Hi friends! I’m on my way back to DC from Colorado after a great long weekend full of learning and outdoorsy adventures. As you know, I was there for SCAN’s annual symposium; SCAN (sports, cardiovascular, and wellness nutrition) is a practice group within the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.
Going to conferences like these is always a great way to learn the latest in nutrition research, network with fellow RDs, and rack up some continuing education credits. This year’s conference was held at the beautiful Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs. Check out these views!
I was especially excited about this conference not only because the sessions were really relevant for the work I do in my AnneTheRD private practice, but also because two of my best friends from grad school, Elle and Lauren, were also attending. 🙂
Lauren is from Colorado Springs, so we were lucky enough to all stay with her family for the weekend. We were at the conference all day on Friday and Saturday and until about 1 pm. on Sunday, but we all stayed on a little longer so we’d have some time to enjoy beautiful Colorado Springs and each other’s company for a little while longer. 🙂
Considering we did a lot of learning/conference stuff, we also made time to fit in a ton of fun outdoorsy adventures, too! Here are some of the highlights from the long weekend. As for the conference itself, I’m thinking of doing some themed nutrition posts related to some of the best sessions I attended – stay tuned!
Dinner at Adam’s Mountain Café
On Friday night, Lauren’s parents very kindly treated the three of us to dinner at Adam’s Mountain Café, a restaurant that prides itself on “slow food”, encouraging diners to rediscover the flavor of local food. I had a starter salad followed by the Brazilian Style Barramundi, which was amazing! It was baked in a red bell pepper, onion, jalapeno, garlic, coconut milk, tomato, and fresh lime sauce and served with saffron rice and black beans. So good!
Running at Palmer Park
On Saturday morning, before racing off to the conference, the girls and I got up early and headed over to Palmer Park to get in a run before sitting all day. It was gorgeous, and it felt great to move after traveling all morning and then sitting in the conference all day on Friday.
Watching a Professional Bull Riding Competition!
Lauren’s dad surprised the three of us with tickets to go see the professional bull riding competition going on on Saturday night in Colorado Springs. It was such a fun night and we had a blast – I can definitely say I’ve never seen bull riding before! Such a unique experience!
I was super nervous for the riders, though – glad to see some of them were wearing helmets instead of just cowboy hats! Yikes!
Hiking the Famous Manitou Incline
The Manitou Incline is a popular hiking challenge for visitors to Colorado Springs. The trail is actually the remains of a former railway whose tracks washed out during a rock slide in the 90’s. The remaining tracks make a sort of really intense, steep staircase.
Gaining over 2,000 feet of elevation in less than one mile, and starting at the high altitude of 6,500 feet at the base (you end at 8,590 feet), this hike is no joke.
I have been hearing about the Incline from Lauren for awhile now, and a ton of my Instagram followers recommended it, too, so I was really excited to give it a shot! We headed over on Sunday afternoon after the conference ended.
Within about 30 seconds, my heart was POUNDING – this was going to be legit! Tons of steep stairs + high altitude = whoa.
We went up and up and up and up and up
We took breaks every so often to catch our breath and check out the beautiful views. We were getting quite high up!
Lauren had warned me ahead of time that there was a “fakeout” summit – when you are about 2/3 of the way up, you see an area ahead that looks like the summit, but nope! It’s not. When you come over the top, you see this. Darnit!
But luckily once we made it there there wasn’t TOO much left. You guys know I like a challenge so I weirdly enjoyed this, anyway, even though it was tough. 😉 The views definitely helped!
WE MADE IT!
Whew! If you visit Colorado Springs, the Incline is a must-do. Tough but fun! We finished in around 55 minutes. Lauren said the fastest she has ever done it is in just under 30 minutes. Whoa!
Once at the top, you can either go back down the stairs (not so fun, but faster since it’s less than a mile), or hike down a nice trail instead that is about 4 miles due to a lot of switchbacks. We opted for the trail, and we met up with Elle once on it (she decided to stick with the trail on the way up, too). If you take this trail up instead of down, it takes you to Pikes Peak!
It was supposed to storm on Sunday afternoon when we were doing this, but we got lucky – it was nice and cloudy while we were hiking up the Incline, and then got a little sunny on the way down – perfect!
The views were spectacular – this doesn’t really do it justice!
Such a fun way to spend an afternoon – we were EXHAUSTED after it, though! Whew!
Trail Running at Red Rock Canyon
On Monday morning, we slept in a little since the conference was over and then headed out to Red Rock Canyon to do some trail running!
Once again, storms loomed but we got lucky and the rain held off. What did not hold off, however, was the mud! One part at the beginning of the trail was insanely muddy due to the recent rain – our feet were about 100 pounds by the end of it!
Luckily the rest of the trail was fine or it would have been quite a slow run. 😉
Due to the mud and all the hills, our run turned into a run/walk, though, which we were fine with. Made it easier to appreciate the stunning views!
Man, I love Colorado. Every time I visit I wonder why I don’t live here…
We ran/walked about 6 miles and by the time we were done we were STARVED! Time for food – we went to a cute place nearby called Garden of the Gods Gourmet.
I started with a beet/kale/cucumber/apple/celery/carrots/lemon/ginger juice that was delicious.
As for lunch, I was really craving meat after that run! I had the burger and added bacon and white cheddar cheese. It was SO GOOD. Plus a side of kale salad for good measure. 🙂
Exploring Garden of the Gods
Speaking of Garden of the Gods, we went and strolled around it after our lunch since we were so close by!
It was stunning – love those red rocks!
Elle headed to the airport yesterday afternoon after our adventures, and last night, I was able to see some of my cousins who live in Colorado Springs. This morning, Lauren and I got in a rainy run in her neighborhood before sadly saying goodbye and headed off to our respective flights home.
We were all sad the trip came to a close so quickly! The conference was great and I learned a lot, but of course the real highlight of the weekend was getting to spend some quality time with two of my best friends. I miss them already! <3 Until next time, ladies!
Have you ever been to Colorado Springs?
What’s the most intense hike you’ve ever done? The Manitou Incline definitely takes the cake for me now!