A while back I went trailrunning with an old friend. We went off trail at one point and cut through the woods toward nowhere in particular, toward wherever we would end up. We came across a hole in the ground. Holes are inherently interesting – something missing, a ready-made mystery, and you can fill them up with whatever stories you want.
We hauled up a long branch and eased it down the hole ’til we hit bottom. We marked the spot at surface level and drew it up again, like we were checking the oil. We stretched out on the ground next to the branch to measure it out. Six feet plus five-and-a-half plus, oh, maybe three-and-half. We had ourselves a fifteen foot hole, maybe two feet wide, and no explanation. Didn’t need one.
We dropped a pine cone down and listened for it to hit bottom. It took a while. I thought about dropping in, just to scare myself a little. I think I could have gotten back out. Pretty sure. Probably. As long as the mossy sides weren’t too slick. I wondered what reception was like down there.
On speed in the outdoors (after summiting Gannett Peak in 9 hours):
I used to be of the opinion that speed isn’t important. And, in an absolute sense, I don’t think it is. In a relative sense, however, I think that one’s speed does matter. This is because–relative to one’s innate ability–striving to operate as close to that ability as possible requires a level of commitment to the craft and presence in the moment that I have yet to achieve by other means. For instance, because I wanted to move quickly when climbing Gannet (or any mountain), I made a point to study the map carefully, read other trip reports, solicit advice from friends who had already made the outing. Not to mention spending countless hours in the mountains building skill and fitness (and having fun!). Without the impetus of speed I would’ve undoubtedly taken a more lackadaisical approach that likely would’ve left me irresponsibly underprepared, with less respect for the mountain, and, ultimately, less connected to both the landscape and the community of enthusiasts who venture into this gem of a mountain range. Going fast requires–above all else–paying attention, and achieving that fleeting measure of grace where my effort and abilities are meshed perfectly with the challenge is a huge motivating factor in what I do. I find that this practice of paying attention is one of the more instructive and valuable takeaways that a trip to the mountains offers me. Plus, I’m just really inspired by wild landscapes.
Gannet & The Grand: A Wyoming Whirlwind Tour | The Ultimate Direction Buzz