Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy. To help ease the transition, every Monday we feature a 90 Second Escape — essentially, a 90-second video of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s not under a fluorescent bulb.
Elite Colorado ultra runner Diane Van Deren enters day 22 of her MST Endurance Run, an attempt to set a new record for trekking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in less than 24 days. I’m on the Outer Banks covering her remaining 63 miles, and will be filing periodic reports throughout the day on the MST Endurance Run blog, which you can find here.
There are roughly 200,000 miles of trail in the United States, according to the American Hiking Society. Of those that came about over the past couple of decades, the vast majority were created largely by volunteers. And of those that existed beforehand, it’s a good bet they’ve been maintained by volunteers. Without volunteers we wouldn’t have the growing system of trails we now have.
I first became aware of Us and Them as a sophomore in high school. Our baseball team was playing a team from outside the league whose pitcher was a top pro prospect (he later was drafted by the New York Yankees). There was silence in the dugout as we watched the guy warm up. “Can you even see the ball?” someone finally asked. As the game wore on and no one could touch him, Coach Thomas began substituting. Those of us on the bench tried to be as invisible as possible. Finally, in the top of the 9th, coach turned, scrutinized the bench and yelled, “Stamm! Grab a bat.”
A large building loomed out of the dark woods to our right.
“Is that the Folk Arts Center?” Annette Bednosky asked slightly perplexed. It was — the very same Folk Arts Center we’d set off from 15 minutes earlier, at 5:01 this morning.
“Well,” said Diane Van Deren, “we just did a 14-minute warmup lap.”
To Van Deren, it was a “so-what” moment. When you’re spending up to 20 hours a day for 21 days hiking a thousand miles, what’s 15 minutes?
This morning was the start of Day 4 of Van Deren’s attempt to break the speed record for trekking the entire Mountains-to-Sea Trail, from Clingman’s Dome on the Tennessee border to Jockey’s Ridge on the coast. Her MST Endurance Run is sponsored by The North Face (Van Deren is one of the outdoor gear company’s elite athletes) and the Great Outdoor Provision Co. The goal: raise awareness — and $40,000 — for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, a work-in-progress trail spanning North Carolina.
Since starting her quest before dawn on Thursday, Van Deren has covered about 145 miles. Read on …