Caren Ware's Blog

July 20, 2010

Above the Timberline:

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 4:17 pm

Welcome to my blog. Best to read from April backwards to now. You’ll get the jest of a woman trying to learn to run towards life not from it. I am about to embark on my second continent run, this in a remote place. I leave for the OUTBACK in Australia in 2 weeks. I just spent a week in the Tetons in Wyoming timing a trail run, running trails, training on a track at 6,000 feet and backpacking in to a lake at 10,500 feet. I’d like to share that experience with you. Lingering fears are in me as to how I am going to handle 26.2 miles in the red sands of a foreign country. Don’t forget to come with me.

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I finally got close to eight hours sleep.  The renewal made me groggy.  Foggy.  My daughter ‘s pleas.  “Mom, I am ready.  Let’s go get breakfast and get to the airport.”  Oh.  Ok.  I unhurriedly yawned my way through breakfast and the drive across the plain to  the Jackson Hole Airport. I welcomed this unfretted pace.   I could feel subtle muscle soreness from  that brutal run the day before. I was relieved there were no flare ups  or injury issues . Badwater in Death Valley to Whitney Portals was today.  I wondered how  Chris Frost and the ultra runners were doing in their fight with the elements.  Their race began at 10:00am in the heat of the day…on purpose.

I said a heartfelt goodbye to my daughter, her beautiful hair blowing in the wind and the Tetons framing her as she wheeled her luggage to the gate.  She had summer school to attend.  A few of my staff and I were backpacking into that spectacular range looming over my daughter’s head. Yahoo.  I was gearing to go , so ready to rid myself of the weary of many months of intense work. I was actually tickled to be alive and deeply appreciative to be finally be feeling this way.  Flawed.  Capable.  Multi –faceted me just being  “me”.  There was a novel sense of true freedom warming up inside of me.

Moments later, as  I left the airport and speed across the range back to Jackson I nearly ended my life.  Don’t think it was the fog or grog of the morning, but the two way traffic observing the same situation and not the road.  A car and a ranger vehicle were pulled off the side of the road with flashers on.  Out in the prairie a huge ,full racked elk was dragging a bloodied foot and painstakingly , hobbling trying to get away.  The car had hit it.  In that split second my heart  was lurching for the injured animal I must have drifted toward the center divider line.  The huge semi-truck coming at over 60 mph the opposite direction was doing the same thing.  The driver had his eyes on the limping animal and was now fully straddling the center line.  I knew if I veered out of his way I would go airborne off the elevated highway and roll end over end.  I also knew if this truck hit me head on I was done.  I could only pray that he would come to his senses in the next split second and we avoid each other.  That prayer must have been answered.  The sheer panic on his face when he glanced back to the road will be etched in my mind for a long time.  We missed each other by inches and my little Pruis rattled as that huge semi-truck grazed by.  The suction popped my ears.  That was a close call.  Life could be over that instantly.  Yes, it is a live performance to be lived each precious day that we are given.  I picked up the packers and we headed to the trailhead.

I think pictures and music can better describe why trekking ‘Above the Timberline” could be so revitalizing.  There is no other place I could think of I would rather be!  My two college age staff  had never been in the backcountry before.  It was a delight to take them.  Very fit.  Very full of character and good attitudes, these brothers made it a happy , connected adventure.  There’s that connection the improv class was asking me to find.  We snapped personal pictures to help savor the awe of being in this grand, terrained, beautiful place.

The guys were taken by the rapid mood swings of the clouds and weather.  We got rained on during the trek in.  We donned fashionable trash bags over the packs and our torsos and gleefully hiked through it.  We had gotten a late start as we had to get permits and purchase food for the pack.  We made sure we had hiking head lamps and I knew the trail and high elevation camp zone well.  The hues turned to red and orange. We really snapped pictures.  Our hussle was to get out of the tree line before pitch darkness set in.  As it turned dark, one of the brothers realized he had left his camera on a rock a half mile back.  We decided to not split up , ditched our packs and ran back for it.  Now it was really dark.  The headlamps went on and one of the guys gibed.  “Venture anywhere with Caren, and you get to live and experience “racing against the setted sun!”

The "setted" sun at 10,000 feet. Two bears reported working canyon...nocturnal.What can I say? Ran out of light?

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