Sunday, July 8, 2012

Up in the Air

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."
-Henry David Thoreau

I had an amazing run up Table Mountain last night.  This place has always held special energy.  Anytime I go up there I feel like I am in the very heart and soul of the Tetons.  The Grand appears so close you feel you could reach out and brush the cheek of its face with your fingertips.  As you stand on the top of Table Mountain just over 11,100 feet and slowly turn 360 degrees your eyes are treated to a feast of views that require quiet contemplation.

View from the top of Table Mountain

This particular visit to one of my favorite places on the planet was especially gratifying.  It was the culmination of a very satisfying day for my soul.  Last month I ran with a group of amazing people from Chicago to LA along all 2,448 miles of the historic Route 66 for an amazing cause. Over those 18 days of running I had much time to contemplate.  The introspection did not end when we got to the Santa Monica pier.  Over the past weeks I have still been processing this incredible experience.  I still do not think I have fully digested all the gifts of this journey.  I do know that I am changed in a profound way. 

So yesterday I started my morning in a very relaxed way taking inventory of many of the goals and dreams I have for my life.  I realized that over the past months I had become very dormant in my activities in my pursuit of constructing the ideal life.  My spirit was stirred once again!  Everything seems more vibrant again.  Anything and everything are possible.  There is nothing about the way my life is currently constructed that would hold me back from continuing my journey.  Anything can change.  Everything can change.  Anything is possible.  Everything is possible.

After writing and updating these aspirations for about an hour I spent much of the rest of my day with most of my consciousness buzzing about my future possibilities.  I am mindful to always be present in the here and now.  To connect with the beautiful people and places I might be in any given moment.  None of us are promised tomorrow.  Drink deeply from the cup of life today!  That is what my venture last night was all about.

I left the trail head a few minutes after 5:00pm.  A late start with some clouds looming promised to make things interesting.  Most people are coming off Table Mountain well before this.  I only saw one couple in the first couple of hundred yards.  No one else all the way up or down.  The mountain was all mine for the evening.  The Face Trail offers no warm-up.  1,000 ft per mile of vertical gain from the first steps right out of the gate.  I set a steady, up-tempo effort that I could sustain without red-lining my heart rate. 

As I approached the top and got above 10,000 feet above the tree line the sky was becoming much more ominous.  Things can change for the worse very quickly in this setting.  My mind was making constant judgments about if I could get all the way to the top and have a decent start down before things got really nasty.  This kept me moving quickly to increase the odds of me reaching my destination.  The atmosphere was extremely energized with the impending storm.  I heard a few rumblings of thunder fairly far off in the distance despite the impending front that was just one canyon over. 

When I made the top I was surprised to find that I did not have it entirely to myself.  A pair of marmot were ambling around the very top.  They did not seem too interested in me and we shared the summit for a few minutes.  Normally I would sit and soak up this magical spot for as long as I was inclined, but I knew tonight I only had a few minutes at best.  Standing on the summit.  Literally.  All of my thoughts throughout the day had been about making steady progress towards climbing the summits in other areas of my life.  This is why is was so important to me today to make it to this place I take so much inspiration from on this day.  To conquer the elements.  To connect with the beauty of this place.  To connect with my true self. 

Now it was time to fly down the mountain.  The trip down was fast, rocky, and technical.  My feet loved every second.  My spirit continued to soar as the sky was even closer to swamping the entire mountain.  My heart beating in my chest.  My breath.  My feet picking their way through the tricky rock-filled trail.  These were the only sounds I heard on the way down besides the rumbling thunder gaining on me every moment.  With about 2 miles to go it started to rain.  A beautiful, summer rain.  Big fat rain as Forrest Gump would have called it.  Now I am below the tree line and the sound of the drops splattering on the foliage was a symphony to my ears.  The smell of the damp dirt on the trail filled my nose with its wonderful earthy scent.  Song birds rejoiced in the gently evening shower.  I was one with it all and it was a perfect moment in time.  My feet seemed to flow over the terrain with gentle and inspired ease.  My mind, body, and soul were so relaxed.  I took a deep drink of it all.

The trip down ended all too soon, but my timing was pretty good considering the proximity of the thunder in Teton Canyon at this time.  I took a few minutes to walk over to the creek and indulge in Mother Nature’s finest ice bath.  The melt run-off in the creek was the perfect antidote for 8,000+ feet of gain loss over the 11 miles I had just covered.  As I drove out the canyon become enveloped in wind, clouds, thunder, and rain.  The perfection of the evening continued.  On the way into town I was treated to an amazing sunset over the big holes illuminated a shower on the mountains on the other side of the valley.  Coming out of the grocery store the final punctuation of this incredible evening was an amazing rainbow back towards where I had just been running.

A great ending to a great day where I engaged every part of my mind, body, and soul into all the best parts of my true self and the amazing beauty in this world.  I am back!  Fully engaged and actualized with all that I am and aspire to be.  Yes, I am still a work in progress, but I trust my journey and the path that it is leading me on.