Sunday, May 4, 2008

Hiking South Mountain's yellow brick road

I’ll jump in here on the daily Perfect Moments. Day 4 found me running on South Mountain, a rugged desert park in Arizona.

My regular route is about 5 miles, out along a gnarly dirt path and up along a ridge peppered with saguaro and rattlesnakes … they both bite.

At about 1 ½ miles, I swing by an arch with petroglyphs etched into the rock by a tribe called Hohokam. The images look like stick figures and paisleys. Not sure what they originally meant, but I take them to be “Go girl, run hard.”

Today, as I climbed up to a saddle before turning into a steep climb up the ridge, I came in behind a little girl, maybe about 6, hiking with two women. As she rose up out of a little dip in the path and got her first look at the city to the north of us, I heard her ask, “What is that place?” “Phoenix,” her mom replied.

Sometimes it’s easy to rush a run, or get lost in my own thoughts. But the sound of awe in her voice ...

made me think that her little legs had taken her about 2 miles through the desert, past the same cactus, keeping an eye out for snakes and lizards and she’d arrived at this magical view of a city she usually sees from the back seat of a car. You go girl.


About 30 minutes later, near the end of my run, I saw a very different kid experience. A father was walking along the path with two little boys, maybe 3 and 5. The younger one was a little trooper, throwing his legs in front of himself, striding up the path. The older was not in awe at all. “I quit,” he declared as I went by and right before dropping to the ground. When I glanced back, little brother was bouncing back to see what was wrong and dad was squatting down to summon up his best Vince Lombardi.

Perfect too in its own way.

Robin, Tempe

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