THE BLOG

Going 'Into the Wild' for Just One Day

For the past three years, I've wanted to hike to the top of Kings Peak, the tallest mountain in Utah. On Labor Day weekend, I was on my own - my youngest son just left for college -- and I decided to see how much of the 30-mile round trip hike I could make in a day.

I left home at 4:45 a.m. and drove on Highway 80 from Park City, Utah to Wyoming. Then I took a 25-mile gravel road to the Henry Fork trailhead, entering Utah's Uintas Mountains from the east. The sun was just hitting in the horizon as I got out of my car.

The trail started at 9,400 feet and made a gradual ascent over the next three hours. I mostly hiked, but whenever there was a clear path, I ran, carrying my CamelBak and an additional waist pack filled with Gatorade, various snacks, some gloves and a mylar blanket.

It was much cooler than expected. I wore a long sleeved t-shirt, a sweatshirt and my fluorescent pink rain jacket that always makes me feel like the female version of Forest Gump.

The trail was muddy in spots from some rain the night before and I never passed anyone going up and was only passed by a handful of people coming down. I kept thinking about my goals, my company, my sons, and most of all what it will feel like on my September 20th birthday, when I wake up as a 50-year-old to an empty house.

I allowed the trail and scenery to guide me towards a more peaceful mindset. Three hours later I came to a wide-open expanse. I could see Kings Peak ahead in the distance. The winds had picked up dramatically and the skies were filling with darker than usual clouds. Weather in these western mountains can shift at a moment's notice. As I was retying my shoelaces, I was nearly pushed over from the strength of the winds.

There was a small knoll to my left and I hiked up 50 yards or so and climbed up on a large flat boulder.

My entire body felt magnetic energy. The winds were whipping around me like a mini-tornado. I could see 360 degrees around and not a single person anywhere. It was silent except for the wind.

I was exceedingly tired; tired from years as a single parent and trying to make my publishing company profitable; tired from running, always running; tired from the lack of sleep from the night before.

At that moment, I was completely alone and did not know what my future entailed, but it also dawned on me that I could be alone and still fine.

The energy emanating from the mountain filled me with strength and fortitude. I am a survivor. I am resilient to life's trials and tribulations.

It was time to turn around.

I was fearless to head back down the trail and home again to a quiet house, knowing that I could find peace in that quiet.