On the edge of the trail sat a fat, five-foot long alligator. My eyes widened and I glanced at it again with my headlamp to reveal rocks and sticks. Of course there was no alligator, I was running down a mountain in western Virginia and it was below 50-degrees outside.
“Terry, I’m hallucinating,” I said.
“What?” he replied without breaking stride.
“I just saw an alligator on the side of the trail.”
“Well, at least you know it was a hallucination,” he chuckled.
It’s been awhile since I wrote a blog and a lot of that has to do with my injury. I broke my big toe in the beginning of the summer, which sidelined several of my plans. It prevented me from running for about 6-weeks, during which I gained a lot of weight. Nobody had told my appetite that I had stopped running. Now I am locked into a battle with weight loss.
So let me recap my summer:
When I was a kid there were these VHS videos you could order like “Marty Stouffer’s Wild America: Dangerous Encounters.” Later the Fox Network would go on to produces shows like “When Animals Attack.” The latter were essentially snuff films couched as nature documentaries. The viewer would be treated to grainy security camera footage of a man being kicked in the face by a moose or a lion attacking a safari truck, as a breathless narrator gave you a play-by-play of the mayhem. Maybe for how tactless those films were, they might have had a positive effect. For it seems now that people are forgetting that wild animals can be dangerous.
So June 25, 2016 will be the World Naked Bike Ride in Portland, Oregon. This reminded me of an article I read a few years ago about the nude trail running scene. That is right, there are runners whom are so minimalist that anything more than a pair of shoes and socks is too much. Of course I’ve heard of Hike Naked Day, but I struggle to wrap my head around running naked. Even when I ran in a kilt I wore compression shorts for support.
I recently finished listening to the book “The Last Season” about a backcountry ranger who disappeared in 1996. Randy Morgenson had served as a seasonal backcountry ranger for almost 30-years and was an expert at wilderness survival and Search and Rescue. When someone got lost in the Sierra Nevada, the park supervisors turned him. So what do you do when your best man goes missing?
This past Sunday my wife and I took the drive up to Hanging Rock State Park, about 2.25 hours from Raleigh. We arrived mid-morning and after checking out the Visitor’s Center, we hiked three of the waterfalls. These were short hikes from the main parking lot that offered some great views and allowed us to get in the mood to scramble around the mountain.
23 years ago Matt Foley (Chris Farley) attempted to warn teenagers about how life choices can lead to living in a van down by the river. When he asked if they wanted to live in a van down by the river there was a group in the audiences who said, “wait that’s an option?” Like Christina Applegate, they found the idea of nomadic living appealing. So they packed up their climbing gear, kayaks, running shoes, backpacks, and camp stoves. Then loaded it all into vans, RVs, and campers and set out to establish a non-traditional life.
This is a topic I have been bouncing around writing about for a while. I’m partially motivated to write about my experience with ADHD because of my friend René’s blog “Black Girl, Lost Keys.” Another motivator was a recent article in Outside Magazine “ADHD Is Fuel for Adventure” by Florence Williams. I thought I would share some of my experiences and how I have coped with my ADHD.
So I thought I would share some of my favorite adventure stories that I have read over the years. I did not want to focus on the obvious ones like Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air,” “Into the Wild,” or John Muir’s “My First Summer in the Sierra.” Instead, I wanted to give you books that you may have overlooked.
Over the weekend, I watched the documentary “Jumbo Wild.” It is about the debate as to whether they should build a ski resort in the Jumbo Valley of British Columbia. The film does not actively attempt to vilify anyone but shows you the point of view from the developers and the activists. For the First Nations people, it is about protecting a sacred area while the conservationists feel that these wild places need to be preserved. This got me thinking about our struggles to the South of the border.
Here in the United States, there has been a renewed call to remove large tracts of public lands from under federal management. Some proponents argue that the states are better suited to manage these lands. Many have ulterior motives such as selling off the mining or timber rights to bolster states’ budgets. Others just feel the state is better situated to understand and manage the land around them. Even this concerns me as many public lands cross state borders this puts the federal land managers in a better position to see the big picture with management goals.
As state versus federal control has come up in the public debate I thought I would attempt to make a case for keeping these lands protected. Here are a few points I wanted to make:
- They are public lands, not government owned lands: While some places such as military bases and government facilities are restricted from public access, most public lands are managed to provide equal access. Some people think that means that they can use these lands for their profit, which leads to most arguments over public lands. What public lands really means is that they are managed to provide access to everyone. That’s hunters, fishermen, ranchers, hikers, runners, and mountain bikers alike. While some activities may be restricted in areas, that is typically done to protect a threatened species or ecosystem.
- We should protect wilderness areas: Overdevelopment leads to a decline in biodiversity. Unless you are looking make your grandchildren’s biology class simpler by reducing the animal kingdom to sheep, horses, cows, pigs, dogs, and cats then we need to preserve the areas where wild animals live. Are we not the country where buffalo roam? We almost weren’t after a near extinction in the 1800’s. Do you really want live in a world where your children do not know “Guy on a Buffalo?”
So here are a few of the reasons I think we should protect our wild areas and possibly work on bringing green spaces back into our cities. What do you think? How often do you get out into a green space? Do you prioritize it? Please leave comments and questions below.
So I did it, I got a new pair of running shoes and they are not Salomons. I got a pair of Altra Lone Peaks. I’ve only gotten one run in them so far so we will see how they do. Time will tell how much I actually enjoy them.