Ed Mahoney picked me up at the Denver airport and drove us several hours west to meet Rob Graham, who was waiting for us at the Hancock trailhead, which is close to absolutely nothing, and where we intended to finish our 50-mile or so hike in Colorado’s Collegiate Range. This generosity amazed me, that Ed would pick me up and drive me all the way out there, and have cold fruit juice and beer in a cooler in his car just in case. And that Rob would be there, in the middle of nowhere, waiting on us just so we could leave Ed’s car at our terminus and drive Rob’s several more hours north to the start of our hike near Sheep Gulch.
I normally hike alone, so this trip was different for me. Rob and Ed allowed me to turn my brain off. They may have preferred that I…
I spent the week backpacking from the ghost town of Winfield to the Hancock Pass Trailhead. Fifty, high-altitude miles along the Continental Divide Trail that broke me down to the basics and renewed my soul. I’m tempted to begin by saying that I was nowhere near fit enough for this trek, but I made it so apparently I was. The physical effort in hauling a forty-pound pack up and down thousands of alpine vertical feet was as purifying for my soul as were the unending views of heaven. Imagine walking through hell with a view of heaven that squelches the heat of the fires. That was my experience, backpacking southbound through the Collegiates on the CDT. As indicated by the trail signs, this section of the CDT is joined by the western loop of the Colorado Trail.
I set out with two buddies. George, pictured here, and Rob, who has through-hiked the PCT and AT and served as our uber-experienced trail guide. Outside of hiking, we belong to a writers’ group, submitting monthly short stories to a blog on the deep web. Much of our talk was on storylines. One of my goals was to refocus on my third novel. George, Rob and trail all contributed to advancing my novel’s outline.
From our Winfield campsite at 10,226 feet, we marched 6.5 miles to summit Lake Ann Pass, a two thousand foot climb to 12,590 feet. This was difficult for me and perhaps the hardest effort of our six days on the trail. I knew this climb would give me a sense of my ability to survive the full excursion. I was thinking of the physical stress of carrying a forty-pound pack at high-altitude though. I didn’t consider the technical challenges. There is still heavy snow on the north side of Lake Ann Pass. Rob determined through early scouting that we would not require ice axes, but trekking poles and perhaps micro-spikes were advisable.
The cornice in this photo above is the pass. The snow was soft enough that micro-spikes were not needed. My challenge was a stretch of quicksand-like sludge that I nearly drowned in. I tried to crawl through the gravel, full of snowmelt, and failed miserably. Each step induced a rock slide that threatened to carry me down the mountain. I was trying to reach some stable rocks but was so exhausted from trying to swim through this mix of rock and water that I didn’t have the strength to stand back up once reaching them. I then turned my head to find the trail and determined I could possibly make the snow patch on the far side of the quicksand with a strong, one-hop leap. That hop wouldn’t provide any traction on the flowing rock, but I’d have to trust my momentum. Learning to trust my momentum would become an important tool over the next several days of obstacles. My leap landed me on solid snow and I made it to the top of the pass, where Rob was patiently waiting. That’s Lake Ann below him and Mount Huron in the background.
I knew the rest of the day would be downhill and I now had some trail confidence. I didn’t know if my body could take a second day, but I knew the subsequent downhill was in my wheelhouse. As would become our pattern, we took a substantial break at the top of the pass to recover our strength. That’s Taylor Park Reservoir in the background below. Our path was to cross the valley toward the left of this photo, across the Illinois and Texas Creeks.
After eleven miles and ten hours, we ended the night camping on the Illinois Creek. There was no campfire and I’m not sure I made it to nightfall. I was happy with my PackitGourmet dehydrated camp dinner. Highly recommended.
I was concerned about my ability to recover for day two, but I woke up fresh and ready to continue our hike. Our pattern was to wake up at 5:30 am and hit the trail by 7. I think it helped my legs that we didn’t have any big climbs until later in the day when we finished on Cottonwood Pass.
I discovered on day two that since beginning this hike, I’d had zero thoughts on work. I wasn’t even counting the days, let alone thinking about returning back to a normal life. Vacation days are always good but this trail was the perfect remedy for a past year and a half of what I believe had been the most stressful of my life. I’m sure it was difficult for many people with Covid-19, but mine had other life events that had me at the bottom of the emotional scale.
The act of hiking a trail like this is so involved. My entire mind was focused 100% on my footfalls. It was hard to daydream. Planting each foot in front of the other was almost like playing a mindless video game. I put some thought into moving my Cyan story forward. It’s a mystery and I thought up how I’ll have my heroine interview suspects and add depth to the characters. But mostly I was just watching my footfalls for ten hours each day. The trail was like a mind eraser, like hitting the reset button on life. I’m ready now for what comes next.
The trail did take its toll on my legs. On my entire body. I was never fully confident the first two days that I could finish. I’d suggested we park one of our cars at the half way point on Cottonwood Pass. Doing so would allow us to carry less supplies, resulting in a lighter pack, but it would also mean more time shuffling cars between trailheads. I was voted down, so I was committed.
Ample rest after long stretches and big climbs is what saved me. We developed a pattern of taking a couple of long breaks during the day. Naptime essentially. Usually with awesome views.
I would see George often updating his trip notes, or reading.
I think Rob was often praying that we didn’t die on his watch.
We camped after our second day on the trail on Cottonwood Pass. George was too tired for dinner and missed this sunset that his tent was pitched perfectly to view.
I found day three to be the toughest. We were now hiking above tree line for most of the day. The trail was gorgeous, interweaving us from pass to saddle to pass, offering views of new basins that could only be viewed by backpacking into the remote forest of the Collegiates.
Trudging through snow fields was always exhausting. I suspect my biggest issue was that, even when in better shape, I don’t do well above 12,000 feet. And we were almost always above 12,000 feet. I get mild altitude sickness, light-headed and nauseated.
Rob was in his element though. Backpacking in these conditions is hard. The climbs at altitude for 10-hour days fatigue the body. Hiking food generally sucks. And the ground makes for a hard bed. But Rob was born to be on the trail.
I could also see how George found solace in the mountains. Sitting on the earth at a spot you could only backpack to and taking in the vistas brings peace to any soul who will venture.
George took on the responsibility of team map reader. He kept us to about ten miles per day, but more importantly, he targeted campsites that appeared to offer water and a flat spot for our tents. Early in the season yet, we found ample flowing water, even above tree line. In many cases, we drank directly from the headwaters, with snow melt bubbling up from the rocks like God’s water springs.
I don’t know that the fourth day ever dropped below tree line. We took generous breaks to rest and I turned my photo-taking to the views during those hiking intermissions.
Above, I laid among alpine flowers at 12,000 feet. And below, a bit closer to tree line, more of the same.
Sitting in high-mountain meadows was so amazing. I felt as if I could hear the wind blow through each tree. I would see the tree tops move first, then hear the wind, followed by feeling the cool breeze hit my dry, hot skin. I sensed how the mountain forests filtered the carbon from the planet’s air.
George found us another perfect camping site with comfortable ground and flowing water near Tincup Pass. We expected to reach our trailhead destination the next day.
George led us through the final mountain meadows and passes to Hancock Pass Trailhead.
Finishing the trail a day early, we spent yet another day climbing Mount Yale. I was too dizzy at 14,000 feet that I rested on the saddle while George and Rob scurried up the pile of rocks that formed the peak. A storm blew in with hard sleet, blinding us during our descent. Maybe the worst weather we had the entire week. We encountered several ladies running this trail, leaving me in awe with their form as they bounded the rocks like ballerinas. Just when you think you’ve accomplished something amazing, someone else comes by making it look easy.
But it wasn’t easy. It was so satisfyingly hard. Those mountains and the trail cleansed my soul unlike any vacation I’ve ever taken before. My button has been reset and I’m ready for what comes next.
I don’t sell enough books to brag about, but every now and then, I get something like this. Would have been nice as an Amazon review, but I received it via LinkedIn of all places.
I just finished your second book. Brilliant work, both of them. I am retiring from the Army this week, and have appreciated the motivation you’ve given me. I ran electronic warfare teams, among other things. And I really appreciated the references in your second book.
I am transitioning from intelligence work to cyber. This fall I even start graduate work at Brown in cybersecurity. It’s been daunting changing fields when I didn’t plan for it. But my body can’t take kicking doors anymore. Your books gave me a feeling, especially from ‘Rob’, that my chances are good for landing on my feet. So thank you for the good books, and thank you for the confidence they instilled.
Keep writing, you are great at it.
That made me feel pretty good. It’s been a week of feeling good. I’m counting down to an epic backpacking trip along the Continental Divide Trail through the Collegiates in another week. My buddies and I have been exchanging emails on possible routes and gear choices all month. Each email gets me more excited. Seriously, we’ve been salivating over our dehydrated camp meal selections. Maybe its the Covid cabin fever but I was near manic as I inventoried my trail gear.
Wish I was in better shape for this trek but, assuming I survive it, I’ll be in better shape afterward. I’ll be struggling to keep up with my trail mates. Rob is a fitness coach at Fort Lewis College in Durango. He even teaches a course on hiking. He hikes over one hundred days each year. Rob tends to get naked and swim in alpine lakes. This pic of him wading into the waters above tree line on Snow Mesa near Lake City gives you a sense of just how fit he is.
I might be able to hang closer to George, since he’s coming up from Austin and won’t be acclimated to the altitude. This photo of his dying carcass from the last time I hiked with him, on top of Greys Peak, is what gives me confidence. Still, I know he’s as fit today as he was forty years ago in the Marines. These sexagenarian beefcakes might find themselves having to wait for the young 59 year old.
Ellie and I spent Memorial weekend moving her out of her apartment, cleaning said apartment, and moving her into her sorority house as she attends summer school at Mines. Sounds like work but it was nice quality time with my daughter. Her front porch has a nice view of the intramural fields and campus. This photo looks north up the valley toward Boulder.
This weekend, Todd and I returned to our trails behind the Flat Irons that overlook Boulder Valley. We got lucky with cloud cover shielding us from this weekend’s intense heat.
You should know that you need a Colorado StateParkpass, day pass or annual pass, to park at the Eldorado Canyon TH and to hike the area trails.
My buddy Todd told me he’d just moved into a new place and that these were the first two books in his bookshelf. So I said, let’s go for a hike Saturday. Todd helps me write legal docs at work. Or I help him. I don’t know. The process is not unlike working with an editor or critique team for my novels. I craft some words and Todd improves them before presenting to Legal.
I’ve lived in Boulder County for over thirty years and never hiked Walker Ranch Loop. Unbelievable. To get there, you drive west on Baseline to where it turns into Flagstaff. You drive past the Flagstaff Restaurant and just keep going, maybe fifteen minutes, until you reach the trailhead.
I met a guy, Rob Decker, at the Jagger’s post-vax, house party last night. We were talking publishing and he mentioned he spent over a million dollars advertising on Facebook last year. Because he makes art posters out of national park photos that he shoots, styled after the 30s and 40s Works Progress Administration efforts, we eventually began a discussion on hiking. Rob told me to hike this loop clockwise, because these steps induce most of the mountain bikers to ride counter-clockwise. This photo only shows a fraction of the steps. Trust me, this is the original stairway to heaven.
Todd and I stopped occasionally to smell the roses, or in this case, one of the many star lilies that adorned the trail. The weather could not have been better with the air 59° and strong sunshine. Boulder Valley was under a Gulf Coast cloud cover all morning, wisps of which breached Walker Ranch via Eldorado Canyon. It reminded Todd of fog rolling into San Fransisco Bay, and it was like that in spots.
The loop starts out near the top of the trail and drops down to the South Boulder Creek. It then rises to the turn-around and drops back down to the creek on the return. The east-side four miles has a V-shape elevation profile and coming back on the western loop gives it a W-shape end-to-end.
We lunched on the creek on the return side, putting five miles behind us. The entire route is eight miles. We finished in about three and a half hours.
The trail is rated hard but I thought it was in our wheelhouse. Awesome training for my upcoming fifty-mile backpacking trek along the CDT in the Collegiates next month.
There were more runners on the trail than mountain bikers. If you can see well enough in this photo, there’s a lady behind the runners with four dogs on leashes. She said it was mostly an arm and upper body workout.
The 4 Nose Brewing Company just happened to be along our route on the drive home, so we stopped in for a tasty beverage and to replace calories lost on the trail. The irony of hiking past a woman walking four dogs on the trail was not lost on us.
In Latin, Neglectum means exactly what you would guess it to mean. Indifference or to ignore. That’s my style of gardening. With artificial grass carpeting my backyard, this thin strip between my front porch and the sidewalk is about all I have to maintain, but I’m a busy guy.
This Grape-Hyacinth proved itself more robust one spring than my purposely tended flowers, so I yielded to nature and allowed these weeds to become my ground cover. Who am I to resist the force of nature? I’ve also stopped plucking the dandelions. I rather like the bright contrast of yellow they splash into the mix of grape, and what with the plight of the bees and all. The HOA has yet to post a note on my door.
It’s sage advice to wait until Mother’s Day before planting delicate flowers and vegetables along the Front Range. I’ve learned my lesson over the years. Indeed, just today I tried to get my run in before the expected rain, but the front rolled in three hours ahead of schedule and pelted me with hail four minutes before reaching the end of the trail. It’s expected to snow Tuesday. Karen and I will wait until next weekend to garden. Meanwhile, we have our weeds.
I know, that last post was a bit of a Debbie Downer. Typical guy, don’t construe that as an apology. I write what’s in my head as I run. I transpose my thoughts to words after I get home. Really, the story is written by the end of my run. I do the same thing with my novels. I didn’t think to take a photo today so I downloaded this one of the snowcapped Indian Peaks. They were my view throughout my run on the East Boulder Trail.
Today’s run was special. I spent most of yesterday in bed with aches and chills from my second jab of Moderna. I’d gone 18 hours without adverse effects. I had just emailed my boss shortly before 8 am saying I might attend a call, despite having taken the day off out of precaution. I stood up and was so light-headed I could barely walk across the floor. I was back in bed two hours later.
So to then wake up Saturday morning, feeling awesome on my birthday, magnified the enjoyment of my run. My life force reversed directions. Only by running could I really feel the difference a day makes. I didn’t run fast but I ran the full eight miles again. I would say I felt stronger than last week, possibly from cooler temps. There’s this section, a gentle but long upslope in between the first two hills and the final two big ones. It runs straight west with this gorgeous view of the Indian Peaks, as well as Mount Meeker and Longs Peak to the north. So unbelievably beautiful.
My thoughts on turning fifty-nine focused really on approaching my sixties. I’ve already moved on from my fifties and I’m thinking non-stop about being a grandfather. Talk about milestones. I’m passing one of life’s greatest cairns. My grandfather name is to be Lobo, not for the Longmont-to-Boulder (LoBo) trail I often run, but after my trail name. And even my eponymous media company – Lobo Media Ltd. What, you don’t have your own media company? Wake up, it’s the year 2021, how else do you expect to manage your digital exposure? And go for a run. It’s springtime in Colorado.
After my mom passed, my sister told me grief would come in waves. As if sharing a secret with her brother that all my other sisters already knew. I’d spent the last year of my mother’s life living with her, sharing the load with my brother. I figured my sister had no idea how I would feel in the future.
Since then, I’ve had wonderful weekends, snowshoeing and hiking with Karen. It’s been so great to be back home. Then, I have wistful weekends where I’m so bothered that I can’t call her as I’ve done for the last two decades of Saturday mornings. Like having a past lover block your profile. The months since have been marked by an undulating melancholy.
As I approach another year around the sun, I thought about how my entire fifties have been a rollercoaster. It began with cancer at fifty-one. As if that didn’t take me low enough, my hair turned gray overnight. Correction, being blonde, let’s agree to call it silver. And there were highs. I’m still looking at the photos of walking my daughter down the aisle. My mother passed in January and I’ll be a grandfather in September.
This current low has me wanting to tackle it head on. I think like a guy. I fix problems. I want change from where I’m at. I love product management but I want a new job. Creating products still satisfies me. I don’t want to stop doing that, but tech just isn’t feeding my soul right now and I have a hungry heart. The idea of working for a non-profit is appealing. Of course, I’m kidding myself. I still have a kid in college. And I doubt I could find a better work culture than with the people I’m working with right now.
Changing jobs would likely be an over-reaction, but I’m managing it in other ways. I’m not drinking every day like I generally would. And I’m trying to limit myself to a single drink when I do. Like sirens to the rocks though, that second drink calls for me. Having these thoughts as I ran today made me recall a time my mother advised me on depression.
I was sixteen and starting to drink on Friday nights with my buddies. She sat down with me one Saturday morning and gave a me long heart-to-heart. She acknowledged that having a close friend die in my arms from a car wreck we were in together over the summer was a hard pill for someone my age to swallow. But I didn’t die then and if I expected to keep living, I needed to change my ways. She didn’t have to remind me of her hardships, but she did say that if she’d ever chosen to wallow in self-pity, it was unlikely I’d be living the privileged life I was currently living. That was so long ago, it’s hard to remember enough of what she said to even paraphrase, but I always think back to it when I hear Bowie’s lyrics, “My mother said to get things done, you’d better not mess with Major Tom.” Mom never tried to be my best friend, but she was always my mother.
I thought of that on my run today. It was the 8 miler on the hilly East Boulder Trail that I attempt each weekend, but always end up walking in the final three miles. With mom for strength, I ran all eight miles today. First time this year. Longer. I thought of another strong woman while climbing the final, massive water tower hill. I thought of my older daughter when I took her on her first fifteen miler in high school. She was in tears on the last three miles of hills. She dry-heaved near the top of the water tower hill. But she ran through that. She never stopped. So I made up it that hill without stopping today. That’s the kind of change I can build on. That’s why I run.
Eric, my son-in-law and future father of my future granddaughter, is registered to run the Lean Horse 100 through the Black Hills of South Dakota this August. He invited me to be his crew chief for the race. Naturally, his race is all about me so I got some training in this morning on the East Boulder Trail. Targeted eight miles out-and-back. Ran five solid miles and walked in the final three.
My goal would be to also pace him through a 10K or two. Maybe one of the expansive downslopes. I’ve dropped fifteen pounds so far this year so I think by August, I might be able to run a 9 or 10 minute pace with him, assuming he’ll be running that slow. He tends to win his trail races so maybe I’ll have to get more aggressive with my training.
I haven’t made any commitments yet. I’ll see how my training goes. I’ll have to see if I can take a few days off from work. And check the specials at Tortugas that weekend. And review the new releases on Netflix. But if I’m free in August, I can’t think of anything more fun than serving as crew chief for an ultra in the Black Hills.
If you know me, then you’ve undoubtedly heard me say, there’s no such thing as a bad Godzilla movie. With the one exception of that Matthew Broderick cluster, there are few axioms more true. After streaming Godzilla vs Kong last night, I can report that my movie adage continues to hold truth.
I have to say, I was anxious about the outcome, so anxious that I almost didn’t watch it. I’m opposed to the notion of the world’s top two titans having to fight. A review I’d read implied one of them loses. I won’t spoil it for you. They fight multiple times in this movie and there are winners and losers each time. But I was almost furious with the director before even watching the movie believing the story might contemptuously slight the heroic majesty of either of these two creatures.
Kong represents the unmanageable force of nature as man exploits her resources. Kong has never been a more important symbol to all of us who want to protect nature. Godzilla is not too far off, conjured up by the folly of man. For me, Godzilla has always emerged to restore balance and harmony to the planet. Both these titans are far too noble to have to clash for our entertainment, as if they were just two more fighters on the MMA roster.
In the end, I wasn’t disappointed. My expectations panned out. Mostly. One does have to completely suspend their belief systems before watching a monster spectacle. Kong spends half the movie traveling to Antartica to enter a portal into the center of planet, only to exit later through a hundred meter tunnel under the city of Hong Kong. Perhaps the director recognized some alliterative value in having King Kong fight in Hong Kong. Who knows. The city has been relevant in the news lately. But it’s a classic error that I do fault the director for, to not include scenes in Tokyo. Toho Studio invented Godzilla and they deserve homage in every adaptation.
I suspect by now I’m coming across as some immature movie critic. A childish fan of monster movies. My appreciation does stem from my childhood. I never read the Marvel or DC comics. I subscribed to Mad Magazine in grade school, a rag that developed my appreciation for satire. I watched monster movies on Friday nights with my best friend Scott Sumner in Marion, Iowa. They would come on after Wolfman Jack’s Midnight Special and end with the National Anthem and a screen full of static around 1 am, back when people used to sleep. Zombies and vampires are okay. I like werewolves more, especially banshees, but Godzilla has always been my favorite. He, or she, says Matthew Broderick, was a monster I could sympathize with. Godzilla was the ultimate antihero.
The writing was bad in this movie, almost to be expected. Very little of the storyline was original or credible. I was fine with that. I know how hard it is from having written two novels. It was important to me for my cyberwar stories to be plausible. I based most of my attacks on real world events. But there comes a time in a fictional telling to drop all pretense in order to provide entertainment. Godzilla vs Kong was decent entertainment. And, despite the absence of a Tokyo presence, the storyline remained intact enough to satisfy old fans like myself.
This footbridge is after six miles on an eight miler on the LoBo trail today. My form is still more of a shuffle than a run, but running outside in the Colorado springtime with 50° temps and full sunshine is priceless. I’m as happy as I look. I’m still living the same Saturdays as when I was seventeen running along Town Lake in Austin with my high school buddies. I wonder if any of them remember jumping off the I-35 bridge for a swim. Fortunately that was before cell phones so drivers couldn’t easily call the cops on us.
A better place to cool off around Town Lake was outside the dam on the north end of the Barton Springs pool. The 68° water poured out of the dam like a shower head and we’d take turns standing under it. I wonder if it still pours out like that. So many cool memories of running in Texas. Austin has the best urban running of any city in America, but I had some memorable runs in Round Rock and San Marcos too.
I recall running with my buddy Mike through some rancher’s fields off McNeil road. We kept passing cows and as we did, they’d fall in line behind us. Their numbers kept increasing and we felt like they were picking up speed. Eventually we had to make a decision to sprint for some exit or be trampled under a stampeding herd. I’d read somewhere that cows and horses wouldn’t trample you if you simply stopped and stood there. This was before the Internet, so my reading material was less suspect. It took me a while to convince Mike that this was our best option. It was less a matter of convincing him than knowing we’d already been nearly sprinting for too long and we were out of gas, and there were no quick exits. We stopped and turned to face the stampede. Those cows stopped on a dime, a few feet from our faces, and we slowly walked out of there.
Thinking of runs with Mike, he joined me for a summer semester at Texas State in San Marcos. Even though he hadn’t run competitively for a couple of years, he walked onto the University Cross Country team with me, setting the pace for our Monday half mile intervals, just like he’d done in high school. One morning we went for a fifteen miler on Post Road, toward Kyle and back. Just outside of town, we happened upon a dead body laying in the ditch. Mike actually ran past it for another 50 yards before noticing I had stopped. The poor boy had been walking from a trailer park home to his midnight shift stocking groceries when he was hit by a couple of drunk college boys. The boys turned themselves in shortly after. Having to roll over that boy’s bloodied body and confirm his death was one of the saddest things I’ve ever done.
Ran my first marathon with Mike too, in Dallas. I was sixteen in 1978. We drove around Dallas all night, drinking Schlitz beer we bought from the convenience store I conveniently worked at. Being so youthful, not sure I even noticed being hungover at the starting line. I still remember having to break through the crowd at fifteen miles to vomit behind a tree. Still, that was probably the fastest marathon I’ve ever run. I think we came in a tad bit over three hours.
So many runs, I could go on, but I need a shower after running 8 on the LoBo.
Deer Mountain is an easy to moderate hike with a trailhead right at the intersection of Hwy 34 and Hwy 36 in Rocky Mountain National Park. There were other hikers with snowshoes but I don’t think there was enough snow for them. The trail was mostly hard-packed snow with some ice in spots. I wished I’d taken my trekking poles, especially near the top. The trail rises 1000 feet over three miles for a six mile round trip.
The trail largely side-hills through switchbacks and while it’s mostly in the trees, there are plenty of clearings with incredible views. Longs Peak can be seen to the south in both of my photos.
I turned around shortly before reaching the peak because I was on a timeline, but I got in two glorious hours of Rocky Mountain sunshine. I selected Deer Mountain because there wasn’t any parking at the other trails I wanted to try. Tomorrow I’m going to shoot for Bierstadt Trail. I think one needs to enter the park by 7am to be confident of a parking spot at the trailheads. All the trails are good though. I recommend getting up to the mountains this spring. There’s more snow on the way.
This is a running blog and I’m a runner again. Under a warm Colorado sun, I ran my first miles since November. I’d put on too much weight to run, although I walked regularly. I’m not a snobby runner and truly believe walking is as healthy for you as running. But I like running more. And since I returned from Texas this year, I’ve been working out on my elliptical, which is a fine piece of equipment, but it’s not running.
I’ve dropped ten pounds this year and felt like I might be ready to try running again. The biggest problem with the extra weight was it made running so hard. The other issue is it leads to poor form and possible injury. My running form this weekend was certainly more of a shuffle, but I believe I maintained a decent footfall technique, landing on the forefront of my shoes to spare my knees too much impact.
Like returning from outer space, the trail introduced gravity that wasn’t noticeable on the elliptical. And today, my legs have soreness never present after even two-hour stints on the elliptical. So now, in addition to working on my cardio, I’ll hopefully improve on my muscle tone. Mostly though, it just felt so good to be back outside, under the sun, viewing the snow-capped Indian Peaks, on the trail.
Later in the day, I met up with my buddies at Shoes and Brews for a socially-distanced beverage. Non-athletes don’t generally feel welcomed here among all the shaved legs and hard bodies. I felt I like belonged though. I ran 8 miles in my return to the trail. Well, I ran about 6 miles because I had to mostly walk the remaining hills on the return. Still, running or walking, I was back on the trail.
The hell suffered by Texans over these last brutally cold days has produced the best original content on the Internet in years. My Texas friends might single-handedly save Facebook from the repeal of Section 230. The stories from my friends have been enough to make me willing to live through decades more of Russian misinformation campaigns. Come on. Who doesn’t love some good potty humor?
I knew everyone would be okay once the jokes started flying. They were a welcome relief to the stories that made my throat harden and eyes mist over. Families sleeping in their cars. Families dying from carbon monoxide poisoning. Despite the grief, I kept reading the stories coming out of Texas. Stories from Tiger, a lateral thinker who can generate tears one minute and out-loud laughing the next, who in one photo depicting the generosity of HEB conveyed the loving heart of the Great State of Texas.
My friends’ stories captured hardships that challenged a full 2020 of Covid nightmares. Cindy saved her plants. Knowing her righteousness, I imagined her family being forced to sleep outside to make room. Steve, my brother-in-law, spent the previous weeks stockpiling excellent hardwoods for the fire pit he got for Christmas. He spent the last few days giving it all away to his neighbors. Stories like that, I only heard from Karen’s phone conversations, checking in on family.
It won’t surprise me if the next Pulitzer is awarded to one of my many talented writer friends from Texas. George is the best American nature writer since Emerson or Thoreau. He’s producing original content seemingly hourly that covers the spectrum of Texas humor, ingenuity and beauty. Of course, I hope the skies clear and the ground warms my friends up this weekend, but I can’t wait to read more stories of the human condition tomorrow morning.