Father’s Day Weekend 2013
What an incredible weekend, again, full of adventure and challenge and beauty and melancholy. I got just what I most want out of life – hours and hours of moving through and over mountains. But, it was without the people who make Father’s Day so special: my dad and my kids (with a big nod to Alison for making both the weekend and kids possible). Knowing that my pursuits bring meaning to my dad made a big difference, as did the knowledge that my kids were in the middle of a multi-week party that included friends and family and, more importantly, Six Flags and Sea World.
So, with only myself to worry about, I set out Friday for a warm, hilly Boulder run, hitting my go-to semi-longish route that included the iconic local peaks of Flagstaff and Green mountains. Saturday I was planning on joining a big group run but overslept my alarm by 150 minutes. Bummer. But, it gave me a change to get out to the relatively high country just west of Boulder for a solo, solid, steady 20-miler at 8-9k’ along the Switzerland Trail and some backcountry dirt roads. This was nice, listening to episodes of the Radiolab podcast, actually running the whole route (only about 1800′ climbing but still something), pushing the pace the last few miles.
Post-run Saturday I showered, ate, geared back up, and drove the couple hours out to Guanella Pass just up the mountain from Georgetown. There I met Matt Wiencek, who had earlier in the day run an impressive 2:36 at the 14-mile-all-uphill Mt. Evans Ascent race. Beers and peanut butter and we crashed out early, him in his shiny new first-ever tent, me in the back of the Toyota Sienna (where I spent 3 nights out of the last 9). I think this was the first time I’ve slept at 11k’ and I had a bit of trouble with it but after some morning peanut butter and strawberries and a can of Starbucks, I was ready to hit the trails with Matt, whose write-up of the weekend has much better pics.
We started with Mt. Bierstadt (14,065′), my 2nd ever 14er, both of which were in the last week. I felt really good heading up, running stretches, power hiking, and rock-hopping the rest. The climb is about 2500′ over 3.5 miles but almost all of it is really over the last 2 miles to the summit. That’s steep stuff, with a bit of light scrambling and a decent stretch of rocky terrain to navigate about 13k’. Since the summit is clearly visible from the trailhead and the total round-trip distance is only 7 miles, Mt Bierstadt has quite a bit of hiker traffic. The morning conditions were great and there must have been 200 people on the trail but, other than Matt and me, only 2 others seemed to attempt running any part of it.
After summiting I was eager to test my downhill legs and pushed all the way back to the trailhead. The roundtrip, even with stops for pictures, took just 2:20 and only cost me a little skin off my thigh due to my GREATEST EVER FALL, really more of a slide. I lost my footing on a slick, steep spot, slid, rolled 360 degrees, popped back on my feet, and kept running without breaking stride. It may be the coolest thing I’ve ever done and I doubt I’ll top it for stuntman-like choreography. Back at the van, Matt and I regrouped (yeah, peanut butter), then headed out the other direction for another few miles of rolling trail at high altitude.
All this running gives me lots of time to think. That’s mostly good. The thin air and fatigue and endorphins and dehydration and exhilaration really help me focus and reflect. All the more so with the backdrop of Father’s Day. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have a dad who has encouraged me to find my own way, even when the process is scary for him. I can now, with the benefit of hindsight and my own fatherhood, clearly imagine how he must have felt when, as still pretty much a kid, I set off solo for the uncertainty and adventure of Alaska and Central America. Or on multi-month road trips criss-crossing North America. Or even in untraditional, stressful, sometimes questionable business pursuits. But, he has always been able to remain supportive and strong, not only allowing but cheering me on to take my shots even when – especially when – my aspirations and approach are so contrary to his own. For that, I will always owe him, big-time, for him letting me be me. Now, if only I can do half as good a job with my own kids…