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    Mountains Are My Happy Place

    1024 768 Terri Rylander

    Although I had a terrific summer, it seemed (healthwise) that something was off. I was, again, sleeping 9-10 hours every night, sleeping and working with my heating pad (I was back to being cold), and gained about 7 lbs.  It was in late September, when I had labs done, that my endocrinologist told me my TSH was 5.6 – higher than it was when I was first diagnosed. I was so grateful I could have kissed her! I thought for sure she was going to say my numbers were fine, it was all in my head. Luckily, she had me double my dose of levothyroxine.

    Attitude adjustment

    Shortly after that appointment, my sister called to ask me to come work with her in Vail on a short-term project. She thought maybe one month (it ended up being 9 weeks). I jumped at the chance. Having had such an amazing time in Colorado back in August, I was eager to return. So I cleared my calendar, dropped off the dogs, packed my things, and headed back. I joined her to work on the renovation and reintroduction of the Hotel Talisa in Vail. It was a wonderful experience, outside of what I normally do. Part project management, part repair girl, part gopher girl, it was really fun and the days flew by.

    Stunning fall colors

    While I was there, I was sure to get out every weekend to hike and explore. One of my very first hikes was to Lake Deluge. It was a 10 mile roundtrip with 3000 feet of climbing. It was a beast! But, oh, the fall colors. It was as if the aspens were blooming. Colors of yellows, oranges, reds, and greens against a bright blue sky was just stunning. Though it was a difficult hike, it was well worth it. The pictures don’t even do it justice!

    Quirky ski fence

    When I wasn’t hiking, I was taking road trips. About mid-October, I took a drive up to go see the Rocky Mountain National Park. Unfortunately, it had snowed the day before and they just closed most of the park. I decided to go ahead and get out to see what I could. I left Vail heading east on I-70 then hit the Peak to Peak highway, as the quickest (and most scenic) way to Estes Park. I had no idea how beautiful that was going to be. Around every bend, the views were jaw-dropping. The mountains were out in their full glory and there were quirky sights to see along the way.

    Cabin at Lake Deluge

    Another memorable hike I did was to Gore Lake. The few snows we had did not melt on that trail. I was in snow for about 3/4 of the whole hike, including up to my knees near the top. The snow made the 13 mile roundtrip with 3500 feet of gain topping out at over 12000 feet, even more difficult that Lake Deluge. I could walk 10-20 steps at a time before stopping to catch my breath. But it was such a zen time to be outside. The sun was warm, the snow was bright, the sky was blue, and everything seemed right with the world. I live for moments like that.

    Vail Pass

    I decided since I was a captive audience and since I love the Colorado mountains, I would see if there was anyone I might be interested in on one of my online dating sites. Unfortunately, you have to comb through pages of profiles, many of them not serious ones, to find a few gems. One of those gems that I reached out to, wrote me back and actually sounded like a decent guy. I’ve had my share of flakes. We met for dinner at a brewpub in Frisco and talked for several hours. It was such an easy conversation. We agreed to meet two days later for a hike.

    Herman’s Gulch

    Saturday, we met just east of Loveland Pass to do a 6 mile roundtrip hike up Herman’s Gulch. We walked, talked, and learned about each other for the next couple hours. He kindly waited for me when I stopped to catch my breath. At the top, we found a beautiful lake. After a brief snack, we continued over to a ridge with a great view both south and eastward. After returning back to our cars, he asked me to lunch in Georgetown, a very quaint, old mining town, where we continued to learn about each other. That’s when I found out he was leaving for 3 weeks on a trip and wouldn’t be back until just before I was to leave Vail and I wasn’t sure if there really was anything there yet.

    Bighorn sheep rutting

    On my final week in Vail, Thanksgiving week, my daughter came to visit. She and I worked at the hotel every day except Thanksgiving, when we took a trip north, past Winter Park. We had planned to make a big loop before heading back to our dinner reservations in Dillon, but we had so much fun exploring, that time ran out on us and we drove straight back from Devil’s Thumb Ranch. But, that was after we saw some great things along the way! Pulling off I-70 to hit I-40, my daughter saw bighorn sheep on the side of the hill. I quickly pulled over so we could take a look and take some pics. As we were watching, they suddenly began ramming their heads – it was rutting season and we got to witness it! Later on, we also saw a heard of elk.

    Herd of elk

    Friday before I left, I had to take her back to Denver to the airport. I knew I would be passing by the area that my date lives in so I asked if he wanted to meet for dinner. We met up in Golden, which I had never been to before. It is a charming town! Super cute, super walkable, young, and vibrant. We ended up at a little Nepalese restaurant at the top of the hill. I had never had Nepalese food before but it was terrific. I even tried the Yak. After sitting there for probably 3 hours, we got up and walked around the town for another hour. It was as if neither of us wanted the night to end. When he asked me if I wanted to go hiking in the morning, I happily accepted.

    View from Golden Gate Canyon SP

    We met at his house and hiked in the state park that his property bordered. Afterwards, he made me lunch and we shared pictures and stories from our pasts. Dinner, breakfast, hiking, dinner, breakfast again, and I could feel I was falling for this guy. But, the time had come that we had to part ways. I had to go back to Vail so I could pack up and head home. It was an awkward goodbye that felt very unfinished. In subsequent conversations, we haven’t decided where this will go – or if it will at all.

    Back home, back to reality, it almost seems like it was a dream. If so, it is one I will continue to replay for days to come.


    When a Race is Just an Excuse

    900 600 Terri Rylander

    Red and gold streaks

    From the first pictures I saw of the Hardrock 100 race, I knew I had to find a way to get to those mountains. The pictures are stunning. High altitude peaks rising far above the treeline, streaked with ribbons of orange and gold that stream down to lush green meadows. So, when I found the Silverton Marathon/50K race, I knew I wanted to sign up. It was the perfect way to get introduced to these beautiful San Juan mountains.


    Silverton, CO

    Silverton is the home of the Hardrock 100. The Silverton Marathon/50K race starts and finishes there, just as the Hardrock 100 does. The course follows some of the same Hardrock trail, starting at 9300 feet and topping out just under 13,000 feet. I couldn’t wait to experience it.


    Heading up

    From the minute the race started, I was back of the pack. It’s a familiar place for me. But, I’m checking my watch, and as the slowest person, I am doing 12-minute miles. The rest of the pack is just gone! The first six miles are fairly level. I was able to do a run/walk combo but catching my breath was not easy.


    Serious climb

    As the route turned into a climb, I power-walked as fast as I could. I was able to stay ahead of about 4 others, so at least I wasn’t last. But, after stopping at the 12 mile aid station, I was nearly last. Although the road led up a nice valley, it was at about 12,000 feet and my lungs weren’t feeling it. I was plodding along when I got passed by the remaining runners, except one—an older man who was walking the whole thing.


    Beautiful views

    It was then that it really thought about why I was there. I had no illusions of winning or even placing in the race. I had no thoughts of even getting a PR (personal record). I was there to experience the beauty of the mountains. I smiled and kept on.


    Nobody left

    Some friendly ATVers took my picture as I headed up the bowl. Although you could see people up on the ridge, it was a long steep mile to reach them. This is where the course topped out at just under 13K feet. Sleet was hitting my face sideways and my mouth was so frozen I could barely talk. A nice man offered to take my picture, so we found a suitable backdrop and I smiled for the camera. Now I was dead last.


    Over the first pass

    The course took a small dip before the next pass. That’s where I came across a couple in a Jeep that were lost. I stopped to help them figure out where they were and how to get where they wanted to go. After spending about 5 minutes with them, I carried on again.


    Nice smooth downhill trail

    As I reached the second pass, I started wondering if I would truly be the last one in. Although I was ok in placing last, I didn’t want people to have to wait for me. So, I was determined to do a run/walk combo the final 10 miles. After a stop at the last aid station, where I chatted briefly with the volunteers, I worked my way to the finish. The views continued to be everything I hoped for and I had enough energy to run across the finish line. 15 minutes later, the older man walked across the finish line.


    Finish line!

    In this race, it really was about the journey and not the destination. I look forward to using another race as an excuse to have a new and awesome experience. And, if I come in last, so what.