Thursday, November 24, 2011

Girls on the Run!

The following is an interview between my inner self and my outer self, about my recent participation with a wonderful organization, Girls on the Run:

Inner: How long have you been a runner?
Me: I used to run years ago, doing 5Ks and 10Ks, then some trail running, but I gave it up because it didn't really suit me.

Inner: And tell me about your involvement with kids.
Me: well, I was a kid once, long ago. And a have a nephew, who is 4 and lives far away.

So let me get this straight... you no longer run and you are not a "kid person", yet you are volunteering with an organization that connects girls with running?
I know it sounds like a stretch, but I really wanted to get involved with young people and this opportunity popped up. The girl I run with is 9 years old, so she's still a beginner in running and we mix in walking with running. And running is something anyone can do, without  specialized equipment. 

Yes, I gave it a shot. I was nervous, both about the running and about being with a young girl. My friend, Julie, who volunteers as a coach, prepped me on the details of what to expect. The school who was hosting the program was in Sea-Tac, a community that has some socio-economic challenges, as well as some crime and drug use. This program also exists in homogenous areas like Queen Anne and Greenlake, but those kids don't face the same challenges in their everyday existence. The girl I was paired with was the only girl in a household with boys, plus their mom. Although she didn't mention this, my friend told me that they had recently taken in a girl whose mother had taken a vacation from parenting for a while. 

In addition to running, the coaches teach the girls about self esteem and being kind to one another and standing up to bullies. I got a chance to drive home the self-esteem issue while we were running: at one point, she looked back and, seeing no one, declared we were at the back of the group and would finish last. I reminded her of all the people we had passed and told her about my policy of never looking back, as it only makes you feel slower. When we finished, she could see that we were about in the middle of the pack and was very happy with herself.

I'm looking forward to the big event on Saturday, December 3 at Seward Park. There will be 400 girls (and their buddies), from programs all around the Seattle area, running in a 5K.

This small way of giving back comes at a time of the year when we think of what we are thankful for. Participating in the program makes me realize all I have to be thankful for, plus gives me a chance to make a difference in someone's life.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Purrfect Day on the Katwalk

strutting their stuff on the Katwalk
Fall started the first weekend of October and winter closed in on the mountains on the first weekend in November. The hope was that winter would hold off enough on the trail to Kendall Katwalk along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) so our group could safely make the destination and be up on the Katwalk with snow on the nearby peaks for contrast, while the fall colors were fading. The forecast was for clouds with the possibility of a snow shower, so when we looked up to see the blue sky above us while getting ready in the parking lot, we felt a little like we had won the lottery. Immediately, a few of us took our rainhats out of our packs and left them in the car.

By luck, we were a group of 10 women, all members of the Mountaineers and all hoping to get in a nice fall hike and see some views. We got more than we wished for. There were challenges, in particular, the creek crossing where the rocks had an inch of ice on them and so the only safe place to step was on submerged rocks or walking in the water, testing our boots' waterproofing. Water was coming down the waterfall and raining on us during the crossing, giving the impression that moving too slowly meant becoming frozen in the creek. We made it through without incident and were free to wander high, in the snow, up a well-trod path to the sky.

The views started early – the peaks across Commonwealth Basin (Denny Mt, The Tooth, Bryant and Chair Peak) and then the monster mountain who has followed me nearly everywhere this year (or am I following her), Mt Rainier, to the south. As we ascended, we ran into 2 guys who had camped up high and they remarked that we had picked the most perfect day to be up there. We were optimistic; in fact, we were determined to reach our destination. I could feel the energy coming from the back of the group, the desire to see the best views, the mountains cloaked in snow in a wintery wonderland that usually required snowshoes and very heavy packs. We pushed onward and upward into the deepening snow.

Just before lunchtime, we were treated to the first of the spectacular views to the east. We could see as far east as Mt Stuart and without the distraction of too many clouds. We then readied ourselves for our grand entrance "On the Katwalk". Take it away, Fred!

It was everything we had hoped it would be... and more! Snow-flocked trees, never-ending views, a lone man ready to take our photo using each of our 8 cameras.

he's saying, "girrrls!" to warn his guy person
We talked, we laughed, we sang, we took many photos, each slightly different in perspective, we socialized with other groups who arrived, including a girl-fearing dog. We were 10 adventurous mountain women who had cheated the weather and made it to the top of our world.