Almost a year ago today, I was hot on the heels (or wheels) of Jason Schlarb, careening south towards the San Juan mountains. I belted out lyrics to Journey, and other 80s/90s bands that occupied the limited storage on my phone... "SHE LOVES TO LAUGH, SHE LOVES TO SING, SHE DOES EVERYTHING!" I yelled at the little black dog riding shotgun. Lila occasionally casted me sideways glances that portrayed discomfort and worry, to which I would respond with a giggle and "dude, don't worry, I have a really good feeling about this. ANYWAY YOU WANT IT THAT'S THE WAY YOU NEED IT ANY WAY YOU WAAAANT IT..."
A few months prior to this impulsive road trip in pursuit of large mountains, snow climbs, and loose scrambles, Jason had contacted me though social media. He was inquiring about the girl, who’s handle read ellieb.runs, and who was seemingly constantly overflowing with smiles and infectious energy. He was wondering if I wanted to make a few bucks this summer, watching his six year old boy while he trained for the iconic Hardrock 100. Was he serious?! Did he realize that he was offering me a means to the dirtbag lifestyle that I craved so badly?! Being able to call Silverton my home was a dream come true. Silverton: The town that flourished with old mining history, and seemed to be stuck in the very time it was famed for.
Better yet, Kim, who you probably know as one of my very best friends, would be living in Ophir for the summer. Ophir boasted a population even more minuscule than Silverton, and sat on the opposite side of a dirt road pass. Just a fifteen minute drive (if you had the clearance and horsepower, or strong legs). Think of all the peaks we’d climb! All of the mountains that we would bless with our impressive summit boogeys! The 13ers, 14ers, heck, even the 12ers called to us. The high alpine loops begged to be traipsed upon!
The next day, Jason, Felix (his son) and I found ourselves camped just outside of Silverton. We watched the 13,000 foot peaks that surrounded us swallow the sun, and the lines of snow that had yet to melt glistened three thousand feet above our camp chairs in the not-at-all-light-polluted air. If Heaven was a place, it was there.
But that was almost a year ago today.
A couple weeks had the Schlarb boys and me bouncing from basin to basin, hiking and geeking out over endangered butterflies, and floating pinecones down mountain streams; and climbing mountains when Jason had finished his run. But it was time for Felix to go spend some time with his mom in Durango, and Jason was heading to Wyoming to hang out in the Tetons. This left me alone in Silverton, alone with all of the mountains, and... maybe a little bored. Right around this time, Kim texted me. She mentioned that she was heading over to Lake City to spectate the San Juan Solstice. Or, to at least be in town when the runners were there, but do a few big days out of that side of the Juans as well. It wasn't a hard decision. I cranked the key, double checked that my four-legged, peak bagging sidekick was in the car, and drove to Lake City, Colorado.
Upon arrival, Lila and I promptly pulled out the maps in the town park and picked our route for the following day. At five o'clock the next morning, the alarm obnoxiously rang in my ear. I peered out the slightly foggy and condensated windows of my old Subaru, the sun rays licking the dewey grass of the meadow I had parked in at the base of the Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn peaks. Something about that morning had me bounding out the door before Lila could even finish her kibble. With nobody within a few mile radius of me and my unbridled stoke, tunes poured out of my phone speakers. "She loves to MOVE! She loves to GROOVE!" I didn't know why then, but I do now... For some reason, these didn't feel like just a couple more peaks I was climbing, even though they were just that.
And that was a year ago today. The day before the San Juan Solstice 50 mile ultra race. Lila and I racked up somewhere around twenty miles with 8k of vert before we exhaustedly clambered back into the Subaru, affectionately known as King Baxter, and coasted back to town. We were tired, we were happy, and we were (I guess) ready to be civilized, and pretend that we weren't the anti-social, dirtbag riff-raff that we truly were.
Many of you may have guessed earlier, and then got confused by the direction that this blog turned, but this is a love story. An ode to the guy that stole my heart and locked it up as quickly as possible. The boy that I met as soon as I sat down with a group of new friends the night before the race.
A year ago today, Tyler Fox came into my life. For those of you who know him, you'll know that he's a shy, somewhat socially awkward individual. He has young boyish features, and a six foot something frame. He was dressed like a frat boy, a trucker hat covered his head, and Risky Business knock-off ray bans sat on the bridge of his nose. His legs were covered in kinesio-tape, and the humble and innocent smile on his face said everything I needed to know about his personality.
We were introduced via a mutual friend, Len. Tyler nodded at my Run Rabbit Run shirt, and informed me that he ran the 100 miler the same year. He asked me why I wasn't running the race the next day. I told him it was because I had run Bighorn 100 the weekend before. That was the extent of our conversation. Kim pulled into the parking lot in her red Honda Civic, and I focused my attention on her, and listened intently to the plans we had for the next day. A year ago today, I fell asleep in the parking lot of a baseball field in a small Texas-summer-camp town in the mountains of southern Colorado, having no idea that I had just met my husband, who was sleeping in a tent not fifty yards from my car.