Thursday, April 21, 2016

I guess it's not surprising, but it's spring and I should leave

Packing, cleaning, doctor visits, one last run up Black Mountain. I wasn't really in the mood for any of it. Transitions inevitably build stress, and stress is bad for stoke. Temperatures were in the mid-80s, recent frolics through the grass left my face oozing with tears and snot, and my lung capacity was on the low side again. The parking lot was full at Rhus Ridge trailhead, which evoked a sigh of relief. "Guess it's not to be." Just as I moved to turn my car around, another car starting backing out.

Shuffling up the hot gravel fireroad, snot streaming everywhere, sunscreen leaking into my eyes. My stomach was irked after eating two apples, a quart of strawberries, an orange, some grape tomatoes, a bell pepper, and some ice cream for lunch (trying to clear out the fridge.) "It seems dumb to force this." Still, this strange sense of duty to my own nostalgia pulled me upward.

At the singletrack junction, gnarled oak trees and chaparral provided patches of shade. There was a stick in the trail that was actually a small rattlesnake, but by the time I realized this it was already too late to do anything but leap over it. My heart raced. I remembered reading somewhere that babies are the most volatile and most venomous rattlesnakes.

I was cooked at the summit, where I plopped down on a jagged rock outcropping that overlooks the redwood ridges and cloudy coast. Memories cycled back through orange sunsets, frosty evenings, the golden grass of summer, coastal fog pouring over these soft ridge lines, autumn skies in a bright cerulean hue that seems truly unique to California. Everyone needs a place like this — close to home, simple but not easy to reach, a place to visit frequently, to look out over familiar landscapes and see all the ways the world is simultaneously a big and small place, and time is both linear and cyclical.

Flying downhill, where the old fireroad drops off the ridge. Glittering buildings of the Silicon Valley sprawl out below, and grade is so steep that it looks like you're falling into it, arms outstretched and plunging toward the city.

My spirit was buoyed as I turned back onto the singletrack and leaned into switchbacks, kicking my feet to pick up speed, eyes scouting for poison oak and rattlesnakes. It was all going so well until my right foot came down at an inexplicably bad angle, rolling the ankle and tossing my body onto the gravel-strewn trail. Skiiiiiiid. Ow ow ow ow.

I popped up quickly, hunched over, then plopped back down on the trail so I could sit and moan until the initial impact wore off. It's been a bad week for running crashes. I've noticed recently that while the clumsy is always there, it becomes noticeably worse when I'm at a certain point in my hormonal cycle. I've heard other women call this the "dropsies," because they drop things like coffee mugs and plates. I drop my body.

Limping down the trail, blood oozing from my elbow and shin, and pain throbbing beneath new tears in my favorite tights. Still three miles to go. At least I tucked and didn't land on my bad hand, but this may possibly be my worst run to Black Mountain yet, after five years of running and biking to Black Mountain. I suppose it's fitting, for a break-up run. You know I'll always love you, Black Mountain.

Friday is the day we load up the Subaru with our favorite bicycles and head east on I-80 toward Boulder. We expect to arrive on Sunday night, and after that I'll have new backyard mountains to explore and fresh scars to remember Black Mountain.

So long, and thanks for all the views.


  1. Have great trip! looking forward to read your stories from Colorado

  2. Ouch on the fall, but I loved your description of your run - so lyrical!

  3. Ah, heck. Injuries suck (typing with broken thumb). You'll enjoy Boulder, and CO weather is finally warming up. Have dinner at Mountain Sun/Southern Sun when you roll into town, you'll feel better : )

  4. It's a lot different than CA but you'll love it here, too :) My husband is from CA and while it doesn't replace it in his heart, he's managed to make room for both. Holler if you ever have any questions!

  5. the day has come. Sheesh Jill...since I've been following your blog you've lived in Juneau, Anchorage, Missoula, Palo Alto and now Boulder! You sure know how to get around girl!! (being retired Navy, I can tell you that moving every few years, while it most assuredly is a HUGE hassle, keeps things fresh as you always have new horizons and new people in your's hard to get into a rut when you live like that). Wishing you safe travels, and like the rest of your faithful followers, can't WAIT to hear about Boulder!!

  6. Yeah I never tire of the black mountain feeling and views. Hope the summer heat of Colorado doesn't affect you too .much. It got to me the couple of times I visited in the summer and I was so relieved to get back here to the fog. Hope you get to revisite here several times in the future.

  7. Beautiful reflective post. A fitting farewell.

    So excited to hear about the next phase of your life!


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