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nevitably, outdoor pursuits lead to performance considerations. In my case, the more rewarding my playtime becomes, the more likely I am to dream about enhancing it. If hiking to Holland Falls is fun, wouldn’t hiking to Holland Peak be even better? But the next question quickly follows: “How much adventure can I really handle?” Brent Ruby at the University of Montana Center for Work, Physiology and Exercise Metabolism has dedicated his professional life to answering that inquiry for all of us. In a search for the essence of pain and physical limitation, Headwall writer Dan Brooks goes deep inside Ruby’s lab (not to mention his own body). Ruby’s less interested in the psychology of suffering than the physiological factors, but in Brooks’ lively profile, it’s Ruby’s fervid mindset that really deserves study. With a kinetic sense of enthusiasm, Ruby chases data points from the frontiers of exhaustion to determine how we might go faster, farther and safer. Offwidth climbing superstar Pamela Shanti Pack has her own passionate interest in pushing the limit. As profiled by Michael Moore, Pack reveals her peculiar devotion to suffering and fear. Her

willingness to submit to discomfort sets her apart even in a hardcore crowd. But she still has physical limitations dictated by pain, which only make her achievements all the more remarkable. Dave Reuss comes to Headwall with a performance envelope more familiar to the rest of us, and his attempt at The Rut, a tough trail run at Big Sky, sheds light on the odd appeal of physical distress. Reuss discovers that it feels really good when it’s over. Headwall rounds out its summer features with Greg Thomas’ encomium on wadefishing. The advantages, he argues, are manifold, but all entail the risk of an unplanned swim. Nevertheless, if you want intimacy, if you want detail, and if you want overlooked fish in hidden water, you’ve got to leave the comfort of a boat and get your legs wet. I’d venture to say that’s where the deepest pleasure lies, toward the middle of the river, where dark, heavy water collides against itself, and where we remain gamely holding our ground, seeking something elusive that does the same. Matt Gibson Editor-in-chief

Cathrine L. Walters


Montana Headwall