Princess: The long, slow grind to the top |

Princess: The long, slow grind to the top

Ali Margo
The Aspen Princess

So I was sitting on the pavement in the parking lot on top of Independence Pass, feeding the babes because there was still too much snow to go sit at a picnic bench as I had imagined.

He sucked away, oblivious to the fact that we were straddling the Continental Divide at 12,000 feet, surrounded by snow-covered peaks that touched the sky. It was an odd scene, with the contents of a diaper bag strewn about and the pug standing guard with her head cocked to one side and this look on her face like, “Who drags a baby and a pug to the top of Independence Pass on her bike?”

The idea that I would make it to the top sort of popped into my head somewhere around mile marker 50. I wanted to do something hard. I had the thought, “If I can pull the Chariot up this goddamn pass, I can take it anywhere.”

Oh, I definitely had something to prove all right.

The original plan was to take a nice little family ride. That’s why we didn’t bother to eat breakfast or pack a lot of snacks or wear a lot of clothes or put on sunscreen. We did, of course, bring everything the baby needed — his blankets and extra layers and his bottles and diapers and changing pad and wipes and various sun hats and sunscreen. There was probably at least 10 pounds of baby gear exploding out of that diaper bag, which has like 45 pockets and 18 compartments, so you’re constantly rifling through it looking for stuff even though it’s designed to be well-organized.

And of course we dragged the pug, God forbid we should leave her at home and disappoint all the people who totally ignore the baby and scream, “Oh my God! Look at the pug!” at the top of their lungs like she is a movie star or some kind of exotic zoo animal.

“Is the trailer for the dog?” one person asked.

“Nope, there’s a baby in there, too,” Ryan replied, doing his best not to sound annoyed.

After the first few miles, I told Ryan I’d give pulling the Chariot a try. I think the only reason he agreed was to make sure I’d be OK when I was on my own.

To my surprise, pulling the Chariot was doable. In fact, it was a lot easier than I thought. That’s when my head started filling with all kinds of crazy ideas.

Ever since I had the babes, my fantasies have totally shifted. Instead of dreaming about being a lithe, skinny yogi with long hair that drapes halfway down my back and hipbones that protrude and a belly so flat I could wear my pants low and loose, now I want to be a fit mom.

I can totally picture it, standing around the Basalt pool cradling the babes on my hip, his fat, juicy legs dangling against my rock-hard abs (even though I’ve never had that in my entire life, even when I was in my 20s). I’m in good enough shape to still wear a bikini, even if I’ve moved on from the string variety to something a little more conservative, maybe hot shorts and a bandeau. I’m not skinny (duh, I just had a baby), but I don’t have to hide under a muumuu, either. I might not be rocking my favorite surf brands anymore, but I’m still svelte enough for say, Prana or Patagonia, even if I have to wear a size large. Forget the long hair — I’m a mom now. It’s all about the color: super-bright blond because, hello, I haven’t let myself go. I’m still willing to spend the money and the time to maintain my roots (both proverbial and literal).

If that doesn’t work, I did see some cute one-piece suits by Nanette Lapore and Trina Turk on Zappos. See, I totally have a backup plan.

During my pregnancy, I had this mantra: “Happy, healthy baby — strong, brave mommy.” I repeated it enough times in my head that I started to believe it, and then it was so. Which I guess is how mantras are supposed to work, even though I never really believed in that kind of crap before.

Anyway, at some point I got it in my head that it was more important than ever that I took care of myself; that I wanted to be a strong, brave mom; that I would do things that scared me a little if it meant getting out in the world with my babes and showing him his home in the mountains.

It’s not so much about being selfish or wanting to maintain my own lifestyle as it is about being so excited to share this incredible life with my babes. Even though he’s so little he won’t remember, even if he sleeps through most of it, even if he can’t see more than a few feet in front of him, I want it to become part of who he is, to seep into his DNA the same way a baby trout would swim the rivers or a baby bear would wander the hills.

All the way up the pass, people cheered as they passed. “Go mama!” they yelled. “Nice work!” There was even a strong tailwind, as if the gods were also on my side, giving me that little extra push I so desperately needed as the air got thinner and my legs got weaker.

It literally took all day as we slowly crept up at a turtle’s pace, but we kept going. The higher we got, and the more my lungs seemed to shrivel, the more my heart filled with something like pride but bigger. I would do this for my son. I would take him all the way to the top.

The Princess has a crazy sunburn on her thighs and wants to remind everyone to always apply sunscreen. Email your love to


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