What is this thing in the sky

In Wenatchee, Stef and I had a choice. The table outside, in the sun? Or the table inside?

I had a lovely time reuniting with Stef (and Trev, not pictured!) after TEN YEARS since Alaska! Here we are on our sunny hike pre-lunch.

I wanted the sun, but grudgingly went along with the more responsible choice. We’d already spent the whole morning hiking under the blazing blue sky and all the sunscreen in the world couldn’t prevent some level of exposure. I conceded to good judgment, gently affirmed by Stef, and we had a lovely lunch.

This morning I wrote in an email that the sun is “bright enough out midday that I feel like I’m on set of the horror part of whatever film where someone’s stumbling around in the overexposed light of their acid trip.” That’s just me stepping outside the trailer at noon. Sunglasses help.

“Hiking the Narrows” last week entailed toeing our way through sometimes chest-deep 65 degree rushing water. I was so excited for the first few miles I didn’t realize I was also quite cold.

St. George is an oven, even compared to the overall hot environs of southeast Utah. A pretty typical scene is Wes and I driving back from whatever jaunt on an afternoon, watching as the temperature gauge on the truck ticks up, up, up until we hit home sweet furnace.

After a legitimately chilly evening and early morning at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon last week, where the temps hit 40, the sun hid behind a cloud, and the wind picked up, I remembered what it felt like to be cold. Wes and I went on a morning run and commented that we couldn’t feel the soles of our feet due to numbness.

Same after the adrenaline had worn off three miles into hiking thigh, sometimes chest, deep through the Virgin River in Zion’s iconic the Narrows; a section of slot canyon with walls as tall as 1,500 feet high on either side with the river (the hike) running along the bottom. That water was 65 degrees Fahrenheit and my clothing was almost entirely wet and clinging to my body. In all the shade of the canyon and continuing to exert myself one step at a time pushing upriver, I realized when we stopped for lunch that my fingertips were numb.

Like…much colder conditions. Pictured: Wes exploring the bergs out on Knik Glacier, an incredible place that one can “snow bike 20ish RT miles to” “for fun”.

In those moments, I am dimly aware that I have pushed through much colder phenomenon than that water in my lifetime: how many Alaskan winters? These last few years felt the most punishing, because the awe no longer outweighed my discomfort.

I remind myself that a few moments, or even hours, of discomfort will soon be soothed by equally punishing, but still-novel to me desert heat.

That said: it is nearly July in St. George, Utah. I am getting my fill of direct sunlight on my skin. I’ve stopped taking vitamin d, and invested in a couple UV-protectant sun hoodies. I even wear these god forsaken HATS to protect my schnozz and forehead. I don’t seek the sun out anymore because I don’t need to. It’s basically the one constant.

A month and a half after feeling torn at the eatery in Wenatchee, I almost always choose shade.

Finally, here is a photo of one of my two dumb shade hats. This 90’s-era bucket design is specific for running. Apparently.

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