The weather outside is perfect for running today. The temperature is about 41°(F) and a dense mist is hovering above Portland. It’s like Karl the Fog has come up for a visit. There is so much oxygen and moisture in the air that breathing deeply almost feels like gulping water.
I ran Terwilliger to Marquam trail clockwise – this is the more challenging direction with a 4 mile steadily increasing grade to a 2 mile + steep drop back to downtown. The trees on the trail were literally dripping moisture – it wasn’t raining, but as the moisture condensed on the moss and ferns growing in the understory, they dripped down onto the trail. A bit muddy – which makes descending a spicy endeavor.
Last week I ran the same trail in the opposite direction and there were sections with sheets of ice covering the trail – those are mostly melted out, but there are still a few spots of frozen mud/ice. Slick as snot I was thinking as I was gingerly making my way down.
Good soul run had me thinking about how much I like to run solo. I’ve only had a few scares being far out solo. Times when I was more than concerned that a chain of events was going wrong and things could go pear-shaped at any moment. And it’s true – there is never one catastrophic thing that will go wrong – it’s a little mistake here, followed by another and another. SRENE is the acronym I learned climbing to prevent catastrophe. Solid, redundant, equalized, no extension. It’s a recipe for building anchors. And for staying safe.
Once I was mountain biking at Kenosha Pass in Colorado, it was summer and a normal summer thunderstorm rolled through – except all I had was a pair of arm warmers in addition to my cycling shorts and jersey. I was probably 15 miles from the car when the hail started and the temperature dropped by 30 degrees. My lips were blue, my teeth chattering uncontrollably – I ate all the food I had in my jersey pockets and rode back to the car as fast as possible. I was scared that day.
Another time was was solo mountain biking near Elliot Knob in Virginia. Carrying my bivy gear in a pack and navigating a tricky rock garden. I was way out of town up on the ridge when fell off the high-side of the mountain and over a retaining wall. As always when these things happen – first you check yourself to make sure everything that is supposed to be attached – is still attached. Check. The only damage was my broken brake lever and my ego. I landed on the pack. Was that a dream? Am I still here? Indeed I am.
It’s the realization of how vulnerable we can be. And if we focused on it, it would consume us and we would be frozen like frightened animals. It’s always present though hiding in the periphery. It’s good to know it’s there and to understand what that feeling is – it’s fear.
I read On Fear many years ago:
What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it. – Krishnamurti
I love that quote.