When I was thirteen years old, my best friend Amy and I were really into Days of Our Lives. I’m not sure what went wrong or where, but we spent all our free time together, watching this soap opera with rapt attention while gnawing on candy. This was our preferred weekend activity. When summer came, it changed nothing – we’d walk from her house on the corner of South 3rd and College Street down to Mini Mart on 8th, buy as much candy as we could afford on our little side business of selling cookie dough door-to-door, return to her family’s TV room in the cool basement, and get right back to Bo and Fancyface.

Quite understandably, one day Amy’s mom Susan (a nutritionist, by the way) sort of cracked and informed us we were going to hike the M. (For those not familiar with the area, the ‘M’ is the quintessential Bozeman hike leading up the mountain to a giant ‘M’, which MSU students crafted out of white rock.) Oh, the arguing and whining that ensued. You know why we finally agreed? She promised to take us to McDonald’s afterward. If you think that’s bad parenting, let the record show that we ended up being pushed WAY past the M and to the top of Baldy for our Quarter Pounders with Cheese. Yes, I was mad.

It is with no small amount of laughter at myself that I voluntarily hike the M today in my 3 Capri and remember such times. And while I am motivated by fresh air and the idea of moving, I can’t say that a cheeseburger at the end still wouldn’t do the trick. However, on a recent early July morning, I mentally planned a healthier snack of scrambled eggs with cheese for after the hike. (And these would be eggs that I scramble myself, not an unfortunate high school kid whose parents made them get a summer job.)

As the sun was starting to hit the face of the hill, and I marched up among the smiling people with smiling dogs, I forgave myself a little for not wanting to hike the M as a tween – after all, I was probably wearing improper footwear, ill-fitting shorts with a wide, itchy waistband, and a heavy cotton T shirt. And it’s steep. And hot. Once again, the right outdoor attire can really make the nature experience.

Comfy hiking clothes or not, my crew and I opted to jog down the other, not-steep way…a nice, short, easy run in preparation for a trail race this year, which is going to be a lot more challenging.

Happy Summer – and from Sauce and KT, go play outside!