Monday, September 4, 2017

Seeing the "original world" on the Alice - Toxaway Loop in the Sawtooth Wildernress

"I wanted to see the original world."  Those words passed through my ear buds while I was listening to the New Yorker Radio Hour podcast around mile five of my 19 mile outing this Saturday around the Alice-Toxaway Loop in the Sawtooth Wilderness of Idaho. Though the writer, Jon Lee Anderson, used those words to describe what drove him to visit isolated and largely unchanged-by-time tribes in South America in his younger days, they nevertheless seemed to explain at least part of the reason I was at that moment climbing a rocky trail, out of breath yet moving forward with determination, and all the while trying to take in, enjoy, and be a small part of my striking surroundings.

As I've written about before on Run Junkie,  the Alice -Toxaway loop is one of my special runs.  I try to do it once every year, and whenever I fit it in it feels - as some of my friends tire of hearing me say - a bit like Christmas morning.  I know I'm in for a special day filled with jaw-dropping views, stout trails, and a good amount of miles that always feels longer than the Garmin says, no matter how fit I am.

And even on a Labor Day weekend when parking at the trailhead spills into a third auxiliary lot - and you come across groups of hikers and backpackers every few minutes - the landscape is always elemental, always a part of the "original world" Anderson was talking about.