Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pushing Through It

We pushed through willows and downed trees and meandered our way through a stark landscape.

The Devils Gulch trail is on Nature Conservancy land and there are a lot of forbidden activities. No dogs. No mountain bikes. No campfires. No camping.

No camping? What's wrong with these people? But all prejudice aside, this is a good place to climb off the trail towards a random outcrop and take in the scenery. At lower elevation, perhaps 2000 feet, this place doesn't get softened by snow. It takes some hard looking to recognize the beauty in a winter-hardened landscape, but it is there.

Lately I've felt like I've been pushing a sofa uphill whenever I run or hike. This has made my outdoor adventures more of a challenge. All I want to do is sit around and eat Trader Joe's dark chocolate peanut butter cups. But in the interest of pushing through to the other side, I gathered my willpower.

"A lot of people are feeling this way at this time of year," my friend said when I mentioned this. "You have to push on through." It's good to have friends that don't enable. This kind of tough love works.

We stared doubtfully at the random rock outcrop we had selected as our turn-around point. Suddenly the ridge we were climbing seemed much steeper than it had from the river. But even though the outcrop wasn't even at the top of the canyon, it took on a mythical importance. We really, really wanted to get there.

There wasn't much to see up there that we couldn't have seen a few hundred feet below. Small birds moved like smoke through the trees. Elk grazed on the slope nearby. There was only the breath of the wind and a winter storm lurking on the horizon.

There are many shades of brown to canyon country in winter and it takes spending some serious time there to appreciate it. I'll always be a fan of brilliant green or sparkling snow, but part of living here is learning all the different moods of the canyons. All are beautiful and mysterious.

In the end our puffys and hats were no match for the chilly wind, proving that December can always be an iffy time to be this far from a road. We scrambled back down to the trail after spending only a few seconds at the elevation we had worked to attain.

I've run on this trail but in the intervening storms neglect has taken over. It is no longer so easy to push through. We do, though, crawling under logs and battering through thorny bushes. I know that if I keep going, I can push through anything.


  1. Someone asked me today how I could run outside through Alaska winters. My reply was similar to your friend's advice: "You either get out there and make the most of it or you sit inside bummed out about winter."

    Glad you're pushing through it :) It will make you stronger come spring too.

  2. I love dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Wish I had a few now. I may have to go to the store tomorrow, hee, hee.

    Happy that you're outside enjoying all the beauty (and it is beautiful!). I also become sluggish this time of year. It's a battle. Some days the peanut butter cups win.

  3. And that's okay, I think. Outdoors most days, indoors with dark chocolate some days....a balanced life!


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