The trail was single track, exactly the kind of trail to prepare me for Estrella Mountain in two weeks. The air felt moist as I practiced hitting the trail softly mid-foot, instead of hard–a bad habit I lapsed into that could hurt me later in my running hobby. Behind me, some city slickers yelled, their voices echoed throughout the forest.
The trail is supposedly five miles and loops around Goldwater Lake, deep behind the dam. I ran fast, but I kept my eyes open, as part of the fun of trail running is the scenery. Like the squirrel that paused on a log to look over his shoulder at me.
As I ran deeper into the forest, the yelling began to fade and I heard something that caused me to pause on the trail. I stopped and listened, peering between the scraggly oak bushes. The smell of animal hit my nose. Somewhere leaves crunched and bushes shook near the bottom of the sloping hill.
With our area having the largest population of Mountain Lion, I listened and watched. Then, a brown face with overly large ears looked up at me, framed by an opening in the bushes. The doe and I stared at each other before it moved slowly away. It made me smile. I took off running again.
Above me, the clouds were dark gray and white, building as if for a storm. The trail zig-zagged, at times, coming back to the lake, and other times veering so far away I prayed the sign was correct in saying it looped. At 2.5 miles, I stopped again just as the trail dipped down into shadier and thicker areas. Not a single bird tweeted. The usual sounds of the forest were silent, giving way to the hum of a thousand bees.
I debated about whether to continue down this trail, but I feared encountering a nest of bees, or worse, killer bees. Killer Bees attack without provocation. In order to attempt to escape them, you have to run faster and in a zig-zag pattern. I am running on a single-track trail with a steep, rooted, and heavily brushed downhill on my right and an uphill, almost unclimbable mountain, to my left (not pictured below).
I listened again, but the hum was constant and unmistakable. At best, I thought, it could be a concentration of many different bees, like that one year at White Horse Lake when the fields and the camp grounds were covered with every variation except the killer kind. At worst, I could be running into a death trap with killer bees.
Reluctantly, I turned around and ran the trail back to the lake parking lot, disappointed. Still, running the trail gives me a different kind of thrill and energy.
When I am alone in the forest, I can think clearly. I have conversations with our Lord as my feet hit the dirt, as the dew-slicked blades of grass slap against my legs, and I love the smell of pines, animal, and the feel of getting back to Eden. The trail re-energizes me the way nothing else does, and helps me return to life.
Back at the car, I return to crazy deadlines, social media, and the general unfairness of life. Once again, I am connected like an umbilical cord to my phone, and time is getting away from me. I have errands yet to run, and I get into the car and drive back into the town. But when I got home, I saw and felt the gritty layer of dirt on my skin, and smiled.
What re-energizes you?