Adjusting Our Altitude

Continuing on with our travels, we left beautiful Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, with bubble water in hand (the first and most important part of driving in a car) Red Vines (second crucial piece of supply) and a various smorgasbord of road snacks appropriately divide between salty and sweet and headed to southern Idaho to meet up with our sweet girl and make our way to the Sawtooth Mountains with only our backpacks for a couple of days.

Our first stop was to gather a few items for dinners/breakfast/snacks. Oh for the love of freeze-dried meals! I always wonder what happens when you’re backpacking and stop to grab the MSR stove to cook a bag of dried food and it tastes like HEAVEN! It’s a phenomenon all of it’s own. I mean, in the real world of day to day meals, eating contents in a foil bag, boiled in water, would definitely not be the most palatable. But the goodness that is contained in those lamina bags after a day of hiking is some of the most delicious cuisine on the planet. It’s like opening up a box in December and a Christmas puppy emerges. Outrageously amazing! I cannot tell you how many times on a backpacking trip I will say “OMG this is literally the BEST veggie Pad Thai I have EVER tasted” as I’m standing and shoveling it into my mouth with my spork. Ok we’ve been to Thailand so this is a complete lie in the real world, but not after a day of backpacking.

The Sawtooths were mesmerizing. The jagged cliffs shot straight up to the sky and I just soaked in the beauty. We had such a great hike in. It was hot and dry and we laughed all day. Mainly at our daughter’s expense, who didn’t pack entirely “light” for the trip. In her defense it can take a fair amount of time to curate your perfect backpacking set up. G and I have ours down, and have for years, but have also done A LOT of backpacking. Everything is tiny and ultra lightweight. We can go WEEKS carrying everything we need and coming in at 25lbs. Our sweet daughter…..not so much.

I was really hoping for some bear sightings along the hike in, but didn’t see a single one. We were hiking in mid-morning so we were probably a little late for that. When we got to our primitive little campsite there were bear signs all over. We didn’t have our bear vault so I fashioned a little pulley system in a tree for our food and smelly items. Our daughter told us in all the trips she has taken out in the Sawtooths, she always kept her food in her tent. My mouth dropped open. Oye! I had to be a “Mom” and fill her in on Backpacking 101. Man I love that kid.

After leaving the Sawtooths we took off for Moab. In all of the time living in the West (our entire lives) G and I have never been to Moab. Why? We had no idea, but WOW! We were both so blown away by this amazing landscape. The twisting rocks, rose up to meet the daily sunshine wrapped in the bluest sky. The baked-in terra-cotta and garnet colors of the archways and cliffs butted up to incredible alpine peaks, far surpassed anything we had imagined. Our first day there we made a hike into a waterfall that a local told us about. Tucked back into a mineral rich, crimson valley, this place was a gorgeous oasis. The deep pool making the perfect plunge for locals.

Great dive!!

That night we headed with beers in hand to the heights of Dead Horse Point. It’s like the Grand Canyon of Utah. We loved being there for sunset and watching as the landscape below us changed colors and shadows danced. The sun set and we marveled at how for a good 50 minutes after it went down, there was still a glowing ember in the sky. It was the longest sunset we’ve ever witnessed. Truly God’s masterpiece!

The next day we woke early to make the hike to Delicate Arch for sunrise. Driving into our parking site we couldn’t see what was waiting for us after the sun rose. We hiked in the quiet, cool air of the desert in the faintest of light, making our way to the arch just as the sun rose to wake the day. We sat in amazement. The browns, reds, yellows and oranges came to life on this arch that is balancing in the middle of a sandstone valley. We had never seen anything like it. Why we hadn’t visited Moab before this, was beyond us and we fell in LOVE. We are already planning a trip. Taking mountain bikes to hit some of the incredible slick-rock trails and stay in one of the Glamp-ing yurts.

We spent the rest of the day exploring Arches. We did a great trail run in Devils Garden visiting Landscape Arch, Navajo, Partition and Double O arches. We felt like kids climbing all over these sandstone walls that you magically stick to. We can’t wait to go back.

Throughout this entire trip we just kept thinking how grateful we are. Grateful that during a pandemic, we can still find tons of adventure, new opportunities and travel to new places. Grateful for nature and our complete love of the mountains and water. Grateful that we had three weeks to see our family and friends and explore some of our own country. Grateful for our health and the ability to backpack the mountains and run in the desert. Grateful for a God that gave us such an incredible and diverse landscape to play in and painted some unimaginable sunrises and sunsets just for us. Grateful for pine. The rugged trails. The dirt. For peaks & summits. Grateful that we took the time to go wild for a while. We love to travel unscripted and without a schedule. No plans, other than where the wind blows us.

We returned back to Denver and spent some time in the mountains there. Talking about which fourteener we’d like to take on next and the possibility of backpacking the Colorado Trail again. We knew our trip was coming to an end and that our time in the mountains was closing. We allowed the deep peacefulness and tranquility to filter through us. We welcomed in ourselves, the ability to feel small and humble and gain some new perspective on our future. We prayed a lot and were and still are, expectant for answers.

For us being in the mountains is almost too much sometimes. It’s a beautiful spoonful of wonderment, that never gets old and never eases or let’s up. Almost as if our heart is trying but unable to gather it all up. We look and stare again and again, but it’s never enough. I can’t explain it any better that to say that it just gives us a deep ache inside. It’s like being with family……needing one more day. It’s why I cry every time I see them and every time we leave.

We allowed time to stand still, gave way for our mind to imprint the imagines, take in the smells, listen to nature and taste the clean air until we meet again. Our hearts expand, gather up as much as possible and hold on.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” ~ John Muir

Wild Wild West

Well howdy there. G and I have been out traveling, doing what we called our Wild West Tour.

With Corona virus still raging through the country, closing international borders, we thought we would use our time to do some in-country travel. We’ve missed the West, our family and our kids. Since the Hood to Coast Relay was ALSO cancelled, we thought we’d head to the sunset side of the country a little earlier than the late August trip we had planned.

We started off making our first stop in Denver, CO. We will come back around to this at a later date. Denver was also our last stop before returning East, because honestly, we just can’t get enough of that Rocky Mountain area. Both G and I have always had a “thing” with the area, so it’s always fun when we can have some extended time there.

Good Morning Tetons
Day before I finish GVRAT

We wandered our way through the Tetons in Wyoming and Yellowstone in Montana after leaving Colorado. Making note that the Teton glaciers will definitely be in the running for our next long backpacking trip.

Can’t be in Coeur d’Alene and not hike Mineral

Second on our list was Big Sky, Montana. We love it! It’s always been a favorite ski area with our family and when we lived in Minneapolis, it was a trip we took often to get some nice, steep, slopes loaded with fresh pow! It’s just stunning all times of the year. I was working through my mileage to finish off the GVRAT 1000k (and now continuing back across, because I’m a glutton for punishment a lover of running) I chose to finish my 1000k on our last day in Big Sky. Waking up on the mountain, with Lone Peak, still with it’s snowy patches, out our window, just stoked our mountain running love affair. The air was crisp, clear and filled with the scent of evergreen forest. The trails were buffed and soft with pine needles and it made those last few miles an absolutely perfect finishline.

The Finish Line of 1000k
Searching for breath in the thinner air.

We soaked in the mountain vibes, sat outside drinking fabulous Montana beer and just really took in the enormity of those western ranges.

It’s a funny thing, our love of the mountains. I remember when we lived in MN and would take our ski trips to Montana, the anguish my soul felt when we would leave. I’d often be sobbing and it would take the ache days to go away, once we returned to the Mid West. It’s like something in the fabric of our lives was off. Our DNA was made to be steep and it’s why a lot of our trips have always been through hiking and climbing big mountains. With G growing up in the mountains of Northern Idaho and me in Northern California, it is just wound into our pneuma. So it was no surprise when I got that first glimpse of the Rockies and started to cry. Actually I take that back, it WAS a surprise, because since being in NC, we have spent A LOT of time in the mountains. Almost every weekend, hiking, climbing and running and have loved every single second of it. But something inside me broke and I was left longing.

Our time in Denver and Big Sky went by too quickly. We drank in the mountain air, literally. I remember running and saying to G “I can actually draw in huge, full, gulps of air” which if you’re living in the south right now, you have no idea what I mean…. or you do, and are looking forward to fall/winter running when the air isn’t thick and oppressive and slapping you in the face when you step outside. I LOVE humidity, but not when I’m running. I think in a perfect world it would be humid for morning dog walking, firefly watching and porch-sitting and crisp and arid at the perfect time for my daily runs. But for now, I’ll have to deal with the daily beat-down of humid, hot air that constantly assaults me while I run.

Distance like a Grizzly and wash like a Raccoon

When we got to Idaho and Coeur d’Alene it was full-steam-ahead with a steady stream of visits with family and friends. It’s hard living somewhere so long, and coming back as a visitor. You know your time is limited and we always try to stretch it out anyway we can, but it’s never enough. Now looking back, we wish we would’ve stayed longer, since we weren’t really on any schedule. We had fun acting like tourists in a town that is so close to our hearts. Running with our kids at English Point, hiking Tubbs, Mineral Ridge and Lost Man Trail all made it to the top of our list. We had fun watching our Goldie-girl realize she was back where she had learned and trained to run trails with us. Her old stomping grounds.

We were able to see friends who now live in AZ that were back in ID visiting their kids. God had impeccable timing. We were so grateful.

I know one thing; solid friends are solid friends and no matter the distance we are separated by now, when we walk into their homes, sit in their back yards having dinner, and picking up right where we left off on our last visit home, it’s magical! Unchanged and constant in my life, they are my sisters and are such gifts to me.

The time we had with our own kids flew by. We always want one more day. Always. I think that’s the way it is for parents. We raise such independent kids, who grow, and fly off and we are so proud, honored and satisfied with the jobs we did raising them and of their accomplishments and then the go and be adults, and you’re left with with the want of “one more day.” G and I feel fortunate to be able to see our kids often, even on the other side of the country. But no matter the time, the yearning of one more day is always present.

I think Covid has us all revisiting what’s important. G and I have really been talking about this a lot. This pandemic, as terrible as it has been, has also given us all the time to stop and redefine some things. To bring into focus what’s most important. To see things differently and with more clarity. To appreciate, recognize and discover what is paramount for us. It’s brought things that may have been in the back of our minds to the forefront and has made them more acute and pivotal. It’s has us both listening so raptly to that Still, Small, Voice. Waiting patiently, and watchfully. It has turned our prayer life upside down and has driven it to a whole new depth. It has made us both keenly and profoundly aware of some goals and dreams that may have slipped to the back of the lineup, that seem to have new breath being inflated into them. We recently had sweet friends that after years and years living out of the country, decide to come back, saying Covid and a recent birthday really put some things into perspective with a new angle and outlook. Has it had this effect on you? Has it brought around a new vibrancy and newness to chapters you’ve maybe left half read? Has it spurred some new passions that maybe you’ve shelved for a later time? Take the book down off of the shelf, dust off the cobwebs and crack its weary spine open. What do you see?

I think it’s in most of our natures to grow. I also think for some, the thought of growth or change can be paralyzing. I think Covid has either nudged or downright pushed some entirely out of their comfort zone.

For G and I we use our time in the mountains for prayer, reflection and to bust ourselves out of stagnation. We are most inspired on long hiking trips. We have some of our best conversations either hiking or sitting in the ocean on our surfboards. Maybe it’s the thin air and altitude, but more likely it’s the place that’s the most quiet where we hear the voice of God. We are both pretty content people, but are both constantly seeking to evolve. We have been gifted in knowing when and when not to make a move unless we both feel a prompting. Things tend to be disastrous when we put our own plans before God’s plans for us, but we ALWAYS see how even in the confusion and jumbled disarray we can sometimes step into, God works things out for the best. It’s such a comfort to us, having that faith.

Beautiful Coeur d’Alene
This was her back yard for the first three years of life. Happy Doggo

The mountains give us a great escape from the noise and chaos. They are simple. Their scents and sounds, Fauna and Flora provide us soul-blanketing relief. They make us feel small and for me, like a young child.

Their balm was so welcome on this trip.

​Rest Up Sweet Child

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Mid-year check-in because obviously, I don’t know how to keep up on blog posts. It’s not that I don’t care, or that I don’t want to write or have content, it’s more the act of sitting still and jotting things down. I’m still working on my Patagonia posts. (I say with a spirited eye-roll) Promise, they are coming. I promise!

It’s interesting how a turn of events can lead you right where you should be or NEED to be. My One Word for the year was RESTORATION. It’s not a word I would’ve chosen for myself. My One Word is something given to me every year when the new year rolls around. A gift. I’ve had a great year of restoration so far. So I thought.

Maybe going a million miles an hour isn’t quite “restorative” in the eyes of our Creator.

We’ve had another incredible year (half-year at this point, I suppose) of travel. Patagonia is at the forefront of course. Being able to backpack in one of the most beautiful, unrefined, mountainous parts of the world was unimaginable! As unyielding as it was, it still sparks fireworks in our minds and puts smiles on our faces when we get to share our adventure with others.

For us, that was what started this year of restoration. Being in the mountains has that impact on us like no other place. High altitude, hard work, relying solely on your own capabilities and surviving on what you’re carrying on your back for days and weeks is very soul-invigorating! It’s something that no one can understand until they’ve lived out the situation.
After we returned, we decided to train for some races. Half marathons are so fun! Although not my favorite distance, it’s a great challenge that doesn’t take up your whole life training. They easily fit into any schedule. The hubster decided he was going to start running (for real this time) and we set out training together for the Kentucky Derby Half. Needless to say, we ended up doing back-to-back-to-back halves in KY, NC, and SC, and he became a Half Fanatic! Secretly I’m working on him to become a Marathon Maniac…but… (laughs villainously) he is not seeing the light quite yet.

Fast forward to today. Restoration. Some FORCED REST is happening.
Last week after two weeks in California followed by a quickie 5-day trip to NYC I fell and hit my head. In actuality, I passed out and hit my head and didn’t remember it happening. I am so stubborn. Or passionate. Or determined. I assumed everything was fine when I woke up and had a big ‘ol unicorn horn on my noggin. After some discussion, we decided to go to the Dr who sent us to the ER. Surprisingly I think this was my first trip, which seems crazy for a family of adventure junkies! Oh…besided M’s stitches from a split head and A’s broken leg. Oops!
They sent me through the whole rigmarole. Checking for dehydration, blood tests, and a CT to be sure I was still as smart-alecky as ever.

Mission accomplished!

They gave me a great “headache cocktail” through an IV and had me rest, then sent me on my way with strict directions for (you guessed it) REST! Concussions require a “sling for your brain,” the Dr said.

Huh?

This has NOT been easy. The Dr gave me orders FIRST off, no screen time for three days: no phone, iPad, computer, Kindle, or TV. I missed the Kindle. Then I missed my friends, because moving away from the PNW, I still love my daily chats with my lovelies, which means being on the phone. The TV…eh… never a big deal in our house, It’s rarely used.
So basically I was told to lay down and do nothing.

Mission NOT accomplished! (I am sure you can see my furrowed brow and rebellious face a mile away)

HOW? I couldn’t. And I didn’t. I mean… I had an achey brain, and couldn’t see well and dizzy spells, and zero appetite,  but I just cannot lay in bed or on the couch and do… NOTHING. I couldn’t even read a regular book.

Forced restoration. IMG_7255

Resting….. I tried and was terrible at it. I worked at being the best-rester I could be (yes I know that’s not a word), but it’s HARD y’all. I am in the middle of a June run streak with 4000 other streakers right now and HOW could I stop that? I couldn’t, so I focused on what I could do. I thought about those streakers that are newbies. The ones who have not only never done a streak, but some have never run or walked a mile a day for any amount of time. Ever! I considered how they felt, with sore feet, joints, legs, bodies. Tired after the mile, but determined to make it through this month and I channeled their perseverance, their dedication to this streak and took off walking. It was hard for me. Did I want to run? Absolutely! Running is like breathing to me, and it’s something I need daily! But I couldn’t. I mean, honestly, I couldn’t run if I wanted to. I did what I could, which is precisely what I’ve said to other streakers. Not everyone is running a 6-minute mile. Do what you can do.

I decided instead of sitting around in misery, I needed to have a mind shift. I am always a silver-lining girl. I am always looking for the good in every situation. How could I turn this around? What lesson was I to learn? I decided that I would be thankful that I could walk, that I could still play with my pup, could food prep, could listen to good music, could spend some time sitting in the sunshine AND since I’m walking at night, it’s allowed me to see spectacular sunsets.

I needed to be grateful for the act of resting.

In the past when I have had circumstances beyond my control that has forced rest upon me, I’ve come back stronger. Our bodies are such incredible machines and so intricate! I’m hoping for this outcome because, in the craziness of brain fog and a concussion, I signed myself up for an Ultra Marathon. A 50k. I must’ve really bumped my head! Ha!

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In reality, it’s been something I’ve been considering for a while and decided, now is the time. I went back and forth about triathlon this year and can’t find the right fit for an Ironman or HIM, so I have put that on the back burner until next season to focus on running. Lots of running!

Ok, ultramarathoners, I need your words of wisdom and sage advice going into the next few months of training. What tips and tidbits do you have for this newbie? I AM super excited to hit 31-miles of trails this coming November!

Today, it’s day 10 and I’m still… resting and allowing my body to RESTORE itself. I’ve realized over the last couple of days, this is going to be a process. There is no rushing in concussion recovery. My unicorn horn is going down and is a lovely shade of yellow. Not a shade that looks great with my skin tone, unfortunately, and I have a gorgeous set of black raccoon eyes now, but I am continuing to follow Dr’s orders and allow myself some downtime.

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

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