When I was road running I never encountered one of these strange phenomena. Just as you’re kicking it down a trail, really making fantastic time, you find that some crazy person put a switchback, a 180-degree turn in the middle of the trail, and then to make it even more fun he put a whole series of these crazy turns into the trail. I never realized why these switchbacks were built into a trail until one sloppy, rainy day I missed the trail and ended up bush whacking down a mountainside. Don’t ask me why I thought it was a better idea to try to go straight down than to try to find the trail again. Perhaps it was momentary insanity. As my body slid down the side of the mountain, collecting pounds of mud, I dearly hoped there were no cliffs ahead, it suddenly dawned on me why switchbacks are built into trails. It is a way of slowing you down so that gravity doesn’t pull you straight down the side of the mountain and off a cliff.
Life has switchbacks also, these crazy 180 degree turns intended to slow you down as you plummet down the trails of life. We tend to view these switchbacks as a deterrent to us getting what we want, and we curse the people who put these into our life or are we cursing God?
“Life is not always perfect.
Like a road, it has many bends, ups and downs, but that’s its beauty.”
– Amit Ray, World Peace: The Voice of a Mountain Bird
If we believe only the straight road is beautiful, we will struggle with life. If we venture out into this wonderful adventure knowing there is a reason for the switchbacks, life can be better enjoyed for what it is.
Living an ultra life means that you enjoy the switchbacks, aware they are life-savers.