I drove out to Oak Creek for a walk this morning. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of other people there. There were only about 8 cars including the one that drove up right after me. The woman who got out was someone I recognized, Tammy. Tammy was an ultra-runner. She is one of the many woman about my age that is still out running those 25 mile runs every day. She had had ankle surgery a couple years earlier and yet, here she was still running. Tammy has a two-year old German Shorthair aptly named Miles. I always thought that was a great name for an ultra-marathoner’s dog.
So, I ran into Tammy and Miles. Tammy seemed agitated. I am not completely sure that she recognized me in my latest guise as an old woman with the walking sticks. Anyway, we talked about running. How I can’t run anymore because my ankles AND my knees are shot, etc. We talked about how dogs seem to attack Miles and, very recently, some dog had grabbed Miles by the throat (Tammy grabs her throat here). So, Tammy and Miles are going through a trainer to help them get over this. Of course, Izzy is a good one to hang with, I think, because she’s quite laid back now that she is mature. I casually ask Tammy where they intend to go.
“Over toward Narnia….” She says.
I first heard about Narnia from another long-distance runner, Anne, two years ago or so. Anne was another one of those women about my age who still runs hundreds of miles a week. Anne is even the co-director of the 52K Ultra marathon that takes place in the MacDonald-Dunn Forest every May.
“I don’t know where that is,” I confess. And then I see it in her eyes: “Oh, you are not one of us.” Not one of us in the know. And I just knew that Narnia was a code word for a secret path that only those truly in the know knew about.
“Just go left at the end of Homestead,” Tammy says vaguely. She cannot give real directions to someone who is not in the know. Another group of people approaches with a dog. Tammy senses Miles is getting restless and quickly excuses herself saying that, because of the training of Miles, she is just going to go back to the parking lot and start this all over again.
But I know. I not only ruined the run but I was someone not to be seen with. I was someone who was there a lot and did seem to run a lot at one time, yet I was not someone in the know.
After Tammy left and I reached the point where she vaguely said to go left, I went right. I went right up the same way I always do.
“This is why you are not in the know” I tell myself. Why can’t I be more like Preston, who probably knew every bit of this whole area.
I went up to my usual place (that I call McStarker Peak so that I can sing about it to the tune of Macarthur Park). But then.. then.. I took the left path down into Starker Forest land. This, as suggested by the name, is no longer owned by Oregon State University but by a local forestry company/family. I started on my way down the trail through various clear-cuts.
About clear-cuts. It is funny that I really hate that they do them, but they sure as hell give you a better view. Certainly can see more of the forest without the trees. (Now sing: “On a clear-cut/You can see forever”.)
Anyway, Izzy and I walked through this uncharted territory and found a whole new trail system that I didn’t know about. Okay, I guess all those runners had hinted to it, but I didn’t really know how extensive it was or how to get there. But here I was wandering around and hoping I wouldn’t end up at the coast because I had also forgotten my phone at home. But, ya know, if I got myself into it I am gonna get myself out of it.
It was magical on this misty morning and NO ONE was there. Suddenly, off to the side of a well-used forest road, I saw it: Narnia.
It was a sign! No, I don’t mean that kind of sign - I mean a real sign. A sanctioned metal sign that read the name of the trail “Narnia.” That was it. There was nothing special about it that was only known to those in the know. It was actually named that by whoever made the trail. The look that all of those runners had given me wasn’t because I wasn’t in the know. It was that I was so far out of the know that it wasn’t even worth explaining.
Ah, well. I have always been more of a Lord of the Rings fan, not a Chronicles of Narnia fan.