Sunday, March 22, 2015

Camping on the edge of awesome: Muley Point

Our camping spot for the night --  with the best views I've ever seen!

Morning sunrise looking out over a panorama of the Goosenecks of the San Juan River
This weekend I had a crazy idea.

It all started formulating in my brain approximately 5 seconds after returning home from my 50 mile race in Monument Valley last weekend.

The day before my epic run, we were touring the Monument and saw a bunch of stray dogs. One in particular really tugged at my heart. She was a scruffy, skinny mess of a dog -- but she was extremely sweet and mellow. The kids and I gave her some pets and hugs, but due to time constraints, a big looming run and all that stuff, we had to leave her behind. But I could not get her face out of my mind. I needed to go back -- and see if she was still there -- and if she was indeed a stray. And, if all of those criteria were met, if she would be so obliged to come home with us.

I'll make a long story very short. We didn't find her. Actually, this time as we drove through the Valley,  we didn't see any strays.

With my heart in my hands, I left devastated. I was sure we'd find her. But it wasn't in the cards.

But the weekend was just beginning. We were kid-less for the night! And we had a small tent and gear that we borrowed from our friends, and set out to find the perfect spot that would get my mind off of the dang dog.

Steve checks out the sights below (with caution) :) heh

Monument Valley in the distance, Goosenecks of the San Juan River straight ahead

Sunset at our camp <3
The night was perfect! The spot, called Muley Point, was absolutely breathtaking. We were literally camping about 50 feet from a sheer cliff. There were sweeping views south over the twisting, gnarled canyons of the San Juan River. It was such a peaceful location. Just awesome!

Never stop exploring
We woke to a brilliant sunrise. After spending an hour gazing out into the desert, we packed up our things and said good-bye to the most awesome camping spot ever.

We took one final loop through Monument Valley, just in case that silly elusive dog was out scavenging in the early morning. But we didn't find her.

I'm holding out hope that someone picked her up and will give her a really great life. On our way out I spied something on the slick rock slab below my feet. I'll take that as a sign :)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Monument Valley Ultra - 50 miles of absolute crazy beauty

I'm having a hard time writing this one. Words will never be able to describe the past few days. The race. The land. The people. This is going to be a long post.

Mile 46.5
Mostly this blog post will be a photo journal. I probably took over 100 photos along the course. I like to think I could have finished an hour sooner by stuffing the camera away. But really -- this isn't about speed or time. It's about enjoying the experience, making friends, and creating memories.

The race started at 7 AM, just as the sun was making her grand appearance. The vibe at the start was infectious. There is just an amazing spirit at Monument Valley.

The start

My biggest fans xoxo
The first 10 miles flew by because the scenery was beyond anything I've ever seen before -- and that's saying a lot. The views were just... breathtaking, amazing, spectacular... Ultra-Adventures knows how to put on a race. Everything -- from the course marking, to the volunteers, to the atmosphere -- you'll never find a race that compares.


My heaven

This is pretty awesome, right??!?
My goal for this race was simple: finish without crying.

So, I modified my strategy. This time I would just enjoy the ride. This time I would not focus on being fast. This time I would remember to eat. And eat often (huge shout out to honey stinger for your support!). And hydrate. Bust mostly I would remember this is much more than an athletic feat. Every single time I run I grow and learn something new about myself and the people around me.

Probably one of my favorite shots

And my second fav

Beautiful desert

Ear of the Wind arch

I love rock art, so this was just such a treat :)

After climbing for God knows how long straight up to the top of Mitchell Mesa, we were rewarded with views. VIEWS!!

On top of the world. And HAPPY :) :)
I knew by this point that I had to be close to the front of the pack. I was feeling awesome. I hadn't cried ONE time and I had about 9 miles to go to the finish. The last half of my race I was so fortunate to meet an exceptional human being and fantastic runner named Meghan. She kept me going and not only was she straight up hard core (wearing a weighted pack) but she was a wealth of running knowledge. I don't think she''ll ever know how much she pushed me to keep going. I knew I had a crazy energy reserve stored up for the last final miles so I just went for it. I flew through the last aid station - gave Steve a kiss and the kids a final LOVE YOU and told them I'd see them at the finish.

With just a few yards to go, my little buddies were there to usher me into the finish :) I love this pic!

Happy moment -- I see the finish line -- and my family and friends :) :)
I finished in somewhere around 10:52 (I don't know the official time yet..) I never thought I'd break 11 hours. And the best part was that I felt really great the entire time.

My 2nd place overall female prize -- a handmade tomahawk. :) :) Proud :) :)

Top 3 BadASS CHICKS with race director, Matt Gunn

As I now go grab a glass of wine and try and relax (and ice my feet and ankles) I want everyone reading this to take away one thing from this post -- you can do anything. ANYTHING. What's your dream? Go get it! Life is short -- do what makes you happy people!

Monday, March 9, 2015

This guy = best Zion hike ever!

Early spring is the very best time to go to Zion National Park in my opinion. Here are some reasons why!

1.) No crowds! That's really the best reason and I could stop right here. Except....

2.) Bighorn sheep.

The end.

Yesterday I drug my family out on a spur of the moment evening getaway to Zion (after much pleading/tears/crying/ripping video game controller from hands of crazy 5 year old Minecraft freak). I LOVE daylight savings. I'm probably in the minority but I just LOVE long, sunny marvelous evenings, even though it hinders bedtime for the minions :) I love hiking as the sun starts setting. That is when the real magic happens. The little creatures are just starting to emerge from the rocky cliffs and brush.

On our hike to the Zion Overlook, we got to see something really special. First, behold the sheer beauty of Zion:

JJ with the help of a walking stick which is clearly being put to good use :)

Fun watching these boys get braver on hikes

Zion National Park -- nothing on earth quite like it!

"Wait for me!!!"

One day they might smile nice for a photo op :)
On the way back to our car, we saw a group of people quietly freaking out on top of a large rock. Standing there (nibbling) right before us were two large bighorn sheep and SEVEN little babies. Best. Hike. EVER!! I tried to get pics but they were literally so tiny and in the bushes. You can see in the first photo how close we were to the adult :)

And, JJ even admitted that the hike was FUN and the sheep were CUTE. Mission accomplished.