a voluntary trail spanking

My first full day off in over six weeks. A for real full day off.

Office locked up, phones off, garden projects at a place where they can wait a few days, and the house looking like a disaster but happy all the same.

I woke up early but leisurely, made coffee, snuggled with my dogs, turned on some music, and had this awesome moment, all to myself, of nothing pressing to do, just me and the early morning. My sofa felt like an old friend. I realized when I sat down with my cup of coffee and a magazine that I most likely have not done that for a few months. Note to me, this needs to happen more often.

I love watching my sleepy children pile out of their rooms, happy and nappy looking. They tucked in on the sofa with me and we just kind of hung that way for awhile. We started to talk about our day, and they reminded me that one of their goals was to ‘bag peaks’ this summer. I was feeling good, lets do it.

Water, food, hats, and packs assemble easily in our home. Renn wanted to break in his new back pack, he is going to do some over nights with Spore this summer. Piper has been trail running so was ready in no time at all. And I think I was just feeling so relaxed and good with my awesome morning I may have said yes to anything. I didn’t really think to hard about what was ahead of me.

The Blackmore trail in the Gallatin Mountain range is what they chose, I said yes. Elephant Mountain was the destination, 10,090 ft. It is roughly an 11 mile round trip hike with a constant up hill  going, and a constant down hill returning. About 3,500 in elevation gain. This is definitely a back country trail, but super popular, so by no means remote. It was feeling warm so we left the dogs at home with Spore. Story would have loved this hike I am sure, this was his kind of adventure, next time when it is cooler he will be going!

We set out and reached Blackmore lake in what seemed like no time at all, it’s just over 1.5 -2 miles from the trail head. The wildflowers were easily at their peak, and it was so gorgeous that I just couldn’t get over it. Just when I thought I saw the most colorful meadow, the next meadow would prove me wrong. The wildflowers proved to be a great diversion for the pain I started to feel in my one knee, this knee has been a bit of a problem since 1984. I’m glad it is still hanging in there, but maybe just barely! My kids were trucking along at a really nice pace, I was keeping up, but for sure I had to make more of an effort. My daughter looked like a gazelle and moved effortlessly along on the trail, Renn looked like he was born to hike and so at ease, and I was just hoping my one knee wouldn’t explode.

it was hard to get over how beautiful it was

After the lake, the trail becomes ‘mother natures stair master’, for miles. Thru a gorgeous thick pine forest, it goes straight up, and up, and up. Not a little but a lot. We were all sweating, it was hot, I for sure was sweating way more. When we reached the upper switchbacks, big long huge sweeping switchbacks, I got a second wind, and it was so needed. A bit of reprieve on my knee, more intense wildflower meadows, and the last of the snow fields. I stopped for a moment, looked around, looked at my healthy mountain kids, had ‘a moment’, and decided I need more days off. And I seriously need to have my knee checked!

neadows filled with bluebells and blooming... it was unreal!

We made it to the saddle, and the view was beyond description. I kind of wanted to giggle, but then at the same time just take a long huge deep breath and be glad I was there, just standing, and getting to look out. I feel so lucky to have this mountain range literally out my back door. It’s one thing to look at it, it’s another thing to hike in it.


At the saddle we could go to Mount Blackmore, Elephant Mountain, or down into a little valley towards Alex Lowe Peak. There were about five hikers going one way, and two the other, so we kept to our plan of scrambling up Elephant Mountain. Scree fields, a bit of bouldering and some mountain goats. We had some lunch, talked about cool things, and then started to head down. My knee was screaming at me all the way down, this constant down hill proved to be harder than the up. My kids looked like they do this everyday, I was definitely feeling drained. But, they bagged their first peak of the summer, so it was totally worth it! And we have our next one planned! I know they were being kind to me, they could have done this in half the time if they had been on their own. It was a bit of an eye opener, as just a few years ago it was the other way around.

woop! bagged their first peak this summer

I am hobbling around the house this morning, my knee hates me and I hate my knee, it’s mutual. My kids are out and about with friends and doing summer stuff. I for sure had a good trail spanking yesterday, but for me it was worth it!


enjoy the photos, just click on the first one and follow the arrows.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. nutsfortreasure says:

    So sorry you too suffer with a knee damned to keep us down I am glad you went and saw the enjoyment your children had See the Ortho Doctor 🙂

    Gorgeous scenery thanks for adding the shots to this beautiful story.

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      I have made a phone call and have an appointment! 😉

      1. nutsfortreasure says:

        🙂 I see mine on the 23rd 🙂

  2. Love love love the pix. The one of you and Renn……….looks like you are looking in a mirror!

  3. Must have been a wonderful and well deserved day off. Nice nature photos.

  4. mtwaggin says:

    Awesome awesome….wish I was in as good o shape as you guys but my knees would be screaming downhill too!!! Lovely lovely photos.

  5. I shirked my duties on Sunday and headed for a mountain lake. Next step the peaks. It was a balm for the soul. My left knee screams up hill and tries to implode coming down. I hate getting old….So glad you were able to take a day and frolic in nature with the kids

  6. Kim says:

    We all need a good trail spanking once in a while to remind ourselves that we are still alive. The pain we feel afterwards (or at least *I* feel afterwards) is a sure fire reminder! What a gorgeous hike and a glorious day you spent with Renn and Piper 🙂

  7. Love the pictures! What a beautiful place you live in. I am lucky too, here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of VA. I fully empathize with your knee problem. Hope it gets better soon!

  8. Marie Tanner says:

    Nancy, That is absolutely awesome. Gorgeous pictures. Wish I were young enough to do it all again.

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