It’s the type of running that anchors you in the present moment, the deep now. Eyes transfixed on the undulating terrain, meticulously manipulated by nature’s dance of the melt-freeze. Propelling myself with precarious steps along the slick, trodden path, I’m reminded of the masses of people communing with nature in an attempt to stay healthy and sane amidst the madness of the moment.
We seem to be turning back towards the truth of the forest, as much as we struggle to articulate it, we understand its healing wisdom. The bare branches of the birch forest, no longer laden with snow, stand still in the crisp morning air, the inhalation of which burns the back of my throat. My warm breath hangs thick amongst the cedar boughs, slow to evaporate, even after I’m gone.
This is winter trail running in southeastern British Columbia during an unusually cold stretch of late January’s high-pressure weather patterns. The early morning missions are quiet, with the exception of some small, spry cross-billed birds that swoop in large psychedelic formations throughout the sky. The usual trail goers aren’t ready to face the frost yet, so I have space all to myself.
As I crest the top of the trail a thin layer of ice hides under foot and catches me off guard as I strain to stay up amidst the slide. One moment of missed focus is all it takes. My inner thighs are quick to engage as my back braces and I’m able to regain composure just in the knick of time, a small celebration for the stabilizers that have been strengthened by the last few months of sprinting in the snow.
As I return to the wood-burning warmth of my winter nest, I remove the necessary layers that below zero adventures beckon. My exposed cheeks glow a rosey red as my eyes glisten with tears. My pounding heart begins to slow as I sit down next to the flickering flames and let out a deep, morning sigh. What better way to begin a winter’s day than with a wonderful run on the ice?