Excerpt Four from THE CAVE AND THE SEA, A NOVEL
This portion of the story describes a time when "barefoot" or "minimalist" running (also known as "foxrunning") was a necessity rather than a hobby. Please enjoy the story, and do not miss the reference material at the end!
CHAPTER 93: SAND
Rugged, boulder-strewn territory slowly transformed to rolling hills and sand. Dry washes, whose courses ran down to the river, reflected the evening heat up into their faces. Kele had been correct: the temperatures were warmer in this sandy section of desert.
The three of them did not push the pace until the sun dropped in the west. The path above the river was much smoother and allowed for efficient walking, so they veered westward while the river flowed south. When sundown arrived, they were almost running. The rhythm of their strides lulled them into a form of meditation, effortless gliding in the night air that felt infinitely maintainable.
After several hours, they reached a long, east-west running depression in the sand that was similar to a dry wash but narrower and more defined. “Does this look familiar, Hawk?” Aayoni asked him.
“The desert looks familiar, though in the dark I cannot say with certainty that I have been here before.”
“So this is the Ancient Trail!” Coe said, pointing to the west. “It would be fun to follow it, to find the hidden water sources ... if things were different.”
Kele nodded. “This is it. My Songs become less detailed as we continue to follow the river south. Hopefully Hawk will start to recognize things soon.”
They pressed into the night, stopping at dawn to examine a rare, green oasis of river valley beneath them.
Hawk gazed for a moment then excitedly demanded their attention. “I have seen this before. Much of my journey during captivity is a blur to me, so I cannot say exactly when I saw it or how far we have to go. We are definitely moving in the correct direction, though.”
“We will need to avoid people and their settlements at places like this along the river,” Coe said.
“I agree. At night we will continue to travel above the river in the desert, and we should do fine,” added Kele.
For many sunrises and sunsets they continued on, stopping mostly for water, as sleep felt almost unnecessary; mostly sleep was just something to do to avoid the oppressive afternoon sun. Nighttime temperatures continued to be comfortable, though it seemed that hot summer days here were as permanent as the desert sand.
Kele and Coe each looked forward to the daytime respites that allowed them to talk and discover one another. Often during the nighttime travel they would think of questions for each other to be asked the next day. Hawk kept to himself, though he silently enjoyed watching the growing relationship between his two friends. His thoughts were of Aayoni, wondering about her pregnancy but feeling confident that Coe’s mother and the others could care for her. He had regained much of his muscle tone, though the serious demeanor that he now maintained felt foreign to him.
Suns came and went quickly; the desert and the river ran into infinity. At times, the journey felt dreamlike, as if they were simply observing it as it unfolded for someone else. Their sense of purpose was strong - purpose that delivered subtle happiness even in this desolate land.
Run Like a Child - Dr. John Douillard's outstanding video explanation of foxrunning
Merrell Barefoot Training - Awesome starter and how-to information