PC: Gabe Joyes, Lander, WY
I’m not ready to admit it, but the seasons are changing. I noticed the blackberries are no longer fruiting. The evening turns to night sooner than I expect, or want. The leaves outside my office window have given in to the warmer colors that remind me of Fall. I’m reaching into a bin (my closet is five plastic totes with clothing organized by use and season) that I haven’t touched in a couple of months – the one with fuzzy fleece and cozy cotton.
As much as I resist letting summer fade, I appreciate how beautiful Fall is in the Pacific NW. I’m a huge fan of the light that comes in sideways for the better part of the day as the sun no longer passes directly overhead, the vibrancy of the changing colors on even better display. The mosses that cling to the trees, rocks and everything really, have come alive with the recent rains adding innumerable shades of green to the color palette. The air is clear and our local mountain, Mt Baker, holds her strong presence just a bit northeast of town. I’m also a fan of the cooler evenings, which mean a better sleep in the van. Flannel sheets, a beanie and a cold nose make for my ideal REM.
Seasons shifting mean a bit of prep living in the van. With limited space, out go the board shorts and sun dresses and in come the jeans, wool socks and mittens. Bringing back the USB electric blanket and flannel sheets and double checking that the finicky heater will fire up.
"There is no bad weather, only bad gear"
Things also change for trail runs. With rain pinging on the roof it is much more enticing to stay cozy dry and not have to fuss with changing or more so the clean up after. I have caught myself procrastinating with the silliest things (like vacuuming the 4’x 6’ rug with my dust buster) hoping the rhythm of the rain will slow. But eventually my need for miles wins. Staying inside is not me, I am more alive and fulfilled after getting in a run, no matter the weather. So therefore, gear becomes essential when the weather is less than sunny and 70. The layers now have sleeves and sometimes legs and there are definitely more of them (layers.)
"We can endure a lot more than we think with the power between our ears and the right layers on our bodies."
A piece of clothing that doesn’t change is my socks. I’ve been wearing the Lily Trotter calf length socks all summer, and the knee highs on longer runs. A decade ago I only wore compression for recovery. I was a hard convert to wearing compression during training. But Lily Trotters played into my perfect winter running kit for the first time back in 2018 training for the Gaoligong 165 km in China. After seeing and feeling the recovery benefits of wearing their socks during those long runs I have converted to wearing them more during training and haven’t needed them for recovery as frequently. Added bonus, peeling off the knee-high socks my calves and ankles are less muddy as the socks collected that for me.
The trick to living in a van and trail running with a dog is to not let the mess in. Easier typed than executed. When I get back to the van, especially after muddy runs, I try to clean us up using a foot pump sprayer and towels on both PD and I. I do a lot of laundry. I learned last year it takes impossibly long to dry out the van when the air is humid and rain is falling, so better to not bring the mud or wet in. Thank goodness for the awning.
It’s a gift to live, essentially, outside and feel more in tune with the changing seasons; to get to see the stars when I walk to the bathroom, to know what layers I need because I access my closet from outside. And while life is a bit easier with shorts and sun, I definitely appreciate the variety of seasons in the Pacific NW… and pumpkin spice everything. That is definitely a sign of F600all.