Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Adventure in the mist

When I got home last night around 9:30, it was still light, and the air had that crisp, fresh feeling to it-- I just had to go for a run.

I changed, grabbed my keys and my iPod, and even remembered to take my inhaler before heading out the door. I started out slowly, and was feeling great as I got closer to Fish Creek Park. It felt so good, I thought I'd reverse my "usual" loop, heading across McLeod Trail at the Canyon Meadows train station, then continuing south into the park and over the creek before pointing east, through the flats, back north across the creek, and up the steep hill near Acadia and Canyon Meadows Drive, and back home. Well, that was the plan, anyway.

There was a light fog in the low valley of the park--which made sense, considering all the rain we'd had over the past week, and the fact it had warmed up considerably that afternoon. There were still couples walking in the dusk as I crossed the bridge over the creek and under the road, but most were heading out of the park. The creek was running fast, strong, high, and very muddy, but I thought nothing of it-- it wasn't coming over the banks, and besides, it had stopped raining.

As I flew past the picnic shelters by the parking lot, I noticed the distinct aroma of pot. Well, it was trippy place, between the dead calm, and the quiet mist blanketing the valley. I kept running, keeping a strong pace.

As I ran, it was getting darker and darker. I missed the turn to go north across the bridge, but my legs and lungs were going strong, so I didn't bother turning back. I knew there would be another path. When I did turn north, it was perfectly dusk - the white fog muting any color.

Up ahead, just a few feet from the path, a whitetail deer silently appeared out of the mist, standing at attention, watching me intently. I slowed to a walk, and turned off my music. As I quietly stole past, watching the deer, it watching me, I felt incredibly relaxed, calm, at total peace. The run to that point had been so zen-like, a moving meditation, and the encounter intensified the feeling.

I kept running, past more deer grazing by stands of aspen, and soon came back to my usual path, right at the bridge. It was barricaded-- "Closed - Pathway Flooded". Crap.

I tried to remember the map of the park in my mind. The last time I'd gone outside of my running route was on a bike... but I was pretty sure there was another bridge just a little farther east. So I turned around, ran past the deer again, and headed east towards the ranch.

I kept going, but it kept getting more and more difficult to see, and the only pathways branching north were animal tracks. That would be a good way to end up in the creek, so I kept going. I was halfway to the ranch, near the heron sanctuary before I found a map-- that clearly showed the next bridge at the ranch. Definitely time to turn back.

I decided to head up the south bank of the valley, into Midnapore. At least that way, I'd have the streetlamps. Eventually, I ended up at St. Mary's University College. By then, my 45 minute run had turned into well over an hour, so I walked to the Fish Creek train station. As I crossed MacLeod on the pedestrian bridge, I could see a northbound train, so I sprinted across, only to hear the speakers come alive with "This train out of service". Dammit, I only needed to go one stop!

I finally made it home around 11:15... none too worse for wear. Next time though, I'm bringing a cellphone-- if only to call and say I'm going to be late!

On another note, I'm officially registered for the Tinman on June 7th. (It's full, but I got in as an injury replacement) It's going to be an interesting week, racing at Try This Tri this Sunday, then again the following Saturday in Vulcan, and doing the Betty's run for ALS the next day.

Please donate if you can at my ALS site.