Running Through The Desert With PATH projects
By Katrina Zawojski --- In late May, I agreed to join my filmmaker and ultra runner friend, Billy Yang, on a quick jaunt to Joshua Tree National Park. All I knew was that the founders and friends of an emerging running apparel company, PATH projects, would be there conducting a lifestyle shoot and they needed another able body. I’m no distance runner by any stretch of the imagination (I considered the 400M a marathon during my formative track & field years), yet my sprinter calves can still stop a grown man in his tracks. So I thought, why not? And despite my bias towards the prickly cacti and these coordinates in general, based purely on what I imagined my reaction to such a setting would be, I like the idea of experiencing new places. So I climbed up into Billy’s herculean Nissan Xterra and we sped off towards a point on the map called Ryan Campground.
Up until this weekend, Joshua Park had always been a foreign land to me. In my mind, the land of dryness, sweat, dust, sun, dirt, chapped lips and headaches, and rock formations. It wasn’t until closer examination that I begun to see the life that existed here. Life in the form of leaping lizards, early morning jackrabbits, dancing shadows, and cacti flowers bursting with a vibrant spectrum of colors that tasted of summer smoothies.
Over the course of the weekend, our group participated in the kind of rituals that you would expect to see at every campsite (coffee and eggs, beers in lounge chairs, s’mores by moonlight) in addition to some atypical activities—mainly driving to have a sit-down dinner at a local Thai food restaurant. Oh, and our numerous wardrobe changes. We were here to test out the gear and capture it on film, after all. And boy did we look the part. Not only because we had the hats and shirts and shorts and even bandanas to outfit our look, but we were all athletes. We all loved to explore new terrain—be it cityscape or mountainscape—on foot.
The most challenging (yet rewarding) part of my trip was waking up before sunrise to go trail running. I was actually nervous because I knew my companions were speed monsters, even participating in 100 miler races. Would I be able to keep up? Thankfully, my long stride helped me stay with the pack, that and having an inner competitiveness (or is it stubbornness?) that I just couldn’t ignore. We glided through the desert wilderness, bounded between boulder fields, and halted whenever the photographers found locales that they wanted to capture. I catch my breath. We take turns running for about 50 yard bursts then loop back and do it all over again. I wonder if I’m giving the lens too much attention, or too little. More switchbacks, more sun peeking from behind the mountains, and another long stretch of desert. I notice that my PATH hat is still fitting snugly and comfortably on my head and it’s about time to shed a layer of clothing. I also notice that this run is a cakewalk for Billy and the rest of them. Although I’m keeping up, I’m thankful for each restful break. I place my hands on my hips. My stomach is just beginning to digest my banana.
As it turns out, this place has quite the personality. The dusty, natural tones and vast open skies create quite the backdrop for our photoshoot, whether we’re miles out from a trailhead, converging on a historic adobe structure, or gnawing on Rx Bars back at camp. There was no reason for us to bring any props. The beauty was already here.