Today was a trail running day for me. I run trails once a week with a friend who is also a former high school chemistry teacher. We talk about training, races we have on our calendar, and the joys (Hah!) of getting older, and we tell each other stories from our 60+ combined years of teaching. Talking makes the miles and hours slip by.
Our respective spouses endorse us running trails together. His, because she doesn’t have to picture him lying out on a trail somewhere, injured and alone; mine because it gets him off the hook. My hubby Bill is less enthusiastic about running trails than I am. He loves to zone out on the roads, rather than pick his way around rocks and roots. He also has a strong dislike of getting dirty. He runs trails with me because I love it, but it’s not his favorite thing.
Today was one of those Pennsylvania days where it was so humid, it felt like you could wring a handful of air into a cup and drink it. I had accidentally run twice yesterday. How does one accidentally run twice? I didn’t think I was going to running club last night, so I did hill repeats in the morning, then I did go to running club, and, well, I couldn’t go to running club and not run! The point is, my legs were tired before we began our run this morning.
We decided to run a local trail called the Conestoga. There are many good trails near our small town, and this was one I had never done before. The Conestoga trail is mostly single track, has some road crossings, and is marked with orange blazes.
My friend Al is usually the tour director on these trail runs. I am, ahem, “directionally challenged”, and much less experienced than Al at navigating local trails. We met at a small cut out near a road crossing that serves as a parking lot. Our goal was to run for about an hour.
Almost immediately upon starting, we encountered a big log across our path. It was no problem to climb over the log, however, so we continued. We had not gone far when another tree blocked the trail. We circumnavigated it, and kept running. The trail was sometimes difficult to follow. A few times, we got to a point where it seemed to disappear into the vegetation, but we always found an orange blaze, and kept going.
There were a few times where I questioned (to myself) whether we were still on the trail. We intermittently ran on a primitive gravel road that would appear and disappear as we climbed and descended. I had not seen an orange blaze in a while, but I figured Al knew what he was doing.
As we ran, he told a story about dropping off a car full of runners from our local running club at the same location we started from. Our club has a regular Tuesday evening road fun run. Occasionally, the die hard trail runners will look for a local trail option, and Al volunteered to be their transportation. The idea was for him to drop the runners off and have them follow the Conestoga Trail for about six miles. This would put them within a half mile of our host’s house. They would join up with the road runners for the post-run festivities.
The group of six runners included some very experienced trail runners, so they were not worried about getting lost. As darkness approached, those of us who had returned from our road run began to get concerned. Al, feeling responsible, started to search for the lost runners. He ran on the trail towards the direction the lost runners would be coming. It was now fully dark, so he carried a flashlight. He found no trace of the runners. In desperation, he stopped at a local watering hole next to the firehouse in hopes of finding an off duty fireman. There, sitting at the bar, he found the group of runners. They weren’t lost, just thirsty!
They weren’t lost, but I was becoming more and more convinced we were. Another tree blocked the trail, and we had to actually climb through the downed tree to continue. When we got to the other side of the tree, all semblance of a path disappeared. There was nothing to do, but retrace our steps. Unfortunately, that was easier said than done. There were several places where, on our return trip, the trail branched into two trails indistinguishable from each other. We had a 50% chance of guessing the correct one, and we hadn’t seen an orange blaze in over half an hour.
The trails were very pretty, there was lots of bird life around, and we saw several little toads hopping across our path. I wasn’t worried. This was not really wilderness. It’s tough to get dangerously lost in northern Lancaster County. I was sure we would soon cross a road that we would recognize, and eventually we did.
After a quarter mile jog on the road, we saw a familiar orange blaze, marking the location where the Conestoga Trail crossed the road. Al turned to me, “Finish up on the roads or trail?” “Trails”, I said (of course).
We returned to the parking lot without incident, over two hours after we started. I was tired, scratched, muddy, dripping with sweat and completely satisfied with the morning’s run. I got twice the run I bargained for!
As the great author Unknown said, “It feels good to be lost in the right direction.”
I am linking up with Clean East Fast Feets for her Week in Review. Check it out for some more great reads (including some very yummy recipes!), also linking up with Shank You Very Much for her Dream Team link up and her Global Blogging link up.
Linking up with Coco from Running With Perseverance and Deborah from Confessions of a Mother Runner for their Ultimate Coffee Date. I am linking up with Holly from HoHo Runs and Wendy from Taking the Long Way Home for their Weekly Wrap. Join me there for some fabulous fitness blogs! I am joining Running on Happy, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs for the Coaches’ Corner linkup! I am also linking up with Nicole and Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday.