As the autumn equinox is today, I want to squeeze in some summer details before I forget. . It was a strange summer…I was busy recuperating from whooping cough, so I didn’t feel awesome, but I still took several trips, did a bunch of running, went hiking almost every Sunday morning with Kendell, tried and failed to plan a trip to California with my boys. Ate a lot of watermelon, grilled quite a few burgers, totally ignored my yard. So here is my list of my 14 favorite action and adventure (ish) experiences this summer:
- My first trip to Colorado.
- Marathon training. When my doctor told me I had whooping cough and would be sick for at least three months, I said “but I’m training for a marathon” and he said, very gently, “I’m sorry, but you won’t be able to run a marathon.” But, you know how runners are, yes? Tell us we can’t do it and we’ll do it just to prove you wrong. My training was absolutely nowhere near enough miles; I didn’t do many of the mid-distance runs, and several of my long runs ended in me feeling awful, and my longest run was 18 miles, not 20. But that 18 miler? It was my favorite long run. I did it in a 1/3+2/3 division; I parked my car and ran 6 miles, stopped at the car for water, and then ran 12 more miles. The last miles were slower than the first ones, but I never felt awful. In fact, I felt that happy running feeling for all 18 miles. That one positive training run helped me conquer my marathon jitters; every time I started feeling a bit anxious during the race, I’d think about it and know I’d be OK.
- Chacos. On Memorial Day I stopped by a sale at one of our local sporting goods stores (Al’s), and they had both Chacos and Keen sandals on sale. I’d been looking for a summer shoe that would be supportive for my toe issues. I really, really wanted the Keen sandals, but they just didn’t work with my bunions. So I reluctantly bought the Chacos. I didn’t think I’d love them or wear them very often. Boy was I wrong! I have worn them literally ALL SUMMER. Which means I’ve only worn my inserts for running and hiking, and my toes have been OK. I have a beautiful Chaco tan line on my feet now. I love them!
- Girls’ weekend in southern Utah. My friend Jamie’s parents have a cabin in southern Utah, and she proposed that she and I and our friend Wendy have a weekend away. It ended up not being as long as I wanted (life makes everything complicated, doesn’t it?), but it was so lovely. The cabin is tucked into the woods, and the first night we got there it rained, so I fell asleep with the loft window open, listening to rain on a tin roof. We hiked in Bryce Canyon, on my favorite trail (the Fairyland Loop) and then…the next day we went to some rock shops! I fell in love with rock shops when I was in seventh grade and I got to be in an advanced geology class. We took tons of field trips, and we’d almost always stop at a rock shop on the way home. Our teacher would teach us some more random rock stuff and then we’d just look for awhile. But, alas, my husband is not so enamored of rock shops, so it’s been years since I’ve stopped at one. So I was delighted to discover that my friends also love rock shops. It was blissful! (I might’ve bought some stone jewelry…)
- The drive to San Francisco. The drive home from San Fran was a nightmare about which I do not like to speak. But the drive there was so much fun. Even though it took most of a day, it didn’t ever feel long, and the desert was greener than I expected, and we stopped at several interesting rest stops and scenic views along the way. We laughed and talked and listened to music. It was just…a perfect road-trip kind of day.
- Pine Hollow Overlook hike. This was one of our Sunday morning hikes. Kendell and I hiked a ton this summer (to make up for last summer, when he was still recovering from heart surgery and was starting to have some pretty intense knee pain and so we didn’t hike much), but this one was my favorite. (I already wrote about it here.) When I am stressed I find myself thinking about that hike, the wild beauty of the meadows overlooking the craggy mountains, the wildflowers, the hawk that circled high overhead when we were at the peak. Last week, Kendell and Nathan went to hike it, and I literally cried when they left, because I want to see it in its autumn colors, too. And isn’t it crazy that I’ve lived here my whole life and there are still so many trails I haven’t hiked?
- Buffalo Peak Hike with Nathan. Nathan decided he wanted to join Kendell and me, so one August Sunday morning, we hiked Buffalo Peak together. Kendell and I had hiked this trail earlier in the summer, when the wildflowers were perfect. This time with Nathan, the flowers were mostly gone, but it was so much fun to hike with him. I decided his trail name is definitely Legolas, because those long legs make him move so quickly and gracefully! This gave us a chance to talk together about some of his recent experiences. And to laugh. And to admire the mountains. It was a beautiful experience, one I am even more grateful to have now, since I’m injured and can’t hike at all.
- The San Francisco Marathon. Despite my doctor’s dire warning, I did run the marathon. I even accomplished the two goals I set for myself: finish, and finish before the sweep trucks. (I finished in 5 hours 47 minutes, which is 13 minutes in front of the sweeps!) I learned so much about myself from this race, both during the training and the race itself. I think one thing that will stick with me is how doing difficult things helps prepare you for other difficult things. And how being patient and kind with your body when it is experiencing weakness requires a sort of strength of character I need to continue to develop. Also how delicious a Frappuccino can taste after 26.2 miles!
- A second trip to Colorado. Isn’t that strange…I haven’t been to Colorado ever in my life, and then I went twice in a summer? The second trip was because Kendell had to go to some work training, so I decided to come out at the end of the week. I brought Kaleb with me, and he stayed with Haley. Which means I got to see Haley! We visited her at her work and when I saw her in a hospital setting, in her scrubs and her booties, I totally lost it. Like, ugly cry when I hugged her, because really…she’s grown up. Anyway. Another trip to Colorado meant another chance to run in Colorado! It was a little bit smoky, but not bad enough to stop me. This run confirmed what I had sort-of guessed during my first trip: Colorado seems designed to make it easy to be a runner. There are paved paths and flower-lined sidewalks everywhere!
- A weekend in Rocky Mountain National Park. During our weekend in Colorado, Kendell and I drove to the top of Mount Evans and hiked to the St. Mary glacier.
But we spent most of the time in Rocky Mountain National Park. This was our first time there and we loved it. We drove the entire length (and back) of Trail Ridge Road, stopping here and there for short hikes along the way. The next day, we hiked to Sky Pond and Miller Pond. This is the day my knee injury happened, but I feel like it was worth it. The mountains are both similar and entirely different to my little bit of the Rockies (the Wasatch front is the most western edge of the Rockies). I haven’t ever been to that high of elevation nor really understood how striking the alpine tundra is. I am still having dreams about these mountains and I want to go back.
- My favorite run this summer: down South Fork canyon. This spring I joined the local chapter of Moms Run This Town on Facebook. I was hoping to perhaps find a few running buddies, but I immediately felt like I didn’t really fit in. Most of them are from the Lehi/Highland/Cedar Hills/Alpine areas, so they seem both younger than me and wealthier. (This triggers my insecurities, deeply.) Plus, all the runs they scheduled were on the north side of the valley. So I hadn’t really tried running with them, until someone posted about wanting to run down South Fork canyon and then to the bottom of Provo Canyon. I didn’t need that many miles that day, and I needed to work on both uphill and downhill, so I went knowing I would just run down South Fork with them, and then turn around. But I was excited to at least try to make some new running friends.
It didn’t really work out that way. At the start of the run, I stood still for a bit to start my watch and my Strava app, and when I looked up from this I realized they’d already started running. They were faster than me (whooping cough makes you so slow) so I never caught up. This really bugged me, as on the group messages they are ALWAYS writing about how Provo Canyon seems like a scary place to run and they would never run there alone…but they left me to run alone without a second backward glance.
Which is a weird way to start writing about my favorite run. But the point is that the group got me out and running early in the morning, in a spot I haven’t run in for awhile. In fact, as I was running down the canyon I remembered that my very first long race started in this canyon, a ten-mile run in 2003, and I think that’s the last time I’ve run there. It was so beautiful that morning! Right in the middle of July but the elevation was high enough that it was literally chilly when I started—goosebump-raising chilliness. The flowers were blooming and the light was perfect. I loved the downhill and I loved the uphill as well, and I finished with just enough energy left to push myself at the end. Starting the way I did reminded me that I will likely always be a solitary runner, because really: I was so happy that morning on my own in the canyon.
- Hike to Bells Canyon waterfall with my friend Lucy. Lucy and I became friends because of blogging, but she was also Becky’s friend through other people. So maybe I would’ve been friends with her even without blogging. She and I have very different opinions about the church and our life philosophies, but we get along so well and have the best discussions. When she was visiting this June, we went on a hike together and it was fantastic. I had never hiked to this waterfall, and I was still pretty iffy with my lungs; it was a steep hike, and while I didn’t tell her this, I struggled to hike the steepness and to talk at the same time. But we made it to the fall and back again, talking the whole time. We stopped in a meadow on the way down for a selfie and disturbed a rattlesnake; it rattled its rattle at us and we jumped up on a rock to get away from it! Unlike running, hiking is something I usually do with someone else, and it was great to be with an old friend on a beautiful trail. (She thought I was insane to be excited about the rattlesnake, but as it’s supposed to be there, I was, yes, really excited to see a rattlesnake.)
- Hiking in Big Basin State Park. I had so many people tell me that when we were in San Francisco we should go to Muir Woods. But every time I read about it, I just didn’t want to. A “nature” experience with that many people just isn’t my thing. (I’m sure if I could have Muir Woods mostly to myself I’d love it.) But you can’t go to northern California without seeing redwoods, right? So instead we hiked the Berry Falls loop in Big Basin. The drive there was beautiful. The hike was beautiful. The parking lot was beautiful! I loved it, Kendell loved it, and while yes, we’d still like to see Muir Woods one day…this hike was perfect for us. I think we saw about 10 other people on the trail (and it was a 10+ mile loop, including me taking a wrong turn), so the solitude and the trees and the running water? Amazing.
- Miscellaneous summer 2018 memories: Running with Becky on the Jordan River trail before we took the boys to the trampoline park. Those wildfires everywhere and how unbearably smoky it was, and how sad it made me to see our mountains burning. A family party in July that almost everyone came to, even the family that lives in Texas now. Jake moved back home. Haley moved to Fort Collins. Nathan got back together with his girlfriend and then they broke up again (while we were in San Francisco). Kaleb fell in love with fish (fish as pets, not food) over the summer. A totally unremarkable 4th of July (like, really, I don’t even know what we did) that made me realize I need to actively create some new traditions for our family. Several Saturdays spent looking at different model homes before we decided that nowhere right now is the right place for us to move. Suzette got to meet Elliott and I got to have breakfast with him while he was visiting Utah.
I confess: I've been feeling pretty sorry for myself with my current injury. I want to be OUT THERE experiencing the world! But writing this blog post helped me to remember that I did a lot of cool stuff this summer, and one day I'll be out there again. In cute clothes!
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