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Homecoming traditions aren’t usually my thing. Pep rallies and 5K runs are fun . . . for other people. But one Homecoming tradition did catch my eye this year, and that was the annual ascent of Mount Ogden.
Students and community members had three trails to choose from, depending on their skill level as hikers. Campus Recreation, which sponsors the hike, suggested use of the three designated trails.
For a 12-mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 4,600 feet, hikers could reach the mount by means of the Beus Canyon trail. With the trailhead located at the top of 46th Street, Beus Canyon is labeled as a very long and tough hike.
Taylor Canyon is also a 10.2-mile strenuous hike, so it’s no wonder most participants opt for the Snow Basin route. Which is only a challenging hike of 8.4 miles round trip.
So I decided, for once, to participate in a Homecoming tradition. I decided the hike to Mount Ogden was the tradition for me.
Although I rock-climb and go to the gym regularly, and ride my bike to campus most days of the week, I wouldn’t say I’m in the most excellent shape required for hiking. Not to mention I have terrible joints. Yet, as I gaze to the East, Mount Ogden silently beckons me.
But I never made it to the top. The stupid mountain continues to elude me.
Of course, that’s because I never tried. I parked in the proper place listed on the Campus Recreation website and expected to see a tent or a Weber State University shuttle bus or some sort of signage, but there were none.
I eschewed the idiotic notion of blazing the trail all by myself, especially since I was carrying expensive camera equipment and forgot water. Instead, I was attracted to the other side of Snow Basin, where the infamous XTERRA triathlon was being held.
I was soon swarmed on all sides by trainers, delicious local beer and tons of gorgeous athletic people with tight bike shorts. How lucky am I? So I chatted it up with some vendors at their tents and also snapped some actions shots of athletes.
I got a sweet picture of Conrad Stoltz, a 40-year-old seven-time XTERRA world champ, running with his bike into the transition area, where he threw on his running shoes and kept going. He just kept going.
This was probably the most amazing moment of my Snow Basin experience on Saturday. After I decided to give up on my hike, I watched dozens of athletes jump off their bikes and keep going, keep racing toward the finish line.
Traditions that may seem lame are worth checking out because they can lead to new discoveries. I drove all the way to Snow Basin, tired and grumpy, early on a Saturday morning, expecting to hike to the top of a mountain. Instead of being miserable the entire time, I found a new tradition I want to uphold.
So this year, and every year because that’s what tradition means, instead of not trying, instead of giving up and quitting, I am going to be like those XTERRA athletes and keep going.
Well, maybe after I put on a pair of super awesome running shoes, but the point remains. I’d also like to keep up the tradition of hanging around Snow Basin for XTERRA. I love surrounding myself with beautiful people.