Monday, August 27, 2012

"On your left!"

It was twelve years ago this summer that I encountered my first "trail runner." I was home from my first year of college and working my butt off with two jobs. At the first open weekend, I packed up the car and drove North to the Presidential Range in New Hampshire. Parking at the Tuckerman's Ravine trailhead, I grabbed my awkward external framed backpack out of the backseat, tossed in my sleeping bag, a can of cheese whiz, Snickers bars, two books that I never opened, and an assortment of other useless stuff. Over forty pounds for one night! The plan was to hike to the summit of Mt. Washington, overnight at the AMC's Lake of the Clouds Hut nestled on the ridge between Washington and Monroe, and return by the same trail in the morning. It was a beautiful day for a hike and I was moving up the trail at a good clip, taking in the evergreens, waterfalls and magnificent views to be had all around. Then, just as the trail got really steep, I hear a shout from behind, "On your left!" I moved to the side and turned around to see this young guy with running shoes, short shorts and a tank top, running up the incredibly steep, boulder strewn, slope of the Tuckerman's Ravine headwall. No clumsy backpack; just a water bottle. I was impressed. But why on earth, I wondered, would anyone want to run what has to be one of the most beautiful trails in New England? Didn't he realize he was missing so much of the surrounding beauty just to get up the mountain faster? I didn't envy his position, and dismissed it as a rather silly endeavor.
Ascending to Tuckerman's Ravine

Mount Washington Summit with the AMC hut tucked away to the left.

This memory came flooding back yesterday as I shouted "on your left" to a family of hikers as I rolled on down Turkey's yellow trail. Funny how times change!

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