embrace living in each moment a little more.

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It’s officially over. School starts this week and I will no longer be able to just pickup and go on weekend adventures. This semester I’ll have classes on Thursdays and Saturdays. Really!? Who creates a Saturday class? It’s a topic that I am really excited about though (Mindful Leadership), so I guess I’ll put up with it. Luckily, it’s not every Saturday, so I’ll still be able to sneak off on a few weekends here and there throughout the Fall to do some exploring.

Looking down on Star Lake by our bear bag.

Looking down on Star Lake by our bear bag. Freel to the right and Jobs Sister to the left.

This past weekend, I had to get one more trip in before it’s back to the books. My friend Jenn and I headed out to Star Lake with the intention of bagging Freel Peak, Jobs Sister, and Jobs the following day. My brother was originally going to come, but ended up coming down with a cold at the last minute. So it was just us two girls off to do some exploring.

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Mt. Rose Waterfall Trail

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The past couple of weeks I have been so stoked to have one of my good friends get into trail running with me. Don’t get me wrong, I love running trails by myself or with my little sidekick of a dog, but being out there with a friend who is learning to love running is so much fun. I am running on trails that I don’t usually run and just having fun with it since a lot of our runs are run/hikes because she is working on building a foundation.

Last week we decided to run to the Mt. Rose waterfall, which is part of the Tahoe Rim Trail. Earlier this year I hiked this section when I bagged Mt. Houghton and Relay Peak, but I had never really run it. I am glad we did and I will definitely be back for more, even if the trail did beat me down.

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