Silence can be deafening

“Those who cannot sit in silence have dragons they are wrestling with.” -My Dad

When I was growing up my Dad and I spent a massive amount of time in the woods.  As a kid it was torture.  With bread bags on my feet between two-three pairs of socks we would hike, ski, and log firewood.  I didn’t understand then how it was that he was so happy out there.  Thile smile on his face as we pushed through pristine backcountry snow on cross country skis was almost perverse in my mind.  Was he enjoying torturing me?  As I grew older and wrestled my own dragons I began to realize the wisdom in his words.

IMG_7205I was in a Vetoga class recently that had a dedicated nidra meditation.  For those unfamiliar with it; basically, it’s a super deep guided meditation.  I went to this place in the mountains in my meditation not because I was purposefully going there, but because this was a place and time in those mountains where there was some healing that I had to do.  It happens like that when you meditate whether it be in yoga, running, or hiking.  You go to where the healing must happen.  Sometimes it sneaks up on you and sometimes it rolls through like a military jet flying low to the ground.

Last weekend before ECSUT #TeamCaboose, Batman and I went out to the Uintas.  We hiked up to Trial Lake.  The first real snow of the season had hit the ground.  If you’ve never been in a National Forest it’s quiet.  If you’ve never experienced snow it muffles all of the sounds.  Combine being in a National Forest and snow the silence is absolutely deafening.  It is the most quiet that you may ever experience in your entire lifetime.  If you aren’t comfortable in the silence it can be unsettling.

Now, however, I welcome the silence.  It’s like a warm pair of jammies straight from the dryer.  I call that progress.



#ECSUT the Dickens Novel

I finished.  Without Peter Thorne (bib#5040) I don’t know if I would have, though.

IMG_4735Yet again due to snow the course was altered.  The first 10k of the course went beautifully.  I felt good, I was running well (and was actually running).  The sun was partially out and while it was chilly it was great running weather . As I came down into the 1st aid station I saw the girls! Oh that made my heart light.   I dumped a wet shirt with my amazing friends and started humping it back up the mountain.

Somewhere around mile 13 I just burst into tears.  I was nauseous, I was having a hard time breathing, but most importantly I was getting cold.   I was scared. TeamCaboose grabbed my hand and walked with me for a bit.  I felt awful for holding her back so I pushed her on.  I pretty much cried all the way to the first entrance into the 5-Way aid station.  I didn’t want to drop, but my last experience in the cold was roaring in my brain.  I walked into 5-Way extremely nauseous. After almost throwing up, some amazing person gave me some ginger chews.  The volunteers gave me some amazing hot broth.  They offered up a heater, but I knew that if I sat in front of that it was only going to be worse when I left.  They asked if I wanted to drop.  Absolutely not.  The next few miles were downhill and I was able to get warm again.  I was still nauseous, but getting warmed helped.  Even better I stopped crying.

The Marsac aid station (#5) at mile 19.6 was out in the open.  Just the couple of minutes we were there filling up bladders was enough to make me cold again.  As we took off from the aid station I saw that the guy (I called him Zombie Runner in my head because that’s what was on his pack) that we had been following most of the course had a jacket tied around his waist and wasn’t using it.  “Hey! Can I borrow you jacket?” I was a cold and desperate runner and was not above asking strangers for clothes.  He graciously let me borrow it.  The nice thing was that because he was a big guy it fit over top of my layers and my hydration pack.  After a few minutes I started to get warm again.  I gave it back to him before we even hit the next aid station and profusely thanked him.

The folks at the King’s Road Aid Station told us that it was 3 miles back to 5-Way.  It was over 3 miles.  More importantly it was also all straight up hill.  There was a small human at the aid station so the string of profanities that I wanted to come out of my mouth were tempered by his presence.  TeamCaboose was long in front of me.  ZombieRunner and I were slogging our way up the hill stringing together profanities.  At this point it had also started snowing. Super, just (bleep) super.  When we rolled into 5-Way for a second time they were all enthusiastic that it was “only 4.7 miles to the finish and all downhill!!!” I glared at them. I wasn’t in the best place.

“I don’t believe a (bleep) thing you all say any more they told it was 3 miles to here.”

The guys laughed.  “It’s not 3 miles!”

“Duh, I know that NOW!”

I thanked them for being there, I mean, they were out in the cold all day too.  However, I was cold again.  The broth wasn’t warm, and I knew that I was less than 5 miles to the finish.  While I wasn’t nauseous any more but I knew that I was rapidly approaching a point where I was going to have to make a hard decision.  That’s when Zombie Runner came to my rescue.  Without me asking, he took his coat off of his pack and handed it to me.

“Here, I’ll get it from you at the finish.” He took off running down the mountain.

I pulled it on and started down the mountain.  As the elevation dropped the precipitation increased and switched to rain.  By the time I could see the finish line it was pouring.  I was wet, but warm.  I got to the fencing on the finish and out pops MountainGoat.  She and Randi and Kara had sat there all day in the rain and the snow.  They were there to see me finish.

She smacked me on the ass and said, “RUN!”

“I don’t know if I can.”

IMG_4748She smacked me on the ass again.  “RUN!” She commanded as she grabbed my hand and pulled me along, my legs begrudgingly following her.   She let go of my hand and I crossed the finish line and promptly burst into tears.  I hugged TeamCaboose who was standing there. I looked up and saw the girls huddled under the tent.  I cried some more.  These amazing, wonderful, strong women who I met and ran with this summer stood there all day in the craptastic weather.  I started to tell them that I needed to find the nice guy who let me us he coat.  He was looking right at me.  I laughed. “I only know you from behind! Thank you so much for letting me use this I wouldn’t have finished otherwise.”

Officially I was 150/155, 52/54 females, 7/7 for my age group, and finished in 10:05:30 with a pace of 18:59.   Not a stellar showing, but for an asthmatic runner from sea level I’ll take it.  I am a finisher.



North Face 50k: Just Jump

When I was out to sea on the USCGC Mellon we were lucky enough to have a couple of swim calls.  That is when the ship stops and they let everyone jump overboard to have a good romp.  (It’s also a great way to get everyone smelling better when your water gets contaminated and you’re waiting for the tanks to refill, but that’s another story.) By the last swim call all of the girls in my berthing had jumped off the O-1 deck.  It’s higher than jumping off of the main deck and depending on when you catch the swell of the ocean it can be a LONG way down.

I was terrified of jumping, but all the other girls had done it, I knew it was safe and there was nothing holding me back but fear.  As I stood with my back against the O-1 bulkhead hatch staring at the open abyss to the ocean, my knees were shaking, my insides had an entire rugby team of dragons (not butterflies), and I was seriously considering just chickening out and facing the wrath of being the only girl who didn’t jump and the only Navy person who didn’t jump.  Instead, took a deep breath, and ran off the edge before I could talk myself out of it.  The Senior Chief who was standing shark duty said, “I knew it was you jumping.  You screamed, you ran out of air, you took another breath, and kept right on screaming until you hit the water.”  Well, duh, I mean holy crap balls that was scary.

I’m currently sitting on an airplane making my way west to Park City, Utah to (theoretically) run the North Face 50k.  I say theoretically because, well, Summit County has already gotten snow this year and they are predicting 4-7 inches more of the white powdery stuff tonight.  Yet, as I sit on this airplane watching the ground go by while waiting for biostatistics code to get spat out of SAS all I can think about is how I am feeling the exact same feeling as I did that particular day, scared.

Why? Why am I so terrified of this race?  Well, let’s start with the physical stuff.  I came home from my summer in Utah a little beaten up and it’s taken a couple of months of physical therapy to get me strong.  I’ve made leaps and bounds and the witchy one says that I will be fine, but there’s that shadow that lingers there.

Then let’s talk about the weather.  The last time I attempted to run in the cold and snow I got hypothermia.  So, yes, I’m terrified that that will happen again and this time I don’t have ShooterGirl close by to come and rescue me.

Finally, let’s talk about the mental aspect.  I crawled all over this particular mountain this summer, on purpose.  I spent multiple days a week learning her quirks.  All that said, I haven’t been at altitude for 6 weeks.  My boss didn’t help any when he said, “Oh man, you’re going to fry your lungs.”

So, yeah, I’m terrified.  I’m hopeful that there will BE a race to run.  I need to run this race.  I need to treat this like that jump off of the USCGC Mellon only without all the screaming.  I’m just afraid if I chicken out and don’t run I may never sign up for another 50k again.

VHRTC Women’s Half Marathon: If you give a mouse a cookie the BK edition

You know it’s weird you know random people in the middle of the woods, right?-ShooterGirl

It’s no secret I find all of my emotions in the woods. Whether it be joy, anger, sorrow, they all come out when you are in the middle of the woods.  It’s a place of raw beauty and emotion.

Back in March I dragged my friend Granite Ginger onto the trails of Fountainhead for her first trail run.  She is a veteran road runner, having completed two Marine Corps Marathons.  She knows how to run road.  I think I threw her for a loop running on dirt.  I knew, though, deep down she was a dirt girl like me.  The more time we spent on the dirt the more I knew it.  So for her birthday I bought her an entry to the VHRTC Women’s Half Marathon.  Why?  A. It’s with my VHRTC family so I knew the race experience would be a positive one.  Then there’s B.  I really wanted to drag her permanently over to the dark side with me.

Running dirt requires a certain amount of gumption, stubbornness, and determination, something I know that G has in spades.  I had ZERO doubt in my mind that she was going to knock it out of the park.  Her on the other hand……

What’s funny is that I know she’s an ultrarunner. Why?  She doesn’t get happy until like mile 15.  I mean COME ON if that isn’t the definition of an ultra runner I don’t know what is.  On Saturday the joke became that trail running is like the children’s book “If you give a mouse a cookie” only the BK edition.

First it was, hey, let’s go run 4 miles of trail.  Then it was, well since you did 4 let’s do 10. Once we did 10  we might as well do 20, for MCM training, of course.  Once we did 20, well, then there was NO reason not to do the trail half marathon, I mean, the hills will be good training……Oh and since you’re already doing MCM in October, why don’t we do MGM in December I mean it’s ONLY 6 more miles…..

G did amazing.  Just like I knew she would.  She had a rough bad for a few miles, but then there was Juanitas Cantina and that made everything better.  Although, I think all the extra hugs from Bob didn’t hurt either.  By the time we got back to the finish line her husband and little one were there cheering her in.

I knew she could do it.  Now she does too.  Wonder if it’s too soon to talk about that 50k…..


Summer: All the Feels

I opened up my Facebook feed this morning and was greeted with this article posted by a friend.  It talks about the fate of all the “summer dogs” in Greece and how they won’t survive the winter.  Most of them anyway.

As I looked up from the article I saw my own “throw away dog” from Afghanistan, Princess of Destruction of Kabul (aka Charlotte),  happily wrestling and playing with HRH I caught a major case of the feels.  Then she went into the bathroom and started drinking out of the toilet. Feelings over because, ew.

It got me thinking, though, about her life her and our summer adventures.  I almost left her with my trainer.  I almost didn’t take her with me.  However, even my trainer agreed with me that despite her being attacked on the trails twice and developing some quirks we are now dealing with her going with me was the absolute best thing that could have happened to her and to me.

See, as a formerly feral dog from a long line of feral dogs, her DNA doesn’t allow her to trust easily. In Afghanistan if a dog isn’t shot at for fun or shot at for food then they are put into a dog fighting ring.  Unless they are adopted by the military guys or an NGO worker life for dogs in Afghanistan is very short and very ugly.  Even if they are adopted most will leave them behind when they go making them just as forgotten as those beach dogs in Greece.  For all those reasons her fight/flight instinct is very very ingrained. It’s the only way that she was able to exist in the first place.  I didn’t even realize how ‘loud’ her instinct was until our first time camping and she bolted awake on high alert at every tiny noise in the middle of the night.

IMG_3790This summer, though, with all of our time together on the trails we were able to develop our relationship.  I’d almost say a bond, but with my cat-like dog the bond is only as strong as she is in the mood to let me have.   She was able to learn that she can count on me which is something that her little feral DNA doesn’t quite understand.  On what turned out to be hands down one of my absolute best days running ever she even allowed a man she never met before into “her” car and then promptly made googley eyes at him.

By our second camping trip with img_6736WindChime Charlotte was happily snuggled between “her” humans absorbing body heat trusting that “her” humans would keep her safe.  By the end of the summer, despite being attacked twice on the trails by dogs off leash, she had turned into an amazing little trail dog.  Granted, we have some quirks we are working through with the trainer because of those attacks, but even he agreed her going with me was the best thing that could have happened. “She’s started to trust you.”

On our way home as I crashed out at 1am in the parking lot of a random truck stop in Indiana she stood guard over me. While I only slept three hours it was three hours of exceptionally deep sleep because I knew that if anyone tried to come near “her” car she was going to tell them who was boss.  For the record, I was right.  She wound up waking me up with the deepest nastiest sound I’ve ever heard her make as she was telling some super creepy guys that were lingering around the car that she was there.  I hopped into the front seat without getting out of the car and left. Good girl, indeed!

When we returned home she knew where she was.  Her tailed wagged, a rare occurrence,  as we pulled into the driveway.  I was curious to see how her reintroduction to HRH was going to go.  We walked into the house, he immediately told her who was boss, and we were back to our normal pack dynamics.

My little Princess of Destruction of Kabul who will be turning two in February has already seen most states than most Americans (current total 21).  She’s ridden on a ski gondola.  She’s logged loads of trail miles.  She’s seen the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean.  Sure, our relationship isn’t perfect and there are times I want to strangle her, but she’s still a puppy and I remind myself of that.  (Usually on days where she has decided to chew and/or destroy something.)  Most importantly, though, she has a life that she wouldn’t have had otherwise.  She’s allowing me to have the company and the confidence to go and do things that I wouldn’t have otherwise because I know that no matter what she has my back.  Even if she won’t cuddle with me.


Flying and inner peace

Over the years yoga has been in my life.  At my heaviest (200+ pounds) I did yoga. Granted I hid at the back of the class but I did yoga.  At the very beginning I remember how hard just going through Sun Salutation A was.  I huffed and I puffed.  Holding Downward Facing Dog was nearly impossible.  However, there was this feeling I had after every yoga class that I just couldn’t shake.  It’s magical.

Right before my divorce in 2005 I hit my first Sirsasana or headstand.  It was an early Sunday morning class in Annapolis.  We were given time to practice flying.  When I actually got up into it I squealed and then promptly hit the floor.  I remember it like it was yesterday that is how profound it was.   Balance and flying poses are always a tell.  The more out of emotional balance you are the more challenging (if not impossible) they are. I never hit another one.

Over the last year or so I found an organization called Vetoga.  They are an organization created by a former Marine who wanted to share yoga with the veteran community as a way  to deal with stress, PTSD, and other anxieties.   There is something profound about being in a room of people who regardless of service, age or gender are family even if you’ve never met them before.

IMG_3506Then this past summer during a WOD at CrossFit Park City they had us attempting headstands as a precursor to handstand pushups.  From the CrossFit perspective it’s simple: you use your core and you should be able to pop right up into a headstand.  Now as a practitioner of yoga I know better.  It is not as simple as core strength then pop up.  In order to obtain a headstand you have to have inner peace.  Sure, core strength is part of it, but without the inner peace, even momentarily, you will never fly.  Since 2005, I had tried headstand many times, often met with me slamming to the floor in the most ungraceful like thud.  With all of the mountains and clearing of my mind I had had over the summer I figured why not try a headstand.  This was as far as I got, but hey it was progress over the previous 12 years.  While it is not a true Sirsasana which is suppose to be done on forearms, it was still much closer.

A few days ago at Trident CrossFit I was feeling much less pressure.  My internship was over, the paper was almost complete, and a host of other things in my life had fallen into IMG_4218place.  There are still stressors, but I am mentally at peace with the major decisions I have made.  I decided to give it another try.  What’s the worst that could happen?  Sure, I could fall on my face, but I’ve done that plenty in my lifetime.  Then this happened.  Again, I’m not on my forearms, but I’m up and I held it.  This is the truest sign I can have that the path that I have chosen is the right path.

What path is that?  I have decided to go through the Vetoga teacher training.  I have wanted to go through teacher training for many years, but the time was just never right.  Despite being in grad school, despite the stresses from work, despite every reason in the world why I shouldn’t do this, this just feels like the right time.  I don’t handle change well (I know that this comes as a surprise) so the fact that I made this major decision and I am at peace with it means I am on the right path.

I’m very much looking forward to the learning process.  Most of all, though, I’m looking forward to helping others find their moment to fly.  It truly is glorious.

If you want to help me reach my goal, click here, and donate to my teacher training.

Persistence and expectations

“Do not sit still; start moving now. In the beginning, you may not go in the direction you want, but as long as you are moving, you are creating alternatives and possibilities.”

-R. Costa

I am not a fast runner.  Nor am I an agile runner.  I put one foot in front of the other.  Some days it may be faster than others, but all days it is about the meditative act of putting one foot in front of the other.  As an asthmatic runner who is subject to the whims of Mother Nature I don’t run for time.  I don’t run for PRs. If they happen, great, if they don’t, great.   Every run I go out with no expectations other than to finish.  I am a persistent runner.

Before I even left for Utah I was experiencing pain in my left adductor.  I saw Magic Man in May when I was in Montana and that seemed to take care of it.  Flash forward into June and I was running/hiking my tush off.  The pain started getting to be too much so I went and saw an acupuncturist in Park City who treated my back because they said that is where the pain was coming from (they weren’t necessarily wrong).

Then during the Kings Peak trip the pain in my leg on the way back out to the campsite was so bad it took my breath away.  Luckily WindChime brought Motrin with her otherwise I don’t know if I would have made it back in any decent amount of time.  The pain persisted for the rest of the time I was out in Park City.  Granted most folks would have stopped running, but my time in the mountains was coming to an end and I was not about the give up that time.  I thought it was just sore from all the miles, not actually something wrong.

When I returned I decided something had to change.  Obviously there was something bigger going on that wasn’t getting fixed.  I decided to see a PT instead.  We went through all my old injuries (which were extensive when you add in the number of times I was ejected off a horse) and we started doing mobility testing.  I could tell you all the things not working properly, but I’ll sum it up as this; train wreck.  Basically I have tendons acting like muscles because my physical structure is so twisted that the muscles can’t move the way they are suppose to.  When I told her of all of my exploits she was stunned that I was even able to do half of it.

“Persistence”, I said.

It’s amazing how when you receive small tweaks how all of a sudden things get really freaking hard. My tush has never hurt so much.  Even my abs hurt from one of the deceptively simple exercises she has me doing to active the deep pelvic muscles that stabilize my pelvis.  I may never do another crunch again.

“You’re a witch!” I proclaimed during our third session.  She laughed.

“I’ve been called many things, but I don’t think I’ve ever been called that.  I’ll take it!” she replied laughing as she moved my leg around in the socket.

We started talking about my goals and plans for the fall.  I told her about the 50k monkey I want to get off my back.  “Totally within the realm of possible”, she said.

She asked me about the training run I have planned this weekend  We spoke about the 20 mile loop I wanted to do.  She looked at the elevation profile and quickly nixed that.  “Too much right now.  I’m ok with the miles, but not the elevation change.  We need to get you stabilized first. When you do go out I don’t want you to have any expectations.”

I hung my head.  Dammit.  I said, “I always run with no expectations so that’s nothing new.  What about the C&O?”

“That’s perfect.”

Sigh.  I know she’s right.  I know I have to listen to her.  I want to be fixed for the long haul because oh my how much I enjoy the up and surprisingly, now, the down.

Seeing my sadness of loosing my mountain running this weekend she offered this; “Just think, if you were able to do everything you’ve done with only half of you working with all of you working it should be a piece of cake!”  Make mine gluten free, please.


Utah Trail Running Community: Thank you!

When I decided to do my internship out in Utah I didn’t know a soul out there.  I just knew that I wanted to do my internship in a place where I could be exposed to a variety of environments (rural and developed) that had responsibilities that are unique to the west and Summit County was a perfect microcosm.  However, after eight weeks out there not only did I come home with a massive amount of knowledge that I somehow have to convert into a 5-10 page paper (What I did over my summer vacation by Bernadette), but I also came home with family.

My very first run in the Wasatch was brutal.  However, the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers and the Park City Running Company were amazing.  What’s great about these groups is that they are totally inclusive.  There is always someone who knows the route waiting at intersections for those who may not know where they are going.  No “fend for yourself”.  No “figure it out”.  It doesn’t matter if you are a Western States Top 15 finisher (Dom) or if you are #teamcaboose everyone is welcomed.

As time went by I started to see familiar faces and started to make some friends.  Trail runners by very nature are friendly (most of the time), but these guys welcomed me in like family.  I had probably one of of my best running days on the trail, probably ever, with that new family.   I started to look forward to those runs.

IMG_4017My very last night in town I spent having dinner with #teamcaboose.  I couldn’t have even imagined a more perfect way to cap off my time in Utah.  We sat on her deck with a glass of wine, talking, and watched the sunset. I sighed a happy sigh.  Family indeed.

Thank you to all the individual Wranglers who were there along the way.  Thank you to Park City Running Company for creating the Sunday runs (and for feeding us afterwards).  Thank you to everyone who ever led a run or waited at an intersection to point the right way.  Thank you to MountainGoat for being your awesome self and being one of the first people who introduced yourself to me.  Last, but most certainly not least, thank you to #teamcaboose.  You are an inspiration to me in more ways than I can express.

If you all ever decide to visit or race in the DC region please know that you are welcome at my home any time.

Kings Peak: The summit that wasn’t

For weeks I had been waiting excitedly for WindChime to join me in Utah.  She was coming out to do Kings Peak with me.  Not only is it the highest point in the Uintas, but it’s also the highest point in Summit County AND in Utah a trifecta.  For a geographic point nerd like myself that’s always an incentive.

We headed up there after work on Thursday and stopped at the USFS Ranger Station on our way out and the Ranger said, “Be off the summit no later than 1300.”  Got it.  We thought we had a good plan going in: set alarm at 0400, on trail no later than 0600, summit by 1200, and then back to camp.  Our plan included a mixture of running and hiking.  In my life things rarely go according to plan and this was no exception.

0400 alarm, indeed, went off.  We lay in the tent trying to figure out what we were going to wear as the weather decided to throw us our first hiccup.  It was cold now, we knew it was going to get hot, but when/if the rain moved in we were going to get cold.  Ah, Mother Nature she is such a fickle Queen.

We actually were on the trail by 0545 which was great, except the trail very quickly turned to mud that was as slick as a bar of soap in the shower.  So much for any thoughts of running.   We were pushing a really fast pace considering the distance that we had to cover taking few breaks.

As we went up and over Gunsight Pass we got excited thinking that we were almost there.  Then we dropped and dropped and dropped.  What the heck??  We checked the map twice.  Nope, we were on the right trail.  We crossed a snow patch and started heading up towards Anderson Pass.  The sky was turning an ominous shade.  We still had another 3-3.5 miles to the summit and we were going to start getting into the gnarly climbing.   We looked at each other and both said, “Well, what do you want to do?”

Neither one of us wanted to quit, but collectively we had enough miles (easily >10k) under our belts to recognize the danger.  Not only were we already above treeline, but we were going to be heading up and not a gentle up either.  We calculated that with the 3-3.5 miles left we’d most likely be on the summit by 1230 at the earliest.  That was cutting it a little too close.  Then not only would we have to beeline down the mountain, but we would have to go up and over Gunsight Pass again.  Oof.  With a heavy heart we made the decision to turn around.

As we crossed the snow field again we ran into a teenager and a chaperone who had decided not to make the summit.    The teenager looked rough.  We stopped and very quickly assessed his electrolytes were way out of whack.  WindChime gave him both Nuun and Tailwind in his bladder and I asked the chaperone if he had anything salty to eat.  There wasn’t much more we could do for them except hope that they made it to their campsite at Dollar Lake.

We started to pick our way back up Gunsight Pass when suddenly rocks started raining down from the pass itself.  Standing on top was a whole group of teenage boys who were chucking rocks down.  Every time a rock came careening over the edge Baby Trail Dog wanted to chase it.  “HEY! STOP THROWING ROCKS!!!”  we shouted up.  The other boys pointed at the offending boy, “Yeah, Carson, stop throwing rocks.”  When we crested the pass there was a group of about 10 boys with 4 adults sitting on the pass.  WindChime and I both highly recommended that they not summit.  We relayed what the ranger had said and the distance they have left to go. The adults in the group looked at us with disdain.  I mean, how could it be possible that two girls could actually know what they were talking about.   We shrugged and moved forward.  What they did was up to them.

Further down the valley trail we crossed paths with two guys that we had seen leaving the night before.  They had a wild dog that was not on leash.  We were surprised to see them heading up the valley so late in the day since they had hiked in the night before.  We passed along the same information that we had passed to the group on Gunsight.  The only difference was these guys had 3 additional miles before they even got to Gunsight. They brushed us off.  OK……

Back down the valley we went, through the muck, and over the river.  We debated back and forth.  Was that the right call?  Could we have made it?  Behind us the sky got darker and darker.  We caught up to group of three Rangers also heading for the trailhead.  When we exchanged our story with them and our decision not to summit they looked relieved.  “Good decision,” they said.  Well that answers that.

With approximately 5 miles left to the trailhead we began to hear the thunder.  We picked up our pace.  At least at this point we were semi-covered by trees.  The closer we got to camp the closer the storm got.  We decided to grab what food we could out of the cooler and dove into the tent just as the skies opened up.

Fourteen hours of sleep later we got up and made breakfast.  Just as we were packing up our campsite we saw the father/son duo that we had seen packing in on Thursday night come back to their truck.  We walked over to them.

“Did you summit?” Windchime inquired.

“Yeah, but boy were we glad we made it off the mountain. We thought about you guys as we were coming down.  Did you guys make it up?”

“No, we made it just shy of Anderson pass, but saw the storm and made the call not to go as we saw the storm rolling in.”

“Good choice!  There were some guys up on the summit when the storm rolled in and they got the crap scared out of them.”

She and I exchanged sideways smirks.  Huh, imagine that.

Even without summiting  we logged over 20 miles and we saw some gorgeous back country.  WindChime had two necklaces made one for her and one for me.  Mine has the latitude and her has the longitude of the peak.  While we may not have made it to the summit, we had an amazing time with tons of memories.


The perfect day: Unitas Lake Running

“I’m a tourist in my own state!” -MountainGoat

Some days everything just comes together. You wake up in the morning and make a snap decision to head to the mountains to run.  You reach out to friends at the last minute and they are remarkably free.  You get there and the weather and the trail are just perfect.  Today, was one of those days.

I’ve been incredibly lucky while I’ve been out here.  I’ve gotten to meet some really amazing, awesome, badass trail running women. They’ve welcomed me into their fold and have been incredibly warm.  I texted two of them this morning last minute and asked if they were interested in heading to the mountains to escape the heat.  It didn’t take much arm twisting, merely promises of a relatively flat trail and a milkshake, and MountainGoat was game.  After she had agreed she asked if it was ok if she brought a friend with her.  Hey, the more the merrier!

Neither MountainGoat nor Ibex had ever been up to this part of the Uintas so I was playing tour guide, which is funny if you think about it.  MountainGoat grew up here, but has only recently gotten into trail running.  I’ve been spending a lot of time for both work and pleasure up in these mountains and they have become comforting to me.  

The trail that I had laid out was simple enough an out and back to Lake Seymour (or Meadow Lake depending on what map you were looking at) with only 1700 feet of elevation gain for the whole trip. One tiny caveat we were starting at over 9000′ and at one point in the course we were over 10k’.  We headed down the trail and it was SUPER runnable probably one of the most runnable trails I’ve been on in the Uintas.  MountainGoat and Ibex scampered off in front of me with Charlotte and I representing #teamcaboose for the day.  (Oh and in case you were wondering what that notch is I’ll get to that…)

IMG_3757The miles clicked by and we saw lake after lake after lake. The further away from the trailhead we got the fewer people we saw.  Up through Notch Mountain and over to the other side. The views were just amazing and the lakes just kept coming.

We arrived at Seymour Lake/Meadow Lake where we saw a wok hanging in a tree to which I said, “There is the endangered Wok tree, it’s the last of it’s kind.” Which of course elicited groans all the way around.  Hey I thought it was funny.  The mosquitos were thick so we didn’t stay too long.  I filtered some water out of the lake, filled my bladder, and we were off.

On our way back some of the campers had started a fire and, of course, the smoked followed me.  I wound up having to stop to dig for my inhaler, which turns out was in an accessible pocket all along.  Oops.  MountainGoat and Ibex were super sweet that they would occasionally stop and wait for Charlotte and I to catch up.  Where I would then apologize for being slow.  They were both super sweet about it.  Maybe some day I will be a fast kid….

IMG_3790As we came around the bend for the last lake they were waiting for us and I kidded in the typical whiny kid voice, “Mom….I wanna go swimming….” MountainGoat looked at me and said, “I’m game!”  We peeled off the trail and made a beeline for the shoreline.  Stripping our shoes and socks we waded into the ice cold water and it felt amazing.  (Hence the notch in the elevation profile.) By the time we got out to do the last mile to the trailhead none of us had any feeling in our legs!  Makes for some interesting running.

Today was one of those days that I will always remember.  I like days like today.  I hold on to days like today when I’m in dark places for days like today will always bring a smile to my heart.