If I write an article for the BSWD Newsletter, it has to be about something I am actually living right now. And with all these years of talking about the “Mature Runner” – well…it’s stretching it a bit now. I’m not really running any more. Oh, I can still run, but it just doesn’t come off too well – it feels like I’m missing some body parts, or the essential parts are stored away in some locked drawer somewhere. But I still love making fun of the crazy antics distance runners come up with – so they can keep on running whether they should or not. So, for this August 2020 article, I have to make some more confessions. I completely love walking up the Sourdough Trail. Stacy and I love the terrain, the meeting up with Sourdough regulars, seeing the newest flowers come into bloom, watching the river level change week-by-week. There is a definite Sourdough community out there, and you become a member of this community just by showing up once. If it grabs you, and enters into your heart and soul, you have become part of this special community.
A good example is from yesterday – Stacy went to the “Bridge”- that dreaded word to some people, the goal of a lifetime for others, or just another ho-hum 9.5 miler. Yesterday, Stacy ran into an old friend – Rudy. He’s 90+ years old, and they meet less frequently now, but there he was with his family in tow – standing around the new 2 ponds ¼ mile up the trail. When you don’t see a real ‘ole timer for awhile, there’s that nagging suspicion something must have happened. But there he was with his indomitable smile. After a warm greeting, she moved on up the trail. After awhile, she realized she hadn’t said a word about how much she loves him. There might not be another chance! This being Sourdough Trail, even people you don’t know are your potential best friends. So, further up the trail a couple horses were coming down. Without hesitating, she flagged them down, and explained the whole scenario – and would they please find Rudy (probably still near the ponds) and tell him his friend Stacy wants him to know she loves him. There, that should do it. But then a few minutes later, a runner came around a corner – going faster than the horses, so she flagged down the runner – and went through the same routine – sharing the message to find Rudy and let him know Stacy loves him.
So, what IS this article about? Telling people you meet on the trail that you love them? Yes, and it’s really about becoming more familiar with an important part of your neighborhood. And just plain ‘ole being neighborly. It can be done 6 feet apart. And this leads me into meeting some of my very best friends on the trail – the flowers. The following is a horrible admission – how about NOT trying to see how fast you can get from point A to point B? Well, it does have its benefits. You get to smell (admire, eat, take a picture of) the flowers. You might not burn as many calories. So, I too want to share the “Rudys” I’ve met this past week. Do I need to say “go up Sourdough soon” and follow my directions to find my best friends? It’s up to you.
Let’s start with the most startling flower most people don’t know about. They have never been so abundant in memory. They are called the White Bog Orchid. For the scientifically inclined….Platanthera dilatata of the Orchidaceae family. I’m talking about 50-60 teeny little orchids all clutching a tall stalk. I guarantee you can’t see the orchids if you’re running by. The stalk is 1-2 foot tall, but you have to stop, get really close, and put your face right next to the stalk to see actual orchids growing wild. Do it – go find them! The 1st stand is on the left – about 1.6 miles up the trail. They need standing water, which you’ll see puddling along the trail there. Then the next place that’s easy to see is on that wide, circular curve in the trail before you crest at 4.5 miles – before going straight down to the Bridge. You’ll see the standing water on the left, and suddenly dozen of orchid stalks. Want more?
OK. Gotta stop pretty soon. But last week, just walking along the trail around the 4 mile mark was this Gorgeous Puffball a few inches off the trail. I instantly realized this was a prize – a mushroom in Perfect ripeness. I grabbed it, took a bite – and shared it with Stacy who has learned to trust some of my more questionable habits. The rest went home with us, and provided several nights’ salads with great taste. Where to find them? No clue. They just appear. If you find one “just” past its prime (not firm), it’s BAD to eat. No, I’m not trying to tease you. They can pop-up just about anywhere. White, round top. Firm. They come in all sizes (1/2 inch to 1 foot in diameter). When they “go to seed” – the round ball becomes brown, filled with 1000’s of spores that go “puff” if you step on them. So…the challenge – go find a good one and EAT IT! See y’all along the trail …
- David Summerfield
David Nutter Summerfield
The following blogs were first published in The Windrinker, a running newsletter published in Bozeman, MT (www.Windrinkers.org). There is a constant attempt at viewing the foibles of long distance runners in a humorous light so we don't take ourselves too seriously.