notes from a creative writing PhD candidate
“In the High Country is an impressionistic mountain running film: a visual essay about a life in the mountains. It looks at running from a new perspective, both visually and in the style of running. This kind of movement blurs the lines between running and climbing, between human and mountain.
One way to learn our place in the world is through millions of accumulated steps: on gravel roads, glacial creeks, and over high mountain summits. Each stride imprints the terrain more deeply in the mind. The importance of any specific event falls away in the face of an ever-building accumulation of understanding.
In the High Country is the result of a year-long collaboration between filmmaker Joel Wolpert and mountain-runner Anton Krupicka. The film follows Krupicka’s evolution in running from his roots in Niobrara, Nebraska, to the Roost, his pickup truck home, and the miles in between; from itinerant shenanigans to speed soloing on the Flatirons.”
—In the High Country description on Vimeo (rent the film –$10 for a 6-month rental–here)
You don’t have to be an ultrarunner–or even a runner–to enjoy this film. I can’t fathom running more than 13 miles, never mind 100, but runners like Jenn Shelton, Sage Canaday and Anton Krupicka make it look not only easy, but as if they’re having the best time ever. Krupicka bounds fluidly from rock to rock and scrambles up Rocky Mountain scree with a calm and determined look on his face. Both feet are completely beaten up–black (or missing) toenails, duct tape wrapped around hotspots as blister prevention (good idea, actually), even large, open cracks in the skin. His face is weathered, and so are his hands–he looks, iconically, like a true mountain man. Or mountain goat.
Completing a marathon has been a goal of mine since I began running in 2012, at the age of 26. When I see someone as passionate, driven and happy as Krupicka, though, I wonder–could I do 30? 50? 100? Is the Leadville 100 in my future? Should I move to Colorado? Am I too old? Watching In the High Country nearly made me give up my teaching job, trade in my hatchback for an old truck, and move out west to go climb and run big mountains–it’s that inspiring. But I’m almost 28 now, and wonder if something like that will ever be a possibility. I teach Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild in my undergraduate English courses and am excited to occasionally hear the impassioned rants of my students against whatever it may be that they’re rebelling against–college, rules, societal norms. Krupicka reminds me of a kinder, gentler, more grounded and wizened Chris McCandless (who also lived on the road, loved to read, and was passionate about running long distances). I enjoyed seeing various aspects of Krupicka’s life, from his parents’ small home on a farm in Nebraska to The Roost, the truck he lives in while on the road. Heck, he’s got a copy of Ulysses on his car’s dashboard–so cool. He seems like a pretty awesome guy; I hope to meet him one day.
My only complaint about the thirty-minute In the High Country documentary film: it didn’t last long enough.
Check out Anton (Tony) Krupicka’s awesome running and travel blog, with awesome photos, here.