Tag Archives: Vermont

every step

I’m procrastinating a little.

It’s day two of our January thaw.

It’s 48 degrees and raining, which has glazed the 4th-class gravel road in front of our house with a sheen of mottled gray ice.

So, I’m less excited to get out there and put in the miles today, but I know I need them — as do my dogs, Dragon and Freyja, who will eventually lose their patience with my lassitude. IMG_8578

For the time being, I have been reflecting on and planning for running instead. I’ve been dividing 272 by various single digit numbers — 9, 8, 7 — realizing that only 4 extra miles per day can help me complete the Long Trail in 8 days rather than 9. Is that possible, for me?

I pushed to near 40 miles for a day or two of my Arctic Trail run last August, but then I also called it quits after only half the total distance because of a stress reaction in my leg. More training? The variables in Vermont are different, the goal distance overall is shorter, but the terrain more demanding.

I’ve also never ridden a bike 200 miles in one go. I’m confident, though that the training I started in December will make that possible for me.

Every step of every run I take is so deeply interbraided with these questions, with self-doubt, as well as with the hopes, aspirations, and insights I gain from reflecting on the why of it all.

Some of that why is this:

Experiencing our full humanity requires us to attenuate our self-centeredness by enfolding it within a much wider sense of self in which we experience genuine love and compassion for all beings, both living and non-living.

This excerpt from a short essay by Stephan Harding is part of a response to the question, “What does it mean to be human?” Harding draws on Arne Naess’s idea of an ecological self — one that is larger than just our individual self that encompasses the whole of the human and non-human worlds.

I share Stephan Harding’s belief that

…the most pressing challenge for our times is to awaken the ecological selves of as many people as possible within the shortest possible time.

This is exactly why I’ve come to do the things I do —

If I can connect my footfall on the icy gravel outside my own door to my more far-flung adventures in the Arctic to conversations with middle-school students about climate change to, finally, building resilient communities, I hope that I can help awaken at least some of our collective ecological selves.

Now, time to strap on the microspikes and get out that door.

 

 

 

 

Goals

When I was in London for a few days with my son Orion after the 2016 Keswick Mountain Festival, we stopped in at the Charing Cross Road Foyle’s Books and its overwhelming kilometers of shelves. As much as I wanted half the books in the store, we agreed to limit ourselves to one book each.

My choice was The Path: A New Way to Think About Everything, by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh. I don’t typically opt for books in the ‘self-help’ category, but this one caught my attention partly because of its attention to the idea of small, daily rituals — those things we may believe are inconsequential, pointless, or irrelevant.

Drawing on Chinese philosophers from Confucius and Mencius to Laozi and Zhuangzi and others, The Path points out that we do not need “a radical new plan for how to live and how to organize the world,” but rather, we should pay far greater attention to the “mundane aspects of daily life” and that “we create the Way anew every moment of our lives.”

It can be easy for me to lose sight of the essential role our daily routines play in helping reach long-term goals; sometimes the mundanity of the quotidian even seems to get in the way of what I want to do in the long run.

Simply making a long-term goal isn’t enough. It’s the thousands of tiny steps between here and there — the daily rituals — that can make nearly any goal attainable.

January 1st is just around the corner, and with it, an opportunity to reframe, reground, and reassess both what we plan for and what we do every day. This year, I meet the start of the new year with a renewed drive and passion for Climate Run projects, and, honestly, more than a little anxiety.

In 2018, the 4th year of Climate Run, I have my sights set on two adventures:

First, in late June, I will get on a bike at the Vermont / Canadian border and ride, non-stop, the 200 or so miles to the southern end of the Long Trail on the Massachusetts state line, and then run back up to Canada — effectively completing a round-trip of nearly 500 miles in about 10 days.

I’m stoked to bring Climate Run to Vermont and share not only stories of the experience, but also the ride and run themselves with others. Do you want to join me for a day? for a few miles? at a road crossing? Let me know! It’s been great to have the support of so many over the past 3 years, and it will be even better to see you all out on the roads and trails of Vermont!

Second, I will be headed back to Scandinavia where, just before teaching a field course in northern Norway with Sterling College, I will spend a few days in the Faroe Islands. There, in late July, and with fingers crossed for reasonable weather, I plan to summit the highest peaks on 7 of the archipelago’s islands (each over 700 meters in elevation) in a single long day — a total of more than 50 km of running and nearly 16,000 ft of elevation gain.

Super exciting to think about (& many more details to come soon!) — but knowing the work I need to do every single day to be able to reach these goals is terrifying.

My hope is that I can keep these huge goals in mind while really keeping a steadfast focus on the daily work — the rituals — they require…and through that work to collect and share stories of the many, many steps along the way.

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Field Testing

On Monday at about 5:00 pm, I took off for my first run with a full pack along the Monroe Skyline section of Vermont’s Long Trail. I followed the LT on a roughly 20-mile out-and-back section south from Appalachian Gap across some of the state’s highest peaks: Mount Ellen, Lincoln Peak, and Mount Abraham.

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The Aarn Marathon Magic 33-liter pack weighed about 23 lbs fully loaded. I’ll need to add a layer of clothing or two for Scandinavia, but otherwise, everything else was accounted for:

The pack is *very* adjustable and took a few miles to get right, but for most of the 20 miles, everything fit well, and even over the technical terrain, I was able to maintain a reasonable pace.

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For the first part of the afternoon, I affixed the solar panel to the back of the pack and was able to charge the tiny Go Pro camera at least a little. This will be much more effective in Scandinavia, where tree canopy will be largely absent. My plan is to charge the Recharger over the course of the day and recharge devices while I sleep — of course, the solar panel can do a fair bit of work overnight in the northern latitudes, too!

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I’ve been trying out different foods, and I think I’ll stick to familiar things for the main meals and supplement with Norwegian-purchased snacks for daytime. Water is plentiful along the Arctic Trail, so dehydrated food will be one of the most efficient calorie sources, and powdered drink mix will be a great electrolyte supplement.

With only a month to go before the run, my emotional scale is tipped more on the side of ‘anxious’ than ‘excited,’ but I still feel on track and ready for the last weeks of training and planning before we leave on July 16th.

Thanks again, as always, for the support of all kinds I’ve gotten from friends old and new. This couldn’t happen without you! 🙂

 

Top Ten!

Five days into the New Year (and barely a week into “winter” here in the Northeastern U.S.) and I’m starting to adjust to a new training routine that balances running and skiing (and gym workouts) with all the other parts of family & work life.

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dragon waits…

For example, I couldn’t get out to start my long run on Sunday until after 5:00 pm. It was, of course, already dark, and snowing pretty hard. I put on the microspikes, harnessed Dragon for some canine companionship, and set out for a slow and steady 12 miles.

Slower than usual in part because of the double (& triple) workout days I’ve been logging this past week to take advantage of the new snow and keep ramping up the running mileage.

Stretching the training hours through the darkest days of the year and in all sorts of conditions has also given me plenty of time to think about being named one of Vermont’s Top Ten Athletes of 2015 by Vermont Sports Magazine.

It’s a huge honor–and pretty humbling–to be on a short list with athletes including Kasie Enman, Andy Newell, Kelly Clark, and Hannah Kearney.VS-dec.-webcover

Being on this list has also challenged me to think about what it means to be an athlete (and father and husband and teacher and more…), and it’s given me the chance to share the story of Climate Run and the idea of climate resilience with everyone from skiers to college students to 13-year olds studying climate science.

As much as I cherish all the hours I spend running, skiing, and training for the coming year’s adventures, even more important are the many conversations I’ve been able to have about endurance, vulnerability, resilience, and our individual roles in the face of climate change.

Climate Run hits the road!

I’m super stoked to kick off the Climate Run: Iceland tour with a show at the Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington, Vermont on Thursday, Sept. 24th at 8:00 pm.

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If you are interested in hosting a presentation where you are, please get in touch! More info about Climate Run presentations.