A Mountain rises through it
“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”
― Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
Caidar Idris below sure makes you earn the view with just below 1000m of V+ in less than 5kms.
As I was scrambling on all four, a water bottle tucked into my running shorts, struggling to catch my breath and trying really hard to keep up with the mountain goat in front of me, all I could think about was how right everything about this felt.
After months of silence because the both of us were too proud to swallow our egos and too stubborn to admit that maybe, just maybe, we hadn’t handled things the best way, here I was, back with the best partner in crime I’d ever had, running up a mountain.
For a few months, after a mix of different circumstances combined with a reciprocal complete inability to communicate had left the mountain goat and I estranged and after my most serious injury to date had left me unable to even walk -let alone run- pain free, it really felt like two of the most important things in my life had fallen apart. I threw myself into other things, mainly work, swimming and cycling but something was, some things were, still missing. I learned the art of resting my broken foot and tried to master the art of moving on. I temporarily succeeded at one but kept failing at the other, regardless of what I was telling myself.
Then I started noticing that I wasn’t in pain when walking these first few steps in the morning anymore. Then I lost someone incredibly important to me and, as corny as it may sound, realised in an almost bone shattering moment how stupid about everything I had been and had acted.
And the mountain goat and I started talking again. He told me his visa got denied and that his time in the UK was coming to an end. I threw some running gear in the car and drove up the four hours to Wales. I got there sleep deprived and exhausted after yet another crazy week on clinics and unsure about how awkward everything would be. We had a cup of coffee; he asked me how I felt about running up the steepest mountain around. I told him I hadn’t run up anything in months. He gave me a water bottle and sunglasses (because of course I had packed everything but what mattered), we jumped into the car and in a split second it was like nothing had ever changed. It was the same. We were on our way to somewhere beautiful, singing our heads off to some ridiculous tunes, talking about nothing and everything. As we approached Caidar Idris, I felt it: the old familiar stage fright I have always felt before a big training run or a race. The mix of excitement and apprehension that makes my heart beat faster and makes me feel more alive than ever.
As always we started way too fast. As always I burned all my matches way too soon trying to keep up. As always I fell right behind but hung in there. The first couple of kilometres were through some woods, then some steep stone steps lead to the end of a single track that eventually opened up to some incredible views of the mountains around, the valley and a lake so blue it made the whole thing looked like a post card. We stopped for a moment to take it all in. The air was the freshest I had breathed in months.
Here I was, in my running gear for the first time in months, on a mountain for the first time in even longer, properly running for the first time in equally longer, with the only person I’ve ever wanted to run up mountains with. Outside in the wild for the first time in months, months filled with work and good times but also sadness, boredom, more work and sadness and a question that haunted me for so many weeks: will I ever run again?
We made it to the top after more than an hour of scrambling, running and power hiking. It was sunny but cold and windy so we did not linger there too long – we never do. We popped our jackets on and proceeded to get ready for the down hill, my favourite part. We ran down that mountain like someone was chasing us. I had racing flats on so I came very close from skidding and falling many times – but that did not slow me down: this was too good to be missed.
The book ‘A river runs through it’ tells the story of two brothers from Montana and their Presbyterian father and how the passion they share for the wild waters and fly-fishing keeps them united through the years. No matter how much time goes on, no matter the obstacles life throws at them, no matter the fundamental differences in their characters; a river always brings them back together.
There will always be a mountain for my friend the mountain goat and I to run up together. And it will always feel like no time has passed.
Cover photo: view fr Caidar Idris