N. was out riding with BT, Zoolander, and most of their crew on the last sunny weekday evening before Daylight Saving Time ends. I sent him a text message just after dark.

Me: "Tell the Instigator over there that Grasshopper ran Violet+Orange. Under an hour, gcnemii & bony skull plates intact."

N: "He says the proper name is Violent."

Me: "Violent? Its not the trails fault if he can't stay vertical. Is it bad etiquette to snag me a good beer if there's one left? This run deserves better than PBR."

N: [Dead air. No response.]

Of course, I'm full of it. Violent is a GREAT name for the Violet trail at Shawnee Mission Park. I've put off running it, not sure I was ready for a difficult, technical trail. And I had planned to pamper my legs, just do an easy lope around Orange and then stretch and watch the sunset over the park. But tonight, Orange diverged from Violet in the yellow wood, and I looked down Violet as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth... except there was no undergrowth; these trails are really well maintained. Some people have acid flashbacks; I have Robert Frost. Anyway, I said Why not, I Want The Fun, and off I went.

The Violet trail starts out smooth and gentle and then... rock. Not prim tidy rock, but aggressively jumbled pointy rock. Sneaky chunky rock. Rock without end. Some of it alongside a dropoff (I didn't dare look away from the trail to see how steep it was or what was at the bottom). I don't know if that section has a name but "Death's Door" was what popped into my head at the time. And today the whole thing was smothered in leaves. Since I consider it a good time when I manage to walk across a room without stumbling, it is sheer bluff and bravado to pretend that Violet didn't challenge me, that I didn't run it wide-eyed, or that my ankles didn't have to work to catch me three or four times.

Orange, the easy trail, felt a LOT easier after Violet. But Violet still wasn't as difficult as I'd built it up in my mind to be. And wow, was it fun. It felt twistier than the map showed. And except for one short but explosively rocky stretch, the sections with a little elevation felt like levitating (That's just a good day: levitate, relax, drink some water, try to find the buried trail again). Can't wait to run it from the other direction and deal with those rocks going downhill. After the first quarter mile or so the technical stuff wasn't a worry: because the trail was new to me and almost obliterated under the leaves, I was watching far more closely than I likely will later. That's when I'm more likely to snag a toe and tumble through Death's Door and straight down that hillside.

I have massive respect for anyone who knows how to ride a trail like this on a mountain bike (ZL, I honestly don't get how it's done. A lot of the run was spent thinking What the Hell, Seriously?). Or runs it at a fast pace. And I saw those folks out there today, getting a last weekday sunlit ride or run before tomorrow's rain closes the trail. Everybody looked entirely satisfied. Smiles. Jokes. Greetings. Even the tiny two year old, whose hiker mom was holding her aloft so she could pee beside the trail, gave me a big smile.

Or maybe, again, folks are just amused at the super-obnoxious lime green shirt.

The next time I run this trail I'll be doing it by lamplight. And I'll be making sure to stock my own Fat Tire at home first.

N: [arrives home empty-handed about the time I'm dishing food]

Me: "Hey, did you get my other message?"

N: [checks his phone] "Nope. Huh. Well, we have PBR..." [completely violating his Dammit-Do-It-Yourself-Woman ethos] "Would you like me to pour you a glass of wine?"

From N., this is a ticker-tape parade. And though I'm not sure I've earned it — the first Violet run having been without any dramatic heart-stopping moments and not in a particularly blitzkrieg fashion — buddy, I'll take it.