i climb hills and then go back down.
Salt Lake City (or rather, Layton, which is just north of the city and has been where I've stayed the past few days) has been a blast. It's been a total shift from visiting with friends and family and being around other people constantly to solo traveling, being on my own agenda, and getting some much needed introvert time.
On Monday morning, I woke up excited to hike through some of the mountains to the east of Layton, just 10 minutes from where I'm staying. I'd stayed up the night before looking through the All Trails app to find a suitably long and moderately challenging hike to stretch my legs after an eight hour drive the day before. I stumbled across a 3-miler with a 1,500ft elevation gain, and felt ambiguously hopeful that I'd be able to complete it in a few hours.
But when I opened the front door to grab something from my car, this is what I saw:
Unperturbed, naive, and a Midwesterner, I bucked up and told myself that I'd at least give it a shot, and at the very least I'd have a nice lil' frolic in the snow.
Though it ended up being more of a trudge and ended up being more like a .5 miler, I gave it my all. The snow was packed deep and went up to my thighs in most places, I could hardly tell where the trail was, and I had to stop every twenty feet and lie down in the snow to let my burning lungs and legs recover.
It was awesome.
(Salt Lake City and mountains in the background!)
I made it to the top of a foothill I'd spotted from the beginning of the trail and decided that would be my turnaround point. It was mid afternoon on a Monday, and nobody else had gone where I had, even those wise enough to bring snowshoes. I was entirely alone.
I felt elated. I whooped and hollered. I ran down the hill and dove into the fresh snowdrifts. I realized I was thirsty and licked the powdery stuff up by the mouthful like a child and let it melt in my mouth before swallowing. I laughed. It was heaven.
I decided to leave a monument as an ephemeral testament to my journey in the form of a Busty Snowgal. I started off with the idea of making a simple snowman, three balls on top of each other, progressively smaller, perhaps sticks for arms, but I quickly became so caught up in creating and molding the body of the snowperson that I realized I could do better. I forgot where I was for an hour, sculpting the shape of a woman, chiseling out her body and smoothing out her curves as I do myself when I practice energy medicine in the mornings. I didn't do it for any reason other than it felt like the right thing to do. I had nowhere to be and nothing to do. I did what I wanted, without shame or guilt. When I was done, I skipped back down the mountain, snow powdery in my wake.
Note: This is Busty Snowgal with her second head. The first rolled off and went kablooie before I could snap a pic.
Day Two in Utah saw me do something I haven't in eight years, and for a while, I wasn't sure would ever be possible for me to do again. Folks: I snowboarded down a mountain. And it was grand.
Because of the chronic pain I experienced for several years in my early to mid twenties, more intense physical activity was not possible for me to engage in without moderate to severe repercussions. Soccer, softball, vigorous hiking, running, snowboarding, and more were all out for me. So being able to show myself that I really can do anything that I put my mind to, that my body is strong and healthy and capable and even perhaps wants me to engage in vigorous physical activity, felt like a moment of humble pride, gratitude, and self-realization.
The drive to Brighton Ski Resort took me through part of the Wasatch Mountain Range, up to between eight and nine thousand feet elevation. It was a snow lover's paradise; cottages and cabins along the way were buried in snow that looked to be around 10 feet deep in places. I found out later from a lift pal that this has been one of the snowiest winters in Salt Lake since sometime back in the 80s.
Surprisingly, my favorite part of my trip into the mountains was not the snowboarding itself. I felt somehow different about snowboarding than I had in the past, like it was cheating to take a lift to the peak, like it was somehow taking away part of the journey that made the slide back down less enjoyable. I felt myself yearning to hike up and to feel the burn in my lungs instead. To earn the view, as it were.
My favorite parts of the day were the views and chatting with people on the lift. The views speak for themselves (see above). I particularly enjoyed chatting with an uncle from southern California and his niece and nephew, wherein all four of us engaged in a lively debate about whether we'd prefer to be attacked by a bear or a shark. I thought bear for sure, but the uncle, who was a surfer, and the kids, who apparently had recently watched Cocaine Bear (they were about 6 years old; parents/guardians, where were you??) and had some pretty major reservations about our large furry friends resolutely stated they'd much rather take the shark. But I digress.
I got the Karmel Sutra latte and it was divine.
Today, my final day near Salt Lake, I spent meandering through the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City. I wandered in and out of shops and spent much more money than I'd planned to, but it felt good to treat myself. I got a coffee at a shop that seemed to be popular with the university students in the area and walked through a vintage clothing store, two witchy stores with lots of tarot and incense, an art shop, a used bookstore, and more.
The things I spend money on have a very specific vibe.
When it started raining, I found a Vietnamese restaurant nearby and took myself out on a date. I opened A Man Called Ove which I'd just purchased at the bookstore down the road and started to read while I waited for my food to arrive. I expected it to feel awkward to eat on my own, but it was actually incredibly enjoyable; instead of focusing so much on the person I was with or on conversation, I was able to more fully taste and be mindful of the meal I had received. I had space to reflect on its goodness, on its nourishment.
Vegetarian vermicelli, my book, and a very average Thai lager.
Heading back to my airbnb, the rain really started coming down. I finally got to meet my airbnb host, Cheryl, who had been away for a few days, and more importantly, her dog, Fischer, who was the biggest bundle of love and joy and sweetness I ever did meet and was so bouncy that I nearly expected him to break into song ("The wonderful thing about Tiggers, Is Tiggers are wonderful things...").
This was the most still Fischer could get.
Mentally preparing myself for the last couple stretches of driving before I reach Portland, but also trying to be in the moment and enjoy life as it arises.
Peace y'all, sleep well.