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Arianne Brown, timetofititin.com
Overlooking the valley below Lake Mountain

Have you ever looked up at the mountains and thought about how awesome it would be to go to the top? I know I have.

Growing up in Colorado and being surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, and then moving to Utah, which has both snow-capped and red mountains, I have often pictured myself atop their peaks and ridge lines.

As a runner, I frequently travel by foot up and down and all around the carved-out trails along the mountain side. It is where I find my solace and feel most alive.

However, these past few weeks, a layer of pollution has settled over much of the trails I frequent near my home. It has caused me to feel bogged down, unable to get outside and left me with a nasty taste in my mouth and cough when I do get out.

The other day as I was driving my kids home from school, I gazed at Lake Mountain in front of me. Where I can normally see my trails, there was a thick layer of haze. But as my eyes moved up toward the top, I noticed the sky got clearer.

At that moment, I decided that atop those peaks was where I wanted to be.

Having run to the top of one of the smaller peaks recently, I knew I had a clear path to the top. I would just need to follow the ridge line to move higher along the mountain. I had never done that before, but my husband had. He gave me some instructions, but made sure I knew that there was not a clear path to the top. I would need to make my own.

I have never been more excited for a run in my life.

I packed my fuel belt with water and a smoothie from breakfast, along with some other snacks. I brought my phone and other necessities, and headed up the mountain.

Once I reached the smaller peak — which is normally my turn-around point —I felt like the run truly began.

As I moved along the ridge line, I found that my husband was right. There was no path. However, there was a nice, thin strip of packed-down snow that was made by deer tracks. It didn’t follow right along the top, but just below. I figured that the dear knew this mountain better than I did. Their tracks provided a much better way to the top, and before I knew it, I was up and over three peaks.

The feeling of running on top of the mountain was just as I had imagined. I could breathe better; I felt more alive. I could see frozen Utah Lake below, as well as my hometown. And as quiet as the earth was in my immediate surroundings, it felt more alive and vibrant. I could better hear the birds, the breeze and even the deer moving a few yards in front of me.

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As I reached the second to the highest peak, I looked up and saw the family of deer I had been following. They looked down at me, and I didn’t feel afraid. I felt honored to be sharing the same ground they did. We shared a glance for a few seconds, then they went their way. I turned back down the mountain, toward home.

Now, as I gaze at the mountains above, I can say that I have stood on those peaks, I have experienced those ridge lines, I have breathed the crisp, clean air above.

And I can’t wait to do it again.

Arianne Brown is a SUU graduate, mother of six and an avid runner. For more on this story, go to timetofititin.com. You can also like her Facebook page by searching "Writer Arianne Brown" or follow her on twitter @arimom5