Sunday, November 26, 2006
This is the week of double runs, night runs. Reacquainting myself with these concepts, I join good company. Byron, Carl, Sammy and I run around the Furman campus and gossip. I love it. I’ve found no better gossipers than my main men Byron and Carl (what’s all this then?). They’ve got the stats on what’s gone down and what’s going down in the world of the ultra marathon. It’s food for the spirit.
Black Friday, plastic pizza, trinkets, trinkets, trinkets, bah humbug. I confess, I’m an outcast. Give me a Saturday Morning Blister. The day is new and brings promise; the light bathes the ridges above. But down running along the river, there’s something more! The cool shadows, a pensive mood. It’s a warm November morning. Feeling the Blue Wall's wrinkled smile, Wise River whispers:
Your head is light
Your body good
Feel the blister
From the outside in
Lift your anchor,
Set sail and run forever.
The day is beautiful. Yet there’s absolutely no comparison to the Leaf Season craziness; folks en masse have dropped out into a shopping frenzy. The mountains are left to an ecstatic few. From behind our cubicle cage, we’re excited to see this illusion of wilderness. These evaporating fragments of untouched forest give us reason to live, breath. How thin an umbilicus! I can hear our desperate pleas: please don’t tread on us. The bulldozers keep coming; Manifest Destiny...
After nightfall when the visitor center is shut-down, Uwharrie and I run out into the woods. We descend steeply down the Rim of the Gap. This ridge is beautiful in the night. I can see the lights of Greenville twinkling to my right; I think only briefly of how I will soon be among them. To my left is darkness, void, hope, promise. As we drop further off the ridge, the familiar voice of the River seeps upwards into our suspended world. We make fast progress into the mouth of the gorge.
Feel the heartache
From the outside in
Lift your anchor,
Set sail and run forever.
City life is crazy. What strikes me as most odd is all the light. It’s everywhere, casting scary shadows; we must get rid of the shadows with... More lights! It’s an awful pollution, horrible for the eyes. What’s more, it demands kilos and kilos of kilowatts. I can see us all caught in a horrible REM spasm because we can’t escape the dreaded light. This city is like a test gone wrong: a cracked Petri dish where some scrutinizing ginormous eyeball is looking down on us from the faux-sunrise above.
The party is enjoyable. After all, there’s a fire in the yard. But there’s something wrong with all the peripheral light seeping into this chill scene. Not to mention the honking horns, the billions of un-recyclable rubber tires droning on the nearby 4-lane (and growing) artery. We’re actually not even in the city-limit, but that surely will soon change. Like I said before, I’m an outcast. We must retire to the event horizon, the Sunday Morning Alpenglow:
I climb and climb up Pinnacle Pass. My heart pounds with my feet, and we’re both pumped further up this airy perch: this overlook, where the Middle Saluda Valley falls away into the entropic unknown. I fall in love again with this Place. I love the Carolina Hemlocks patting my head as I sit gazing down into the Gorge. There’s a lot of life up here; a lot of wisdom too. As usual, I’m in too much of a hurry to sit still, very still and listen and learn all, everything these towering teachers are willing to teach.
Run, rabbit run
Dig that hole, forget the sun
And when at last the work is done
Don't sit down
It's time to dig another one -PF
After work, I’ll close up shop and again disappear with Uwharrie into the woods. And I will hold my breath...
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
tis the shattered tattered season. web of life. feed the machine. don't bah humbug. be a good american. don't clip up, mutilate your mailings. obey the burden. turn out the light upstairs.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
There’s a quiet prelude. Like the strings warming up. And the sun is setting and we’re gliding along the South Mills River and it is Wednesday evening. My legs are muddy, the Brooks Racer-STs are unidentifiable weary shoes. We chase eternity down the Sunset Boulevard, but crash land in the river. Missed, or did we? A brisk hike in the dark back to the trailhead ensues; Mind gets altered.
Mind has been a bit of a mile-slave lately. Body and Spirit are a bit annoyed and think it would do Mind a little good to spend a late night in Asheville catching an act previously missed at Bonnaroo. The Motets put on a good show. I’m certainly in a good mood at the end. I think of how much gets missed, how many parallel universes diverge on a daily basis, wow.
The next morning is beautiful. Uwharrie and I stir in our sleeping bags under the tarp, I laugh out loud. It’s Indian summer alright. Body and Spirit have made it very clear what they want to do. But in exchange for a night spent out on the town, we all make the pilgrimage to Ellicott Rock Wilderness to run a grand loop of about 18 miles. This is one of my favorites: due primarily to the deep feelings (nostalgia) that surge within me. I used to run here a lot three years ago. Those were different times; although it’s still the same beautiful wilderness engulfing the Chattooga: the same sweeping side hill dream paths as I remember.
Bonking and dehydrated, I return to my dying petrol-vessel. I’m still trying to wrap my Mind around what’s happening to me this week: this transition. We’ve suffered the nightmarish vision of future Appalachia on route 64 once already. Once is enough. We take a southerly route home to greet my parents. Time spent together catching up is the most important thing that can and must be done now.
Over the course of the next couple warm sunny days, I learn a lot. We learn how to walk quietly barefoot over the fallen leaves. We hike out to Pinnacle Mountain and smell the Spice Bush and peer over and across the Middle Saluda Gorge. We caress the needles on the beautiful Carolina Hemlocks and savor their presence as best we can. We venture up Cedar Rock and watch two Golden Eagles glide overhead and split into another pair before our very eyes. We annihilate an apple pie, homemade from mom’s kitchen. Wow.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
10.31: The 18 mile Halloween run took place today on terra incognita near the Black Mountain Crest. We began on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail from the Black Mountain Campground and ran up a gravel road across the parkway and down the eastern escarpment. The road grade made for a fast 10 miles. It seemed we were at the base of Snooks Nose in a matter of minutes. Then the fun began. We climbed steeply through a golden tunnel of striped maples to a dry rocky ridge. Resting under Pitch Pine, we gazed out across the expanse below us to Linville Gorge and the South Mountains.
We re-crossed the parkway and climbed Green Knob to enjoy the view from the fire tower. The colors of fall extended eastward out into the foothills. Behind us and above us, the entire Black Mountain Crest loomed. A bomber descent back to the campground ensued. The leaves on the ground made this trail into a slip-and-slide. Safely back to the Falcon, we immersed ourselves in the Toe River and drove off to visit with some kindred spirits further downstream…
11.1: We were chased by nightfall down Coldspring and up the Middle Saluda. It caught us! Still adjusting to daylight savings and a new work schedule it seems. El Lieutenant caught my eye this evening. It was framed perfectly from the Jones Gap trail by bright red and golden maples. My spirit climbed that rock. I thought of how in the near future my body will just have to follow suit.
11.3: Today Uwharrie and I tied a reroute reconnaissance run along the Ishi into work. We got to enjoy the wonderful ridge section of Pinnacle Pass, popping over the three pinnacles. Pausing at the Saluda valley overlook, we enjoyed a fine view before dropping into Jones Gap. We ascended Ishi to rendezvous with Tim and walk along an old road bed that may do well as an alternate path on this notoriously rugged trail. We were done with the run and back in the office some time later on this gorgeous crisp sunny afternoon. A delicious day indeed!
I’m having difficulty with this work schedule and daylight savings in finding adequate time to run and it’s frustrating, but all is well in the ebb and flow of this ocean. I’m learning to ride the waves. Perhaps this weekend will work well for rest before the next longer efforts come my way.