Magnetic North - equipping alpine seekers
equipping alpine seekers



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The mask

pacing the Colville Wilds, Fire Season 2017

pacing the Colville Wilds, Fire Season 2017

it is easy to think of excuses and often there is no solution; it takes grit to look for the solution anyway.

I tossed my icy hand bottle, mask, and dirty trail shoes in the trunk, popped it in gear, and raced to the end of the pavement. once I hit gravel, I drifted my Subaru around every corner, all four tires ripping and all four windows down, singing along to All Them Witches turned up to twenty-two. it was 96F at 4pm with an air quality index worse than Delhi in September 2009 but the baby just fell asleep and the grandparents agreed to watch her so that is when I got to run.

every day I create opportunities to be feral, nearly naked, running uphill like an unteathered trout hucking falls and banging its head against granite banks not for the luxury of it <though beating my feet on Earth as my drum IS the ultimate luxury> but because I need it. I’ve always had too much energy for one body, too much verve inside me to sit still placated by money or upward mobility or matrimony or motherhood; too much vim to be kind until after I’ve had my romp. the movement is the path, the medicine, and the practice.

with the mask sheltering my breathing orifices from the 152 air quality index, the space between chin and bridge of nose felt as though I were running on the Napali Coast while the rest of me, parched and caked with dust, knew for certain that I moved with the numinous Colvilles. knapweed, thistle, and mullein tapped at my marble columns as they tumbled forward, always racing to be first as I fell on the hill over and over. in addition to the condensed breath and sweat that ran a river down my décolletage, the mask made it feel that I’d gone from 2500’ to 9000’ all at once and rather than the smoke giving me a headache slight hypoxia did the job just about as well. 96F began to feel like an oven, a sweet oven basking my skin in a generous sepia, and as I baked therein my entire being glowed with joy. I fell into step with Moose, who ran this way not an hour earlier, and I pondered as I usually do what fearsome beast could make Moose break into a gallop.

this movement is a gift; this movement is my savior and the light that I send out into the universe that lifts us all for the moments when I manage total presence. total ignites inside me, the sparks ripple out, and soon I’m hallucinating that I’m as good a runner as Moose, as deft as Eagle, as still as Hummingbird while I’m in the flow. how the fuck could I sacrifice this way of being to some stupid excuses? “it’s too smoky”, “it’s too hot”, “I don’t want my legs to get all scratched up”, “I’m tired”, “I only want to run single-track”, “this mask is uncomfortable”. give me the pain any day; it will never eclipse the vibration of my body ringing against our body <gonggonggong> as I run with the woods.