Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hike up Flattop, Hallett, Otis, and Taylor

I hiked this weekend with a meetup group in Rocky Mountain N.P. I can't remember when I realized it was an incredible hike, whether it was while hiking into the clouds or sliding down a glacier on my butt or jumping into a frigid glacial lake. The meetup members were great hiking partners. We stuck together as a group, and made decisions together. Our decision process went like this:
Hike one more peak?
It's getting late. Hike one more peak?
Hell yeah!
The highlight of climbing up Flattop, Hallett, Otis, and Taylor Mountain was actually getting down. Not to escape Altitude sickness, but because the fastest way down was sliding down Andrews Glacier on my butt. The sign atop the glacier says to use extreme caution when traveling down because of deep crevasses. The glacier went from steep to steeper, and peaked in the middle with boulders and crevasses lining the slick sides. What I thought was ice at the bottom was actually slush, thankfully. I used a garbage bag to slide on. My butt is still sore from all the bumps. At the bottom was a beautiful tarn that ached to be swam in. There's nothing so invigorating as all your body heat being sucked into a pristine body of water. The taste of the water reminded me of sucking on ice cubes, yet with more grit.
On the 5 mile hike back, just when we thought the adventure was over, we missed the last park shuttle back to our car. We were stranded 4 road miles from the car. Luckily, a nice couple from Kentucky stopped for us and gave us a ride in their rental car - the trip leader, Adam, and I crammed into the hatchback trunk.

Someday soon, I'll hike my first 14'er. Not this hike.

Also, I'm running the Blue Sky Trail Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 4. Basically, I'm trying to jump start my running routine again after an exhausting start in my first year teaching Fourth Grade.

Hike totals:

15 mile trip.
4 Peaks.
Flattop Mountain: 12,361'
Hallett Peak: 12,713'
Otis Peak: 12,486'
Taylor Peak: 13,158'

Friday, February 12, 2016

Winter Break

Hi World,

As I journey through the forest, across the icy gurgling streams, I notice there's so many more rocks than usual to trip over. So much crusty ground. Each freeze and thaw pushes rocks up through the earth, and the ground bursts anew. The cycles of life don't stop over the winter, but they sure do slow down. Have you ever thought of the slow yet powerful changes in the rocks, the plants, the trees -- they will outlast most human lives. Maybe they carry more wisdom about the art of slow living and strength. Have you asked yourself, "What impact on the world will I have in my life? Is there something I can do every day that, over my entire life, will accumulate into a legacy?"

Worries come to mind on my rare runs these days. Will I be a proficient teacher some day? Will I be satisfied to teach indoors all the time? Do I always have to agree with my boss? Will I ever be able to find and afford love during grad school? I quicken my pace, trying to outrun my worries.

Today we celebrated Valentine's Day in third grade. A student, fresh from emigrating from Egypt, gave me a note. "You're the best student teacher in this school." The note and then the hug, that's the love that will inspire my next teaching moments.

No races in the future yet. I'm still recovering from runner's knee.

Happy trails,

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Injury and Recovery

Hi world,

My routines for the past year and a half have adhered to my graduate school's academic calendar. In rare times, I get released from this schedule and get to align with the changes of the day. The sunrise, high noon, and sunset. In these times, I get to experience what nature feels like, hot and cold, wet and dry, windy and calm, and always fresh. These escapes, you might have guessed, are my camping experiences. But they are also my extended running experiences and my hikes. I like to be in the spaces that we don't control as humans, spaces allowed to grow and be wild.
Last week, my parents and I flew to Arizona to tour around. We rented an RV in Phoenix and visited Sedona and the Superstition Mountains. I didn't know the cacti were as huge as trees!

Injury: I've been dealing with knee pain since last Spring. I've gone to a doctor, 2 physical therapists, and a chiropractor. I've gotten and done X-rays, pain meds, adjustments, strengthening exercises, yoga, expensive orthotics, and more. I've gone through a transformation from looking for the panacea to realizing I need to change my lifestyle. Gone are the 12 years where I usually went for a run without stretching. Now, my daily routines are yoga for my hips and hamstrings, strengthening exercises, and wearing orthotics all day. It's about maintaining good posture, and listening to your body.
Another big change I've made is going vegetarian. I've met other runners that are vegetarian, vegan, or keto (and eating humanely raised meat jerky) and it's changed my ideas about what I want to put in my body and what effect that has on the environment. I totally recommend everyone to see the documentary, Food Inc., and read the popular book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. They will open up your world to the inhuman ways our country treats animals and the environment on factory farms, feedlots, and in industrial agriculture. I rarely eat meat now, and sometimes eat fish. And I stay away from gluten. It clogs my system. Like I said, listen to your body. I eat a lot of rice and beans, veggies, and other grains and pulses. I'm hungrier when I can't figure out what to eat, but I know I have a lesser carbon footprint, and more compassion for animals' lives. I'll eat an animal if I know it was raised humanely. Hell, I love the taste of meat and eggs and cheese, yet I avoid the cheap stuff and can't afford the humanely raised products. I'm more like a compassionate omnivore now.