Sunday, April 01, 2007

Running start

Today I hiked up the Salmon Creek trail. It's of the few trails around Juneau I hadn't explored before - mostly because it was closed for several months during fall. By the time it reopened, I had enough time to learn it was an old utility road that meandered lazily up to a city water supply reservoir. It sounded painfully boring. But painfully boring makes for pain-free walking, so I gave it a chance.

Despite the wide road it follows, the trail itself was a narrow slit through the snow, so smooth and hardpacked it was like singletrack from heaven. Every step on it sounded wasteful and wrong ... crunch, crunch, wish I had my bike ... crunch, crunch. The mainland mountains towered overhead. Beyond those peaks is the icefield that separates the Alaska panhandle from British Columbia. Whenever I think about this precipitous geography, it reminds me how thin my sliver of civilization is in this vast and untouchable wilderness. I like this reality. It makes me feel so alone ... and so alive.

I was only about an hour up the canyon before trail use had dropped off so dramatically that I had to stomp my own path through crusty snow. I turned on iPod and turned around, pounding a little faster through the postholes until I made it back to the main trail. "The Bleeding Heart Show" by The New Pornographers started playing. It's the kind of song you don't even really listen to until the chorus suddenly erupts in a string of joyful "Hey-Las." I don't know what happened. I broke out in a sprint.

Even beyond the music, I could hear my steps breaking across the snow ... crunchcrunchcrunch. No thoughts about bikes or knees or active recovery. Just running because running feels good sometimes, because the icefield looms overhead and you are alone in front of it, because you have nowhere to go and yet everywhere to be. I didn't stop until I was back at the trailhead, about two miles from the last step I had walked.

I still feel like my body is trying to tell me good is good, but trust and truth are two very different things. I go to PT on Monday. I don't think I'll tell them about the running, but I do think I'll keep my options open.