Essential Holiday Gifts & Stocking Stuffers Every Runner Will Love

Sometimes it’s difficult to chose the right gift for the barefoot adventurer in your life. There’s a trick to buying presents that make your mom and dad smile, letting them know that you love and care for them. And then there are the essentials: the best outdoor gear that your athletic barefoot endurance brothers and sisters  just can’t go without. Here are a few choice Amazon items for the active person in your life, perfect for last-minute gifts.

Waist pack belt for SmartPhones with Waterproof, Sweat Proof Lightweight Case

Waterproof SmartPhone Case for Endurance Athletes
Waterproof Smart Phone Case for Endurance Athletes

On my long run days, when I’m miles and miles from home on slender country roads slick with icy rainwater, I always feel better knowing that I have access to my phone.

Sturdy PolyCarbonate Multi-tool Phone Case for SmartPhones

Multi Tool Case for iPhone 6/6s
Turn your smart phone into a Swiss Army Knife.

Sometimes my sandal-lace snaps, ripping the toe-strap from the sole of the shoe whenever I  kick a rock or trip over an unseen root on the trail. When I finally stop shouting curses to the empty sky, I usually have to break out my car keys to reinsert the strap into the sandal before I seal it back in place with duct tape–yes I always run with duct tape in my camel back. Car keys work, but it’s always nice to have some tools on hand when you’re all alone in deep dark forest. This tough case, made of sturdy poly-carbonate, upgrades your smartphone into a Swiss Army knife. The tools are securely ” hidden” in the case, but easily removed, and the blades are TSA compliant!

Body Glide Anti-Chafe Balm

Body Glide Ultra Running Anti Chaffe lotion
Body Glide Ultra Running Anti Chafe balm

This stuff is magic. Prevents and treats chaffing, especially on the most sensitive part of your chest: the nipple. Easier to apply than olive oil or petroleum jelly. Don’t toss the container in the bin because you can use it to hold home-made, all natural deodorant– a recipe I will cover in an upcoming post.

 Medal & Buckle Hangers for Endurance Athletes

Medal Hanger for Endurance Athletes
Medal Hanger for Endurance Athletes

This is a great gift because it highlights the achievements of the past while inspiring your runner for the goals of the future. Without my medal hanger, I don’t think I’d be running the Hagg Lake Mud 50k this February. Whenever I don’t feel like getting out of my warm cozy bed and onto the wet, icy wind, I look at my medal hanger, then put on my huaraches and hit the streets.

Reflextive Vest

Reflective Vest for RUnners
Reflective Vest for Runners

Don’t let your best friend become another Elizabeth Jaeger, the woman who was given a citation after a car slammed into her hip  during her morning run. Give them the gift if safety. Be safe. Be Seen!

Sweatproof bluetooth headphones

Bluetooth Headphones for Barefoot Runners
Bluetooth Headphones for Barefoot Runners

A study at Brunel Unversity’s School of Sports Education reveals that listening to music while running boosts endurance by 15%!!!

 

Pepper Spray

Pepper Spray for Barefoot Runners
Pepper Spray for Barefoot Runners

Not a every pit-bull is puppy at heart. Some beasts are just downright ferocious. Dogs are pack animals by nature, programmed to chase anything that runs. Most of the time they just yap at your heels, but every once in a while they bite. Pepper spray is humane way to protect yourself without causing lasting damage to the mutt.

 

 

Born Again And Again

It is 1991, the start of my Born Again Jesus is Risen Christian Phase at Skate Church in sunny California. I am meeting MJ for the first time. The church auditorium smells like popcorn; it’s full of half pipes, a live hardcore Christian music band, and skaters. Craig, the only pastor who resembles a pastor and not a skater, is introducing me to MJ. MJ just gave his life to Christ. I shake MJ’s hand. Before I let go, I notice that the veins on MJ’s skeletal arms are pocked with raised brown mounds of flesh. His cheeks are hollow. I can the see the strings of muscle ripple when grinds his teeth. But when I gaze into his eyes, I see a warm and friendly soul.

After a few weeks at rehab, I am watching MJ get baptized in the main auditorium. He is with Hope and Charity, two teenagers who came to Christ the same night as MJ. They are wearing white robes. When each emerges from the holy waters radiant and smiling, I believe. Yes, I believe! Jesus loves! Jesus heals! Jesus saves! Jesus is Lord of All!!!

It is a month after his baptism, our fellowship of Christian skateboarders drives over the hill to Sea Bright Beach in Santa Cruz. We roast hotdogs, drink soda, and talk about Christ. We are seated around a huge pillar of fire that is heating the entire west coast. Everyone around the fire is laughing. I spot MJ, he is away from us, sitting on a rock near the bathrooms. He is starring at the sand, his head bent low. I think I know why he is so depressed. The engine of his beat-up BMW was clanking and sputtering on the drive to the beach. I walk over to MJ. He says he’s worried about his car. I tell him that I will stay right behind him on the drive home in case anything happens.

The steep road curls. We are almost at the summit. A toxic black fog rushes over my windshield. It’s coming from MJ’s car. I flash my lights. MJ pulls over. He lifts the hood of the battered BMW, as soon as the hood click opens, flames jump out. They almost catch MJ’s sleeves on fire. He slams the hood shut and checks for burns. That’s when I notice the fresh needle tracks on MJ’s arms.

I drive MJ home in my dirty green 1970 mercury cougar with the white vinyl top. I should take better care of such a classic car. But I don’t. I talk to MJ about skateboarding. He gives me one word answers. His knees rapidly knock up and down. I try to steer the conversation to the ever loving forgiveness of Jesus Christ. But MJ chides me with silence. After I drop off MJ, I pray for his soul.

The next few weeks, I don’t see MJ at skate church. I am not surprised. Hope tells me that MJ is a “backslidden Christian”. He fell back into drugs. We hold hands and pray for MJ’s soul. Hope even speaks in tongues.

Our Christian fellowship prays for lost souls. Craig says, “There is power in unity.”

About a month later MJ returns to church. He wants to get baptized again. He gets baptized again and again and again.

Gradually the fellowship chips apart. Some move away. Some some attend seminary. Some quit church altogether. One by one, we each shoot off in our own direction. Unity breaks.

It’s well over two decades later. I have just finished a long run. I am stretching. My wife opens the front door. She has something to show me. She has to go upstairs to get it. I sit on the floor. She brings me a picture of MJ. She took it just before his first baptism at skate-church. MJ is wearing a white robe. His smile is warm and friendly. He is radiant. “Remember MJ?” she says. The memories wash over me. Before she finishes speaking, I already know what she will say.

Rest in Peace MJ.

How to Wear Shoes & Not Be a Dumb-Fuck Hick

The fight happened early in the morning New Years Day, 2012. It was, clear, cold, and windy. Patches of frost powdered the shaded parts of the road. A few strips of shiny ice painted the rough black asphalt. My Achilles were aching a bit; so, I decided to cut my run a little short. I went down a street on my shorter route, the route I haven’t taken since summer.

Like most other barefoot runners, I ran in the middle of the empty street.

When I heard a car drive beside me, I edged over to opposite side of the road to let the vehicle pass. The driver slowed his rig, unrolled his window and shouted, “You alright!?”

I said, “Yeah, I’m great!”

He said, “Because you’re running barefoot in the middle of the street.”

“I know,” I said, “it feels fantastic.”

He said, “I mean you’re running barefoot in the middle of the road!”

I said, “I know. You said that. I’m not blocking your way. Drive on!”

He pulled over into a driveway a few houses ahead of me. He got out of his car and stood by the door, waiting for me to pass. When I was half way down the block, I heard him shout, “Yeah, you better keep running barefooter!”

I freaking lost it, my adrenaline was already pumping from pounding the icy concrete and my endorphin level was cranked up because it was the last leg of my run. I sprinted over to his car, shoved him, and said “What the Fuck! Keep running!? I run where the Fuck I want! How the Fuck I want! And when the Fuck I want! I wasn’t blocking your Fucken way. And if I was, you can drive the Fuck around!”

That scared the shit out of him. His tone changed.

“I was just concerned,” he said, “It’s cold and you’re running barefoot in the middle of the road. I just wanted to make sure you were alright.”

Then, even though I didn’t need to, I decided to state the obvious: the road is warmer in the middle of the street, there are fewer shards of glass, nails, metal scraps, pebbles, etc. in the middle of the street, and the pavement is generally smoother in the middle of the street. That dose of sensible logic relaxed him a bit. It’s NOT freaking rocket science, anyone with a brain bigger than a walnut could have figured it out.

Then I offered my hand in friendship, which, to his credit, he shook. He apologized for yelling at me. I decided to stop saying Fuck and be nice for a change; so I said, “It’s fine. We’re men. Sometimes shouting at each other is how we talk.”

I completely understand his point of view; he sees some guy running barefoot in the middle of street New Years morning. Maybe he thought I was high or something. That’s really stupid conclusion because I don’t know of any drug that would cause a person to suit up in running attire to go for a barefoot run at eight in the morning. I mean a barefoot running pill would kick the asses of other pharmaceuticals.

Jump from Sandy, OR to San Jose, California.  When I ran barefoot in Willow Glen, I did get a few quizzical stares, but no one said anything negative. The expressions conveyed puzzlement rather than objection. It wasn’t as if my being barefoot was like spitting chewed up walnuts in their faces. The few Californians who did speak to me while I ran barefoot said things like, “Right on Brother!” or “You’re hardcore!” or “That’s cool!”

This verbal fight wasn’t the first time I’ve had to deal with idiots saying stupid shit in Sandy.

In fact, I wasn’t going to post this because most of my neighbors are cool–they affectionately call me “the barefoot guy”.

Dear MINORITY of Dumb Fuck Hicks who live in Sandy,

When you see me running without shoes, grow a brain, pretend you’re from California, and just say, “Right on Brother!” or keep your Fucking mouth shut!

Barefoot at the Airport

English: Concourse D at Portland International...
Image via Wikipedia

Whilst traveling to California, I had the divine pleasure of making my way through the ever so tender and caring arms of airport security. At PDX, the line was 45 minutes long and the security guard in charge of the thing wore a wrinkled uniform that forced his ample belly to pop over his belt. Also, the man needed a proper shave for he had missed some stubble below his chin. And his left shoe was untied. But the worst thing about this guy was his directions, he said, “There’s a shorter line this way” then he motioned toward the left of the packed line I was in. I and some other people in my line headed in the direction he pointed. It lead to a “Do not enter, Restricted area.” When I cut back in line, the guard tried to get me to move to the end.
I said, “You told us the line was shorter there, but that’s a restricted area.”
He stammered, “Oh, I uh, meant the line over there,” then he pointed in the opposite direction.
He said, “Sorry, but you have to go the end of the line, sir.”
I freaking hate it when people apologize for giving me orders, polishing with sir! It makes me want kick ’em in the teeth. I looked at the people who let me cut back in line and said, “Do you mind my staying here? Security gave me bad directions and my plane leaves in 15 minutes.” They said they didn’t mind. So I turned from the guard and staid put, luckily the slovenly guard didn’t push the issue. He went on trying to control the line.

At the security check point, like the rest of the flock, I was forced to remove my shoes. That happily freed my  feet. I don’t wear shoes much and when I do, never

The sunset silhouettes a FedEx plane and the B...
Image via Wikipedia

with socks. My bare feet, of course, brought some glares. The expression on persnickety elderly woman’s face made me want to laugh; it looked as if someone had dripped warm maple syrup down her spine. I shot her a winning smile and wink. I was surprised when she returned the smile. I decided to leave my shoes off for a while. I love my black converse, but they still give me blisters. It felt good to be barefoot in PDX. Walking without shoes makes the world feel bigger, plus it’s easier to soak up the energy of a place and PDX has a funky energy. A few minutes later, I spotted security headed my way. I promptly sat my ass down and put my shoes  back on.

At SJ airport, I wasn’t the only person with bare-feet. The guy in front of me didn’t wear socks either. Of course, at SJ, I had endure a full body scan. During the scan I remembered that I had forgotten to remove a packet of eye drops in my LEFT pocket. “OH, Sh%#!”, I thought with my hands behind my head–firing squad style–while the scanner whirred me from head to toes. Sure enough after the scan, a guard approached, “Sir, follow me. Do you have anything in your RIGHT pocket?”
I said, “Not that I know of.” He padded my right pocket. Nothing. He looked to person manning the body scanner and said, “He’s clean.”
“Have a nice flight, sir.”
When I was well out of view, I reached into my LEFT pocket and administered my eye drop. They were in my pocket the whole time.

What do I think airports can do to improve travel? Let’s see. I think they’ve got humiliating innocent men, women, and children at security check-points down; they could, however, probably hire security guards that know how to shave themselves and give proper directions, and it wouldn’t hurt if the person running the body scanner knew his left from right.

Fly safe, fly bare.

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The Incident at the Golden Gate Bridge

While in the Golden State, I  tweeted my shoeless adventures in real time, but since I don’t have anywhere near as many followers on Twitter as I do visitors for this Website, I thought I’d explore the incident that occurred during my barefoot stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge.

I got the idea to walk the world famous suspension bridge from my dad. He twisted his knee lifting a ladder.

Barefoot View of the Golden gate Bridge Heading Toward SF

He’s not supposed to be climbing ladders to fix second story windows; he’s almost 80. But my dad is almost as stubborn as I am. When I told him I was going to San Francisco, he told me that walking across the Golden Gate Bridge was on his bucket list. I thought to myself, “That’s a damn good idea”.

So the next day, I headed out to the City by the Bay. When I got to the Bridge,  clouds fell from the sky, covering the place with a saline haze. But I knew they were no match for California sun. After finding a secret parking spot, I walked past the construction crews with my trusty black converse (excellent minimalist shoes–no heel or arch support). Why with shoes? There was a cop nearby; I didn’t want to get hassled.

At the entrance, I got a few stares as I stuffed my black converse into my backpack. But no one said a thing. Some people didn’t even notice. The pathway was smooth and surprisingly warm. A few carts blasted past me in the bike line honking their horns.

Pedestrain man wearing suit, shoes, and hat with little girl with hair in a bun
Golden Gate Bridge Foot Traffic Pedestrian Sign

The pedstrian signs painted on the bridge were a hoot. They have a have man wearing a suit and hat with a little girl whose hair is in a bun.

 

The manic energy of the place flooded my spirit. I skipped the first few steps onto the bridge. The fog was still thick. I couldn’t see more than a few feet ahead of me. Traffic blasted near the rail. The close range of the automotive missiles unsettled me. My fate, it seemed, belonged to complete strangers. I favored the ocean side of the bridge–the side that forces person to look down.

When I arrived at the center, thrill of panic fired through me. It was the sensation one gets when automatic writing. There’s a loss of control as something other than yourself moves your body. I gave into the trance state.

Near the spot I where I climbed the rail
Barefoot on the Golden Gate Bridge

I felt myself climb the tiny rail facing the ocean. My eyes gazed downward. No one tried to stop me. There are signs posted everywhere that the bridge is under surveillance, but no secret bridge police appeared and not a single passerby said a thing. An Asian couple stopped, but they just gawked at me. I just stood there on the rail as every jumper has done.  I stared at the vicious ocean below. An unforgiving floating shard of glass, the jagged crests sharp, the boulders of water packed solid.  It would have been so easy to lean forward just a touch more to drop into the ferocious sea. But as I stood there barefoot in the middle of the Golden Gate perched on the steel beast, a burst of joy overcame me and I laughed loud and hysterically. Effortlessly, I leaned backward and floated down to the side with the white silhouette of the hatted man wearing a suit and holding the hand of the little girl with her hair in a bun. My feet landed softy on the pavement. I walked the rest of the way smiling as the sun evaporated the fog.

Golden Gate from the Presido
Golden Gate Bridge

 

“My arms are flung across the deep,
Into the clouds my towers soar,
And where the waters never sleep,
I guard the California shore. ”

Joseph P. Strauss, Chief Engineer, Golden Gate Bridge

 

 

Some Interesting facts about the Golden Gate:

  • Eleven men died building the bridge.
  • The bridge was conceived by a poet.
  • The Golden Gate is NOT Golden or Red; it’s orange vermilion aka “International Orange.” Here’s the recipe: PMS code is 173; the CMYK colors are: C (Cyan): 0%, M (Magenta): 69%, Y (Yellow): 100%, K (Black): 6%.
  • The Golden Gate is 1.7 miles long.
  • The Bridge is constantly being painted. In fact, they’re hiring painters.

 

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Barefooting is Hot and Sexy

For decades, I was afraid to get naked in public. I had learned to despise my human form. I had succumbed to years of guilt and shame about my body, it’s needs, and what I really want.  Guilt is a self-manufactured feeling. It means that I’m hiding my REAL desires from others because I don’t think they will understand or accept them. It usually spirals into depression or self loathing and a general sense of dissatisfaction with life. I spent my life like that for far too many years. I shut myself inside my house and clung to my routines, seeking a “safe and quiet life.” That’s fine for some things, but not 24/7. After all the freaking years, I see the light.

Barefooting in public has opened me. It’s sensual, it’s somewhat daring, and, yes, it’s literally a step closer to full on nudity. I’m NOT a streaker, I’m NOT flasher, I’m not even a nudist–maybe I am.

Yesterday at Ano Nuevo State Park in the warm California sunshine on a deserted stretch of beach, I flung my shirt off, pulled down my pants, stripped off my boxers and ran headlong into the ocean surf. The first wave baptized with freezing salt water, next one knocked me down, the third, I dove beneath.

When I raised my head from the pounding surf,  I felt ALIVE, AWAKE, WHOLE, and JOYFUL. I was NOT ashamed to be nude in public–not really “public”–no one was around. I am NOT ashamed of myself any longer. I am who I am. I will be who I will be. If others don’t like it, they can use the tight fabric prisons around their feet to walk away. Best of all, the awakening has given me the impetus to overcome fear and it has super-charged my libido! I haven’t’ felt this good in a long time.

Speaking of libido, I think, deep down, many women find barefooters secretly sexy. We are, after all, a little daring; we’re indepedent thinkers; not satistfied with status quo; most of us don’t accept what we’re told; we’re very open minded and like to test the world against our personal experience.  But back to the sexiness, in San Francisco when couples headed toward me, I noticed this scenario: Guy looks at my barefeet, then looks a way; his girlfriend looks at my barefeet, scans me up and down. Direct eye contact. A smile, sometimes followed by a blush.

I am thrilled to the core that I decided to take the shoes not just off of my feet but also off my mind. I’m nude and I love it.

 

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Why I run: Wing Tipped Shoes with the Divots

 

Wing Tipped Shoes with the Divots
Grandpa's Black Leather Brogues

After my grandpa’s funeral, I trudged into the backroom were he passed away. I took off my dark blazer, white shirt, tie, and slacks and replaced them with blue shorts and white t-shirt. (My parent’s house was full; so I had to stay in the one room every one else wanted to avoid.)

I ran five miles that day. It was clear and sunny as is the case in California most of the year. My heart felt dead and heavy like tarnished lead. My neck slumped me toward the ground, my arms barely swung by my side; for the first few miles, I was miserable.

But around mile four, a presence overcame me.  And I imagined Grandpa Perez as a teenager. His hair was freshly cut, short, thick, full, and lampblack; his figure tawny the color of bronze. He wore dark brown polyester shorts that were too tight, a bright white shirt (also way too tight), and, of course, his world famous black leather brogues. The shoes made me chuckle.  I wonder if they ever left his feet. I suspect he may even have been buried in them. They had divots around the stitches, which, for some unspeakable reason, I associate with carpentry–the trade that brought him to California and which supported my young father until he was old enough to enlist in the Airforce. They were “nice shoes”: the kind I imagine an old world cobbler repairing with delight.

Even though my grandpa seemed sort of ridiculous in that outfit, his bones were no longer brittle as chalk, his skin was no longer like buzzard’s chin spattered with tan shoe polish, and his lungs no longer gurgled with each terrible gasping breath. For the last mile, my grandpa was young, strong, and full of life again. For the last mile, my grandpa was a runner, like me.

Rest in Peace Grandpa.

 

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Running with Ghosts

The Ghost of Maria Marten, who was murdered in...
Image via Wikipedia

A few months ago I wrote about one of my many forest ghost encounters.

But I found an equally frightening one when I was clearing the boxes of old books from my closet.  While reaching for a box, an old journal I used to keep when I lived in Santa Cruz, CA tumbled down from the shelf. It popped open onto an entry I tried to forget. The penciling was faint on brittle pages, but the memory of the encounter was vivid and sharp.

“It happened around dusk along the narrow trails at Fall Creek.  My run took a little longer than I anticipated. Started too late. It was getting dark fast.  I remember hearing the wisps of air flowing in and out of my lungs, the drips of water gliding over the stones, the chirps of birds flitting from the limb to limb, and the creepy low groans of the redwoods bending in the wind. I think that’s how they speak to each other.

Up to that point, it was a great autumn run. The temperature was perfect, there weren’t any bugs or hikers on the trail. I felt really good, happy to be alive. But then something wasn’t right.  A bolt of fear shot through my chest.  It drained me; I felt empty, alone, and afraid. An image took over my minds eye: a latino man in overalls was running away. He was bleeding from a board to head or something; he was caked in pale, grey dust. I felt his panic. He was frantic. Trying to escape.  It was strange. I felt like my mind was being controlled, the images were being inserted into it. I had no choice but to look. When I closed my eyes the vision was brighter, when I kept them open, I could see normally, but the images were still there, simultaneous. I could see them and the trail, but they were separate.

Suddenly, I heard someone, someone REAL, running toward me on the trial.  I watched in terror as the bushes onto the trail spread open and the man who was in mind burst from them. He charged toward me, but didn’t seem to recognize of perceive me;  I jumped off of the trail to let him pass. As he ran, he kept turning his head to see behind himself. Soon, I knew why. Two men also in overalls and covered in the same pale dust were chasing him. They were thick, burly, men with strong jaws and crooked noses. One had a heavy bludgeon of some sort, the other a hammer. They too didn’t seem to notice me as ran past me. My heart was blasting, but I decided to run in their direction anyway. As soon as made it around the corner, I saw the two larger men standing over the latino. His head was was a mess of gore and bone. The two men just stood over him satisfied, there bloodies tools swinging gently back and forth. I said, “Hey! Hey!” But they remained where they were. I came closer, “Hey!, Hey!” I yelled. As they turned, piece by piece each one slowly merged into the scenery. The dark stains in their overalls became the weird shadows of leaves, mangled head resolved into the red moss and mud, the filthy hair became pine needles.

I sprinted the rest of the way to my car. Just as I got to my car the light was gone; the forest was black. It was good to be off the trail; those weren’t the only spirits lurking is the darkness. ;0)

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Ghosts of Santa Cruz

The Haunted Coast.

They say the California Central Coast is full of ghosts, that with the mists, clouds, and fog the sea brings apparitions. You never feel quite alone near the sea, especially when the hazy light fades.

I’ve felt the touch of spirits, good and bad. The good, on one of my trial runs at UCSC. It was mid day but a type of fog the natives call “pogonip” covered the sun. It filled the forest with cool drizzle. The damp charged the scent of eucalyptus and bay leaf. As I emerged from the tree covered path and entered the meadow, a burst of sun beams broke through the fog; they shined through the hole in the clouds above me. It was as if a window to heaven had opened up. I was stunned; I stopped running and just looked up in amazement at the mysterious portal. A rush of warm air blasted down. It smelled of fresh roses, strawberries, and mint. With the scent came an overcoming thrill of joy. I laughed. When I came to my senses, the portal had closed. I inhaled deeply, then continued my run. From that point onward, I had the distinct sense that someone watching over me. It was a little discomforting at first because it was so pronounced and lasted for weeks. I felt self-conscious taking showers, going to restroom, and doing other personal things. Either I got used to feeling or it went away.

A few days later, a daydreaming mother of three side swiped my Corolla. After the impact, I stepped from my car to find out if the woman who hit me was OK. She and her children were fine. I returned to my vehicle to retrieve my insurance information. Just before reaching into my glove compartment, I felt a presence tugging on my shoulder, urging me to step away from the car. I looked at the road, but it was clear. Nevertheless, the pressure to get off of the road overcame me. I left the insurance information in the car and walked to the curb. As soon as I got to the curb a huge SUV zoomed around the corner and slammed into my car, completely wrecking it.

The other supernatural encounter I had at UCSC was not so positive. It was downright frightening. And I hope it never happens again. It was about a week before the angel came to me. I was hiking across the street from family student housing. It’s an “off limits” hidden trail. The hike started out pleasant enough. I crossed a dilapidated bridge, then spied an inviting side trail. It was narrow had clovers and wild strawberries on the sides. Soon the vegetation gave way to looming redwoods, which darkened the path considerably. As I followed the trail, a growing sense of dread emerged. It got to point where I was in a panic, almost overcome with terror. I felt as I would lose my mind if stepped further, as if some malicious presence would take control. My hair raised, my heart raced. An alarm was triggered in me; it told me told me run, to get the hell out of there ASAP! But when I tried to run, I couldn’t. I was frozen in place. I tried to yell, but my voice didn’t work. Then I heard a branch snap near a ring of huge, ominous Redwoods. I know no one else was on that trial. Whatever had snapped the twig wasn’t human or animal. I knew I could not be alone with it. But I couldn’t move and I knew it was approaching. I forced myself to imagine a peregrine falcon (my totem animal) flying overhead. The grip of terror broke. I bolted off the trail and ran home.

A few days later, I decided to run an experiment, I took someone else with me to the same area, determined not to venture as far this time. I did not tell her what had happened to me the last time I went there. Sure enough, the person I was with had the same alarm signals go off. She turned to me and said, “This place is evil. We need to go.”

These are the places of power, some good, some evil. Their energy cannot be denied. Tread barefoot, it’s easier tell which is which.

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