Freaks in the woods

Maybe it was the endorphins but it seemed there were a lot of more-than-just-Santa Fe-weird people on the road/trail to the radio towers.

Big Sur shirt

It was still early in the run, on a steep rocky part before the intersection with Big Tesuque. I was nearing the end of a run phase in my run/walk intervals and not going very fast. There was a couple coming down the trail. When they were maybe 10 feet away, I gave my standard “too out of breath to say anything but I’m politely acknowledging your existence” wave. The woman says, “We have the same shirt!” and rips open her jacket like Clark Kent. Of course, I looked and it was the same Big Sur Half Marathon shirt I was wearing. She was rather well endowed so her shirt was quite a bit tighter than mine. Her boyfriend about had a stroke. He looked like a chameleon trying to give her and me the stink-eye at the same time. I said, “Cool!” and sped up a little. It was time to walk but I kept running until I rounded a corner and they were out of sight.

R. Crumb girl

I was heading up on a fairly level part of the road, where the road cut makes a hill to the left and drops off into the canyons on the right — prime aspen viewing territory. A group of four or five people were sitting with their backs to the hill eating lunch. They looked up at me and I said, “Hi”. One girl jumped to her feet, a large hoagie type sandwich in her hand and a big bite of it in her mouth. Still holding the sandwich, she gave me two thumbs up, moving her whole body up and down instead of just her arms. She was big, somewhere past voluptuous, dressed in hiking boots, shorts, and a T-shirt with an open flannel over it. As she gestured, she bounced A LOT, like a walrus trying to get out of a pillow case. She was saying something but with her mouth full of sandwich it came out, “hunh, hunh, hunh”. I swear she sounded just like young Forrest Gump after he heard his mom getting it on. I like encouragement as much as the next guy but this just weirded me out.

Over-equipped hipster guy

The trail is really a road and in general, people treat each tire rut like a lane. There aren’t any real rules other than bikes defer to hikers and everyone defers to horses but it mostly works like a road. I’m pretty high on the mountain, still heading up, hanging to the right, when I see a guy coming down in the “left lane”. The first thing I notice is his hat. It’s a kepi with a neck shade, like the French Foreign Legion used to wear. He has an Andean-style wool cap under it. He has his shell on (it’s mid afternoon and hot), nylon pants, trekking poles, a day pack, and a fanny pack and hydration pack in front. His dress was overkill but if that was all, I might not have remembered the encounter. I’m running really slow and he’s walking slow so we faced each other for a while. Most people, if they’re to the left because it’s less rocky, less rutted, or whatever, will move right when they encounter someone else on the trail. Not this guy. He didn’t just stare at me, he glared at me. He was going to make me move left with the force of his gaze. We got pretty close and he kept staring through his black-frame glasses. He had a black “I can’t grow a beard but I don’t shave either” facial hair thing going on. I don’t know why that bugs me so much. I just think it looks ratty — Michael Landon half-transformed into a teenage werewolf. When we were about a foot apart, I took a jump to the left and a step to the right and we were past each other. I looked back. He didn’t. I guess he was looking ahead to the next battle of wills.


Walking down near the fences at the top of the ski basin, I rounded a corner and saw a couple of people sitting on rocks. One guy with red hair and a denim jacket was sitting with his arms on his thighs, just hanging out. I looked at my watch and started running. He looked up, squinting with a wrinkled forehead and I thought, “Holy fuck! It’s Todd from Breaking Bad”. As I passed, he said in a slow, southern drawl, “Have a nice run”. He had to have that accent. I about shit myself.