To the top! Climbing Quandary Peak

Most Saturdays, you can find me running errands, reading, maybe going to a concert if I’m feeling real crazy.

Last Saturday was different.

Last Saturday, I climbed a mountain.


Grant and I were in Breckenridge, Colorado, with a group of friends for the weekend. We drove through the night Thursday, took it easy on Friday with maybe one-too-many brewery stops, and woke early on Saturday to head to Quandary Peak.

Quandary is a 14er, which is hiker-speak for a 14,000 ft mountain. The trailhead for the East Ridge trail, which is the “easy” option we picked, starts at 10,850 ft. The trail ends at the summit, at 14,265 ft. The hike up took about four hours (or three if you’re our friend Andy).

I said the trail was “easy” because — woo, boy! — this was the steepest, most difficult hike with tons of loose and slippery rocks. Grant has hiked a handful of 14ers, and we hiked Grey’s Peak together a few years ago. We agreed that Grey’s was hard, but it was nothing compared to this hike.


Typically, I have a positive attitude. When I am running, I will literally chant “I think I can, I know I can, I think I can, I know I can” in my head.

But this hike was punishing. There were whole hours where the summit never looked like it was getting any closer.

At one point, I thought, “I have to turn around.” When we debriefed over dinner later that night, I found out that almost everyone in our group had thought the same thing.

I’m not trying to make this a metaphor for life, promise. But there is nothing more rewarding than proving to yourself that you can do The Hard Thing. All day long, we told each other “to the top!” as encouragement. As our chant. As our “I think I can, I know I can.”

Other motivating bits along the way? Snacks. Flat rocks that made perfect resting chairs. Meeting goats and their babies (and being terrified that the mom goats would gore us).


And reaching the summit? The best feeling. The greatest feeling.

The summit was crowded with dozens of people that had also just reached the top, and the shared emotional state of exhausted elation was so apparent.


After that euphoric moment, though, you have to come back down. You’ve already summited, you’ve already taken your summit siesta (a little snooze with your pack as a pillow), you’re hurting and hungry — but now you have to spend hours walking back down the mountain. This realization quickly stomps on the joy you’re feeling.

Climbing down is scary and no easier than climbing up. You’re not gasping for air as you gain elevation like you do while ascending, but your feet scramble to find purchase on slippery gravel, your toes jam into the fronts of your shoes, and you are SO TIRED.


We started the walk down as a group, taking frequent breaks together, but about an hour from the bottom, I couldn’t wait anymore. I knew that if I sat down one more time, I would fall asleep on the side of that mountain. So I kept walking, and walking, and walking. At one point, I know that my eyes were closed. When I eventually found one of those forgiving flat rocks to collapse on in the parking lot, I couldn’t see straight.

I was so tired, in fact, that after I took my Fitbit off to see how far we’d hiked (11 miles, for the record), I just threw it on the ground. I didn’t even realize I had done this until we were back in town, on the way to get some hard-earned pizza. (Don’t worry, Grant drove me back to the trailhead, and it was exactly where I had left it.)

And that night, after I had showered, napped, and had a few glasses of wine, I could almost imagine doing it again. To the top!

Climb Mount Quandary, via

Summer Meal Plan // 2

This upcoming week is a weird one. We’ll be eating out a lot at the end of the week with friends, so this summer meal plan is short, clean, and simple.

When I know I’m going to be eating a lot of restaurant meals, I try to be “good” where I can. Lots of protein and veggies, less extras like carb-heavy sides or sugary sauces. While there are carbs like rice and potatoes in these meals, I may skip them. And eat pasta and pizza (and beer) later in the week.



  • Grilled and Greek-seasoned chicken breasts and thighs, chickpeas, rice, cherry tomatoes, and sauteed green beans. I’ll likely chop the chicken and green beans and halve the tomatoes, so that we can eat this bowl-style.


  • More bowls! Ground turkey, grilled sweet potato slices (heat the grill to med-high, slice sweet potatoes thinly, and grill ~5 mins a side), sauteed broccoli and bell peppers, and avocado.


  • Meeting with my monthly book club. (We’re reading this history of Wonder Woman, if you’re interested. It’s a three-star read for me right now. But I’ve got half of the book to go.) The lovely host will provide wine and food.

Weekend prep:

  • More rice pudding for G! We’re trying to assess whether he’s allergic to eggs or not, so I’m kind of in a rut with make-ahead breakfasts. He says that he likes this pudding, so I’ll run with it until I hear otherwise.
  • Eggs and greens for me to eat for breakfasts. I plan to wilt a mix of chopped spinach and kale, and then mix the greens into slow-scrambled eggs. I’ll leave the eggs a little loose so they can finish cooking in the microwave when I reheat them. After reheating, I’ll top with hot sauce and maaaybe some avocado.

Breakfasts and lunches:

  • G will eat leftovers for lunch and the rice pudding for breakfast.
  • I’ll have salad and protein at lunch and eggs and greens for breakfast. Since we’ll be eating so many restaurant meals, I want to keep my diet fresh and clean where I can.

Like I said, this list is short and sweet. But it will keep our bellies full.

About Me

P1000159Hi, I’m Caitlin, a writer, reader, eater, and planner. Welcome to The Fruitful Blog, where I share my writing about food, resources for planning and organization, reading lists, and more.

Perfection is never the goal for me, but making daily decisions with intention always is. Through planning and positivity, I do my best to make each day fruitful. And if the day is a flop, that’s ok — I start from scratch every morning.

The Fruitful Blog is a place where I can share my writing, my ideas for intentional living, my favorite lipstick shades, and more. If you’re interested in living each day to its fullest, you’ll feel right at home here.

I’m a twenty-something writer and editor living in the Kansas City area with my husband, Grant. When I’m not at my 9-to-5, I’m cooking, reading, watching trash T.V. (go Real Housewives!), and trolling KC for free drinks.

I love making cakes, salads, and lists. My biggest annoyances? Wasted time, sweet cocktails, and the weeks when my favorite show is a rerun.


I’d love to hear from you! Let me know what you’d like to see on the site.

Email me at caitlin at Follow me on Instagram and Pinterest.

Summer Meal Plan // 1

I have a full week ahead, with the BACHELORETTE finale (#TeamNoOne), yoga and movie date with a friend, and a sister date, so I need to front-load food prep on the weekend.



  • Baked falafel from Oh Ladycakes! with brown rice, sauteed zucchini, caramelized onions and tomatoes with turmeric, and a basil/mint tahini sauce I made on the fly in the food processor.


  • Potluck snack dinner with friends while watching the Bachelorette! I will make hummus (modified from this recipe) and a salad.


  • Dinner on the fly on the way to yoga — I’ll have deli turkey and hummus roll ups with a dab of jelly (I know it sounds weird, but think of it like cranberry sauce!) and carrot sticks.


  • Grilled salmon, my riff on Minimalist Baker’s Asian quinoa salad, green beans, and corn on the cob


  • Sister date! We’ll most likely make something simple.


  • Ground turkey tacos with homemade taco sauce (trying this recipe), black beans, and grilled zucchini

Weekend prep:

  • This peanut chicken from Bev Cooks with brown rice in the rice cooker. I’ll keep this on hand for lunches and dinners during the week.
  • A variation of Christina’s brown rice pudding for G to eat for breakfasts this week. I make the rice in the rice cooker, and I add a handful of shredded zucchini, some golden raisins, and cinnamon for a zucchini-bread flavor variation.
  • Black beans, using Heather Christo’s recipe. I froze 3 16-ounce jars and kept 32 ounces or so in the fridge for an easy side for taco night this week. (Or easy protein to add to salads!)Breakfasts and lunches:
  • G will eat leftovers for lunch and the rice pudding for breakfast.
  • I eat a salad every day for lunch, usually topped with whatever leftover protein we’ve got, or with a couple of hard-boiled eggs, or hummus. My breakfasts vary, but I’ve been really into nut butter, spinach, and frozen banana smoothies lately. I often add powdered egg white for protein.