Tuesday, December 10, 2013

McCormick's Creek Snowy Run

Anybody can run on a trail.

Seriously, you should try it.

Same goes for running in snow. It's easy, and peaceful, and uplifting.

But running a snowy trail is not for the timid.

Running an unfamiliar trail with 4 inches of virgin powder is not for the sensical.

Nonetheless, that was what I put in front of myself on Saturday. And it was glorious!

You know you're in for an adventure when you're standing at the trailhead and you can't make out the trail. At all. None of it.

The only time I'd been to McCormick's Creek state park was a month earlier for a 5K trail run. The only advantage that gave me was that I knew roughly in what direction the trail went from where I was standing. Roughly. Not really much advantage at all as it turned out.

I set off in the general direction and found myself almost instantly puffing like an asthmatic steam locomotive. The snow, as well as the thin layer of ice just beneath the snow, made footing… let's say... less than perfect.

My legs where churning away at a 7:45 pace, but the rest of me was moving through the artisticly snow-dappled landscape at about 9:00. It was like running on cold snot. That had been poured onto an oil slick. And sprayed with Pam®.

As my lungs wheezed and my heart threatened to leap out of my mouth, I trudged on, spurred my the simply unbelievably, impossibly beautiful scenery that surrounded me.

Eventually I found my breath, my heart and I negotiated a truce, and together we came to the boulder field pictured above. What isn't pictured is the shear drop to the left, down to the eponymous creek. You also can't really get an appreciation for how damn slippery and big and scary these mothers were.

But what you can see, clearly, is the lack of foot prints. Even the wild game had stayed clear of here.

That, my dear readers, is a siren song that cannot be ignored.

I'm not going to pretend I ran over these. I didn't scamper like I might have in the dry. It was slow, deliberate, careful. But it was thrilling, and dangerous, and reminded me, under most certain terms, that I was alive!

Further I found my way down, way way down, to the creek. The babble of an icy stream, bordered by ice, then snow, is pure magic. My phone died just after this pic, which was actually a blessing, for me. Not so much for my dear readers. But for me, I didn't need to figure out how to capture the wonder that was in front of me. I got to soak it in.

I meandered along the water's edge, over wide, flat spring sheds, over and among massive river rocks. I crossed the creek several times, scheming to find footholds among scattered, rocking, snow-covered rocks, not once dipping even a toe in the icy current.

And several times I just stopped, watch running, to listen… to smell… to feel the cold, the wind, the aloneness, the presence of nothing and everything.

I'm never as much at peace as I am deep in some woods, hopefully by some running water, and more hopefully far away from other humans, half-way into a run.

Muscles warm, mind clear, a bead of sweat running down from my temple… this is my church.

I encourage you to explore the natural world. Shun the treadmill, it is evil. Get out into your world. It is so much better than Sports Center and Oprah.

Don't fear the cold, embrace it! Return to nature and let it replenish you.

Good running,