I recently read…”Life is a privilege, but to live life to its fullest…that is a choice.”
This past weekend, Mark and I made a trip home to Shreveport, where we both grew up. I truly marvel that I was once acclimated to the humidity of the South. Humidity and heat notwithstanding, we wanted to run on some trails, so we went to the local running store, Sportspectrum, to find out where the trails were. We were directed to “The Monkey Trail” at Eddie D. Jones Park in Keithville (about 30 minutes from town), so named because it runs around Chimp Haven, a convalescent home for retired chimpanzees.
Trying to beat the heat, we got to the trail around 645 am and set out on our run. The trails were awesome – muggy and buggy, but relatively dry even with the recent flooding in the area. Running on single-track trails under dense tree cover, we felt like we were in a rain forest. We even heard the monkeys screaming through the trees – it sounded like we were in the jungle.
Dancing our way over roots, rocks, and rolling up and down hills, Mark swore we we going uphill the entire time. He kept saying, “Sure will be nice on the way back when we can run downhill.” We decided to go 2 loops out and back in opposite directions from the trailhead in order to come back to the car to refill our water bottles in between the two 5-mile loops.
While ther were a couple of close calls on roots (which I dubbed “ankle breakers), the first loop was relatively easy and tons of fun. The second loop – running the trail counterclockwise – proved to be both more interesting and more adventurous. From the start of the second loop the trail was a little more rugged and, we noticed, a bit muddier (not muddy enough that our running would damage the trail). And there were a few more uphills and steep drop-offs.
I was running behind Mark – we’d run about a mile – when I nearly stepped on a 4-foot long black snake lying beside the path. Mark hadn’t even seen it! I wanted to get a closer look at it, so I called for Mark to stop. It looked dead because it wasn’t moving, so I got a little closer and threw a stick at it. It still didn’t move. Comfortable that it was dead, we decided that we would take a picture of it with my cell phone on our return trip. So with the adrenaline pumping, we continued on our run. Mark told me to watch out for more snakes, but I reminded him that not only did we need to watch the path for snakes, but also that they often hung out in the trees. This was getting more and more fun! (Not so sure Mark thought so after my snake comment)
On our way back as we were approaching the snake site, I dug my cell phone out of my fuel belt to get a photo. We had discussed maybe not revealing to anyone we showed the picture to that the snake was dead. We would seem so much braver if we had gotten a photo of a live snake. But we didn’t have to worry about our “story” – when we got back to the snake site, he was gone. He WAS alive after all. How cool is that?
We finished our 10-mile run and headed back to the car feeling sweaty, hot, and exhilarated. What a day – we had such a great experience on the beautifully peaceful trils of northwest Louisiana.
Our lives are shaped by choices. We make the choices, then our choices make us. Life is a privilege. To live life to its fullest – that is a choice. Running those trails that particular day was a great choice.