When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The heart of the difference is not ability or even talent, but desire

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Monday, November 26, 2012

Food for the soul.

I had so much to be thankful for this past week. I got to spend 4 days with my sweetie in the mountains of Texas - yes, they do exist, even if it takes you 8 hrs to get to from Austin. It was a trip worth every minute of it.

We spent 2 days in Big Bend National Park - as we tailed the first day, we ventured on a short hike up Lost Mine trail, and since it was drizzling with huge storms a couple miles away, there was hardly anyone. It's so awesome to be able to not be in a rush, stop whenever you want to, read a brochure on the tree or a plant, learn something, touch something, smell everything...As we left the park for the day to our motel, we were treated to a full rainbow! It was going to be a great run-cation...

Thanksgiving Day came with big plans - to see everything (or as much as possible) in Big Bend proper in one big circle. We started at 8 am for a 21 mile journey and were amazed at how beautiful it is in the midst of a Texas desert. We hiked, walked, ran some, scaled an Emory peak (getting down that class 5 scramble is surely its own adventure, and when I climbed it up the wall, I heard Larry saying to some other hikers "I hate my wife" - what I took as a greatest compliment). The people were not too many, and those were friendly and thankful, as the day called for. We ended up running last downhill and making it sharp on 6 hrs, with enough time for a long drive through hell (where God threw up and spewed lava rocks around Earth) to St Elena canyon for a mile walk.

Next day was dark-o'ealry wake up call and a 5 hr drive to Guadalupe National Park. This one is a much better gem in my books! While from the looks of it as you approach it's another ugly (sorry, personal opinion) Texas boring sole, just sticking up higher, once you roll over any ridge - it's a green forest paradise! Larry had been there so many times (we did one trip together 3 years ago), we just explored and enjoyed. The untrained legs felt the miles from the day prior, and the weather was a tad colder (but calm!), and the trails were faint, rocky, overgrown - it all dictated a slower pace. A pace left plenty mind for contemplating life...It was as we descended a bit into a ditch full of fall colors, it sent me into the past - my home in Russia, and my first home in US - Upstate NY. I love fall colors! I love seasons, all 4 of them, with summer sun scorching, then leaves turning all kinds of brights, then snow falling hard and covering land in white blanket - and then melt brings dirt, and it's ok, because right after that the new fresh green pokes through - and the cycle goes again...And with thoughts of that, we were talking that may be moving to Colorado in 7 years could be replaced with moving to Arkansas. Many reasons, from being close to family, a less expensive living, a more down-to-Earth people - to all the seasons and trails close by. We are looking forward checking the area this Spring.
And so we walked, often slowly, stopping to admire the sudden Escarpment drops, talking, being silent and simply still. And thinking how my season of hard racing is behind me, and this is ok with me - this is finally, completely ok with me. How I love now so much more to be alone on the trails, and to be at my own will - and at my own pace. And yet how being trained for those very trail races allows me (us) to have these long back-country explorations, because who else could make 17 miles of rugged terrain in a daylight? I didn't want that day to end...but it did, 7 hrs later.

And so we were left with last morning before embarking on a long arduous drive home. Guadalupe Peak seemed to be fitting perfectly, and since we had scaled it years before (Larry - numerous times), and because our legs felt fresh and spring-y (a by-product of being an endurance runner who wakes up after many miles, or a side effect of a slow "recovery" day before?), we busted up and down with lots of pep for a quick turn-around (and before dozens of hikers began their journey up and a trail was crowded beyond pleasurable).
And that was it. Thus was the time where we had an opportunity to quite the mind, and recharge, and re-commit, and make plans, and hug a lot, and be simply happy.

Full photoalbum of the trip

p.s. On a more boring and numbered side, I had run every day straight last week (after previous 2 weeks as well with only 2 days off) and managed 67 miles for the log! (which I should throw away by now). Must be my longest week this year (not accounting for the races). Who knows, may be it will help me crawl in Tennessee next month!


  1. Sounds like the perfect vacation - relaxing, beautiful, and fun with your husband! A move to Arkansas would be interesting - new places and new adventures. I lived in Colorado for a year back in 1978 - we were in Rifle - and loved it. Kind of a dry beauty that took a while to grow on this Washington native, but I did grow to love it. I'd go back...

    1. Colorado is not off the list, and it does have seasons (longer white one...but it does). But there are also realistic expectations involved. I am seeing more and more positive in spots where I wouldn't have even thought of looking before. Growing up, or something:)

  2. There are some great trails in Arkansas! :) Looks like you had a great trip.

  3. We spent every Thanksgiving in Big Bend when I was growing up thanks to my grandparents owning land down there. It will always be my favorite place in Texas, hands down. Next time explore the state park. It has it's own beauty that is different from the national park, yet equally beautiful. What I think you will enjoy about it more than the national park is the starkness and the solitude of it. We camp there as often as possible (which isn't often enough) and never meet a soul unless we're at the headquarters.

  4. Wow and Damn. When I die I wanna come back near those trails. You deserve this Olga. Happy for you

  5. Some of those photos made me break out in a sweat just looking at them! I am WAY afraid of heights, so when I've done Big Bend and Guadalupe, I was pretty scared the whole time. You are brave, Olga!

  6. That looks like a great way to spend Thanksgiving. You are giving me ideas for when Jasper is a little older....Big Bend has been on our to do list for a long time...

  7. So beautiful! Now that's the way to spend a long holiday weekend...out doing instead of sitting inside eating.