A week long Thanksgiving trip to see the kids means good food, loud talk, football and, unfortunately for me, less exercise. No one in my tribe wants to be outside biking, hiking and exploring as much as I do. I have to just switch to idle mode at times like this. Athletes often talk about recovery after an especially strenuous period of activity. I needed it after an an extended period of sloth.
I dreamt for days before returning home about taking a long bike ride on my first day home. Problem #1: My primary mountain bike was still in the shop for repairs. Problem #2: The wind was blowing at 20+ miles per hour. The solution: I hopped on my gravel-grinding mountain bike and went for a 15 mile adventure through highway construction zones, paths alongs the U.S./Mexico border fence and on city streets and alleys. It was a good first day the the holiday recovery process.
When I got home I had a phone message waiting for me on the GeoBetty Tours line. Marisa’s said that her and a business associate had a couple of free hours and would like to get outside. She added that the associate is the kind of person that starts climbing the walls and growling if he can’t DO SOMETHING. They had flown from from Europe to El Paso the day before and Joel needed to recover from that experience. When I talked to her on the phone we had just three hours until sunset. A plan was quickly set to meet at the 1000 Steps trailhead and start hiking. I grabbed an old pair of women’s hiking boots found in a home closet since Marisa didn’t have gear. We met just 30 minutes after first talking on the phone.
Marisa and Joel live in Switzerland and work for a multi-national medical equipment company. They travel the world telling others in their company about all the innovations coming to the healthcare world to excite them about the future. They said that soon we’ll have more tests and equipment to tell us what’s wrong with our bodies and how to get better. I didn’t bother telling them that what’s usually wrong with my body is that I’ve been sitting on my ass. Getting outside is the cure.
The 1000 Steps Trail is not an easy one. You climb moderately for almost a mile and then it gets steep. Slabs of rock are aligned as stairs in some places to help navigate the difficult sections. We had a slight wind at our backs on the way up. Suddenly you hit the ridge line on the trail and you can see almost all of El Paso and Juarez (Mexico) by just turning in circles. The hardest part about turning in circles on this day was the wind that threatened to blow us off of the mountain.
We had ten minutes at the top to soak up the views. Then we started down to beat the impending darkness. Sunsets in the southwest are special. On good days such as this one there are colors everywhere. A red sun dropped over the horizon in front of us. The sky and clouds above turn red, pink and purple. The mountain we descended glowed orange.
It was almost dark when we returned to our cars. Marisa scored brownie points with her coworker by getting him outside and active. Joel recovered from his transcontinental trek with a shorter excursion up a mountain. And I had a two workouts in one day to jumpstart my recovery from the Thanksgiving holiday.