I think, therefore I... (fill in the blank). Today I will fill in with "trip." Going on a trip can be an exciting adventure to a place far away or around the corner close to your back yard. A trip can be months, weeks or maybe a few short hours. Trips can take your body places you dream about while letting your mind carry you to a place away from the frustrations of daily work and stress. Family trips can be full of fun and frustration like our recent trip to Arches National Park. Another trip can be like good friend currently in Africa on a humanitarian medical trip with his family. How lucky is he to spend time helping others and allowing his kids to learn a cultural life changing experience. However, today I will focus not on the outside pleasures of the world but the joys found close to home in my back yard.
The alarm was set for 5:30 on a crisp Saturday morning. My wife was getting up early for the annual Little Red Riding Hood all women bike ride around the rolling country roads of Cache Valley. I turned over for a few more minutes of sleep before crawling out of bed in preparation for a local trip to the stunningly steep Dry Canyon trail. My wife and I finished our preparations for our morning activities together in the kitchen. I was busy mixing some Hammer Perpetuem to keep me fulled for a few hours and Shelly was filling her water bottle with the same and another with her favorite hydrating concoction, Camelbak Elixir. We ate a light breakfast and said our goodbyes. Shelly left with her road bike as I left with my trail running shoes.
I set out for a mile warm up run on the flat base of Logan Peak rising 5,000 feet above my home. I turned right to start the very steep accent up the canyon. My goal was not to summit today but to change from the city streets I run to the trials and nature I love. The previous days rain had left the earth soft and damp. The trail was loose gravel and soft dirt. "Wow (breath)... "this" (breath)... "is" (breath).... "steep" (breath)... I hiked this trail many times but today I was trying to maintain a quicker pace however my jog turned into a brisk walk and spurts of a slow jog. Soon I was to the snow line in the canyon. I stopped to look down into the valley with the morning clouds below me and the rising sun warming the valley floor. I listened to the birds and the light breeze moving the pine trees. The smell of crisp pine, melting snow and fresh mountain air filled my expanded lungs as thoughts of a beautiful world ran through my mind. "How lucky am I?" This was turning into a splendid June morning trip.
I continued up the trail stepping aside for the only other human I would see on the trail. He was on his way down the trail as we exchanged greetings. He looked fast, I didn't. I continued on a now snow covered trail following fresh tracks and several older tracks. Soon I was 4 miles up the trial at the junction where the trail splits. To the south, snow covered the trail so I headed north on the southwestern facing slope wet from melting snow but cleared from the winter's blanket. I filled a water bottle at a brisk running spring. The water was cool and clear. It tasted so good. Now at my turn around point close to 9,000 feet I gazed at the valley floor thinking about my wife riding her bike and enjoying her Saturday trip.
Like most trips there is a time to return home. Running down the trail is easier on my lungs but my legs quickly felt the fatigue of the climb up. Snow always brings a smile to my face and soon I forget about the hard effort of the ascent and the pain in my legs. My feet were wet and cold as I slid on the firm snow. I made a quick detour following the wrong set of tracks but realized my mistake before bushwhacking back to the main trial. Soon after I left the snowy trail I stopped to empty my shoes with a few little rocks and tighten my laces. I could feel my feet slipping and didn't want to return with blistered feet. I was back running on the soft trail again, picking up speed and lost in tranquility with the sounds on my iPod. I recalled when I was in neighboring Logan Canyon trail running. Everything was jake running along the ragging river before I landed splat on my face, chest, and legs. This was a trip created from a small rock catching the toe of my shoe and sending me falling to the earth with a splat. A real trip.
No sooner then I was recalling this fond memory and laughing about it I caught the toe of my right shoe on the side hill. A trip. Not a trip to Africa, no kids in the car yelling at each other and nothing like a trip around the valley on a bike. One step and I'm alright. Second step and I'm going to pull this off. Third step and I'm getting worried. Forth step and I am going down. The fifth step sent me to the side hill's soft dirt. I almost pulled it out. I thought about a previous trip, therefore I tripped.
Years of skiing have taught me one thing about falling. Tuck and roll. Don't try to stop the falling nature of force. As I went down with my hands out and my shoulder tucked in I absorbed the fall high up on a mountain trail. After a quick survey of myself I realized despite a water bottle being ejected from my belt, dirt on my Smith sunglasses, my earphones pulled from my ear, and mud from my ankle to my face I was alright. No injury today. I stood up making sure no other human was laughing at the cascading crash. Realising I was by myself I replaced my Skullcandy earphones and started back on the trail home.
I felt great running into the culdesac where we live, a muddied ego but alright. Returning home after a "trip" one can always say there is no place like home. I think about good things in life; my family, cold fresh mountain spring water, and my ability to savor activities like skiing, biking and running. These are the things I love. Maybe, just maybe, I think, therefore I love.