A Rainy Day Run

“So we’re really going to do this?”

“Yup.  Pick you Saturday at 8:00am.,

“Okay.”

And that’s how it started.

It was kind of drizzling a bit when we got dropped off just beside the highway at the Whyte Lake trail head.  (Elevation 390 ft) There were a couple of cars in the gravel lot but apart from that it was pretty much deserted.  We buckled up our Camelbacks and started off around the corner only to face the first hill.  For the next two and a half hours we would make our way up the front of Black Mountain to Eagle Bluff.  (Elevation 3550).  Ya, that’s right.  Just over 3000 feet.  Up.

eagle-bluffs
This is what we hopes to see……

We ran though the forest for about an hour or so catching up on the last few weeks.  Kids, school, work, stuff.  Okay, so maybe we didn’t run the whole time but we kept up a pretty good pace despite talking non-stop.  The Baden Powell trail is well marked with happy orange squares stapled to trees so finding our way was pretty easy.  Eventually though, through the trees, we could see a rock face and we both knew what was coming next.  If we had thought that we had been going up before we had a whole new kind of “up” ahead of us.

“Shit, don’t look down” was mentioned more than once.  The notes on this portion of the trail mentioned to be sure and “lean in” to the side of the mountain.  Believe it or not we were still having fun.

After the first steep climb through the trees we came out onto a boulder field.  Seriously.  A field of boulders.  Only not a flat field.  A field of boulders on a 75 degree angle.  There were no more friendly orange markers on the trees.  We were on our own.  Crawling over boulders.  We headed straight up but then realized that we didn’t know where the trail picked up again.  I spotted a tiny inukshuk at the top right and headed for that.  A few feet above it the trail started up again.  We looked back down at what we had just covered and considered  ourselves lucky to have made it.

Boulders

Once that was done it didn’t seem that much farther up to Eagle Bluff.  The final push was just trying to find a path up the bluff that had something to hold onto.  By the time we got to the bluff it was raining and the clouds had closed in.  Apparently there is a phenomenal view for the bluff but we will never saw it.  Grey.  Nothing but grey.  Awesome, we climbed 3000 feet for this?

Eagle Bluff
Grey and cloudy but we’re still smiling

Back into the trees we went but if we thought we were done with going up, we were wrong.  Maybe it wasn’t as steep, but it was definitely up.  I may have muttered a few swear words at this point.  The trail was muddy but we were back in the trees and a bit more sheltered.  At some point a guy whizzed (and I do mean whizzed) past us.  Wide wooden planks became the trail over marshy sections that ended our climb.  For now.  Our last half an hour was down a wide gravel path and ended at the Cypress Park Ski Lodge.  The cozy fire, smell of grilled burgers and cold beer sign almost had us calling it a day.  But no.

You see, The Best Thing in Life as that we were only half way done.  Seriously.  Stayed tuned for part two.

Happy?

happy face

What makes you happy? It’s different for everyone I suppose. The easy response would be, perhaps, a sunny day, a warm hug, an unexpected windfall, a great glass of wine. It’s a pretty loaded question really. It could be something life encompassing or it could be something tiny and seemingly insignificant. This morning listening to the Eagles Live album really loudly in the car made me happy. Sleep, chocolate, a new pair of shoes.  Those things seem so fleeting though. What sustains happiness, long term?

Over the years I have discovered that my happiness is very closely tied to my physical well being. If I feel good physically I am happy. If I’m tired, have an upset stomach or haven’t worked out in a few days, I can feel myself slipping into an unhappy place. I think this is true for most people and really it’s just simple biology. The act of getting your heart pumping and the endorphins flowing, puts a smile on most people’s faces. So why can’t we just spend our days out running or hiking on the trails? There. Problem solved. Happiness all around.

Then there is the saying money can’t buy you happiness. No, it can’t. But it can alleviate the anxiety and stress that go with a mountain of debt. I’m not ashamed to say that I am happier now than I was a few years ago when we were struggling to make ends meet. We don’t have any more “things” than we did then, but we argue less and worry less and in turn, are, I believe, happier. Do I envy people who have more than I do and think that having all that would make me happy. You bet. I know it’s materialistic and there are many people who have nothing and are extremely happy. I’m just not one of them.

When I reached out to friends to see what makes them happy, without a doubt, the most common answer was friends and family. Kids laughing, connecting with friends, time with spouses are all major happiness factors.  In no particular order here are a few examples of the responses I got.  They really are some of The Best Things in Life.  Sunshine, nature, wine, travel, napping, sex, cold beer on a hot day, love, chocolate, exercise. Of course one of my friends turned if around on me and asked me what made me happy. On that day? Seeing my inbox full of happy emails. Learning more about my friends and their joys in life.

An old friend commented that she was happiest when she knows that her interests and ideas are being supported by those closest to her. But then in the next breath she wonders if it’s right to leave her happiness in the hands of others. “I shouldn’t rely on others to make me happy”. This is something I struggle with as well. I have tried not to be a “gold star junkie” as Gretchen Rubin terms it in The Happiness Project. When you rely on others to pat you on the back or give you a gold star for your achievements you are, in essence, keeping score, and rarely come out on top. Am I successful in this? Let’s just say I’m working on it.

100 Happy Days is an on line project that has been around for a while. I was hiking with a friend a few weeks ago who was on day 56. The premise is that you email an image to their website every day for 100 days that symbolizes happiness to you. I would imagine that by the time you reach 100 days it would have become a habit for you to find something each day, no matter how small or insignificant, that makes you happy. A bit like a gratification post. I think that I’m going to try the 100 Happy Days project. It may be a good reminder to me of how many great things I encounter each day that make me smile. I also find that “having a clear vision and taking steps towards it every day” makes me happy as well.

Can you be happy all the time? I don’t think you can and I think that’s totally okay. Of course it’s not okay to be unhappy all the time either. The key is to find the right balance for you. The right mix or percentage of happiness . Over thinking things makes me happy too. It’s an odd thing, actually, to stop and really think about whether you are happy or not. People have made billions in the self help industry telling us what we need to do to be happy. Why do we need to read a book about it? Shouldn’t we just BE happy? Can it be that simple?

So at the end of the day did I find my answer? No. But I did start thinking more about my happiness and the happiness of others and that in itself is good.   One of the surprising emails I received was from a friend I hope to meet with very soon to talk about her passions. I totally expected her to say decorating cakes and being on my bike with my dog. What did I get instead? A great quote to close my post .

“I am happiest when I am continually striving for my potential in life.”