Trail running, distance running, in some ways all running come out of a human ability that evolved for a reason. Running for long distances over varying surfaces was necessary for food (to track game), for communicating (or spying on those strange people on the mountain next door), and for protection (to outrun predators).
Though I have spurred myself into some speed by imagining I'm being chased, it's frankly a tactic that's hard on the body (and I have this little device my weapons-loving cousin turned me on to, if that kind of protection is really necessary). For communications, we've got those Internets. But tracking game on foot is still an honorable pursuit. I think it's hardwired. That's why I like trying new trails. Even though I'm only looking to spot rectangles of paint on tree trunks and rocks, not spoor or nests, I imagine it's much the same feeling.
We're made to run, to swim, to climb trees, to use our brains and facility for planning in the pursuit of game. We're even made to use weapons to kill game when we're hungry, if we have to.
A bow hunter in a tree aiming for deer is an intelligent wildlife management device, especially when the meat and skin are donated. It's fairly even competition. In fact, I wish there were some way it could be done in the DC city limits, especially with Lyme disease so bad; it's making the deer and other animals suffer because the weak ones aren't being picked off by any kinds of predators anymore, so they live to spread it and breed all kinds of other parasites and viruses, and sooner or later, their weakened immune systems may brew up something that will get other animals, including the human ones, worse than anything we've seen so far. I don't hunt; I live in the city, for god's sake. But it's not evil to kill an animal to thin a herd and to eat. One of the best eco-witches I know of is a former champion bow hunter.
A fat fart hunting with an automatic weapon in a helicopter is just a fat fart with an automatic weapon in a helicopter. It throws off the balance. Too many predators gone, too much game gone, you're as bad off as when you started. No problems solved.
There are some who say that the human animal is entitled to use that big brain in whatever ways we want; who say that the automatic weapon and the helicopter are just natural extensions of the technology of the sling and the bow.
But there's another great facility of our big brains, one we don't use nearly often enough, and I ought to know: It's the ability to know when enough is enough and to make ourselves stop.
Why do I keep looking up David Foster Wallace eulogies in random moments? I never read but some magazine pieces; never was a big fan; I'm too old-fashioned, not smart enough. Because he was a suicide, which carries too many triggers; because he was just my age; because you're not supposed to do that if you're a genius, and fucking big and hot on top of that. But I will stop, because projecting your own crap onto the occasion of death is how ghosts are made. It burdens the spirits, who don't deserve it.
Photo: Marilyn Monroe at Black Rock, rehearsing for The Misfits. Photographer Eve Arnold; I doubt I have permission.