• An Ode To Friends Who Don’t Mind Getting Muddy

    My running buddy, Chelsea, posted this John Muir quote on Facebook and it is basically the motto of our Sunday morning No Runner Left Behind trail group. (Minus the glaciers. We don’t get many of those around here.)

    As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.
    — Quoted from Muir Journals (undated fragment, c. 1871) by Linnie Marsh Wolfe, Son of the Wilderness: The Life of John Muir (1945) page 144.

    It’s funny. The two of us started that group last Spring with another friend because it occurred to us that maybe there were other runners like us out there – wanting to run trails but not trying to beat any sort of time or clock. There are some pretty fast/elite trail running groups but if you don’t know the trails, and if you’re slow, you could easily get left behind and not know where you are. So, we posted in a local facebook group that we were training for McKay 25K and offered to provide a sweeper if anyone wanted to join us.

    And it took off!

    The funny thing is, we get quite a variety of participants. We get some newbies that have never touched a trail before and who never come back again. We get some newbies who love it so much they sign up for races the next week. We get some elites who like the casualness and goofiness of our runs, and often do their “hard” run on Saturday so Sunday gives them some fun time. Sometimes we have 30 people and we get stressed out because we get SO SPREAD OUT, and other times there’s only 6 or 7 of us and we ended up taking 40 million photos along the way.

    We don’t do the group during the warm weather for several reason, but the group shrinks so much after our last big trail race in March it always feels like a good time to take our break and this past Sunday was our last group.

    Photo by Gregg Gelmis
    Photo by Gregg Gelmis

    The storms the night before made waterfalls in places labeled “dry falls” on maps. And because it was warm, something we never get to enjoy on these Sunday runs, we took the opportunity to play in the falls. Or local photographer phenom – Gregg Gelmis – brought his waterproof camera out, hoping for some fun shots. Dry creek beds were like small rivers as we held on to rocks trying not to get swept away. Puddles were calf deep and trails were flooded. It was SO MUCH FUN. A great way to end the season for our fantastic group.

    10439399_990553760956711_7876042342987877320_nAnd holy crap, it was good for my soul. Did I wake up every day since and have perfect days with no anxiety or stress? No. But did I wake up remembering that behind all of that sucky stuff there’s a layer of awesome in my life I need to never forget? YES. I HAVE FRIENDS WHO WILL PLAY IN THE MUD WITH ME. This is something every adult (who likes to play in the mud, I guess) needs in their life. Go. Find friends who will stand under waterfalls with you.

    Our group ranges in ages from 20’ish to 60’ish on an average weekend. We have guys and girls. Fast and Slow. Newbies and Veterans. Conservatives and Liberals. Parents, Grandparents, and the Childfree. We live in all parts of the area, some of us (me) driving 25+ minutes to get to our precious mountain every Sunday. We are a wonderful mix of people who might not come together in any other circumstance, but we celebrate our camaraderie on Sundays in the woods and go home happy and covered in Mud.

    I’m going to miss these guys. I’ll be counting down the Sundays until October.

    Photo by Gregg Gelmis
    Photo by Gregg Gelmis