Sunday, January 24, 2010


Quatro and Michele celebrating on the trail (photo by Linda Wack)

I can't think of a better way to celebrate being alive than running many miles on a mountain trail with good friends. Laughing, talking, re-connecting, joking and running all mixed together amidst nature's beauty...what a way to start the day and to celebrate all the blessings we have!

Quatro turns 50 today. A longtime ultrarunning friend and training partner of mine, Q has logged many miles on the trails alongside his VHTRC people. He is also a consummate giver--he never saw a trail work or run volunteer opportunity he didn't like. We knew he wasn't looking forward to "celebrating" this particular milestone, so in honor of the big 5-0 and all he does for others on the trail, we made it fun by surprising him with a 18-mile run from Afton to Humpback Rocks and Back, one of my first and favorite mountain training runs. Q was told to meet at 7:00 in Charlottesville ready for a long run; what he didn't know was that many of his buddies had driven from near and far to surprise him at the start of the run atop Afton mountain at 7:45. We were off towards Humpback at 8:00 after the requisite "surprise!" and lots of laughs. And in spite of bad weather for the past few weeks, the trail (and the weather) did not disappoint:

The view from the AT between Afton and Humpback Rocks, VA

We had gorgeous running for the first few hours, then a bit of snow and ice as we approached Humpback Rocks:

Humpback Rocks looking west

It was an adventure negotiating the ice on the descent, but trail angels made it fun by leaving Knob Creek along the trail for Q to find:

While we didn't have particular "birthday rules" like Annette had at her friend's birthday run yesterday, we still did some silly things to celebrate. In addition to titration with trail angel magic, Q was given a party hat to wear at the post run and I carried the birthday horn for the duration of the run, blowing it whenever I felt we needed to "wooo-hooo" it a bit.

After 5 hours of sweet single track (and some covered in ice up at the top near the Rocks), we headed down the mountain to the Blue Mountain Brewery. I wrote about BMB a few posts ago, and it was a perfect place to bring a large, hungry, and thirsty group to eat, drink, and re-fuel after a day exploring the AT. Plus it has gorgeous views of the entire Afton to Humpback ridge line to remind us of the adventure we had just finished.

Close friends, good health, sweet trails, and delicious food: in these times, so much to celebrate. Happy birthday Q!

Michele Harmon took some great pics of the day here.