Hiking with My Dad and Other Emotions

I was very lucky to grow up in Missoula, MT. As a child I didn’t fully understand the gravity of my luck, but as an adult I can see what a magical place it is and be grateful for such an opportunity.
I am in Missoula this week to visit my parents, get some elevation training hikes in, and drop the dog off. There are very few people you can ask to dog-sit for an entire month. There are even fewer people you can ask to dog sit for an entire month, when the dog is an angry chihuahua with a lot of opinions. Parents. Parents are actually the only people who fit this category.

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The smell of the Montana mountains and hiking with my dad brings back so many memories. He taught me all of life’s most important lessons while walking. There is something that happens during a hike that makes talking about the big topics easier.  My mom taught me her own lessons, of course, but they are not connected to the smell of the outdoors like the time spent with my dad is. My dad taught me about the beauty of nature and what it means to be in it. He taught me about direction, following your heart, and going your own pace. He taught me to be strong physically and emotionally. He taught me the art of not giving a single flying fuck about what anyone else thinks, says, or does. And most importantly he taught me to be loyal and to hold friendship in the highest regard.

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He is retired now, and every morning he gets up with the sun, has a cup of coffee, breakfast, and then goes for a walk. He walks for a few hours each and every day. Some days he stays in town walking along the river, other days he heads for the woods. He has graciously altered his daily routine to match my training schedule. Riding his bike along with me on Saturday morning, and keeping me company while I ran for two hours and fifteen minutes. He’s super good at being a dad.

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This morning we hiked up in Pattee Canyon to the top of one of the many peaks in order to gain as much elevation as possible.

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The other day we hiked up to the top of Mount Sentinel, Missoula’s famous “M trail”, but we went to the very top. We have logged many miles and many more hours in the last week.

Tomorrow we will go up to Flathead Lake and rest! Hopefully the smoke won’t be too terrible, and I will be able to get some good photos.  Until then keep chugging that protein powder!

-Jill

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