When the Midwestern Gentleman and I left home on the Winter Solstice, our backyard looked like this, courtesy of “Snowstorm Draco.”
After spending the weekend with the Gent’s family in the equally snow-blanketed Twin Cities, we flew to Arizona, where we rendezvoused with my mom and sister for a welcome change of scenery.
Eager to get outside and make the most of the sunny but temperate weather, the Gent and I decided to try hiking Camelback Mountain while my mom and sister were otherwise occupied. There are a few different trails up there, but the Echo Canyon Trail is the one everyone is referring to when they talk about “hiking Camelback.” The trail leads a mere 1.25 miles to the top, but boasts an elevation change of 1300 ft in that short distance. In other words, this hike would be more of a climb than a walk.
The Gent was itching to run the trail, so he sprinted upward on his mountain goat legs while I trekked ahead at a much slower pace. My legs felt strong and limber for a change, so I was wryly amused by the nearby teenagers whining about their sore legs half a mile into the hike.
As I picked my way slowly and steadily up the rocky incline and over boulders, I focused on the pranayama breathing we practice in yoga to control my heart rate. My strength, flexibility, and lung capacity have all notably increased in the few months I have been practicing regularly at Ignite Yoga. It was almost strange to remember how sick I felt when first diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome last spring, before I started on this path of healing through an anti-inflammatory diet and a dedicated yoga practice. When the Gent and I were hiking in Santa Fe last May, I struggled for breath and fought my achy joints before admitting to insurmountable fatigue only 20 minutes into an easy hike along a gravel-lined fire road. I could never have imagined then that, a mere seven months later, I would be hiking/climbing up Camelback Mountain, feeling strong and healthy and eager for adventure. Committing to a regular yoga practice and learning to live without gluten, without dairy, and without sugar has been so worth it. It has truly given me my life back.
The Gent met me near the top, so we could hike back down together, soaking up the sunshine and the gorgeous views. It felt great to be by his side, instead of waiting at the foot of the mountain to hear about his run.
Wishing you and yours a Happy — and Healthy — New Year!