I pulled into a vacant parking lot to the sound of soft rain pitter pattering against my windshield. I slid on a pair of running shorts, sinched up my shoes and pressed start on my watch. I hardly ever get out to Oak Mountain for mid-week runs anymore. Between my work schedule and graduate classes, I typically am finished with my run before the sun illuminates the sky. I felt lucky to have scored an early afternoon all to myself.
I did very little to avoid any standing water since off and on downpours throughout the day had flooded the trail. I felt relaxed and at ease as I splashed along the familiar trail, letting my mind wander.
I love gloomy days in the forest. I assume most people long for those blue skies, bird chirping, picture perfect kinda days, but for me, the dreary, soft sky water dripping through the canopy, haunting fog clutching the tops of the trees kinda days are the most comforting. I sometimes feel when the skies are blue and the sun is shining, God just kinda slips into the background and lets the world relish in the delightful weather. I personally feel most connected when I’m encased and moving through the fog. Perhaps its the magical feel that fog brings… maybe it’s that slight bit of eeriness… but I think more than anything, it’s that weirdly comforting and exciting feeling of not knowing exactly what lies ahead. Fog is typically brief, so for me, catching a foggy day on the trails or in the mountains is more of a blessing than a downer. These days are special and ones that I cherish.
I tagged King’s Chair and started back into the woods. I bounded down the same old path that I’ve scurried over hundreds of times before and despite this all too familiar trail, I hardly ever get tired of it. There’s happiness in routine. As I bottomed out at the base of the connector trail and started my slow jog up Shackleford, I gradually let the fog engulf me once more. Again my mind started to wander.
I think there’s a lot of truth in the saying “life imitates art.” We can’t denounce that the Creator (or whatever higher being/power you believe in) is an artist when it comes to the beauty and intricate design of this existence. I think one of the most beautiful artistic constructs is weather. Beauty can be found in all types of weather. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bother getting all metaphorical with how blue skies can compare to happy days, storms can compare to passing troubles, or how tornadoes can feel like a blind sided attacks… I’m sure there’s plenty of literature and Pintrest quotes for all that. However, some of those metaphors do hold true and the foggy day in the woods today was a perfect representation for my current state of mind.
I topped Shackleford and started cruising along the perfect single track on top of the ridge. As I winded up and down the narrow path, I thought to myself, how does one get out of the fog? What are the aspects of my life that I can control within the fog? I can control my movement. By moving forward and moving consistently, I can power through and endure until the fog lifts. I can control my thoughts. By thinking positive thoughts, I can remain hopeful until the fog fades. I can control my breath. By controlling my breath, I can stay cool, calm and collected while the fog surrounds me.
I felt a great sense of peace as I hopped down the rocks and onto the double track. The rest of the trail from this point is a gradual downhill back to my car. I picked up the pace and let my body flow naturally along the uneven terrain. I began to leave the fog in the tops of the trees the further I descended down the mountain. I was blissful. I was joyous. I was content.
The rain had stopped by the time I got back to my car. I let down my tailgate, closed my eyes and took a few moments to enjoy the silence.
“We need clear days to see the horizons; we need foggy nights to see beyond the horizons! Man sometimes can think much deeper when he sees less!”