...in pursuit of some moving ecstasy, in liberation of mind and spirit, as a private act of rebellion & anarchy, there is a run, something primitive in the act of running a trail. it was time to move through some of god's good land on the momentum of my angst, on the power of legs, on the remaining keenness of mind and near the land of my birth, the familiar rolling pastorale of my formative years, is a range of mountains that carry my youngest memories. they carry the cathartic and carefree remembrance of running the wooded acres behind my grandparents house, a boychild moving in new earth. it feels good to be back home, in the piedmont of nc, good to be in the ancient land of the uwharrie.
i. the medicine: a few hours of solitary running in a gnarly stretch of woods where i can feel self-reliance, where i can move into intuition, in the movement of the soul, where i can ascend and descend mountains that carry the history of their birth and formation and the archaeology of use, where unknown generations of Indians ran on leather soles chasing animals and children and women and each other, not knowing the game was timed. to fall into that trail, wholly immersed, you mark the blaze and fucking run until the breath is lost, the body is wrung out with salt crystallizing on the bellies of muscle and the vision blurs and the landscape fades to a deeper space, a world beneath the mind, at a bodyless vortex, mud of body and mud of earth, river of mountain, river of body, cuts of blood and bone and the primitive stoneface steep against october mountain, clashes of body-wood through narrow chute of limb and branch, endless spiderweb entanglement (like a beekeepers hat on head), the pale green mosses of rockface thrust, the diagonal cuts of limestone and the irregular face of granite, low pyramids of white quartz like some ephemeral timekeeper, the sienna and ochre carpet of fallen leaves and the secret surface beneath, a rare splash of yellow-orange on a branch, wheatgrasses brushing leg in low meadows, the dull light beneath a still thick canopy of hardwood leaves, the undulating horizon from which streaks of sun pour down to splash trail bright, a strobe effect of light and shadow, slope of space, the ever bending horizon the everbending body the jut of leg and the pistonhammer feet ache on stone protusion and the gut churns at the prospect of being waterless and the mind just burns on, an endless light fueled by a Divine spark that exists here, in this space, on this trail, in this mountain, and is, for this moment, Yours. an absolute moment of Existence, an absolution.
(ranger warned me that "the snakes are out right now, moving, and the rattlesnakes are moving, seen a few in the past two weeks, rain brings 'em out, and they are ill-tempered, yeah, ill tempered right now...be careful")
... and to be IN the acoustics of the motherearth, to be present and alive in the land... had driven 3 hours to arrive here, had driven anxious and energized, music blaring the whole way, and here was the quiet of ancient mountain woods, containing me in my traverse, shirtless with thin-soled shoes, two bottles and a sweat-blotched map that was (literally) dissolving with each paused orientation, a thunderstorm moving in from the northwest, black and bleak, but the day so far was sunny and clean-aired though the trail was puddled with overnight rain and the rocks and downed trees were as slippery as polished cement beneath a pickup truck oilpan and that ideal weather ended two and half hours in when the sky shot down raindrops, the size of golf balls, a cool but muscled/fisted rain, and i found a service road to runrunrun back through a hunting camp and up/down until being deposited back at the parking lot.
aww man & oh boy! soul was revved and language and cherokee and twombly and the rip of land beneath the kick of foot restored the ache to be alive, the will to be a part of this lifething, the mad courage to go forward and to do. proud to be here, alive, and able to offer something, if only a body and the language of legwork.
ii. and thirty minutes up the road came a clearing of clouds and morrow mountain state park and i decided on a quick loop across fall mountain trail where fire had devoured part of the landscape and left strange charred forms, previously tree trunks, now a surreal display of natural sculpture, and somewhere two miles in i lost the trail and descended a rocky scramble to the shore of Pee Dee River and, realizing my errant direction, backtracked, pawed up the scree past what looked like a dismembered still and back onto the red mud/blackened soil surface and craggly oaks and the flat rocks like stacked iron pans reaching off of the shallow summit and ended that run with a sink-bath before heading to salisbury for a thai meal. all in all, a 17 mile day in the uwharries, three hours of good wholesome running...
iii. and thats that. and what is that? an exjunkie kicking miles in ancient wilderness earth, shirtless and proud and burning the body open... the power of movement, the power of body: a grateful thrust of his entirety.