Then all at once a shower
Hat removed now, releasing the
Cool pellets penetrating the scalp
Calming the mind. Washing away the thoughts
That were once swirling.
The big fat sun extends her powerful rays straight through the clouds, pouring warm light into the vast sea. My son, a dimpled, sun-bleached blond, flashes his snaggletooth smile at me from his board. He rides the waves with ease. The frothy whitewater carries him towards the shore. His legs propel him faster and faster, feet kicking like a duck’s, through the saline wonderland. Roaring ocean, and chattering gulls overhead are the soundtrack to this moment.
Without effort, he makes a new friend. A quick exchange of names, the boys are a fluid duo. They bond over their shared joy. I take a step back, noting the sand being pulled by the tide beneath my feet. Solid footing, yet ever-changing. The sea reflects life.
My heart expands with each cresting wave. Here we are free, light with the breeze, the sea carrying us higher. The world buzzes by as we are suspended in this lightness. The beach-goers fade into the background, and all I see is a boy floating next to me. I feel our connection, it buzzes like electricity. A unique bond created by biology and the intangible. That sacredness between mother and child is enhanced by our surroundings. Nurtured by Mother Nature, we embrace this moment, absorbing her fruitful offering.
It’s that time again! Ashley and I are booking flights and heading west; leaving behind our sweet families and the comfort of our homes in exchange for an ultra running, road tripping, car dancing, trail exploring, friend reunion, beautiful mess of a trip! Celebrating another year of life (30 is fantastic) and gathering steam for the next phase, we will bring our hearts and enthusiasm for this edition of AAadventure Cali style.
Our trip begins with an exclamation point, as usual, and will surely build like a blaring crescendo. Here’s where this trip goes in my mind, I close my eyes and play it like a dreamscape: First and foremost, Ash and I will embrace in a big bear-style hug as we rush towards our mode of transportation. Not so secretly, I am hoping for the super score we had last year during our Grand Canyon trip. If you recall, we reserved a not so super economy car, yet due to our sweet southern manners and “charm,” drove off in a delicious red Jeep Wrangler. Does lightening strike twice? Well, we will just have to find out when we step our glittery toes(presuming our toenails haven’t fallen off by then) in California.
Next, I visualize meeting, for the first time, our partner, Angie, the third A of our AAAsugar race team. Race team, what race team? Nope, I didn’t forget to mention this. I’m making my way towards the next scene in my dreamscape, the race. Drum roll pease!
The infamous Badwater race is branching out to the Salton Sea, and that’s where the three blonde A’s are going to work together to traverse 81 sun-baked desert miles.
81 miles of highs and lows. We will see lots of dead fish, an oversized Yeti, Palomar Mountain, and much more, all beneath a brilliant desert sky. The sunset is sure to plaster a smile on the face of even the most uptight of racers. And the twinkling stars will hang over our heads, reminding us to push towards the finish as we let our loud whoops and cries scare the other teams.
Yes, Badwater SS, here we come! Ready to embrace the challenge, yet do it our way. I see this grand opportunity as a fun, life-enhancing, yet not life-breaking event. Ash, Ang (may I call you that?!), and I are going to rock BWSS next month, and I am beyond psyched to experience the parade of characters as they(we) emerge!
My path has not been straight and narrow. Lord knows it has been far from it! It has been wide, often taking the longest, steepest routes possible. At times it has been covered with tears, and other times marked with laughter. The path has been one of solitude and one of companionship. It has seen new life and death, failure and accomplishment. This path has carried me through dark nights, but even brighter days. Sunny moments highlighting the beauty of life are the ones I have most enjoyed. However, it was the moments of sadness and struggle that brought new growth. That’s the way it happens.
This Fall I have had the pleasure of gallivanting up and down the East Coast. My travels took me to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, where I explored a chunk of the Appalachian Trail with Ash. Additionally, I probed many haunts close to home. It must be said that if you can’t appreciate the beauty of your own backyard, how can you rightfully claim to admire lands of afar? With that in mind, I continue to peel back the rich layers of geography and adventure here in New England.
Per usual, I brought my favorite gear along for testing and backup, because……you never know what life is gonna throw your way! The friendly folks over at Purificup provided me with a purple product to give a whirl, and boy did I! I must say it came in handy along the AT and in the Green Mountains of Vermont! Weighing in at a mere 11 oz, it is the ideal solution for the age-old problem of avoiding the parasitic monster! Just read what the CDC has to say about Giardia, that ish cray! Continue reading
The most common questions I am asked about distance running are hydration related. “What’s your preferred method for carrying water while running,” and “how far can you go unaided?” These are valid questions. Water is what keeps us out on the roads, in the woods, and allows us to explore this big, beautiful world longer. Discovering worthy methods of on the go hydration is like finding gold!
I tend to recommend a hydration pack for extended jaunts where water is not readily available. Packs are key when you don’t want your desire for distance to be limited by a lack of water. When water is strapped to your back, much like a camel, you can extend the adventure zone with confidence. Throw a water purification option in the pack as backup, and you have a solid hydration plan.
Recently, Ashley and I had the pleasure of working with Gumption Gear in an effort to give the Highline hydration pack from Ultimate Direction a thorough review. Curious about what the Highline offers trail running, ultra distance loving, avid explorers? Check out the full write-up over at GoGumption.com.
The simultaneous buzzing of the iPhone alarms signaled go time. As Ash and I wiped the residue of a restless night’s canyon dreams from our eyes, my heart began to race. This was the day that I had been dreaming of for months. As my partner and I approached the trail head, a sense of pride washed over me. Here we were, two free spirits, destined to roam, united in the Arizona desert. Our less than traditional paths finally merged. Behind us we left a past of addictions, and reckless decisions. The Canyon represented new challenge, of our own doing, but this go round we had plenty of life experience and training to carry us through.
Fueled by the dawn’s seductive light, I began to rip down Bright Angel. Continue reading