Sun comes up, it’s Tuesday morning. . . a thought dances at the periphery of foggy consciousness. It comes into focus – a question. In the recent promo video for MTF, I asked an unseen audience to, “think for a moment what your life would be without trails.” The question has since blossomed into something of a life philosophy. Coffee pours, a quick triage of email and I attempt to tune out NPR – it’s 0-dark:30 and already I’ve had my requisite 15-minutes of bad news. World news. It’s all the same. Again. Time to hit the trails.
Lucky. Just in time. Phone pings somewhere in the distance. It’s a query from the running partner I’ve known the greater part of my adult life. “Meet in the middle, 8:00?” This welcome invitation is from that rare running partner who always shows up on time, prepared, no drama and seldom with an agenda. Hence, this is also one of my closest friends. We rarely see one another except out on the trails anymore. With all of our boys grown, summer days at the kiddie pool, and popcorn-pillow-movie nights are distant, fond memories. A few times since our kids outgrew us, we have tried to hang out, but it was just awkward. So now we stick to the trails. She is a witness to my life – as I am to hers. She knows my secrets and keeps them – for what is said on the trails, stays on the trails. I solemnly keep hers too. We calculate our friendship not in years, but in miles. Today it’ll be nine.
It’s a crisp fall morning. Or is it winter? I can’t tell. Trails are still brown and the snow hasn’t accumulated to any skiable degree. Let’s call it fall. Today, we are meeting “in the middle” which is short for the designated intersection of trails that lies precisely midway between our homes. It’s a place with a view of the Park City ridgeline, and where once a sad, decaying coyote carcass hung up in a shrub oak, far too high to have been placed there by Mother Nature. So weird. Always wondered if that was Steve, the super-sized coyote some speculated was part wolf. He’s gone now.
From the middle, we run, talk and, sometimes, cry. This is the way it has always been: nonjudgmental, mutual, enduring support consecrated by the shared experience of being outdoors. What would life be without trails? There it is again, the question that keeps gratitude front and center – what would life be without trails?
Parting ways back to our respective neighborhoods, lives, we laugh, rejoice, this time in unison as one grateful voice singing out to the open space, at the undeniable good fortune and privilege we enjoy for having trails. . . and one another.
May open space and trails be the place you find freedom and friendship this month.
Hope to see you out there!
Lora Smith, Executive Director