From 10k to Ten Mile

Ten Mile Wash, EveningI thought that I’d have a lot to write about after the weekend memorial for my brother, but it turns out that I don’t. I feel emptied out instead. There are only the details, big and small, that make up a trip. I thought I’d take lots of photos as I made my way through the scenic 10k; I didn’t pause once. And I thought I’d walk at least half of the race, but I didn’t. I ran it straight through.

There were nine of us (plus Ike) who completed the 10k and a support team of three who shuttled cars from the Start to the Finish and who cheered us in as we crossed the finish line and reached for our medals.

Afterwards, there were my brother’s friends waiting for us at Ten Mile Wash to drive us down into the sand and rocks to show us the spaces that meant so much to my brother. It is stark down there. Stark and harsh and bleak but clean, beautiful and heartbreaking.

The first stop was the site where my brother’s dog (Pooper) was buried years ago. Each of us carried a rock to add to her cairn. The second was a hollow, a cathedral interior of swirling red scooped out of bare rock called The Fishbowl (renamed The Chuck Bowl). If it wasn’t before, it certainly is now a sacred site. Something of my brother remains in both places. I felt him very strongly that day and understand him just a little bit better.

Back up above the wash there was food and beer and scotch;  sunset fading into orange and pink as if a blazing fire reached into the sky. There were dirt bikes and trailers, four-wheelers and one porta-potty perched in the bed of a pick-up truck. There were tears and hugs and memories and the persistent gnaw of loss. But the next day, as the fragile light from the morning sun crept along the rocks and as we pulled away from camp, there was relief and calm and a kind of joy.

Little Grand CanyonNear the Finish Line, Buckhorn Wash.

Kel & Ike, Finish LineKel & Ike cross the Finish Line.

Family GroupThe family post-race.

Race Bibs, MedalsMy bib and medal; my brother’s bib and medal.

Ten Mile Wash OverlookOverlooking Ten Mile Wash.

Pooper's GravePooper’s grave site.

From Pooper's GraveLooking out at the Wash from Pooper’s Grave.

The FishbowlInside The Chuck Bowl.

Flowers & AshesDesert flowers and ashes.

The Wash, MorningThe Wash in the morning.


Tire Tread

16 thoughts on “From 10k to Ten Mile

  1. Barb

    The Wash looks beautiful, and I think you described it perfectly. I think this was a really great way to honor and remember your brother.

    And I’m not sure I want to ask, but what happened to poor Pooper that she had to be buried way out in the dessert?

  2. tearoomdelights

    That’s beautiful Annie, what a wonderful place to remember your brother. The sky is so blue and the rocks glow in the sunlight, your photos are stunning. Well done on finishing the race and running all the way, I’m sure your brother helped you to achieve that on the day.

  3. Isobel Morrell

    What a great way to handle it! So inspiring and positive! Hope it’s provided the necessary closure for the time being: it will take time, though. I’m getting there too! Lots of love to you, Kel and Ike

  4. Somer

    It’s everything you described and more. You didn’t need to say much, your photos say it all. You honored him well Annie. I think it’s exactly what he would have wanted.

  5. narf77

    What a beautiful post and what a poignant reminder that we are only here for a while and to live right now. Thank you for sharing your loss and your wonderful photos. I agree…stark, dry and real. You can’t negotiate with the desert…it is…it was…and it will always be much like the emotions that we all have to deal with when people that we love die. I love that pooper is out there too. It’s refreshing to share a strangers honesty. Thank you for this touching post.

      1. narf77

        My mum died this year and next tuesday would have been her birthday. I can feel your grief but after a while it blends into a wonderful sense of continuity. When you lose someone close to you, after the pain you get an incredibly valuable lesson…life goes on, and those precious moments that we get with people that we love come back to us time and time again to make us smile. Whenever you go to that wonderful stark beautiful place you will feel your brothers presence more deeply than when he was alive. I find mum out in my garden and I can hear her telling me what to do when I am building veggie garden beds and wandering around looking at what we still have to do on Serendipity Farm. We should both feel lucky that we had people in our lives that we both miss now that they are gone and that made our lives brighter by their presence.

      2. An Unrefined Vegan

        I’m sorry to hear about your loss. When I think about the time I will be without my mother…it’s just too painful to go there. Anyway, I’m glad you feel her with you and that she still guides you. It must be such a comforting feeling.

        I’m finding that right now I’m thinking about those last sad days with my brother instead of all the good moments together – but I know that as time passes, those hard memories will be replaced by the good ones.

  6. Louise Mackie

    Wow, what an amazing place….. your pictures are incredible. I love the fact your brothers dog was called Pooper – love it 😉 Well done, Annie…. your brother would be stoked I’m sure 🙂

  7. Cauldrons and Cupcakes

    These pictures brought me a real sense of peace – the light on the Wash is stunning. Stirs up similar feelings in me right now of loss and grief and love after burying my friend this week. Hard times, and good – all rolled into this crazy weft and loom of life. Thinking of you, Annie and sending much, much love xoxo


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