It’s Travel Tuesday and having completed my assignments for the upcoming and wonderful Thanksgiving Day, I now take liberty to daydream back to a wonderful Wyoming hike at Vedauwoo. This and every day, I’m thankful that the natural beauty of this and many other sites are located within national forests and national parks – the forethought of earlier generations.
Late September at 8,200 feet already brought cool temperatures. We bundled up and joined our hosts with the Friendship for of Cheyenne who had packed up a wonderful picnic to sustain us as we explored this wonderful world of granite.
Located between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming the outcrops extend over a vast area. Arriving at the park, we find this mass of rocks is breathtakingly beautiful in its wildness and enormity and intriguing in varying shades of pink/gray. The Arapaho referred to the area as the Land of the Earthborn Spirit. The granite formation still brings out the creative spirit as performers bring dance, poetry and theatre among the rocks.
Credit: J.W. Hasper
Like looking at clouds intently, you can see the shapes of animals or human in the formations of Vedauwoo, most visibly the appearance of a turtle and a giant human.
There is also something in those rocks that calls “Come climb me.” And climb we did.
We could see more experienced (and younger?) hikers and climbers on other areas in the outcrops and hoodoos (spires with varying depth). A couple of hikers who knew Vedauwoo well lead the way.
Up, up, up. The climb was beautiful and aside from a couple of breaks to catch my breath in the thin air, not particularly difficult. I was mesmerized climbing those beautiful rocks. From a perch midway up, I couldn’t help but wonder what the view was a couple of centuries ago when buffalo in the thousands moved in herds and the spiritual Arapaho people had not yet been removed to the Wind River Reservation.
On reaching the summit of our particular formation, the view went for miles. As our eyes searched for a horizon, we celebrate our arrival on the windswept rocks with a deep breath and with appreciation for the experience.
But, not my day.
It began as a perfect day for a marathon. With temps starting in the low 40’s and clear skies, I lined up with friends for the Aspire Harrisburg Marathon. Everyone was looking forward to taking a spin on the new course, seeing fresh neighborhoods and finishing on Restaurant Row among early diners and cheering spectators.
Cruising over the bridge at Mile 2.
The first 7-8 miles were well-paced staying around 9:30 – 9:40. At around mile 9, I took a sip of my Tailwind and soon after began feeling nausea and light in the stomach. I continued on pace, hoping it would pass, but it was not to be. It persisted with some side cramps adding to the mix.
I was holding my pace but after another couple miles, I knew it was time to take stock and make a decision to tough it out or call it a day. I had looked forward to running the new course around mile 16 – 20 through a small neighborhood and historic rural scenery along the river.
On Front St. with historic architecture backdrop.
Around mile 12, the internal discussion began.
Ego was firm. “You can do this. We’ve finished marathons through nor’easters, waves pummeling over breakfronts, 80 degree heat on asphalt roads. You’ve never dropped from a race of any distance for any reason. Why now?”
Body said “I’m really not looking forward to another 14 miles of this. Give me a break.”
Mind piped in: “Rationally, this is the time to run the new section of the course while it is safe and closed to traffic.”
Then Spirit spoke with a louder than usual authoritative voice: “We’re only doing the new section if Ego goes to sleep. Body is hurting and must have consideration. If we continue to the new section, we walk so body is comfortable.”
OK, so team decision, we walked miles 16 – 20 with Ego only once or twice trying to pump back up to a run but quickly brought into line. We walked past Fort Hunter, past homes in the Village of Hekton, and saw both again on a fast walk back to the turn into city neighborhoods.
At mile 19.75 having run and walked 3 hours, 30 minutes and 32 seconds, we completed the new section. We then left the course, diverting to the McDonald’s parking lot and my husband’s waiting car.
The portion of the new course I didn’t see – the finish line on Restaurant Row
A ginger ale with ice followed by a hot shower did wonders. I felt much better although still slightly nauseous. I have a body that is thankful, an ego that is quietly grumbling and ready for the next race, and a spirit that is thankful I’ve learned to listen.