With my regular trail running partner still recovering from her, now well known and widely celebrated (just in fun, of course) altercation with a wayward rock, I was most pleased to have an old friend along for the "ride" through the forests and ferns of Gabriola Island today. Well, I don't mean to suggest he is "old", but we have been friends for a rather significant number of years. The fact that we have an accumulated 120 years of life experience between the two of us is merely incidental, albeit rather impressive.
I'm always humbled, running along these trails. Ancient middens discovered near here suggest that there may well have been people on this island for thousands of years. They hunted and fished and and were careful stewards of land and sea. They too, I'm sure, ran joyfully in bare feet or maybe simple, minimalist sandals, amidst the towering trees and dense ferns. They breathed in the same oxygen-dense air of the close-to-sea-level elevation. And I'll bet they ran for the sheer joy of it. It is, after all, an activity that refreshes the tired mind and enlivens each and every atom of our sometimes weary physical being. Wonderful how it works that way. Strange how not everyone believes how true that is!
Spanish mariners stopped by this island in the 1790s. After what must have seemed like interminable months at sea, what a relief it must have been for their feet to touch the soft, moist, leafy earth. I really don't know if Spanish sailors enjoyed running but I can well imagine their pent-up and ship-bound energies finding expression and catharsis on these very trails enjoying that very activity with childlike abandon. There are trees here, the same ones that we passed today, that may have quietly watched the Spanish sailors as they happily gorged on salmon berries, salal berries, or blackberries, their vitamin C-depleted-bodies, thankfully absorbing the dense nutrients.
"Springboard" notches, cut into the massive stumps to support springboard-like platforms, are still visible reminders of the first loggers who laboured amidst the massive old growth forests. Second growth cedars, now beginning to soar themselves, were birthed and nursed in fallen and left behind logs of the early forest industry.
And then, of course, there are the petroglyphs...but that is a story of wonder and mystery for another time.
I've always felt that time in the forest is time well spent. Running or hiking or even just strolling amidst the forest flora (and fauna), is exhilarating and enlivening. And tomorrow...with some luck, there will be another opportunity to do it all over again - always vigilant, of course, for those "wayward" rocks and roots and hidden lumps and bumps on the trail that can jeopardize the safety and comfort of the minimalist runner's toes!
Happy trails out there,
Happy trails out there,