Thursday, May 12, 2011

War Machines...and Ultrarunning

Several years ago I was running the Appalachian Trail in PA, near Tower City where the in-laws live. I had just made the long 3 mile trudge up the hill northbound from the PA Rt 325 crossing and was enjoying the summit. This section of trail is not crushingly steep: the delta is from about 600' elevation to about 1800' over the 3 mile uphill. In my younger years I've run the whole uphill, but it's the type of grade that most of us would walk.

I say that I was enjoying the summit, but there was no view because the ridge top was ensconced in fog or low-lying clouds. It was sort of surreal--the dampness, the trail, the lush, largely oak forest--like a scene out of a movie. And quiet, very quiet. I could feel--and almost hear, it seemed--my heart beating heavily in my chest from the effort of the climb. There was no wind, no animal noises.

Suddenly the peace was shattered by the auditory appearance of a couple war machines--helicopters screaming over, low above the trees but still out of view owing to the fog/clouds. The sound was deafening and absolutely shattered the peace and stillness. They must have come from the nearby Fort Indiantown Gap military reservation for the PA National Guard and the Army Reserve.

I get it--we need military training to keep sharp. You gotta train so you can function effectively in a real event. But the abrupt juxtaposition of quiet solitude with war preparations was absolutely jarring.

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