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An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Trail dancer...

First, I want to thank Scott Lynch for coining that term. So appropriate. 

This past weekend, my wife and I put on our second bike race in concert with Wheelsport Cycling Team. This one was a 6+ mile uphill time trial with 1500 ft elevation gain, starting near the intersection of Hwy 410 and Crystal Mountain Blvd, then going UP Crystal Mountain Blvd to the parking lot next to the lodge. I've ridden this race a few times, and let me tell you, it's tough. 

But anyway, that's kind of a digressions to tell you WHY we were there, and not about the subject of this post. The bikes were all on the road. 

So... The race was on Sunday, but we wanted to get there the day before to scope things out, get acquainted with the finish area, look at potential traffic issues (and we've got a couple ideas to help out next year, if Wheelsport decides to keep us on as RDs), and to do a little hiking. 

We decided to check out the Silver Creek trail, an "easy to moderate" hike of 3 miles each way. We thought we'd just go for a ways up, then turn around and head back down. Waning daylight was easily a couple hours away. She laced up here Asics, and I my Trail Gloves, and off we went to find vistas... 

The first half mile was a scramble up an incredibly steep slope on a trail strewn with bark and hay. That gave way to another trail that was rocky, dusty, and almost as steep. Finally, we got to the "level" portion that traversed the ski slope and continued on towards a lake. But always, there were sections of "up" that were beyond moderate, with rough, rocky surfaces, side-slopes, and roots. 

I don't know if I've mentioned that my wife took a ride down a ladder as it slid off the roof, just this past January. Fortunately, she only suffered a badly sprained ankle. "Fortunately" only in that it could have been a whole lot worse. It still bothers her, especially when going over uneven terrain and steep slopes. 

To add one more layer of difficulty, her knee has been acting up a bit as she builds towards a triathlon coming up in just a few weeks. 

She soldiered on as far as she thought she could, then decided it would be best for her to turn around. She encouraged me to continue on as far as I liked, and I told her I'd just go on to the next good viewpoint, then turn around and catch up. 

So I pushed on (and UP) for another half mile or so, got to a point where the trail made a traverse of a VERY large rock, and enjoyed the view of the whole Crystal Mountain ski area, the surrounding bowl, and the sun closing in on the ridge line. Beautiful! 

 I started down, and this is where the "trail dancer" stuff started. 

 I started off at a very controlled walk, carefully evaluating the footing, traction, evenness of the terrain. 

Then I started going a little faster. 

 I contemplated opening it up a little more. I gave it a test. 

By the time I got to the more level portions (where my wife had turned around), I was trotting along most of the trail, and only slowing or walking through the particularly steep or extremely rocky sections. I didn't want to go too hard, as I was wearing cargo shorts and a heavy T-shirt, and didn't want to get sweaty. But I did test it a bit. I wasn't going fast by any means by run standards, even MY run standards, but I was running on a mountain trail, and having a blast. 

 I caught up to my wife just as she was passing under the ski lift again, and texting me to express her concern about the coming sunset (just past the ridge -- there was plenty of twilight time after that). We walked back in from there, down the steep final slope back to the base lodge, and then went into the restaurant for dinner. 

But the feeling of that little bit of running on the trail... I want to go back. I want to go back and run the entire trail that circumnavigates the bowl, atop the ridge with the "most incredible view of Mt Rainier in the whole state". I don't know how long that is, but I think it can be done pretty easily in an afternoon. Maybe a long afternoon. 

When I read Scott's piece "I Am Not A Runner" today, he said something in the comments that just summed up that feeling -- "trail dancer".

 I think that, when I'm running on the road, I am a runner. But up on those steep and rocky trails, I am definitely not a runner. I am a trail dancer. 

Thanks, Scott!

1 comment:

Scott Lynch said...

Thanks, David! I'm glad the symbolism works for you. Those rare occasions where I feel like I'm dancing through the trees seem to call me back to the trails again and again.