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run mountains. find your views.

the mountain's first light is always tardy, so we take our time to get ready and wait patiently for its arrival. the empty car park welcomes another dusted vehicle into a spot marked by a set of yesterday’s tires. we’ve seen the driver here before, but an exchange of pleasantries has never progressed past the tip of the cap. while we fumble with a flaccid flask, they quietly slip by as wasted water beads on the dry ground beneath a raised hatch. in an air of unwanted urgency, we stuff just enough nutrition into our shorts inner pockets and close up shop before shuffling down the trail’s opening stretch. their slight lead on the day left fresh prints heading right at the first fork. we’d been down that path before and recall it being a bit more arduous than the unclaimed option leading left. we run in opposite directions and hold onto hope for finding a parallel adventure somewhere along the way. 

our minds run as our bodies begin to wander. we muse that mountains are monuments dedicated to eons of perpetual movement, shaped by shifts in the foundation on which our reality rides.

we feel drawn to move through these sculpted landscapes for reasons unique to our own ambitions. this magnetism owes itself to the shift in perspectives that running at elevation provides. we tend to view things through a different lens once the air thins and our legs begin to burn. if only for a brief hiatus, we move between the crusted folds of earth and run across hairline ridges to gain a renewed outlook on the lives we live below. our undulating play space becomes a refuge from responsibility, and its openness, a hiding spot in plain sight. 

escapism beckons us upwards, not necessarily to forget what we leave behind, but to find a vantage point from which to view the path that lies ahead. as the day draws on, we watch a line of metallic ants scurry along a predestined path far in the distance, instinctually racing from resource to nest.  

for those of us who use our time in the mountains as a way to disconnect, a slow approach counters the rapid pace of life on a more linear plane. we use upward trajectory as a way to decelerate our day to day haste.

running in the mountains is a practice of active relaxation and we’re in no hurry to return. 

but our time here is often brief, curtailed by premature shadows that stretch out from surrounding peaks. the guarantee of a false sunset demands a recalculation of pace for the distance that remains, so we choose not to linger long before continuing onward once more.

the late afternoon sun fills cracks in the mountainside with its golden hues like a japanese artisan restores beauty to their once shattered works.

moving swiftly is a shortcut to discovering what lies beyond the next ridge before a squid ink sky spills across the landscape. but altitude pulls our most elevated efforts back down to earth. the tightness in our chest and lactic in our legs rally together in an assembly of ascending doubts. we’ve run toe to toe with this internal adversary before and have mastered silencing its loud and intrusive voice.

part of the learnings that our passion provides can be found within the transformative process it initiates, a personal restoration from a broken spirit to one that runs fast and free.

peak top vistas serve not only as a sensory reward, but also as a visual confirmation of the progress that’s been made. tracing footsteps with a fingertip through squinted eyes draws the scope of the day’s efforts into focus. seeing the significant ground we’ve covered amplifies our aptitude for accomplishing far more than what we previously thought possible during the rise and fall of a single sun. it’s from this realization that we find the shift in perspective that we had hoped to find while running through the mountains. 

while we visit with these thoughts on the lonesome peak that we’ve momentarily claimed for ourselves, a congruent experience unfolds atop another unnamed summit just across the valley floor.

despite our initial longing for solitude, we find comfort in knowing that we’re not out here alone.

we look up to see a waxing moon hanging low in a still blue sky. 

its shape is a subtle reminder that we’re only halfway there, so we turn heel and head towards home. as we reach an intersection of the two trails, a chance collision of broad smiles brings our anonymity to an abrupt end. the face we had crossed so many times before now has a name, and their parallel adventure, a plot line to be told play by play. we continue together across gilded ridges until we make the final descent in dying light and sprint down the remaining stretch of trail under a tye dyed dome. 

a pair of sweaty palm prints drip down a earth crusted car window to mark the end of two independent adventures and the beginning of a friendship bound by a shared passion for running in the mountains.

words by paul lott

photos by dylan harris

runners: andy wacker, karley rempel and leonardo adame

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