Some weekends are all about doing things that need to get done. Those weekends are necessary. But what about weekends devoted solely to doing things we want to do? Aren’t they just as necessary?
I stumbled upon one of those last weekend. Actually, it was more of a splashy belly flop, resulting in a little soreness but also a big grin.
Robin Hood and I got Valentine’s Day off to an early start with Albuquerque’s Sweetheart Run 5k. Our plan was for me to run and him to cheer. As I got dressed, I heard a racket coming from the other side of the house. Shortly thereafter, Robin Hood came strolling into the room, and I gave him a questioning look.
If I had any doubt that this guy is for me, it was erased at that moment. Not because he was coming to watch me run; not because he was bringing a cowbell; but because he was practicing ringing the cowbell.
I nearly swooned.
Off we drove to the race. The weather was fantastic. I was excited to toe a starting line again (my first since September), and to test my fitness.
The starter’s horn sounded, we all surged forward, and…I heard it! The unmistakable clang of a lone but assertive cowbell sending us runners on our way. Pride washed over me. All those spectators along the course, and mine was the one ringing the cowbell. Best fan EVER!
I dashed through that race. I started too fast, but I didn’t care – I felt good. I passed a few people, then settled into a steady-ish pace. The manic energy of the start wore off, but I pressed on, successfully navigated a section of the course comprised of loose sand without falling (hooray!), and finally found myself in the last 200 meters, which were on a track. Time to kick it in!
I don’t know how my finish looked, but I do know that I heard the cowbell again. It pulled me along and I saw a flash of numbers as I crossed the finish line: 21:26! And 3rd place overall female!
From there, the day flowed like a happily babbling brook. We ate brunch at one of our favorite restaurants. We visited a Western wear store we’d never been to, just out of curiosity. We went to an expo hosted by New Mexico’s Department of Game & Fish, where Robin Hood was basically in an ecstatic trance for a couple of hours. We ate a steak dinner, with chocolate cake for dessert. YUM.
Our night, however, was not a late one, because our alarms for the next morning were set to…4 a.m.
A-hunting we were going. Specifically, hunting in an area about two hours south of Albuquerque, for a creature that sounded wildly exotic to my ears: Barbary sheep.
Four a.m. arrived too soon (doesn’t it always?). We rolled out of bed, got dressed (thankfully most of the prep work was already done) and hit the road. After some coffee and breakfast tacos, we were doing pretty well – awake and coherent!
We arrived at Robin Hood’s pre-selected spot just after sunrise, strapped on our packs, and started hiking. It began easily enough. We walked up through a valley and kept our eyes peeled. I practiced my “keep quiet and don’t lose your balance” walk. Conditions were favorable, but the sheep stayed hidden. Robin Hood decided we needed a better vantage point.
The “better vantage point” could only be attained by climbing a steep hill with no trail, lots of scree, a few snowy patches, and mostly dead tree stumps to grab onto.
I don’t recommend grabbing a dead tree stump for support.
Eventually, we made it to the top, and that was something. The view was magnificent, tall grasses waved in the wind, and we had a chance to catch our breath.
After Robin Hood thoroughly examined the surrounding area with binoculars (still nothing), we had a snack and moved on. The wind picked up, but the warm sun compensated for it. We eased along a ridge, keeping quiet, but didn’t see anything. All of the critters apparently were staying out of the wind.
We made our way back downhill. And I was reminded of a great hiking truth: if a hike up loose rock seems tough, just wait for the hike down!
After my nerves were rigorously tested and Robin Hood assured me repeatedly that I would NOT, in fact, start a human landslide, we got past the hardest part blessedly unscathed. Our efforts were rewarded by the sight of four mule deer! I wish I had taken a picture, but all I could do was stare. They were beautiful as they bounded along. Robin Hood muttered something about wishing it was mule deer season, but he had a smile on his face.
We stopped for another food break and started back to the truck. The wind was calmer in the valley, layers came off, and drowsiness began to settle in. It was time to call it a day.
A successful hunt? Maybe not. A great hike on land that rarely sees a human footprint? Definitely.
Thanks for the experience, Robin Hood. 🙂