I have met some pretty cool people during my time in the van traveling and this man I am going to talk about definitely tops the list!
Explaining the meet up:
I planned on spending more time running in the Lake Tahoe area than I did. With all the recent snow it made Tahoe beautiful to look at but less desirable for me to run. So once the chain restrictions for Donner Pass lifted I rolled toward Sacramento, CA a bit earlier then expected. I had only planned on staying to visit family for a couple days before heading back out on the road. Much to my surprise Easter weekend was upon us so I decided to stay until the end of the weekend. On the night before Easter (sounds like a good song title “on the night before Easter”) I moved my van to the driveway from the busier road. As I parked and got ready for bed I noticed headlights coming down the cul-de-sac. The car passed the driveway then backed up only to drive away again shortly after.
Insert David Warady:
The next morning I woke up to a Facebook message on my JAdRunning page from a David Warady. Saying he noticed the sign on the side of the van after leaving his parents place just a few houses down the block. He wrote a little about himself and asked if I’d like to meet up. I looked him up to see if who he said he was was true (I’ve had some crazy random messages before…haha). Turns out dude was a beast of an ultra runner back in the day and a dang good poker player now. In 1992 David won the Runner’s World Trans America Footrace. This would be the first race of its kind in 64 years. This was a story I definitely wanted to hear! So, I replied to see if he was available to meet the morning I left my cousins house to head north.
We met at a Denny’s for coffee and talked about life, family, running, poker, traveling and everything else under the sun. After probably the sixth cup of coffee we decided to leave Denny’s. David said he wanted to meet Pup so we went over to the van and let the crazy pup out. After meeting Jayden, David stuck out his hand and said “well it was nice chatting with you and….”. Shaking his hand I stopped him and said “but I still haven’t heard about the whole race!”
Normally when I have visitors my living room is a bit more scenic with a forest as a backdrop or a campfire burning. Today it was city dirtbag time so I busted out the camping chairs and set up to listen to his story of how he won the race across the country! Half way through I thought about how I wished I had a camera setup recording his recite and even capture how dirtbaggy our setup was in the parking lot.
Just as he finished of how he crossed the finish line with another runner nipping on his heels 5 hours behind. We had shopping plaza security at the van kicking us out of the parking lot for loitering. Told the security guard it was all good because the interview was over anyways. As I packed up the chairs I said, “You should be getting a selfie with this man, he’s a legend!” I think the guard considered it when David pulled out his business card and handed it to him.
Listening to how he trained, what he sacrificed, and how he overcame injuries showed his true dedication. One of my favorite things he said was that after he graduated from college he said he was going to give everything he had to become the best runner “he could be”, which would make him a better person all around. At this point in my life I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Just think, if not for the snow in Tahoe I would not have been in Sacramento at the right time for David to see my van.
Check out David’s website at http://www.runningthroughcancer.com to learn more about him then I talked about here in my post. Below is YouTube clip about the race and finish.
Big thanks to David for spending the day hanging out with me!
Want to know something cool about this picture below?I was running along Salmon Creek Trail when I came across a patch of wild flowers. It wasn’t the first patch of flowers I ran pass as I climbed the switchbacks of the Los Padres NF trail in Big Sur California. It was however the first spot on the top of the ridge that I noticed a perfectly placed rock that would be a great spot to setup my phone to capture the beauty.
After three takes (every runner knows two takes is not enough) of bending down to hit the camera timer I got a weird feeling, a feeling of being watched. I told myself to stop being stupid bending over so many times this far out in the mountains alone. I picked up my phone and started to run the amazing single track again. Shortly after coming into a fully tree covered section I stopped to walk after hearing a noise and getting that feeling again. Maybe it was the creek flowing, or just a bird or squirrel, at most a deer I told myself.
Going the short distance to the creek crossing I stopped again to check my phone for the time. At this point I had been gone for an hour and half so I decided to head back to the van to get pup. As I put my phone away and turned around I was greeted by a mountain lion 25 feet in front of me! “Holy sh*t you’re big” I yelled! The expression on the lions face once it noticed I noticed it was almost cartoonish. With out hesitation it took off down the trail and up into the brush. As it ran away I yelled again, “NO! That’s the way I need to go!” I stood there for a few minute in shock. It seriously looked dumb founded I turned around…was it stalking me? It just went the way I need to go back…how long do I wait?
I grabbed a fallen branch and broke off a chunk incase I had to fight. After waiting several minutes I began to walk down the trail. I started talking to the lion, or myself mainly, if it could hear me. “Thank you for letting me see you, I appreciate being one of the lucky few, but I do not want to see you again!” “You are a beautiful creature, I am not scared of you, but I will kick your ass!” “I don’t like that you went the same way I need to go but I am just going home, I live in a van and taste horrible.” “I am in the middle of a detox from a fast food diet so you’re better off eating a deer that taste good.” “This makes it two times now that I have seen a cat on the trail, you are much bigger then the panther I saw in FL. I am bummed I didn’t get a photo of you but I really, really do not want to see you again to get one either.”
I walked waving the branch and talking nonsense until I came to what I remember would be open trail back to the trailhead. Remember, don’t bend over a bunch of times on the trail for a silly picture. Don’t run solo for hours on end in bad cell phone reception areas. Pssh, who am I kidding…just make sure you don’t get eaten by a mountain lion!
**Disclaimer** No running shorts were soiled during or after the sighting of the mountain lion.
Without a picture how do I tell you a story about my run in Death Valley National Park to Darwin Falls? How do I tell you about how I got to the second, third and fourth waterfalls while rock climbing on dangerous cliffs? How do I tell you about the loose gravel trail that wanders through a wash in the canyon leading to the first waterfall? How does one explain the soothing sound of the rushing water as I get near? How do I tell you about the lush green California desert oasis as I rounded the corner to the first waterfall?
Without a picture would you believe my story that I convinced a photographer to climb cliffs with me to what I hoped was another waterfall? Would you believe it when I said that with the slip of a foot the fall down would be severe? How about if I told you I had a hugging hold grip around a boulder, on the edge of a cliff, and my hand started to sweat as I tried to pull myself across? What if I told you the photographer trustfully handed me his 60 lbs pack multiple times instead of doubling back? How do I describe the relief as I jump down from a cliffs edge and noticed there was a second waterfall?
Again, without a picture would you believe there was a third and fourth waterfall tucked away in a narrow slot canyon? Could you imagine now climbing up a slope of crushed rocks to try and find a path for a better view? Then can you imagine finding a path over the third waterfall to an amazing view of a towering 80 ft tall free falling waterfall?
So the question remains, how do I begin to tell you with only a few pictures the things I have done just to see four waterfalls?