What do the mountains mean to you?

I feel at home in the mountains.  It is where I find solace. Henry David Thoreau said,  “Methinks that the moment my legs began to move, my thoughts began to flow.” I don’t know what the connection is, but as you begin to move, your mind is opened.  You are able to view the world through alternate perspectives and are given fleeting glimpses into different realms of reality. You come to realize that there is a unity that exists – a connection between the human and natural world. You realize that you are not a visitor in an unknown place, but rather at home. You are a part of it, and it is a part of you. It is a sacred connection. Anatoli Boukreev said, “Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.” When you enter into the solitude of the mountains, the distractions of the modern world seem to disappear. The chaos of your own life is organized, and there is a cleansing and a renewal that takes place.

In the mountains, although I am often putting forth huge efforts, I never view it as work. I never think, “I’ll go put in 300 minutes.” I think instead, “I have 5 hours to go play”. It is not a chore. I start out easy, enjoying what is around me. If I feel like running faster I do. If I don’t feel like running faster, I don’t. I don’t quantify it. I don’t look at a watch, or a heart rate monitor, or a gps. I just run. If I feel like stopping, I stop. If I get hungry, I eat. If I find something beautiful, I stop and look at it.

In the mountains you learn lessons about life, about cosmology, about the universe and your role in it. You learn very quickly that pain and struggle is the price you pay for satisfaction and joy. It is the law of the harvest- you reap what you sow. It makes you want to live in harmony with everything around you.  It makes me want to be kinder, more compassionate, more giving, and more accepting.

– How does the road and the mountain complement each other?

The road is where I try to make a living, but the mountains are where my heart and soul live. Essentially, the road is where I work, but the mountains are where I go to rest.

– How do you see yourself in 20 years?

Not much will change. I’ll spend less time working on the roads, and more time resting in the mountains with my family. My beautiful wife and I have two little girls. We will probably have a couple more by then.

I will continue to coach. I love to help people work through their challenges and reach their goals. My goal is to help others learn to love it. On a wall at home I have the words of José Martí. They remind me of the process. “Todo es hermoso y constante, Todo es música y razón, Y todo, como el diamante, Antes que luz es carbón.” (“All is beautiful and right – All is as music and reason – And all, like diamonds, is light -That was coal before its season.”)

The path is a struggle at times, but it is also full of wonder and joy. A balance is needed. To be successful requires hard work. There is pain. There is heat. There is pressure. But if you are willing to work, and allow your body and mind to slowly, consistently adapt and progress, you will become transformed into something new, something great, something powerful, something beautiful.


*Adapted from an interview with David Clavera for Corredordemontana.


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