So, we meet again.

I feel awesome.

Just last night, I successfully made the most time-consuming delicious risotto recipe. And today, I faced another source of intimidation for me.

The hike to Clayton Peak.

Last July, John took me on a hike in the mountains near our new home in Park City. My memory of it? It was a KILLER hike. As in, it tried to KILL me. And also, I wanted to KILL MYSELF.  It was so steep. I couldn’t breathe going up the hill, and my legs were unstable and shaky going down. I kind of hated it.

Until we reached the peak, of course. The view made the steep, steep hike worth the pain. Read all about it here!

I don’t know what got into me today. I knew I wanted to take Cholula out into the hills and get a little exercise. Before I put too much thought into it, I found myself driving through Park City, toward Guardsman Pass.


Up, up, up we went. By the time we parked in the dirt lot, Cholula was antsy. The parking lot was filled with cars. Many were mountain bikers, spending the last part of the weekend on the trails. The rest seemed to be hikers, like us.

At the trailhead, there are two ways you can go: down the hill toward frigid Bloods Lake or up toward an unseen peak. As we veered to the right, I realized we were the only ones going UP. It looked like it would just be me and my big-eared buddy for this one.

The trail starts off steep immediately, and it’s pretty hot and exposed. The photos don’t show the intense pitch very well, but within minutes, I was stopping in each patch of shade for a breath. Cholula ran up the trail and then back down to check on me, clearly wondering why I was so slow. I took advantage of my mini-breaks to soak in the scenery, which was absolutely stunning.

After the initial hard start, there’s a short part of the trail that rolls up and down a bit, even into some shady pines. It’s pleasant and manageable, and a chance to breathe normally for a few minutes. And then you come around a corner and it feels like you’re facing a wall. But it’s actually the trail.

Somehow, I huffed and puffed my way to the top.

There’s a metal pole at the top of the mountain that I remembered from last year. I had that in mind as my goal. When I reached it, I slapped my hand on it and laughed. I was a sweaty, panting mess, but I felt invincible!

And the view was my reward.

It wasn’t snowy like last July, but it was every bit as stunning. Cholula and I both soaked it in. It was just the two of us, and it was perfect.

The hike back down is pretty tricky. It’s rocky, and the steepness makes it easy to slide- plus, after the uphill, my legs felt tired. You know when a little kid starts running down a hill, laughing gleefully as they gain speed? Suddenly, the look on their face changes from joy to horror as they realize they’ve lost control. From there, it’s all screaming and somersaults and stitches. I didn’t want that to be my fate, so I moved slowly and intentionally. Eventually, the ground leveled out and I was done.

Back at the car, I shared my water with Cholula. She gave me a puppy smile from the back seat and then promptly fell asleep. I headed for home, feeling tired and proud.

I DID IT. That’s the second time in 24 hours that I’ve said that! High five! 

It was a KILLER hike. In the good way.

Plus, I totally worked off that risotto. 


  1. That view is so amazing. I don’t think I will ever get tired of seeing your pictures. Nice job woman!! A virtual high five to you. Now I just have to edit the 36 pictures from my gnocchi adventure 😉

  2. “it tried to KILL me. And also, I wanted to KILL MYSELF”… So glad you survived this go around and managed to take some gorgeous pictures in the process!

    1. It didn’t feel good this time, either, but I went slower. The dog helped motivate me with her cuteness, possibly. Or by giving me a look that I translated to say: “You clearly need more exercise.”

  3. It’s beautiful!! I live in such a flat boring area in Canada all your hikin posts make me a tad jealous 🙂 but they also motivate me/remind me of how much I love the great outdoors and several times in the last few weeks my kids & I have travelled to more interesting areas for hiking excursions. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Good for you, Amber! Amazing. There is no workout like a hike. You truly work your ENTIRE body! And I think dogs are their happiest on a long hike, and then they can poop out in the car ride home 🙂

  5. Not the easiest trail indeed but isn’t the view and scenery worth it? I think your pictures SPEAK for themselves. Thanks for promoting the beauty of our region.

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