Why Do We Keep Going?

My husband and I set off into the woods at a brisker than usual clip. Sooner than I hoped, the trail made good on its short-but-steep reputation. After a short lag, my steps slowed because there was no way I could keep that pace at that grade all the way to the top. We’d tried this trail before, when we were inexperienced and unprepared for May’s unmelted snow. We hadn’t gone far before we gave up—shoes sodden and pants soaked to the knees. Twenty years later we were back, on a quest to complete what we’d started all those years {Continue Reading}

Sometimes It’s Not What We Think It Is

About a year ago, I spent the morning disc golfing with my husband and our kids. This meant I was out with my family (which I love), on a path through the woods (which I also love but not as much), trying to hit a target with what amounts to a heavy frisbee (which I am no good at), looking for things (which I despise). Still, it was in every way but one a lovely morning. That one way was an actual dark cloud that appeared on the horizon when we were playing the ninth or tenth hole. It looked {Continue Reading}

How to Get Moving Again

“Time to get going,” Dad said as he thumped on the tent I shared with my husband.  Going? I could barely move.  I freed my beleaguered body from my sleeping bag and crawled from our tent out into the morning chill. Stiff and sore from the previous day’s ride, I picked my way across the dewy grass, looking for a dry place to put on my shoes. Before long, I would face the most painful moment of the morning: sitting down on the seat of my bike.  We—my husband, my parents, my brother, and his wife—were on RAGBRAI, otherwise known {Continue Reading}

How to Foster Hope–Any Time of Year

It was one of the first hikes we took together, my husband and I. It wasn’t long—only a few miles, but one long stretch was steep. The descent wasn’t bad, and the destination—a steel suspension bridge spanning a canyon in the middle of the wilderness—was worth the trip down and even back up. Still, that thigh-burning return haul reigns in my memory, especially when we consider taking any trail with the word “steep” in the description. Swagged across the slope like twinkle-lights on a Christmas tree, the switchbacked Hellroaring Creek trail supposedly moderated the mountain face into a more manageable {Continue Reading}

Walking in Tension

Crossing the empty parking lot, I zipped my fleece jacket to my chin and drew my fingers into my sleeves. It was August and already the mountain morning air held heavy hints of the coming autumn–known in Yellowstone as “early winter.” Side by side, my dad and I climbed the sloping path to Tower Fall. During my growing up years, Tower had always been a regular stop when my family visited Yellowstone. That first year, its 132-foot plunge impressed me but it was the large boulder perched at the brink that held my attention. I was sure it, like us, {Continue Reading}

All We Need is a Little Light

My husband and I have been hiking for years. Years. Still, we don’t always get it right out on the trail. We knew it we would be cutting it close. But, we hopped out at the picnic area, grabbed a late lunch, and prepared to hit the trail to Harney Peak, the highest point in the Black Hills. My husband filled our hydration packs while I reached into our well-stocked supply of both nutritious and just-for-fun trail food. And then, at 3:00 in the afternoon, after an evening and part of a long day in the vehicle, we set out {Continue Reading}

Embrace the Delays and Enjoy the Scenery

Eighteen hours into a twenty-hour road trip from our door to Yellowstone’s South Entrance, my high spirits tumbled at the sight of a sign. A happy-looking sign, it cast a shadow on my plan to get off the road and onto the trail as quickly as possible. It read: Expect delays and great scenery. It was a road construction sign in disguise. And I understood why. In Iowa, where I live, open roads and flat terrain allow travelers in construction zones to slow more often than stop. When a full stop is required, it’s usually short, and governed by a {Continue Reading}

Thriving in an Unfamiliar Life

My great-grandma was a woman of summer. She kept a garden. She grew the flowers and vegetables that graced her table. She picked the berries that topped our ice cream. Every once in a while, I helped her in the garden or the berry patch and it always shocked me when she showed up wearing pants. The garden was the only place I ever saw her dressed that way and even there she wore a dress over them, with a long-sleeved shirt and a wide-brimmed hat. She was dressed to work. Right here are four important lessons Great-grandma taught with {Continue Reading}