Tassajara No Race

This year, I had the great pleasure of participating in the mythical Tassajara No Race. I'd seen people wear the T-Shirts, and I'd asked "So, what's a No Race?" And the answer was "Well, we all start out together, and then everyone goes as far as they want, and then they turn around when they want. Some people run, some people walk. If you get to the top of the ridge, you turn around there or you'll miss lunch."

And that, dear friends, was exactly what it was. It was a celebration of Tassajara, a celebration of the beautiful day, an opportunity to chat, to take in the views, make a few photos. Participants are the Zen Center board and a few of the major donors, and if you happen to be down there working on race day, you can participate (though you have to turn around if you're one of the people responsible for lunch).

Above, the field shortly after the start of the race. A few young people had trained for the event and are actually already out of the picture. But the rest of use walked, slowly or more energetically. I stopped rather frequently for photos.

Isn't the yarrow quite magical right next to the yucca and the dead branches, still left from the wildfire?

And of course I had to stop for this picture of a dead tree, a reminder of the fire. 

And here, the ceanothus resprouting magically. The light was more lovely than a photo can show.

Then I had to stop for a photo of these Chia (Salvia columbariae) plants. Prized by the Native Americans that lived around Tassajara, Chia is a fire follower and grows only for a few years after the fire. The Native Americans periodically set fire to certain areas so they could later harvest the seeds of Chia and other annuals and grasses.

Penstemon centranthifulius (Scarlet bugler), rare in the valley, was abundant as we neared the top of the ridge. 

 The shop crew had taken a truck up the road very early in the day and put up water stations. While noone was standing there handing out the water, and noone yelled a time at you, the water stations were a welcome sight as the day warmed up.

Amazingly, I actually made it all the way to the top of the ridge (4.75 miles) and had to make a difficult decision: Take a ride back down with the truck or walk. Turning around and seeing the amazing views, I decided to walk. It was my day off and even if I missed the ceremony, I'd probably make it back in time for lunch.

Of course I had to stop again for a few photos. Here is Eriophyllum confertifolium (golden yarrow) together with some Indian paintbrush (Castilleja).

Golden yarrow was truly abundant this year, and Mr. Mouse was later able to take this picture of a butterfly enjoying the plentiful pollen.

The views were amazing, but I hesitated to stop too often because I was getting quite hungry and lunch was at 12. But I had to stop for the Yerba Santa, silhouetted against the mountains.

Did I make it back in time for lunch, you ask? Yes, I even made it back in time to get a No Race T-Shirt. For 40 years Tassajara has had the No Race and T-Shirt for each year (with one exception) were hung up in the main courtyard. This year's T-Shirt was praised by many as one of the best.

If you look closely, you will see that the leaves of the water plants say "The No Race 2011". As for the one-liner by Dogen, well, you had to have been there and heard the previous day's talk by Linda...

And now, my invitation is for each of you to start your own tradition. You too can have a No Race. Mr. Mouse and I actually have something quite like that; every year on Christmas or New Years we attempt to hike the Black Mountain Trail. We make it all the way to the top about half the time. But it doesn't matter. It's a No Race, and you can start one as well (T-Shirts optional, but do bring a camera, or maybe a sketchpad).


Sue Langley said…
That chis is lovely...and i very much like the design of the t-shirt. What a nice event, Mouse. I can almost feel the cool air of the morning and those waves of heat you first feel as the suns warms the air.

In order to hike, I call it 'wandering' ...lots of stopping for photos, like you.
Elephant's Eye said…
(The details are different, and we don't have the yucca, but otherwise, you could have been walking up our burnt mountain)

An artistic achievement to make the fish's faces expressive, or are they in conversation ...
What a fun not-a-race! I do something similar here almost weekly on the property, just to see what's growing (sans special shirt of course). I hope I don't need to torch the place to encourage my Chia to keep growing...
It's a good year for Penstemon everywhere it seems!
Randy Emmitt said…
Town Mouse,

Never heard of a no race, sounds pretty darn good to me. Enjoyed all the wildflowers a well. Must have been a fun time too!