The Spirit is Willing …

Donna Messerly-Brownby Donna Messerly-Brown

Pine nuts are everywhere!

Fifteen years and 50 pounds ago I hiked that trail on Cedar Mountain pushing a baby stroller.  I remember it so clearly, it was the day the trail was dedicated in 1996 — Smokey Bear’s 50th anniversary. I was chair of the Iron County Utah State Centennial committee and believed it was my duty to at least hike the trail. Wait, did I say I was pushing a baby stroller? I meant I was chasing it down the mountain! The hike was a breeze that day and I didn’t let my little 5-month old, Liberty LaRae, go crashing to the bottom of the mountain one time. That was then. This is now.

On Saturday, Nov. 3, My friend, Katie, and I packed up a group of teenagers and headed up to the top of what we know in Cedar City as the “C-Trail.” We call it that because the head of the trail is right next to a huge letter, “C”, painted on the mountain originally to represent Cedar City High School. We left one car at the bottom of the mountain and drove Katie’s car to the top. “Now, where is this place?” Katie kept asking. “Wow, it seems like we’re driving pretty far. Just how long is this trail?”

“Ahhhh,” I waved her worry away with a confident hand, “It just seems high because you’re driving to the top of a mountain.” Poor Katie. She has great trust and confidence in me. We considered the possibility of watching movies together instead. We attempted on many occasions to talk ourselves out of this insane challenge. “We’re hiking that trail,” I insisted.

Katie (far right) and the kids at the top of C-Trail on Cedar Mountain.

And hike we did.

The top of the C-Trail is accessed in Right Hand Canyon on Cedar Mountain at the C-Overlook Trailhead. To reach the trailhead, drive east from Cedar City following Hwy 14. Five miles into the canyon, turn right on to the Kolob Reservoir Road. Follow that road for 4.6 miles to the signed parking area/trailhead. The trail is well-marked all the way to the bottom. It’s steep — how steep is it? — we dropped 1,130 feet while hiking from the top to the bottom. The trail ends, or begins if you’re hiking up it, at the parking lot at 820 South 300 East in Cedar City. Mountain bikers love the trail. I think they’re insane.

Now, mind you, I am no granola girl. I am an overweight 50-year-old woman (who has lived a sedentary life style for five years now) seeking to regain some of my youth and retrain my body to move again. But, boy, do I have spirit! Anyone could have told you this was a bad idea from the very beginning. In fact, I seem to recall a few people (with my best interests at heart) telling me just that.

Four teenagers joined us on our hike — two boys and two girls. They bounded down the mountain like little rabbits. The boys arrived at the bottom first. The girls were behind them about 45 minutes. They waited for us for two hours. Katie hopped, skipped and jumped along the steep, rocky trail. I hobbled down with a cane I brought along “just in case.” We both breathed in the stunning beauty of the red hills contrasting the white hills and we laughed until it was absolutely dangerous. When we finally reached the bottom of the trail (4.2 miles) I confessed to Katie that I could NOT walk to the car — about 1/4 mile from the blessed bottom. She led me to a bench and drove the car to scoop me up.

Would I do it again? Hell, no. Am I glad I did it this time? I am ecstatic. You see, for the first time in a very long time, I consciously made the decision to move. I called an end to my own emotional suffering and traded it in for a little physical pain (and by little, I mean a LOT of physical pain). This seemingly insurmountable move marked the beginning of my journey to wellness.

Cedar City

Half way down the mountain over looking Cedar City, Utah to the west.

Seek Balance in All Things

When our lives and life choices are contrary to our core beliefs, there is conflict. I am fully aware of the need to exercise. I know how Mother Nature heals us and how important it is to seek awe-inspiring surroundings to feed our souls, bodies, hearts and minds. At last, the spirit is willing. Now, granted, the flesh is weak (and bound up in really painful knots right now); but it is the spirit that leads the body and mine says it’s time to get up and dance.

The next big walk will be on Nov. 10 in Hurricane, Utah. I will be walking with my daughter on behalf of “Out of Darkness,” an awareness program for suicide prevention. Join us if you would like to, or donate a few dollars to help us help this organization provide the tools and services required to save lives — lives that might otherwise be lost to suicide. You’ll find details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/273415642761743/ .

After that, it’s off to Johnson Canyon Trail at the mouth of Snow Canyon State Park. This is an easy two-mile hike round trip (no, really Katie, it is). I vow to continue my search for adventure and life, but promise to take baby steps from here on out! I’ll work up to major hikes slowly and take time to take in the beauty of the land and life around me.

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