Hanging my head in downward dog, my arms are shaking, and I wonder how much longer I can hold this pose.  I am not as strong as I used to be. This pose wasn’t as difficult for me the last time I took a class, but that had been several years ago.  Today is showing me how weak and out of shape I have become.

downward dog

Pushing through, the class doesn’t get easier, but I am sure feeling well and alive.  The deep even breaths move in peacefulness and well-being and drive out pain and stress.  The burning muscles and shaking limbs prove my hard work.  There is motivation in the pain of a good work out. The pain that recedes from each lesson is proof that I am becoming stronger.  It is a feeling of accomplishment.

Sweat mats my hair in warrior two.  I can hold this pose for a while.  Some poses are easier than others showing me where my strength lies.  For me, the strength is in my legs and always has been.  This is good for my hike, but upper body strength will be important too.warrior2

Flexibility, or really the lack of it, is what brought me to yoga in the first place. The hike to Fish Caves was a great reminder of how stiff I have become.  My back pain was the second reason.  But holding the poses, I didn’t think I could hold or that I had to modify remind me of the benefits of yoga. It will help me become stronger and healthier in so many aspects.

Climbing one particular rock at Fish Caves, I had to visualize how I was going to do it. Because my bad knee only bends so far and isn’t strong enough to lift all my weight on its own, I had to know if it was going to be too much before I started, and I had to know if the position would allow me to push up with my arms.  And, on the return, I had to repeat the process.

In yoga, my knee is sometimes a problem too.  Some poses are more difficult to begin or maintain because of these limitations, but with practice and modification, my flexibility will expand. I try to achieve a position, but there is no grace in doing so. My stiffness makes sure of that.  But, I power through doing my best, and the next time it will be that much easier to accomplish.

With time, I hope to gain enough flexibility and strength through yoga and other strength training to be able to climb over the obstacles in the trail.


Hiking Rattle Snake Mountain

Rattle Snake Mountain is really more of a hill, but we grew up calling it a mountain, so what is there to do?  It is the recreation area of the county.  We have a motor raceway, a trap club, hiking trails, and off-roading there.  And when I was a teenager, this is where the young couples would go to make out.  It’s hard to believe that the base of it once was a dump, and that it was part, or is, the border to one of the local reservations.  I rode a bike-a-thon here once too.

I started hiking Rattle Snake Mountain this in the spring.  It is one of the best places to hike without having to drive for half an hour. Looking at the life size maze covering the lone hill on the east side of town makes me want to explore all the different configurations.


There are three paved roads that border the mountain.  Two are well traveled and the third is almost desolate.  That’s where my hike starts.  I realized not long ago that I need to work on my climbing endurance.  It doesn’t take long for me to lose my breath when walking up hill.  So I take the road because it is a long incline that changes pitch several times before it reaches the top.

At the end of the pavement, there are several trails that lead off and a gate to the trap club in front of me.  I turn right to continue climbing.  This road is almost as good as the paved; it’s the main road to the raceway.  As soon as I get to a smaller trail heading up, I take it.  And I keep turning upward for an hour, until I have nowhere left but to go down.

As I wander down, there is a loop trail on the side of the path.  It is a steep climb up, around, and down making a cancer ribbon.  I take it.  People have driven this, but it is a climb on the face of the hill.  It is the steepest I have climbed for the day, and I have to stop several times to catch my breath.  My heart beats rapidly in my chest, my legs burn, and my breathing is ragged.  I love it.  I feel alive.

This spot may not be beautiful to many people, but to me it is.  The beauty lies in the surprises of the desert.  The lonely seagull lily between the rocks, the green cheat grass alongside the road, a fat lizard doing pushups on a black rock, the yellow wild flower after a spring rain are all unexpected. They are all surprises waiting to be noticed.  Then there is the unexpected man made beauty: a small cairn alongside a path and a glass mosaic trail.  It is as I am wandering down a trail leading to my car that the sun falls upon the broken glass making a mosaic.  It reminds me of collecting colored glass items in kindergarten and being allowed to work on the mosaic of the city.  Mom sent me with the blue menthol bottles collected from our medicine cabinet and our neighbors.

Alongside the road water has recently cut through the dirt and between the rocks making intricate patterns; another unexpected beauty contrasting with the man-made trails etch-a-sketched into the land.  Usually the new off-roading paths irritate me making me think about erosion.  But, these are different, artful, calling to me giving me a place to walk. It is easy finding beauty while hiking.

5K Walking

The last week of December, I decided that I would participate in the New Year’s 5K, and that sparked a new goal in me.  I committed to walking as many 5Ks as were offered in my home town. I got up bright and early that cold January morning (16 degrees) and met with my friends at the starting line.  We were all bundled up and ready to go.  Slowly stretching and beginning to move, we probably resembled slugs in the garden.  I was wearing jeans, my new hiking shoes, a t-shirt, a sweater, my weather resistant jacket, gloves, a scarf, and a head band.  I was going to stay warm in that frigid temperature and I did.  We completed that walk in just over an hour.  I decided then and there that I would improve my time.

In February, we walked the Valentines 5K and had a blast.  We wore pink and purple tutus with our purple Cancer Warrior sweatshirts to advertise our cause.  The temperature was warmer and the route was the same.  We increased our time by 10 minutes and went to watch a free movie at the old movie theater.

valentines 5k

March came around, and I couldn’t find anyone to walk with me on the St Patrick’s color run.  But, I had never seen let alone participated in a color run, so I signed up, wore my green pants and white Redneck Shindig t-shirt (another advertising opportunity), and showed up to the park for another fun adventure. We had a different route in a newer neighborhood.  I stayed near the middle of the pack most of the way through, but when my leg started to go numb, I slowed down.  I made it through the two color spots and let my students throw green and yellow corn starch on me.  It was clumped on my arms and after a while it began to itch, but the experience was worth it.  I came in 5 minutes faster than previously.

In April, there was a Rattle Snake Run, but I was sick with bronchitis for four weeks at that time and hadn’t been walking because of the coughing it caused.  I wasn’t prepared for this anyway.  I can only run about a block length at this time.  But I was ready again in May.

Once again, I didn’t have any of my friends to walk with me.  I almost talked myself out of going, but a short conversation with my husband had me changing my mind.  I am the one who made the commitment to go to all the 5Ks I could, not my friends.  So, if that meant that I would be doing these alone, that’s what I would do.  I woke up that early morning to rain falling.  It wasn’t too cold, but it was very wet. I had to decide how to dress so that I wouldn’t get cold or too hot.  Leggings, a t-shirt, my trusty hiking shoes that went on more 5Ks than off roading, and the handy weather proof jacket worked out well.  This path was another one that was new to me.  I had set up this 5K location for the Redneck Shindig before, but I had never walked it.  I learned a few things at this event.  First, I know that our contestant fell a few years ago because the road along the drainage ditch is slicker than snot on a rainy day.  I walked in the weeds and didn’t slip at all, but the people around me insisting on walking in the road, were all over the place and struggled staying upright.  Second, by having the track reverse itself reduces cheating.  For the Redneck Shindig, we have always had the contestants turn around at the half way point and return on the path they had taken.  This particular 5K did not do that.  Instead, they had us cut across the parking lot and repeat the path a second time.  However, at the ¼ mark, I passed people who had stopped and were just standing around waiting.  I didn’t know at the time what they were doing, but when I was crossing the parking lot the first time, some of the runners were coming in to complete their run.  It was then that I figured out what the people were waiting for.  They walked across the parking lot from the ¼ point to the starting point just ahead of me and collected their participation awards.  I don’t walk these 5Ks for the awards, but I was still appalled at the gumption of these people.  And third, if you are walking somewhere slick, find something to help you keep traction like the weeds.

I haven’t heard of a 5K in June, but I know of one in July, and I am ready to see if I can increase my time again.  I didn’t the increase the time in the April 5K because I had been sick and I am having problems with my leg going numb, but I am still having fun.  And I will do better eventually.