Pack your bags.
Take a day off.
Drive 3 hours.
Rent a cabin in the woods (or pitch a tent if you’re adventurous).
Read a book without interruption.
Disregard your email inbox.
Run all the miles.
Love on all the mountains.
That’s my advice for a mental health break and it’s exactly what I did this past weekend.
It was our second annual Big Bear family trip with Brittany, her mom (Stacey), and little brother and sister. We rented the same house this year as last because we loved it so much. Why mess with magic?
Our cabin is cozy, warm and adjacent to over 30 miles of profoundly gorgeous trails. We watch blue jays while we drink our coffee out on the deck and we light fires at night while we play card games. It’s idyllic and just the most perfect little spot.
On Friday, we did a little trail run on the Skyline trail just steps from our cabin. Immediately, I was huffing and puffing. I completely forgot about the altitude and how tough it is for a sea level girl.
The next day, Brittany and I woke up at 6 a.m. and set out to conquer 16 miles at altitude on the trails. This was also going to be Brittany’s longest run… EVER. As her coach, it probably seems like some kind of sick and twisted joke that I would have her run 16 miles on trails in the mountains. But in my defense, I wanted us to take advantage of the gorgeous trails despite the altitude and the terrain we aren’t exactly trained for.
We had our camelbaks strapped to our backs and off we went. The first mile of the Skyline Trail is completely uphill with no breaks. It’s pretty brutal, but once you get past it, you’re gifted with some slight downhill action that your legs are begging for. The first 4-5 miles were pretty enjoyable, mostly because the scenery is incredible. But by mile 7, I was almost toast. I decided 14 miles would be sufficient, so I stopped at Grandview Point, took some photos, ate my Honey Stinger chews, texted Brittany that we should run 14 instead of 16, and turned around.
We had our phones in our camelbaks so she didn’t get my text until much later, at which point she texted back “Oops. I lost you. I’m almost to mile 8, so it looks like I’m still doing 16.” I said F*&K in my head and then decided to turn around (again) to go find her. I wasn’t going to let her run 16 miles while I waited at the bottom. We were in it together even if we were running apart.
We found each other back at Grandview Point, hugged, talked about how hard it was and then we headed back out to finish it. Brittany was starting to struggle and I was definitely ready to be done, but we kept at it.
I stopped again to take some photos at another beautiful spot (any excuse to stop) and Brittany eventually caught back up. She was cramping and having a hard time running for the last mile or so. I said I’d meet her at the end, and off I went again.
Even though we weren’t side by side, it was nice knowing Brittany was out there, somewhere on that same trail, running with me. I enjoyed the solitude but I also liked the thought of her seeing the same things I was seeing and experiencing all of the same little details of the trail.
I eventually got to the end (after some weird deja vu) and waited again for Brittany to finish. She did it! Her longest run ever, at altitude, on trails. Wow. I’m insanely proud. I don’t think she even realizes what a badass that makes her.
We spent the rest of the day just relaxing and then going into town for a glass of wine. We cooked dinner, played games and I was out by 11.
On Sunday, we went to Boulder Bay to do some stand up paddle boarding and kayaking. I would definitely recommend it – the water is calm and shallow and the views are fantastic. We wrapped up the weekend with some lunch and live music and then back to San Diego we went.
Weekends like this last one are always so appreciated. I love my beach days (like LOVVVVVE them) but it’s nice to getaway to a place where you can find true solitude. A place where you don’t know anybody and you have absolutely zero obligations – other than those self-imposed ones, like running 16 miles or finishing a book. I find it incredibly helpful for my mental well-being. And now it’s back to reality… (that is until Vancouver next week)!
Where do you go for peace & quiet?