Skip to main content

on barkley, on woodpeckers

it was only a day or two after I decided to stop pursuing rock climbing with fervor that I discovered Barkley.

I wanted to run as far as people could run. how far can we run? I began my search. I discovered 100 mile races. the human body can do that?! well there, that's it. I will run 100 miles. what is the hardest 100 miler? I want to run the hardest 100. I first found Western States, then Hardrock, then Barkley. Barkley. this is it. I stopped my research there, ceasing inquiry about the race for years. I'd never run more than a marathon at the time, and even that had been many years prior. I had shut my laptop and decided I should figure out how to be an ultra runner.

the barkley rumors were always around, like the flurries of march. I remember a random long run a few years ago in the hills above point of the mountain with a friend who told some of the tall tales of "out there." I'd run 100s before, but these stories, these were different. I ate them up. I wanted to push my limits.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="960"] sunset summit, PC DJ Loertchester[/caption]

that's what it is, I guess, to be a climber. whether a rock or alpine or mountain runner – it is the desire to try things that are potentially too much—to find the breaking point. I often wonder about woodpeckers, the redundancy, the challenge. do they desire to break more than bark? it was thought for a long time their tongues would spear the grubs they ate, but in recent years it was discovered that they enwrap the insects with their tongue before retrieving their meal. after literal mind-numbing, pounding monotony, they encircle something they cannot see. they feast.

why so many west grandeurs? it is mind-numbing. it is never easy. every summit hurts. but I want what's inside so more than pain. am I trying to break? somehow I don't. I try my patience. 46,000ft of vertical gain last week... all on the same trail.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="504"] the first quad summit[/caption]

I've had sassy remarks. why not make torture play? I responded to my condolences saying training would be easy, but finding the right lipstick for my barkley dress would prove to be difficult. I tried to make humor amongst the dark hours. on a late night double with Jared, he told me about stars. he told me about the engineers who came to barkley, the scientists, the factual minds. I was lost thinking of how the sky danced above us, not in maps but in painted starscapes. I wondered what his words would look like if they were painted across the sky. does such a mind belong at Barkley? where will my mind wander when I am lost and alone?

I suffered on through training. I take a lot of flak. I've spent much time the last few years teasing friends for running low, for not exploring new places, for not partaking of the best of the wasatch. and here I am, eating my words, 17-30 hours a week spent on the same mountain. again I summit. again.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="960"] after the hailstorm, PC Paul Sharwell[/caption]

woodpeckers can peck 20 times per second, at a speed of 12 miles per hour. I wonder how sure they are their food is inside, if they know they’ll get what they’re searching for, if they even know what they’re searching for, or if they peck based only instinct. 12,000 pecks per day. if I pressed my face on the mountain, would I see what I was looking for? would that be as fruitless as pressing my face against myself? is this my instinct? will I find what I am looking for in Frozen Head? do I even know?

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Really nice post. I'll be looking forward to the after report.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love reading your poetic style. For the record, a couple nights after we watched the Barkley Marathons documentary, I had a dream about your run. My husband and I were there at the finish, and you were sitting down, eating noodles after successfully completing the whole dang thing. You were tired but open, telling everyone about the experience, and had a glow to you. I just have this feeling that you're going to be the first female to rock it, and I can't wait to read the poems that follow :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Last week I watched "The Barkley Marathons" and now I am so excited to hear all about your experience!!! I am wishing someone was there filming this year so all of us that know you can be running with you! And, I hope you can endure all those pricker bushes!!!!! You are an inspiration with all your honest posts, I've laughed and choked up for you in every one I read. Good luck and may the force be with you!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. A great blog post, thank you!

    Good luck! I know you'll find whatever it is you're looking for out there! That's the beautiful thing about "out there"... you always find something even if you don't know what it is you're looking for.

    ReplyDelete
  5. […] to be in. Adam Lint appears to be in. David Clark is in. Bec Wilcock appears to be in. Sounds like Jennilyn Eaton is in. Gary Robbins got in off the weight list. If you can wrap your brain around it, these […]

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

that WEIGHTY issue

It's been said to us climbers that what we do is dangerous, and irresponsible. How could we risk our lives like this? And distance trail running, if it compromises our health why do it? How dare we take that time away from our families? And yet, to even make mention about a different lifestyle, one of weight, obesity, and all of the very dangerous and risky components it involves is socially disgraceful, insensitive, and cruel. I bring this up only to show how much weight, in general, is not "ok" to talk about. It's a sensitive subject, even, no, especially, for those of us already at a healthy weight who use our bodies to their fullest daily...

Now, this blog is about running, ain't it? Yep. So while there's a lot of "weight" we could cover in this "weighty" area, we'll just go over one. Running.
Running and weight are intertwined. I'd like to say that this post is primarily for the ladies, because we typically store more weight t…

my children in wilderness; my partners in adventure

kids. it's one subject that everyone seems to avoid in the back-country. I daresay it's even more controversial than bolts/chopping bolts, the purpose of 200 mile slogs, or the benefits/costs of lake powell.

why is it so unpopular? most of us have kids, and we all were kids once. still, most outdoor peeps love a crag dog and will "oooh" and "aah" over an obnoxious pup getting tangled in their gear, but will groan when they see a few kids at a climbing crag. even in utah, other peoples children are generally viewed as distasteful as the little bags of dog poop the poop fairy forgot to come back and pick up off of the trail.

fortunately, kids are nearly as common.

"kid krushers"
"mini me's"
"the backcountry parent"
"badass babes"
"#nochildleftinside"
"free range parenting"
"little training partners"

the titles we use are amusing and endless...


I have two kids. I'm a single mom. I l…

a new year; a wasatch akitu

“Think now history has many cunning passages, contrived corridors, and issues, deceives with whispering ambitions, guides us by vanities. …The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours.”
another new year startled us today. somewhere between the late night meandering into a warm bed, after the clock already struck a replayed chime marking the change of calendar (for, we can DVR the change of year and play it in every time zone,) and after the morning coffee, sunrise, prayers, or routines—the time has changed, and so have we.
the Wasatch is a flurry, the new recreational pursuits settling into it as the heavy snow settles onto it. it has been a dense year of both snow and increased use of the snow.
although this mountain range sits above a major metropolitan area, it retains pockets of wild refuge still hidden from its’ own mountain refugees. these pockets of frozen time are still filled with change. no man steps into the same Wasatch twice, for it is not the same Wasatch, nor is it the…