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Creek Running: Six Elements of Natural Parkour in one
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Creek Running: Six Elements of Natural Parkour in one

“Daddy just one more creek bend, please?”

That’s what my six year old daughter said to me the first time I took her down Whatcom creek. It is also the mantra that has driven me in many of my own adventures.

Have you ever felt that call when hiking along a creek or river, or just a trail in the woods?

There is something about the natural world that awakens our need to explore. It is deeply rewarding to experience new spaces and discover new expressions of the beauty of nature.

As a child my favorite places in the world were Phinney creek and Monk creek.

I spent many spring, summer and fall days hiking up these creeks. Clambering over fallen logs, jumping down sandy bluffs and floating in the current.

These were the happiest days of my childhood and when I discovered I could find rich opportunities for parkour on these rocky creeks, I fell in love.

As much as I love the trees, my favorite place in the world is this park. There is nothing so beautiful to me as spending days at Whatcom; striding, jumping, vaulting, and scrambling over boulders, diving off cliffs and swimming in wild water.

To top it off, the unique challenge of climbing through the waterfall is something I never tire of sharing with students and friends.

The six elements of natural parkour are wood, stone, earth, water, air, and fire.

Creeks are incredible places for finding challenges in all of the elements. Obviously there is water, but also creeks are often amazing places to find boulders, steep slopes and fallen logs or interestingly growing trees.

Before there were trampolines to learn flips on, cliffs over water were the acrobats best friend. Immersing ourselves in the cold rushing water of the creek is the perfect way to challenge our inner fire.

Exploration is an instinct for all animals. Jaak Panksepps work identified that we have a unique neural reward circuitry for exploration. Through exploration we learn about our environment. We learn where resources or dangers may be.  We learn to find the opportunities to hide from predators or surprise prey. Exploration is the root of all developed behavior.

We need to explore to grow and few things are as rich and rewarding to explore as beautiful creek.

In ecology it is a general principle that at edges of different ecozones we find the richest diversity of nature.  On these edges is also where we find the greatest concentration of resources.

Waterways are the ultimate edge zones.

They provide breaks and openings in the forest cover and are often the only place trees can grow in arid environments. Running water will pile up woody debris and expose rocky terrain creating a rich and dynamic environment for animals to take shelter in.

On the banks of waterways we find berries, edible flowers and plant bulbs. There are fish and crustaceans as well as mammals and birds. Rivers, creeks, lakes and ocean shores were crucial resources for hunter foragers. It was only quite recently that we were able to move away from these areas and to this day we retain a deep instinctual attraction to them.

The sight and sound of water tumbling over a rocky creek bed is among the most beautiful in the world. The dappled golden sunlight upon the water. The greens of trees, moss, ferns or rushes. The beautiful shapes the water carves in the rocks. For me there is no place I would rather be when I am here.

Want to come join us and experience the creek run for yourself? Click the link below to join the wait-list for our 2020 retreats. Sales open on the 15th!

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