Blessed By Mountains

Exploring wild and scenic places as a reason to run.

By on August 14, 2013 | 24 comments

I run for many reasons, and have run for many different reasons over the years. But over time, my primary reason for running has evolved such that it is now completely different from what it was several years ago. I always recognized a desire to explore wild and scenic places under my own power, but for many years this was more a result of my running rather than a reason in and of itself to run. In the past few years, though, this has slowly become the primary reason I run. To me there is nothing more exciting than going out for a long run in the wilderness somewhere that I have never run before.

This is the reason I have come to love running in Alaska so much. There are places with more trails, and certainly places with much more runnable trails, but I have not found anywhere with nearly as much true wilderness that one can explore just outside of town or just beyond the end of the road. In seven years exploring the mountains around Juneau, I still have several places in the area that I have never been that are on my list of places to explore. This said, though, I have started to notice that I really need to get creative to go into the mountains and go somewhere new, and somewhere that feels exotic. This summer, I have risen to this need to be creative and have found a whole new world to explore just outside of the immediate Juneau area.

Geoff Roes - explore Alaska

Exploring Alaska. Photo: Geoff Roes

Juneau is on the coast in Southeast Alaska, and anyone who has spent any time here knows that there are dramatic mountains rising up from the sea in every direction. If you’ve traveled to Juneau via boat, you also know that these mountains go on for hundreds of miles in every direction. This summer, I have begun to explore some of the mountains that are only accessible by boat. They’re not all that easy to get to, but the amount of wild-mountain terrain out beyond the road system here is essentially endless. This fact makes me feel like the luckiest runner in the world. Imagine if your favorite trails, or your favorite mountains, simply went on forever if you just kept going further into them. Around here this is essentially what they do.

Geoff Roes - explore Alaska glacier

More Alaska to explore. Photo: Geoff Roes

This past week I got out for my third big mountain outing this summer that is only accessible by boat (and I’ve got one more planned for next week). In doing so, I discovered yet another playground that I could explore for years and not run out of new things to explore. Imagine mountain peaks, ridges, valleys, and glaciers with no trails, no signs of previous human existence, and nothing but more of this same terrain in every direction.

I don’t currently own a boat, but next spring when I move back here to once again live year round, I certainly intend to be on the lookout to buy one.

My recent exploration took place on the lower Chilkat Peninsula. For those of you that have been to Juneau, these are the mountains you can see directly across Lynn Canal north and west of town.

Hopefully all of you have a place in the world that you like to explore on foot that helps you feel as healthy, happy, and alive as these mountains make me feel. If so, go out and immerse yourself in these places as often as possible. It might seem selfish, but in reality you are doing everyone around you a service when you increase your health and your happiness.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Do you ever feel that, like Geoff’s Juneau haunts, your trail playground goes on for almost ever?
  • To get to his most recent outing, Geoff went by boat. Have you ever chosen to put in that extra bit of effort to get somewhere new and different?
Geoff Roes - Juneau

Geoff exploring the ridges above Juneau. Photo: Joe Grant

Geoff Roes
has set numerous ultramarathon course records including the Western States and Wasatch 100 milers. Salomon, Clif, Drymax, Ryders Eyewear, and Atlas Snowshoes all support Geoff's running. You can read more about his running on his blog Fumbling Towards Endurance and join him at his Alaska Mountain Ultrarunning Camps.