My Canyon

I’m sitting in my yard with my laptop and a bottle of Method All-Purpose spray. I really want to write but I can’t figure out what story needs to be told so I focus on the mosquitos instead. I’ve sprayed my ankles with insect repellent and anything that dares to fly near me gets a shot of the Method. I chuckle at the irony that non-toxic plant-based household cleaner makes those suckers fall right out of the sky.

And that’s when it hits me that I really need to get out more.

I recently rediscovered the trails of Sabino Canyon, a uniquely beautiful spot at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson. It’s one of those places all the locals know about but sometimes forget to take advantage of. I’ve lived 7 miles away from Sabino Canyon for the last 19 years and have probably only gone a handful of times until recently when the green grass of my yard ceased to feel like nature.

My breath was taken away this morning when I stepped onto the main trail.

This is my Church.

This is my gym.

This is my “me” time.

This is my therapist.

sabino canyon 1

I’ve always had a like/hate relationship with exercise. The physical sensation of my heartrate increasing can feel dangerous to me and trigger fear. Even when I’m walking my dog in the neighborhood, I can’t help but feel like someone is chasing me. I walk fast because I can’t let them catch me.

Hiking in Sabino Canyon is the only place where I don’t feel like I’m being stalked.

sabino canyon 2

But that’s not to say I’m not. While there are well-marked paths and paved roads (for walkers, bikers and trams only), there is plenty of wildlife that needs to be respected and taken seriously.

sabino canyon 3

I’d love to see the spider that made this. No really, I would.

sabino canyon spider web

The remnants of someone’s dinner. Probably a javalina.

sabino poop

But most of the wild is in the form of flowers.

sabino flowers

sabino flowers 2

And adorable families of saguaros.

sabino saguaros

sabino saguaros 2

A plentiful end to our monsoon season means the water is running. Nothing is more peaceful than the sound of water.

sabino water

All roads lead to here.

sabino road

Relax and enjoy…


25 thoughts on “My Canyon

  1. Gorgeous. If you’d ever like to hike the canyon with me (in the coolness of cool weather), give me a call! I love Sabino Canyon and you’re right – it’s here and I hardly ever go. Hiked the Telephone Line (??) trail with my friend from NY last February and I have been itching to get back. Or is that the mosquitoes?


  2. “The physical sensation of my heartrate increasing can feel dangerous to me and trigger fear. Even when I’m walking my dog in the neighborhood, I can’t help but feel like someone is chasing me. I walk fast because I can’t let them catch me.”

    I feel like a deer frozen in the headlights as they say. Reading this passage makes my heart race. I keep breaking out into a sweat as I read and reread it. My stomach feels sick. Both like I could throw up and also like I’ve been physically kicked in the gut.

    This is my issue. This is my struggle. This is my own form of torture and torment. When I race triathlons the run is my weakest link. I feel like I’m being pulled backwards on a conveyer belt as I try to run forward. I feel terrified and I run with an anxious stomach all of the time. Afraid.

    During different periods of my long-course training and racing, I have inadvertantly self-sabotage and stop fueling my body. My stomach gets too sick for me to nourish myself and I literally run out of gas.

    More often than not now, my mind is my own captor. I cannot let go of the mental demons preventing me from truly running free. I self-sabotage as the race gets closer to the end and all of my fear, shame, vulnerability, self-loathing — my mother’s voice and my abuser hold me back and I cannot run to my full potential. I slow down. I tell myself I cannot do it. I hold myself back from truly running my own race. It’s suffocating and heartbreaking and I desperately long to run free. But so far I cannot.

    I’m working on it. I’m working at it furiously. Passionately. I am so raw and afraid but I cannot let myself run in fear anymore. It’s oppressive and I’m so tired of getting in my own way. You touched on such a raw nerve and I’m incredibly grateful that you know that feeling. That you share it too. It makes it easier for me to hold and continue to work through.

    Thank you for your pictures. Your openness to share. And for listening right here and now to my own experiences.

    Much love to you, Karen.


    1. “I’m so tired of getting in my own way.” That is the story of my life, Jessica. I don’t work my body and compete the way you do so I don’t know if what I’m going to share will ring true to you or not. What changed everything for me in terms of confronting the fear of being chased was recognizing it and doing what my body wants me to do. My body wants to run. It wants to escape the people who want to capture me. So I give myself permission to run as fast as I can. I used to try to hold back because when I was a victim, I had to hide my fear. When I was a victim, I had to pretend that I wasn’t affected. When I was a victim, I had to play it cool. But as a survivor, I can fight, I have a voice, I can OUTRUN fucking anyone. Just try to catch me. We only run in fear when we think we can be caught. Running is power and it’s freedom. They can chase us all they want but they’ll never catch us. xxoo ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I did that choking sob thing in my throat when I read your response and this made me laugh out loud: “But as a survivor, I can fight, I have a voice, I can OUTRUN fucking anyone. Just try to catch me.” I love this and I adore you and I’m totally going to to use this to help me on my path to freedom. Another piece of this for me is that I’m afraid to be too big. Too powerful. Too seen. Too visible. Because being seen made me unsafe and a target. So there’s that too. The part of me that is still in my own way and afraid to win. The thing is, I really want to win — but I’m terrified of it at the same time. I honestly slow down at the end of a race because of fear. Every run I do I am in fear. I’m just going to use it to fuel me. XOXO


        1. That’s a big piece for me too, being too visible and seen. I commented on another blog earlier today and told the story of how I used to refuse to wear my glasses because it made me uncomfortable to know that people were looking at me. If they were blurry, I could avoid eye contact. It’s ridiculous, really, and childlike. If I can’t see them, they can’t see me. But it was how I protected myself from being seen. The fact that you race at all is amazing to me. I have so much respect for what you do and I know you will find your way through this. ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  3. “This is my Church.
    This is my gym.
    This is my “me” time.
    This is my therapist.”

    You KNEW this would strike me at the heart. I’ve had a crazy week and this, THIS is what I needed. Thank you for sharing your journey, your photos, and this beautiful, peaceful corner of your life.
    Love you to pieces. xo


      1. Yes! Yes, I do. Let’s make it happen in 2016. Right when the snow begins to bury my soul, I’ll come reclaim my heart in your beautiful canyon. I can’t think of anything better to ward off the impending winter blues.
        *wanders off to play Jason Mraz again…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! Water in the desert – what a rush. I’ve never been honored by such a sight. Mind you I’ve just passed through a few times and have never lived there. Beautiful Karen.thank you for sharing.


    1. Thank you Paul. It truly is a beautiful sight! I’ve grown up in the desert so I’m drawn to water but there’s something about seeing it in a place where it’s rare and precious that makes it all the more powerful.


  5. Hey neighbor… Sabino Canyon is always a nice place to be. Especially if the creek is running, now at the end of monsoon. Sometimes I like to go camping up Mt. Lemmon by myself because I have more trust in wildlife than in people.


    1. I haven’t camped on Mt. Lemmon in years. The last time I camped we disobeyed all the rules and a mama bear and cub came into our camp. I’d say I’m equally distrustful of wildlife and people. I don’t know if I’d like camping alone but I definitely like hiking alone!


      1. You know… I like hiking as a concept, but everyone I know is like a speedwalker through Sabino Canyon and doesn’t care to stop for shells or rocks because they’re too focused on burning calories.

        Regarding camping, my thought is that wildlife is just doing what it does. Finding food, walking through a wash, etc. I trust wildlife near my campsite much more than people because I figure the wildlife is only following their instinct for food, and is liable to get scared away, while the people are following choice and may intend to do me harm.

        Liked by 1 person

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