It’s not always about the run
Running on Dirt
It’s hard for me to admit, but sometimes I have to slow down and enjoy the view. I recently returned from our (my wife Heidi and our dogs) annual six-day pilgrimage to the Emigrant Wilderness, just north of Yosemite.
With what felt like 100 pounds on my back, we headed in over two passes well over 10,000 feet before we reached the granite boulder-laden meadows and alpine Tundra of our first destination of Emigrant Meadow Lake. With the temperature hovering in the high 40s on the way in, it was a bit chilly from our average summer we’ve had this year and a much colder night with a shivering dog in our tent between our sleeping bags.
Each day got a bit warmer and less arduous as our packs began to lighten. We reached Maxwell Lake where we took a layover day to allow the and#8230; dogs and#8230; time to rest. Typically I go for a run after each day of hiking, but this year Heidi picked a route that for whatever reason wiped me out and I just needed to rest when we got to camp. But on the rest day I had a chance to enjoy a great backcountry run.
Heading out about 3 p.m. in the afternoon, I aimed for Black Bear Lake as a destination. I gingerly ran through the horse-trodden dirt trails until I reached clear running in of all places, Horse Meadow. Here I passed a couple of guys leading out a half-dozen pack horses. Every time I passed someone in the backcountry I got the same response, and#8220;Where ya comin’ from?and#8221; and and#8220;Where ya goin’?and#8221; and always with a look of, Why the hell are you running way the heck out here? Because it is what trail running is all about, is what I thought to myself.
One fundamental difference about running in such remote territory is that if something were to go wrong, it would not be a good thing. So, I slow down. There is no need to risk injury out there. I choose to enjoy the trail, soak it in and remind myself that trail running is so much more about connecting with nature and clearing your mind than any event has to offer.
Don’t get me wrong, I love racing, but I love the raw rediscovery of running that this trip gives me every year. It’s hard to experience this at home. It’s only something I’ve felt on backpacking trips. And a special note, thank goodness for wilderness areas. They allow dogs on the trails. Yosemite doesn’t.
and#8212; Peter Fain is a local trail runner who competes regularly in regional trail races and snowshoe runs in the winter. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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