There is no hustle and bustle here, no deadlines or agendas to meet or even an expectation. Stress and tension are forever gone and there is no need for antidotes. There is the willingness of many to pay a hefty price for such a place of escape, but the rite of passage here comes at a different cost. There are no monetary fees for entry, but few are willing to give what it takes to arrive here. Effort and determination are required to get here, but the payoff is worth the exchange. There is a level of covetousness to arrive at a place where happiness reigns and everything in the world is right; a place where you can do no wrong and all judgements have ceased. All forms of fighting and destructive forces dissipate here and nothing but peacefulness is left for the taking. Apart from all the wonderful aspects of escapism the scenery here is the icing on the cake; always picturesque and always refreshing no matter the day or season. This is exactly the place I arrive whenever I run into the backwoods or mountains, and this is the place no one can ever take away from me.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Running into the forest on a cold winter's eve can be an eerie experience, especially when the wind is whipping around producing those extra little sounds that startles you at every turn. Yet, I boldly proceeded into this scenario, just me and my imagination. The night air was crisp and a thin layer of clouds began rolling in producing a perfect evening for a trail run. I ran for miles into my tunnel of light before I heard the large crackling sounds emerging from the darkness, a sound instinctively informing me that something was there. As I scanned the darkness with my headlamp I discovered six glowing eyes looming in my direction. My blood pressure immediately spiked as panicky thoughts began flooding my mind; I'm being stalked by a pack of wild dogs! As those green glowing eyes kept lurking in the darkness I began to make out their silhouettes; no, they're hyenas! Hyenas in Kentucky? Yes, I was sure of it! As I quickly began to process my fight or flight instincts one of my stalkers turned to leave and I caught a glimpse of a white tail dancing off into the darkness. It was to my great relief that my stalkers were deer! A smile fell upon my face as they made they're way back into the darkness, and as I tilted my head back with a chuckle I noticed the crescent moon lurking through the cloudy night sky just beyond the silhouette of barren branches, which was a guarantee recipe for my eerie evening to continue. This was my cue to start running back in the direction of the car before discovering that my next night stalker could very well be a werwolf or something worse, like a herd of deer.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Winter hit a little early this year bringing a fair share of snow and freezing rain. The winter training months are surrounded by monitoring weather reports and mustering the determination to go out and bare the elements. By far, the efforts to prepare for a marathon through the winter months is well worth the exchange. For example, the day after a cold front dropped a bit of freezing rain upon the region I ventured on out to the local trailhead only to discover the mountaintops glistening. It was a bone chilling afternoon as the wind whipped around trying to divert my endeavor, but I knew the trees would do me the favor and shield me from its bite. The mile run/climb to the top was brisk as the cold air clung to my layered body, but as I crested the mountain ridge my breath was taken away; it was not because of the steep mile high climb I just ran, but by what greeted me at the top. I suddenly found myself running through a winter wonderland as the ice hung heavy on the barren branches of baby oaks and maples. As I whisked through a section of fir trees drooping over the trail their diamond tipped limbs greeted me in a type of gleeful delight. I continued to run for miles upon the mountain ridges engulfed in the silent beauty the trails had to offer on this blistery winter day. Thus far, my journey to the Land Between the Lakes marathon has been memorable to say the least.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
The next leg of my journey is running a marathon trail run at the Land Between the Lakes in western Kentucky. Thus far it has been quite a journey of experiences. The shorter daylight hours of winter has led me with no choice but to run the local trails at night. This particular experience has been surprisingly exhilarating for me. At first the silence of the trails at night were eerie until I discovered the serenity this nighttime silence offered. On one occasion I even had the opportunity to run the night trails in the snow, which had a wonder and beauty all of its own. Snowflakes were falling like stars in the light of my headlamp as the forest floor glistened beneath my feet. The apex of this experience was found as I reached the crest of my mountain climb. The air was crisp and the silence was deafening as the snow clung to the branches of fir trees producing a winter wonderland. I was stunned with the inexpressible beauty of this moment that ended with a level of gratitude that it is an honor and privilege to be alive on this planet.