It struck me the other day when I was bushwhacking around Mt. Blue Job, that while I love to run in the woods...I really love running through the woods. Maybe this is why I'm drawn to adventure racing and orienteering? As I reflected about the difference between running in the woods and running through the woods I thought about how running reflects life. Before I discovered trail running I ran on the roads like everyone else. In my naivety I thought I could run anywhere. The reality was, I could only run where the road took me. It was an illusion of freedom. I thought the world was mine to explore and discover. In fact, I wasn't an explorer but rather a mindless drone following the path that someone else determined for me. Then I discovered trail running. Asphalt and car exhaust were replaced with roots, dirt, and the intoxicating smell of balsam fir. Now I was free. Or was I? Thursday as I crashed through a tight hardwood sapling stand I realized that I had once again been lulled into a false sense of freedom. I had traded roads for...trails. Again I was following the path chosen for me by someone else for no other reason than it was easier. There's really no growth in following a path, be it made of pavement or dirt. Growth comes from learning and learning comes from getting off the beaten path and really exploring. During my hour long bushwhack expedition of a place that I had run (and mountain biked) several times a week for the past four years I found treasures there I had never imagined. No less than 50 meters from a trail I've run a hundred times I found a small cave with a generous amount of scat kicked to the entrance. I generally have a pretty wild imagination and my heart immediately began to race when I remembered the black bear (and cubs) I had seen near Mt. Blue Job last year. As I moved away from the cave I noticed a 10 meter high rock wall scramble that I had never seen before. After a moment of risk:reward analysis I decided to see if I could make it to the top. With a running start I bounded up the face, perched on a small shelf, hopped to a rock ledge, and made my way to the top. So exhilarating was the challenge I actually climbed back down and did it twice more! How many times in our lives do we get (or take) the opportunity to get out of the "commuter lane" and follow our own path? And what is freedom after all? I saw and experienced many other treasures during that run this week and none of them would have been revealed if I had "stayed on the trail". I'm going to make an effort to explore Mt. Blue Job more by getting off the path and going where I want to run.
Oh, and by the way...it wasn't bear scat after all. It was my friend the porcupine's leavin's. I looked it up on the internet. You know the one...the information super-highway.
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