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the 200th summit

Tomorrow morning I will wake up early. The vest will already be packed, the clothes laid out, and I will have given myself exactly 20 minutes from the time the alarm goes off to get out the door.

To celebrate the 200th summit of the year will be fun. It won’t be the hardest summit, nor the most crowded, nor the coldest nor the easiest nor the fastest nor the slowest. In nearly every way, it will be inconsequential. The thing that makes tomorrow important for me is that it serves as a reminder of what I’ve been able to do all year. The opportunities taken, the friendships built, the limits I pushed, the things I learned, the time trials and the ridge schwacks and the exploratory runs.

The last 200 summits chronicle a much larger chunk of life to me. “There are years that ask questions and years that answer”(Hurston.)

2014, and the many summits during it, asked me many questions. Why do I do this? Do I even like running? Who are my friends, how did these friendships form? Why do some friendships flicker while other friendships burn? Do I even like to run? Should a young mother do this? Why am I unable to say no to the mountains?

So I took a few moments to recollect, and pulled up at random one summit from each of the last 12 months. Here’s a glimpse:

January 12th, 2014: Lake Mountain with Scott

With quad-deep snow up top, and the wind howling and blasting gales of snow against us, we struggled to walk upright. Laughing and stopping to watch the other struggle, it looked as if we were on Everest! By the time we came back down, the wind had blown all the lower powder away, and we were left to tiptoe through several miles of solid ice back to the car.

[caption id="attachment_539" align="aligncenter" width="500"]200 wildcat I couldn't find ANY photos of Lake Mtn, so here's the end of Wildcat, PC Matt Williams :)[/caption]

 

February 5th, 2014: Ensign-Dude with Ben

Ben played hookey and decided to take an adventure with me. When we pulled up there was dry sidewalk at the trailhead. Having run across the valley a couple days prior, and things were “looking drier,” we opted to leave the snowshoes in the car.

Which was a terrible decision, and we spent the day with snow up to our thighs. Fortunately, though we were freezing and soaked, the miserable slog was enjoyable, peaceful, and fun.

4 hours of post-holing up 3700ft of vert later, we returned to the car… and went for burritos. Ditching work and eating at a restaurant in drenched clothes we held hands like high schoolers falling in love.

[caption id="attachment_540" align="aligncenter" width="720"]200.bendude Ben coming up Dude, happy for a break from post-holing[/caption]

 

March 26th, 2014 Wire

It was my birthday. I had just finished breakfast with a Facebook friend (who thankfully didn’t know it was my birthday!) and had a bit of time before a lunch in town with my sister. Still in a “no running” phase after a recent 100, I went for a quick hike up Wire. The rewards of the heavy hail and rain meant a silent summit, the stinging of ice on my frozen quads reminding me I was alive, another year, I was alive. So free, so happy, so alone.

[caption id="attachment_541" align="aligncenter" width="720"]200.wire Wire, PC Craig Lloyd[/caption]

 

April 9th, 2014 Parley’s Ridge with Matt

“You wore SHORTS?!” “I thought you were kidding about the Mom jean thing…”

One of the first of many long bushwhack days out with Matt. I worried a little, despite being good friends with Matt I hadn’t had much solo conversation with him. My shin was still bothering me from the 100. We couldn’t find parking, we couldn’t decide where to go. Soon shwackin’ gave way to laughter. We tweeted, took photos, crawled through the brush. Tried to dance atop the snow crust but more often sunk in. Barkley was fresh on our minds.

200.parleysridgecherri on parleys

May 10th, 2014 SLC Ridge Loop (Twins, TED, Dude Ridge) with Craig

There was a time crunch. Craig was celebrating mothers day that day, he wanted to get flowers for his wife and be home before she awoke. I remember being enthralled with the scent of flowers outside, wishing I could take them home with me. We ran through fields of them. We had packed frozen burritos, but it was cold and it rained, and they never really thawed. Conversations went from silly to serious, I reflected on emotional struggles that had plagued me since high school, the inability to fit in. 20 miles of therapy with a close friend.

[caption id="attachment_544" align="aligncenter" width="526"]200.slcloop Dude, rain. PC Craig Lloyd[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_545" align="aligncenter" width="500"]IMG_4118 Craig taking a breather from the brush[/caption]

 

June 1st, 2014 Mt. Mahogany, Mt. Baldy, and Battle Creek Falls loop with Scott & Craig

We didn’t know this would be one of the best runs of the summer. It was painfully early. When the boys pointed at the steep dirt slope we left the trail to claw up, I laughed, thinking they were joking. No one told me we were bushwhacking! But I was thrilled with the adventure of it. A ridge of vibrant flowers… and on the descent, Scott stopping us in a tangle of aspens to sing and dance a with a Broadway flair I have yet to see anyone hold a candle to. Laughing too hard to catch the moment on film, it lives on. Sun beams shone and danced around us on Baldy, then I swam in every pool of water on the way down, culminating with all of us getting into the falls at the bottom. The heavy cold water akin to having one’s breath knocked out of them, the entire day akin to having youth put back in.

[caption id="attachment_546" align="aligncenter" width="478"]200.battlecreek summer.[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_547" align="aligncenter" width="550"]200.mahogany Mahogany w/Scott, PC Craig Lloyd[/caption]

 

July 3rd, 2014: Timpanogos “Timpapendence Day” Run with Wranglers

It would be a large group, and I sat on my hands on the drive down. It’s a comfort thing for nerves, sitting on ones hands. I popped out of the carpool and said hi to a few faces, but as the numbers continued to congregate and the raffle began, I got skittish and went back to the car. Scott recognized my discomfort, he’s seen it at races many times before, and chatted with me a bit. I ran with him and Tara, whom I was just getting to know, most of the way up. I spoke with Chris, Steve, and a handful of others I had previously only known names of. Ben Light had the bacon and the party going full force up top. Coming down Scott’s legs were trashed after Bighorn, and we took our time chatting and strolling down. I was able to find (steal) a camp chair by the van and squished in between friends to better handle the large group. I had fun watching, observing, and chatting. What a wild, friendly, and strong group of runners. I was flushed with the novelty of so many like-minded runners.

[caption id="attachment_548" align="aligncenter" width="720"]200.hidden Hidden Pk, another post Bighorn run w/Scott, PC Scott Wesemann[/caption]

 

August 16th, 2014 Kings Peak via Red Castle with Jen, Cherri, and Sarah

4 girls running with their overnight bags. Running, walking, hiking. Repeat for 50 miles through the high Uintas. I awoke early on the 16th to run back to Red Castle alone and watch the sunrise, to take a few moments and ponder feeling so small and so astounded and so blessed. I hurried back, and we opted to take a shortcut to Anderson pass that would have us (unknowingly) head through sheep pastures and marshes but save our shoulders and backs a few miles with the heavy packs. On the summit of Kings I chatted with Josh and Bart Greenwell who gave me food upon hearing I was low on calories. A small family back at the pass had me snack on cheese and crackers “Please, eat more, so we don’t have to carry it.” I laid in the sun on my pack waiting for friends so we could continue down. For the first time on the run back to Henry’s Fork, I made a pain cave to tune out my screaming shoulders, and I decorated it with the memories of Red Castle.

200.redcastle

IMG_5395

September 13th, 2014: WURL Attempt, thanks to many sweet Wranglers.

There are too many words. Too much pain associated with the failure, too much gratitude for those who came out and sacrificed their time to make a dream of mine come true. It is true, “the deeper sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain” (Kahlil Gibran). What an experience to have both simultaneously. The freedom of running the cottonwood traverse alone, happy and skipping my legs like rocks across a sea of choss… to clinging and sloppily sliding, embarrassed of my condition in front my patient friends, down White Baldy.

[caption id="attachment_551" align="aligncenter" width="480"]200.wurlscout ridge dancing in a dress, PC Craig Lloyd[/caption]

 

October 11th, 2014 Sunset and Tuscarora with Marty

We started at night. Running and chatter was interrupted with long pauses, the sky was on fire behind the cottonwood ridge and I could not get enough of it. I was in love with mountains, how strange a romance, and here it was lit up in the sky for all to see. Back at Catherine’s pass in the dark of night we met a family who had us roast s’mores on their tiny campfire stove, and we chatted of skiing and children, of marathons and humorous things that got us through races. Sometimes in the backcountry you make instantaneous friends, and though you never see them again, their friendship lingers.

[caption id="attachment_552" align="aligncenter" width="550"]200.sunset My Dad and I a week later on his first Wasatch summit, Sunset Pk.[/caption]

 

November 12th, 2014: Wire with Scott

Just a few days post 100. I was trying to drown out the usual post-100 blues by keeping my body and mind too busy to allow any thought or processing. Since Wire is the “little black book” of summits, it’s always there for you when you need it, Wire it was. I was out of breath up, I couldn’t talk much but enjoyed the therapy in motion. A slow trot down, but I couldn’t run the rollers on the BST on the loop and felt bad making Scott wait. The Zion double with Craig, just days prior, had been the unexpected high note I needed to end the season.

[caption id="attachment_553" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]IMG_5161 I know it's not Wire, but I had to include 1 summit jump photo. :)[/caption]

 

December 28th, 2014: Lake Mountain with Wranglers

Thanks for making these memories with me. :)

Comments

  1. Great post. It was awesome to be a part of many of your adventures this year. Have fun tomorrow, I hope a good crew shows up for you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're so much fun to chase down big dreams and share them with the world! Keep it up, girlie! You're a joy to follow!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fantastic year. Glad I could be a small part of it. :)

    ReplyDelete

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