During his record breaking attempt on the 165 mile Tahoe Rim Trail, Kilian Jornet (of Matterhorn fame) writes in his book, 'Run or Die' of feeling really good, as if his feet preferred not to touch the ground as he swerved through the trees at top speed, flying on silent strides, breathing in the fresh air, alert to everything around. Sometimes he imagined himself as an Indian brave in pursuit of an elk that was running away, or carrying an urgent message to a neighbouring tribe. Initially his watch was recording a pace of around 10mph whilst latterly he was virtually running in his sleep. His narrative of that 38 hour run is utterly compelling. He broke the record by about 7 hours.
My fertile brain associated Kilian's mention of Indian braves with something my mother said shortly before she died. "I suppose you know there's Indian blood in the family?" she said casually. I didn't, but said I wasn't all that surprised given that some of our Scottish forebears sailed with the East India Company. Who knows what or who they might have brought back from Far Eastern shores in those dim distant days. "Not that sort of Indian" she said, "I mean Red Indian".
She couldn't elaborate further and I couldn't help laughing at such an outlandish idea. It was one of those snippets passed down through the generations and mother firmly believed it was true. I jokingly suggested it might have been one of 'Buffalo' Bill Cody's Red Indian troupe that went on the rampage, raping and pillaging, when his fabulous Wild West show came over to tour England and entertain Queen Victoria. Might even have been the great Sitting Bull himself. Anyway, it's something to amuse me next time I'm tripping through the woods in the half light of dawn, except it might not be an elk I'm pursuing but some dusky maiden who, unbeknown to her, is destined to become the stuff of legend!
In the meantime we've been enjoying the glorious Indian summer that warmed Britain through most of September. It's a good job we made the most of it for it disappeared as we stepped into October. To round off September we ran a delectable 7 miles together around the Bare House circuit - a steady 700ft climb over the first 3 miles then some fast sprints, airplaning downhill over springy turf into Grassington with sheep looking somewhat bemused at our antics!
To open my October account I ran another 7 miles with similar ups and downs over Grassington Moor returning by some wonderfully wild country alongside Blea Beck with its newly planted trees and extensive views over Grimwith reservoir to the heights of Simon's Seat and Nussey Knott. Apart from just running, I have something else in common with Kilian in that we both sing - he when he's getting tired and me on the rare occasions when I'm 'in the zone'. Also like Kilian, I can never remember all the words and repeat certain phrases, mostly in Italian, over and over again. Last Thursday was one of those days when the closing stanzas of Rapsodia kept breaking the silence of the lonely landscape. Fortunately, there was no-one else there!
To keep my legs loose in the afternoon I walked to the newly refurbished suspension bridge that spans the River Wharfe below Hebden Village. Leaves of Horse Chestnut are turning russet while various other trees are beginning to display their Autumn tints. The bridge had only re-opened five minutes prior to my arrival so I was able to cross the river and mount the hill for a bird's eye view, and photograph, of that enchanted corner.
"I'm struggling a bit today" I rasped to two walkers while jogging up onto the moor on Sunday morning. Their presence ensured I kept moving, uphill, with little respite for 4 miles until it eventually dawned I'd got into a nice rhythm and was actually enjoying it! The rough, uneven terrain over the final steep part of Bycliffe Hill could have been a bowling green as I ran unfaltering across it as if to the beat of a metronome. I was growled and snarled at by a very unfriendly collie on reaching the Mossdale track but it's owner thankfully kept it in check. A raven cronked 'Hello' down the long wall but didn't follow me like its predecessors used to do.
Pretty soon I was passing the bent tree that welcomed me back to the friendly confines of Hebden Ghyll.
The sun came out. The path beneath my feet felt smooth as a treadmill as I slid past the 'burning bush' and back into the village feeling rather smug in having transitioned from morning struggles into a reasonably well oiled machine. It's amazing what can happen if only we're prepared to take that first step.......
Weeks totals: 22 miles, 1,549ft ascent
|Kilian, with pacers, running the Tahoe Rim trail (Click pictures to enlarge)|
|On the Bare House trail|
|Hebden Suspension Bridge and Autumn tints|
|Smoothing out the rough bits over Bycliffe Hill|
|Bent tree at descent to Hebden Ghyll|
|'Burning Bush' - Cotoneaster up the ghyll|
Weeks totals: 22 miles, 1,549ft ascent