075. Writing Retreat.

My bags are packed and I'm headed into the mountains!
I've never done this before, but I decided to book a little cabin in the woods for 72 hours of remote inspiration devoted purely to writing!

I'm hoping to come back with a rough draft of a few chapters, maybe some sketches and a layout for my first email newsletter!

Sorry the blog has been so quiet lately - as I mentioned in the last post, I've never been more busy.

Here are some photos from last summer - the same location I'm headed today!

037. Hike Recap: Steall Falls, Scotland

Steall Falls (formerly An Steall Bàn) is a must-see for anyone who likes mountains and waterfalls, and honestly, it's a super easy hike.

Even the drive TO the carpark is gorgeous, as you pass Ben Nevis mountain.

After arriving at the car park, it's about an hour long hike to get to the falls themselves (depending on your speed and how often you stop to take in the view). The trail is not difficult, and most of it is well cared for. I hear in the summer it's an extremely busy hike. I was there in the winter, and only ran into a couple people along the way.

The trail follows a beautiful river, "Water of Nevis," which cascades through the gorge (to your right) among giant moss covered boulders. It's not uncommon to see rock climbers (at any time of year), scaling the steep cliff face on the opposite side of the river.

Eventually the trail opens up into a huge valley, and you finally catch a glimpse of the roaring waterfall in the distance. 

When you finally get closer to the waterfall, the immense height becomes apparent (after all, it is Scotland's second highest waterfall!)

The river snakes in front of you, blocking your path. You can stay here and get a nice view of the falls, and have a nice picnic. But if you want to make the most of the hike, you'll want to cross the river.

The only way to get to the base of the waterfall is a wire bridge over the river. 
I am terrified of heights, and after endless prodding from my friends, decided to try it anyway.

The wire bridge sits about 15 feet above the water - not terrible, but when it's freezing cold and you have your photo gear, you do NOT want to fall in!
 

My friend crossing the bridge first.

Halfway across, I became paralyzed with fear, and begged my friends to allow me to turn back, but they correctly pointed out that there's no way to turn around once you start, so I HAD to finish. With tiny baby steps and white knuckles, I finally made it.

Once across, you are rewarded with an amazing experience. A short hike leads to the base of the falls, which roar down onto mossy rocks and beautiful crystal clear pools.

A photographer's playground!

Even in winter, the area is lush! I'd love to visit again in the spring or summer!

Here's an amazing view looking back towards the trail (showing a self-catering hut for rent). It was the perfect inspiration for one of my paintings.

15x22" watercolor on cold press paper.

Happy hiking!

027. Hike Recap: Hanging Lake in Colorado

If you're looking for inspirational landscapes, it's hard to go wrong with any hike in Colorado. The natural beauty of the mountains is easily accessible from Denver, but ask anyone for a recommendation and you're bound to hear about Hanging Lake.

This hike is strenuous, but SO worth it.
Drive towards Glenwood Springs on I-70 (about 2.5 hours from Denver), take exit 121 and return to I-70 going back towards Denver (yes, for some reason there is no exit directly from I-70 West)

After reaching the car park (get there as early as possible in the summer, as it fills up fast), follow the signs towards the trailhead (about 10 minutes).

Once you get to the trailhead, the vertical climb begins. You will be hiking up, up, up UP for a mile! I was very winded, so we took it slow. In May the ground is still muddy from melting snow, but not bad. There are some man-made stone steps here and there, but also some very rough terrain scattered. 

The trail follows a waterfall/creek the whole way. There are a bunch of bridges that cross over the water as well. Close to the top there is an amazing spot for a beautiful panoramic view.

Keep going up, and you'll soon hit the lower lake of Hanging Falls! Several waterfalls pour down into the gorgeous blue waters.

You're not done yet! Back on the trail, instead of heading back down, turn right and climb up the steep boulders above the falls. There you will find Spouting Rock, the incredible "source" of the Hanging Lake waterfalls.

In May the waterfall was GUSHING and the air was incredible "misty" - you WILL get wet! But it's an amazing experience to walk up behind the waterfall. You won't regret it!