Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Green Mountain

After the sun rose on the last day of 2012, I decided that despite surviving the now-miscalculated Mayan Armageddon, along with the other 364 days in the year 2012, I would finally take a shot at the mountain that shadows over my apartment each evening. Green Mountain stands 8,100 tall, and I've reached the summit on a run once before - though never deep in the winter, when the trails are covered in snow and ice, and never when the mountain itself was lonely of most of its' visitors. At this time of the year, I had slight chances of seeing beers, mountain lions, or ultra runners. The Boulder Bubble doesn't reach into the open space during the winter months, so I knew I would be safe. I went into the mountains to get away from the noise, I went into the mountains to find out why I had the desire to go into them in the first place.

What I found on my journey, was that multiple times a year I'll grow weary of the bubble, with seems to be littered with overly-priced lattes, restaurants, and gym memberships. Not that I indulge in any of those consistently, though the rat race does attempt to steer you in that direction. It's hard not to simplify the equation: Why not brew coffee at home? Why not cook food at home? And more importantly, Why would you pay $100 on a gym membership for information you access on the internet? It's been my experience that if you can afford a $100 gym membership, you can afford the internet. Maybe it's the navigation where most people grow confused and tired, so for them I'd like to add one more one-worded tip: Google. When you have a town full of fitness advocates, health nuts, and talented athletes, you're bound to have both sides of the coin. The bubble at times can be suffocating, which (back to my point) is why I sought to get up and over the ridge, to the west side, away from the noise, away from the lattes, the insanely pricey (and small) steaks, and the overly-priced gym memberships.

The trails were quiet, they didn't talk to me, and I to them. I ran in silence, body and mind. Understanding works best when you're mouth is closed. The only challenges were natural - hill (mountain) climbs, sections of slippery ice, and animals (deer, mountain lions and bears, oh my!). The stability of the cosmos seemed to exist here, where man hadn't intervened to tip the scale. I didn't pass a Starbucks, see any training groups in matching uniforms, or anyone trying to find a signal on their Garmin watch. The challenges in the wild are Real. Unlike life on the Front Range, the purity of the canyon I climbed, the rocks I hopped from, and the peak I summited, the simplicity of things here made the challenge worth it. The mountain doesn't offer trivial pursuits, it offers a challenge of the Will, nothing more, nothing less.

I glided on the packed snow, up and up as the peak grew larger and larger. The higher I got, the more I could hear the crunch of the snow beneath my feet, and my ailing breath echoing through the canyon. The final push to the top was a rocky scramble, coated with ice, owning a pack of chia seeds, or having a fro-yo date on the calendar wouldn't be any help here, only caution and patience would. I bounded from rock to rock until finally reaching the summit.

The beauty of reaching the top of mountain is always in the opportunity to look back down on where you came from. Boulder seemed small, and insignificant. Each overly-priced restaurant sat next to another, but in that same bubble was the lone McDonalds (which ironically enough is next to the only Burger King). I wondered how their business was in this town for a moment, then got cold enough to head back down, not before realizing that the both sides of the coin exists in the same bubble.

Perspective. This is the only word I could come up with in my brief moment atop Green Mountain. From down low, within the bubble, the noise and chaos of the rat race can be annoying, and quite depressing, but  from up here, beyond the bubble, or just outside it, it's quiet and serene. Life is simplified in the mountains, which explains why so many (including myself) head out into the wildness to find some quiet trails. The mountain does not care if you ate a $50 steak last night, what gym you go to, how many times you went to Pure Barre last month, what training group you're a part of, how often you eat frozen yogurt, if you're a part of something bigger than yourself, smaller than yourself, or being someone else's self. The mountain, quite simply, does not discriminate. It only cares for one thing, and one thing only: The Will.

It cares only for the Will to reach the top, the Will to burn your legs and your lungs, depleting them of sweet oxygen as you pump hard up a mountain - at altitude - as quickly as possible. It cares for your Will to survive. Now, don't misinterpret this post as me dramatizing a monstrous climb to the top of Green Mountain, which actually isn't insanely challenging, this is about what the mountain whispered to me while on my journey. This is about simplifying your life, getting rid of the excess "weight"; the unnecessary items and things that only complicate what we're all actually here trying to do: Run Fast and Enjoy The Journey. 

After firing down the mountain on the soft packed snow, I arrived back at my car and looked up at the mountain I just ran.  From down here, it's just a blue silhouette each evening, but each evening it beckons me back, reminding me not to get lost or caught up in the things that really don't matter, the mountain  reminds me to do one thing: Simplify.

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