As I begin running the trail quickly begins to slope upwards. My footsteps are silent as I travel the forest path beneath the canopy of trees. Within minutes my heart is racing from the effort. In the first mile I gain 453 feet in elevation but this is just the beginning. The trail dips and I run hard, but in control as my pace speeds up and slows as the terrain dictates. The forest gives way to allow glimpses of some of the surrounding mountains which fills me with joy. My pace quickens eager with anticipation. After several miles the forest thins out to give me full view of my destination. The mountains’ jagged peaks lift skyward, sharp, jagged edges in the blue sky.
The trail once again turns back into the forest and again goes upwards. Ever upwards. I drink greedily as I try to quench my parched mouth and brush the dripping sweat away from eyes and face. I don’t have to go this fast but the effort seems right for a place like this. Being in special places in the natural world should come with effort and pain. Helps me appreciate the astounding beauty all the more. The hard effort also helps dissipate my own inner pain. With every step, every mile ,every foot of elevation gain my spirit is lifted higher and higher and the healing within intensifies. The trail is open now as the trees fall away. Still it rises even steeper now and I slow to a fast hike.
Bent over I lean into the hill with hands on my thighs. I feel them burn with fatigue as I try to keep up the pace. After some six miles I reach my destination. My effort rewards me with a cathedral created by nature. As the setting sun shines its light down between those jagged peaks and spires I hear the sound of the ice cold mountain lake lapping against the rocky shore.
This soothes me and my heart beats in rhythm with the water. Calm and slow now I walk along the shoreline. I find a rock and sit to try and take it all in. I can feel the wind bite my face and the mountain casts its shadow across the landscape. I am just a fleeting visitor here. As I leave I turn for one last look, one last listen to the stillness of this mountain scene.
I draw in one more breath from this rejuvenating place before heading back down the trail. I let gravity pull me. Down the steep trail letting go of fears and inhibitions. I feel like myself again as I gain more and more speed. I let the terrain dictate my pace and feel at peace once again.