Turns out Art LaFlamme is a really nice guy. I had expected a lot of, “Get your ass in gear soldier! MOVE! MOVE!” as we made our way up to the top of Kuliouou Ridge, but instead got pleasantries and a pace I could keep up with. He’s less of a drill sergeant and more of an intelligence specialist and wouldn’t you know, that makes for very interesting conversation about secret lairs in the Shenandoah Valley.
And make it to the top we did, switchback after never ending switchback plus the whole part with the stairs yeesh!, running almost the entire way.
I had forgotten how rewarding it is when you come out of the trees and get to traipse along the narrow ridge. It’s an entirely different experience than being “in the woods”. It’s not so much the view for me as the quality of the air, the sounds of nothing but wind and birds and the feeling of being somewhere relatively few people go.
After a few minutes rest at the windy peak we broke into a gallop and cruised the whole way down. Very few things beat the sensation of running all out downhill. It’s akin to freefall in that all you can do is be in the exact moment you’re in. Any thoughts outside Where do I place my foot? and Holy shit this is frickin’ awesome! will result in a trip and a fall and a tumble and a broken something or other for sure.
Thank you Art for not groaning too loudly at the onset when I admitted to never having run up a hill before, for setting a reasonable pace and for getting me closer to tackling my next goal. Best of luck to you in Virginia!