A Day in the Life of An Adventure Athlete

By Chris Kostman

Originally published in Fitness Plus Arizona, 1995; Rivendell Reader, Vol.7, November 1996; ULTRA Cycling, Vol.5, No.4, August 1996.

Standing on the corner, daypack on my shoulder. Roads in four directions, which way do I go? Left, right, forward, backward? I choose none of the above, foregoing the obvious, and veer off at a non-right angle in no particular direction. With light dayhikers covering my feet, I head down the path less traveled, destination unknown. Whatever I'll need today is surely in my bag of tricks, packed naturally but carefully after three decades of outdoor adventuring.

Bipedal locomotive options abound: walking, hiking, skipping, running, jogging, tippie-toeing, it's cross-training of every leg-powered, foot-bearing variety as I tread lightly forward. Ever onward and upward I go. And go. Over hill and dale, along streams, I smell the air, gaze at the clouds, sing like the birdies sing. It's a beautiful day and I just breathe it in, blending with the 'scape, engaging in nothing but the moment, which is everything, after all. No better way to start the day.

I spy a fjord and change my togs into speedo, mask, snorkel, and Force Fins to let me swim like a dolphin. I gaze in awe as killer whales carousel some herring. Wanting to get closer, but not touch, I pull out my rebreather so I can stay down for hours on end without letting off bubbles to give my location away. Ah, to be a spectator to such life... I am a seeker of the ephemeral yet transcendent, the ordinary that is so ordinary as to be extraordinary.

Hot sun and light breeze dries me as I mountain bike towards that peak on the horizon. Sweat replaces salt water (eh, but aren't they the same???) as I blend with machine and trail. Luka Bloom in my ears: "I work my legs, I pump my thighs, take in the scenery passing me by..." Wind whooshes through my hair, a rush of senses to my ears, nose, and eyes. My body is calm, not tense, for there is no fear, only appreciation of another pleasant experience.

The air thins as I hug the mountainside, switchbacking my way back and forth, back and forth, towards the summit. Dust turns to mud, mud turns to slop, and slops turns to snow. I trade knobby tyres for snowshoes, making the transition back from pedals to bipedalism and begin my walk on water. Snow is felt, heard, seen, ever-changing like the colors of the rainbow. Temperature drops, my breath like a whistle through my nose. I plod, prance, dance, spiraling upward, destination quite known.

Summit arrives, or is it arrival at the summit? A warm slab of granite in the sun beckons, "come hither, my adventure athlete, soulmate, friend." Skin soaks up sun, solar wind filling my sails. I smile.

Descent follows ascent. I don snowskates and swish-swoosh south, seeking solitude in the snow. My body and mind and spirit and breath and posture and intention all blend and bend, spend and expend, but never end. And so it goes, one more day in the life of an adventure athlete.