Camping under the Redwoods is an experience unlike any other. God has woven a mystery about His grandeur somewhere in there. Our runs set out from this serene setting to approach the coast again. The hills that we labored over paled in comparison to our new adversary, the wind. Now, I guess I should have paid better attention to the weather forecasts when they showed the larger picture of the United States, the one that has the three long, blue arrows moving swiftly down the backside of our country. Well, Zac and I attest to them, there winds here along the coast that have gusted so strong, they have nearly stopped us mid-stride. With a sustained wind of almost 35 and gusts of up to 45 for the last three days, we felt ourselves pushed to our limit day in and day out. At some points, we decided to head inland and tackle some of the steep ridges and hills of the backroads in an effort to avoid the strong winds.
For those of you who have never had to run against winds like these, I’ll explain the three things that make it so tremendously difficult. First of all, the obvious factor of working extra hard to maintain a steady pace, but even this can prove futile as it feels like two steps forward, one step back. Secondly, the mental factor. It’s cold and can even cause your eyes to tear. Sort of like driving a motorcycle without any eye protection. Lastly, I don’t fully understand how this works, but running into the wind causes you to become dehydrated faster. Battling these factors, I could feel myself become just plain agitated. What we had done and enjoyed for so many days had suddenly become difficult, and frustratingly hard. But God was still looking out for us, and He showed up in a rather awesome way. About 25 miles into our run on the 18th, Zac and I had gone about 16 miles or so without water or fuel. We were hurting. The cold ocean air fighting us every step of the way only added to our frustration and exhaustion. Then, without warning, we saw something that caught us off guard. On the other side of the road, a woman walking with a couple wooden crosses in her hands. Remember, we were miles from any sort of civilization, and we had seen more deer on this stretch than people. Her disposition was cheerful, and she happily greeted us, asking if we were Christians. I guess Christians are the only ones crazy enough to walk/run across entire countries praying for them! Carol Cruise has been walking around the circumference of the United States for several years, putting crosses at every mile mark and praying for the nation.Carol’s story is even more incredible when you take into account that she has a prosthetic leg. We stopped to talk to her just as she was staking mile mark 7,023. Talk about a humbling experience! Her support vehicle even came up and gave us some water. As simple as the reminders like this may be, it never ceases to amaze me God’s understanding of not just our physical needs, but our spiritual needs as well. I was in need of an attitude adjustment more than water, and God provided both in a way that was both loving and humbling.
Our next days brought us farther north, each day proved to be a battle as the wind was unrelenting. Needless to say we slept extremely well each of these nights. Each night a new campsite, and each day a new adventure. Meyers Grade road was just that. Zac and I had pulled off the coast again, in an effort to avoid the whipping Northern California winds. Meyers Grade road starts just like all the other back roads of the area, beautiful rolling hills, lots of curious cattle, and tons of wildlife. Blue Jays and deer populate this lush forest road which cuts across crystal clear streams and descends into valleys so green, you think you may need to have your eyes checked. Our passage through the forest was kind of like the forests in Star Wars, only without the Ewoks. And the best part, no cars! Anyday where we are running on a road and not fearful for our lives or the lives of the people in the cars is an awesome day. This stretch of running brought us all the way to the pleasant community of Gualala! (pronounced wolala)