Caren Ware's Blog

April 9, 2010

BURNED! in more ways than one.

Filed under: A Runner's Story,Uncategorized,Women Running — Caren Ware @ 4:30 am

Horrendous weekend juggling huge races.  Very little sleep.  Ended up in a five star hotel in La Quinta on the last event.  What a waste.  Alarm sounded at 3am and it was very hard to move. My hip joints hurt.  But what a gorgeous day.  Almost too hot.  Approaching  ninety degrees in this upscale town paved  among the rocks of the desert. Timing the event went well. But I was trying to do my 13 mile run after we were all packed up.  Sent the staff to lunch and took off on the run, but needed a restroom.  Got to talking to a couple in a coffee shop, wandered through a farmers market, and just didn’t feel like driving home all sweaty. It was the first flash of warm weather we had seen in California.  We were having an unusual rainy year and California was basking in green hills, white mountain tops, and blue skies.  I will run when I get back to the mountains.

It ended up being 5pm before I weaved my way up the mountain hwy to our 6,000 level at Lake Arrowhead.  I drove through fog, and the wind began to howl.  Only in California could you go from arid to arctic!  This was an unusual storm.  It was picking up fury and whipping through the tree’s threatening to snap branches.  The wind was coming from everywhere.  I grasped a beanie and gloves and sweatshirt and needed them.  The temperatures dropped as I ran and it began to snow.  The fog got heavy and you could feel it on your skin.  I could have been in the arctic.  It was that dramatic.

I picked a route that I had not run in years.  It took me into the forest and onto a dirt road.  It became eiry.  In the fog, stark images started to haunt like tomb stones in a cemetary.  The air was thick to breath.  A char smell lapped at my nose. I had  forgotten about the FIRES.  I was running through the two year old burned area and it creep into me like the aftermath of a bomb raid.  Little had changed.  Nothing had regrown. As I came onto a paved street, chimneys started drifting by one by one. Only a few houses of the 175 in this area were left standing.  I ran for miles in this surreal, altered place.  Only my cheeks and nose were exposed, but I was chillded.  I felt like I had been beemed to the bleakest of places and it slithered through my nerves. Making my heart jump, my cell phone rang in my pocket.  It was that radio dj luring voice.  I had not had a call from him in  a while.   Tried so hard to exchange encouraging words in the howling wind.  He said he would call back later.  I doubted he would.   With the voice gone, the fog felt oppressive.  I felt very vulnerable and it kicked in some fight- back in me.  Do what it takes to run through this. Do what it takes to move past the rejection you feel from the voice on the phone.  You can make it through the ghostly moments of life.

My husband, two kids, and I have SURVIVED two forest fires in this area.  Both are quite the stories.  We did not come out unscathed.  We packed up lots of valuables including a boat, and extra truck, guns, and fishing gear and stored it on our property in Lytle Creek.  Our Lake Arrowhead home made it through the fires , but the Lytle Creek property burned to the ground.  It is two heroic, frightening, sorrowful chapters in the book.  Our neighbor’s were newlyweds and he lost his life trying to hike back into our properties.  My husband made it.  He came up missing.

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