Caren Ware's Blog

July 13, 2012


My sister was into animals, exotic animals.  She had this pet ferret she asked us to babysit once. Even in its cage, it was in constant motion, racing around and rummaging through every corner. Its pacing generated effective sympathy and we would let it out. In instant thankfulness it would do what every cell in it was born to do.  Ferret.   The entertainment came  as this tiny weasel  rained havoc on a house; things spilling, ripping, knocking over as it  buzzed through, under, into, and up on everything.  I mean everything.  And everything at once.  That tiny tube of an animal could turn a house upside down in minutes, but it couldn’t help itself.  It was pre-dispositioned to explore every nook and cranny.  It had to search out and discover by poking into everything.  It was its nature to do so.

I am the ferret.  I took some sunny days…weeks in the Jackson area to poke into as much as each day would adventure me.  So much for slowing down!  Just not one of my dial speeds. I know myself well enough to recognize my vacation and relaxation come through movement, not listlessness.  I know those celled like me know what I am talking about. Our restless poking around drives many crazy, but I enjoy the activity of discovery.  I almost can’t help it.  I just have to see what is over that pass, down that trail, up that dirt road, on the tippy top of that pinnacle.  Just have to.  Sitting in a lounge chair or hanging in a hammock. Don’t see too many ferrets doing that do you?

This is what I uncovered in the Jackson area.  Let’s start with running. Most popular, trail running.  I timed the Cache Creek/Game Creek 20K put on by Teton Mountaineering the Saturday following the 4thof July.  Teton Mountaineering is an outfitting store in downtown Jackson that sells high end products needed for clothing or gearing you for the outdoors. They are experts in this area and can provide advice on trails and equipment.  They love and respect the trails in the area, and keep a low key opportunity for avid trail runners to have an organized run up Cache Creek bordering Snow King Ski resort to the other side, called Game Creek.  It is a point to point 11ish miler that gives participants aid stations on the course, product give aways, and a shuttle ride back to town.  My son came up and was the computer operator so I could be the grunt in the chutes and get to know the locals. The runners churning down the trail to the finish were FIT.  They had on singlets that sported, Skinny Skis, Peaked Sports, and Teton Trail Runner’s.

Teton Mountaineering’s Jeff starts the Cache Creek Run

The female overall winner was Alyssa Larsen.  She, and her husband Kristian, formed a group that meets on Tuesday evenings and runs trails.  She is a talented runner.  Many in the group are, but many are just there to have a good time at trotting down a trail.  The valley is already at 6,500 feet so you know my Californian lungs and heart have been on fire as I try to join them on these runs.  I am thankful for the introduction and the trail comrades. And their patience.  I am not a good hill runner, nor a good distance runner.

I “discovered” not only that there are great running trails up Cache Creek and the steepness of Snow King, there are many trails runs within minutes of town.  Just trot out the Elk Refuge or a hill near the track called Highschool Peak.  Teton Trail Runners met on a trail halfway up Teton Pass called Phillips Ridge.  They run from the Jackson Hole Ski resort, and on a tame levy lining the Snake on the way to the town of Wilson.  And they run at races all over the region.  They asked me to come enjoy THE TIN CUP run with them.  It was in August in a town on the other side of the pass called Driggs, Idaho.  Driggs had a sign boasting population 1600.  There were about 600 runners and 1000 additional spectators at this event that was a festive, outdoor, picnic style affair.  1600 meant the entire town came out for the event.  Impressive.  Casual.  And a run well done and well supported by the community.  I was impressed to see chips on the bibs and an electronic mat system at the start and finish line way out here.  They had brought in a timing service all the way from Salt Lake City, Utah.  I was also impressed to see kids learning to rope cows, Nordic skiing clubs soliciting new members, and a pathways foundation helping produce funds and volunteer clean up crews to keep the bike paths in shape.

I liked these people and the feel of the event.  And yet, honestly, I felt …like a High School kid that just transferred into a new school in a new location.  I knew no one and it didn’t feel good.  Being around all these people  that ‘belonged’ here and all seemed to know each other felt… lonely.

Alyssa bounced up to me and thanked me for showing up, and to have fun on the run.  Well, thank you.  I should archive and remember to do that to someone else that may be as out of place and  awkward in their new surroundings. Remember to invite.  To include.

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