Tinker Cliffs Sunset

“So when you fell and ‘broke’ your tibia. Did your friends try to help you?”

Well, first of all, let’s not use finger quotes for the word broke.

Also, no. Obviously they didn’t try to help. They just stood there watching. Waiting for me to get back up. So we could get on down the mountain. Before sunset.

At some point. Last week. During a mutual manic episode, apparently.

Rogue and I decided running North Fucking Mountain. At night. Would be a solid idea.

I don’t remember why.

Something about seeing the pretty fall leaves. As the sun was setting. On the way up. And then the rest of that bullshit not being quite as awful. Under the cover of night.

Or maybe it was because Halloween. And spending a spooky holiday in the middle of the place filled with all of the souls it has sucked out of dumbass trail runners.

All I know is we were gonna go Saturday night.

And when we decided we didn’t want to spend a Saturday night on North Fucking Mountain. We moved it to Monday night.

And then Jo-K invited everyone to go run Tinker Cliffs. Monday night.

And Rogue and I looked at each other. Virtually. And nodded.

Yes. That sounds way better than our plan.

But, of course, we had to start later than everyone else.

Because bullshit jobs.

So we ran ourselves up. As fast as we are able to run. Up. Right now.

Because shit like this.

Just watching the sun moving lower and lower in the sky.

And when we were right up under the cliffs. About to turn to go up.

We passed this little guy. And what we assume is now his ex-girlfriend. Wearing Chuck Taylors. Coming back down.

And little guy says to us, “It’s not much farther.”

…as though we were the ones who looked like they’d never been there before.

Which.

If you’d been there. Hearing Rogue say. Every mile or so. Things like “where are we?” and “have I even been here before?”

You might think we hadn’t.

But it was fine.

Because I knew exactly where we were. The entire time…

This is a four mile climb, right?

“Is it? Are you sure it’s not five?”

Well, Jo-K posted North Mountain Overlord’s map of the route they were taking. And it’s 15 kilometers. Including the out and back to sawmill branch.

So, 5k is 3 miles. So 15k would be 9 miles. So half of that would be 4 1/2 miles. But the sawmill branch out and back is…

“Well, the last time I was here. We went up McAfee first. And then came down Andy Layne. And that was about 12 miles. I think. Or maybe it was 11? Or 14? And it’s 3 1/2 miles up McAfee…”

So, obviously we never figured it out.

But the mathing was a nice distraction from my rapidly increasing heart rate.

And we made it to the top. In 3.6 miles.

And found our people.

Looking at this.

Stole those pics from Jo-K.

Because my phone turns the breathtaking beauty of the world into this.

Which is fine. It’s just. A little too muted. Like my soul.

And I think we were talking about why I hadn’t been able to join on adventures. In months. Because of my job.

And that somehow led Finn’s Dad to say,

“I’ve got a friend who makes $200 a kid.”

Just that. That’s it. That’s all he said. Just those words.

And we all just sat there. Trying to work out…do we need to call someone? Is this a mandated reporting situation…?

Dude. That can’t be the whole sentence. We need more context.

It’s fine.

Turns out she makes the kids herself. And then gets money to help her support them.

But I don’t know if it was the shock of what we all assumed was some form of human trafficking going on. Or the overwhelming beauty of the sunset on the mountain. Or the excitement of seeing Rogue and I. For the first time in months. Or if this is just something that happens to super fit people. With six pack abs.

But suddenly Dude With The Charming And Disarming Smile. Just sort of. Starts to lift up off the ground. Abs first. A kind of poltergeist arched back demon possession kind of situation. And then falls back down. And begins rolling around on the ground.

But also. See how he ends in a beautiful high plank push up position?

So, he had a cramp.

In his abs.

Which is apparently something that can happen. When you have a six pack. And zero body fat.

But also. Even as he was a rolling around. In cramp-level pain.

He remained both athletic. And graceful.

Even his whining. As we all stood there watching. And laughing. And one of us may have also been videoing. Was…I don’t know…melodic?

Because when I cramp up. It’s almost always in my foot. Or calf. And it is never. Ever. Anything even approaching graceful. Or athletic. Or melodic.

It is decidedly unattractive.

At any rate, he recovered.

And after we got the super high folks next to us to take our pic.

We headed on back down the mountain.

Where maybe a mile and a half down. We passed little guy. And Chuck Taylor chick. Gently picking their way back down the mountain.

As the sun fully set.

And we ran on past them.

And about half a mile on. We started processing.

“Why is it taking them so long?”

Because Chuck Taylors.

“Did they have a light?”

No.

“Should we…?”

No. They need this.

“Can we leave a note? On their car? Asking if their relationship survives this?”

Because even in trail shoes. In the daytime. This shit is kinda dicey.

But at night…

I almost died on that exact spot.

Except a little to the left.

But also. In the crisp fall air. This is the perfect place to be right now.

And while every step on my left foot sent shooting pains rattling up my broken tibia. That is barely being contained by my skin.

It was a perfect evening.

And I’m gonna need more.

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