Thursday, December 1, 2011

Blue Skies Fill You With Joy - Part 1

A couple of days ago I ran 7 miles on trails out at the base.
On that day I had the entire place to myself as I always do whenever the weather is very bad.
The other day the weather was pretty bad but I happily ran in the cold and rain and wet snow anyway, happy to be doing exactly what I was doing in exactly the place that I was doing it.
The trails were absolutely silent.
Free of people, filled with leaves and fallen brush and downed trees.
I did not bring my camera on that day knowing that it was going to rain and snow all day and my non-waterproof camera would not hold up in such weather.
But in truth I wish that I had brought it because the trails looked very different from what I am used to.
After three hard days of mostly rain but turning to snow off and on when the temperature dropped far enough, every low lying area of the trails was filled with water.
I tried for a while to keep my feet dry but eventually gave that up when it quickly became obvious that it was a losing strategy after wading through a shin deep pond in the middle of a jeep trail that was so large (and surrounded by temporary running water offshoots) that it was impossible to bushwhack around.
I was wearing Gore Tex Montrail trail running shoes meaning they are waterproof.
Only in reality these shoes have not been waterproof for a long time. 
They have more miles on them than they should have and the waterproof properties of these shoes are long gone.
I never wore them during adventure races partially because they are heavy and a little clunky.
Mostly I never wore them in races because I was afraid to. 
Waterproof shoes are only useful if you prevent water from getting over the top of them, which was an impossible task during races.
There was always at least one paddling section on lakes and/or rivers.
There was always multiple creek and river crossings on foot and on bike.
Feet were typically wet more often than they were dry in every race.
Once water gets over the top and then into waterproof shoes there is nowhere for it to go, and it just sits and sloshes inside your shoes until you take them off and drain them out.
And I have seen more than a few (usually new) racers drop out of races because of blisters while wearing them.
Which is why I never wore Gore Tex Montrails during a race.
Which is why I always wore Salomons.  Feet would get wet, shoes would drain, feet would dry.
And then rinse and repeat until you get to the finish line.
The base trails the other day were absolutely filled with water, but I was dressed for the weather and was the sole owner of the trails and regardless of wet feet I had an outstanding run.
Even just writing that is strange when I think about whenever it was back in Cody last Spring that I went for a run on Bureau of Land Management land in back of the tiny house that we were renting.
I had not run in more months than I could remember, felt fat and sluggish and heavy on my feet, and from the first step to the last my body screamed at me as if to say:
"Karin!!  What the hell do you think you're doing???  Stop it!!!  Stop it right now!!!"
I am hinting wildly for Salomon shoes for Christmas..............

My Mountain Boy wanted to go back to the gun shop in Manchester this morning, but after grey skies and cold and wet weather for a few days, today was a warmer and calm and very blue day.
I dressed in a couple of layers top and bottom, loaded my bike up into the back of my truck and headed for Tims Ford State Park.
Tims Ford is a small and lovely state park located about 10 miles from Tullahoma.
As I drove out towards the park I stopped briefly at a marina only a few miles from the park gates.
I pulled my truck into the almost empty parking lot of the marina, looked out over the water and saw that it was glass smooth and that incredible blue color that you only see at this time of year when the wind is quiet, when the water is cold, and when the speed boats are finally covered and stored for the season.
The quiet was suddenly pierced by the sounds of ducks.
The sudden noise and the realization that I had been so busy looking out over the water that I had not even seen the ducks almost right at my feet surprised me.
I smiled as I looked down at the handful of white ones sitting directly in front of me, and then smiled again when I saw the colorful ones.................
For some unknown reason I have only been to this grill once over the years and I remember the food being very good.
I also remember those who were eating at the restaurant throwing bread and other food over the rail and into the water, and these beautiful white ducks happily and noisily gorging on the treats.............
With the grill closed and the boats covered for the Winter I did not see anyone at all during my visit to this place..........
My reflection in the water while taking pictures of the ducks............
It was a very very beautiful day.............
I had greatly disturbed the ducks close to the restaurant and they loudly voiced their displeasure with me as I continued to smile at the sight and sound of them.
As I slowly wandered further along the paved parking lot close to the water I heard the sound of other ducks coming from the opposite end of the lot and down the embankment.
As I headed in that direction these two unhappy and noisy characters appeared.
The large flock began to swim in that direction, and eventually these two stragglers regrouped with their compadres.
It was a sweet and peaceful and honest interaction in nature and I loved watching them and greatly enjoyed the simplicity of the experience..............
One more large dock.
Pleasing to the eye in that geometrical way of docks on the water.
I stood looking out over the winterized boats, the blue water, the blue sky, the leafless tree filled shoreline that stretched on for miles in front of me..............
I took many pictures exactly like this one at many of the very beautiful and wonderful boat docks in Juneau.............
After leaving the marina I headed directly to Tims Ford State Park and pulled the truck into the first parking lot I came to.
It is the parking lot closest to a paved trail that a mile later turns into a demanding out-and-back 10 mile dirt single track trail.
The last time I drove out here alone was before I left for Juneau Alaska, and at that time the small building adjacent to the parking lot was the park Visitors Center.
I was surprised to see a notice on the door of the building saying that the facility was closed and that the new Visitors Center was at the end of a long walk way.
After glancing over at the new building I was again surprised to see for the first time that a small rehab facility had also been constructed in the same area.
I met the park naturalist not too long before heading for Juneau and I found her to be a woman who was very passionate about her work.
She worked as a dedicated volunteer at the park and the last time I spoke with her she told me of her excitement that the park was planning to build her a rehab center.
That was wonderful news because at the time I knew her she was rehabbing injured and sick animals and birds out of her home.
Good for her.
And good for the birds and animals that will benefit from this new facility.
Today I saw only birds..............
My truck parked under what I "think" are magnolia trees...........
One last picture of one of these very very cute ducks...............

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive...........Eleonora Duse


  1. Some day, we will probably bump into each other while out and about! This is one of my favorit places to go walking and love taking pictures of Bicycle Bridge early in the morning when the shadows cast on the planks.

  2. I took a couple of pictures of the bridge and will post in one of these Tims Ford blogs. I hope we do run into each other on a trail somewhere soon.