Emerald Lake

Crystal Lake

My wife and I just visited Mammoth Lakes, CA again because of how much fun we had last year. We rediscovered Mammoth in the summer and had a great time hiking and exploring. The area is very dog friendly – the restaurants all have water bowls outside and dogs can ride the buses. Ryker (see Post dated 6/26/13) even took the gondola to the top of Mammoth Mountain with us. The tough part is simply getting there. Trying to get my wife packed and out of the house is one thing.

Geordy (left) and Ryker

Geordy (left)
and Ryker

Add in Ryker and Geordy, and now you really have to work it. Purchase roof rack for dog pens, dog crates, luggage, etc… Load roof rack. Set up back of car as puppy luxury suite. Stuff wife in car with all of her “necessities”. Drive for six hours. Piece of cake.

Once we check-in and unpack, though, I take a few minutes to look around and relax. But the real change takes place the next morning. On a normal work day, when the clock reads 8:00 AM, I groan to myself and wish I could lie in bed for another 15 minutes. In Mammoth I woke up when Ryker nudged me, saw that it was 7:00 AM, and had to force myself to wait another hour before kicking my wife out of bed so we could get the day going. I awoke with anticipation instead of dread. At home, I rush to get into the car and drive through Starbucks for “breakfast”. I arrive at work, look over my schedule, and resign myself to another long workday. Here, we enjoyed a nice meal while admiring the view from the restaurant and the clear blue sky. We would chat and choose the trail for the day. Load up backpacks, get in the mobile pet palace, and drive to the trailhead. Dogs are happy, wife is happy, I am happy.

On this trip we brought Geordy, our five-month-old puppy, along for his first hiking experience. Watching him run around like mad checking out all the new sights and smells was great. But seeing him encounter streams and lakes for the first time was hysterical. He could not get enough of jumping in and trying to bite the splashing water.Geordy Ryker would watch aloofly from the shore, but could not resist Geordy’s exuberance and was soon running through the shallows as well. (Short video of Ryker and Geordy  – Ryker schools Geordy a bit on style!) Even four hours of hiking barely dented Geordy’s energy and enthusiasm. It was infectious. I found the lakes that much more beautiful and the views that much more humbling as I watched Geordy’s sheer joy in being alive.

Skelton Lake

Skelton Lake

So here we were, hiking from lake to lake, when my cell phone chimes. Despite all the mountains and valleys, Mammoth is interesting because four hours out on a trail, at 10,000 feet, you often still have cell phone reception. When I checked my phone I saw a text from Bill describing the day he was having. I looked around at the lake, at Geordy playing in the water, at the surrounding mountains, and I was struck by the difference in our days. Bill was agonizing over how much work to accept and how to set limits. I was hiking the trails of Mammoth Lakes admiring the views and enjoying time with my wife.

Crystal Lake

Emerald Lake

Unfortunately, I knew my escape was short-lived. I would soon be back battling the same decisions Bill faced. I asked myself, how can I do a better job achieving balance between these two extremes. At the end of each day in Mammoth we were all tired. Good tired. At the end of a work day I am simply tired. I know I need more good tired days. The challenge is making a different choice. To break away from our routines. To find a better balance. Ask yourself today, what are the things that make you good tired? How can you achieve a better balance between good tired and just tired? Maybe you need to take a hike…