“Don’t follow the path. Go where there is no path and begin the trail. When you start a new trail equipped with courage, strength, and conviction, the only thing that can stop you is you!” – Ruby Bridges
My husband Bill and I went for a trail run this morning.
Just north of our house is a state game lands crisscrossed by some pretty remote trails (by Lancaster County standards) we thought to explore.
We started from a parking lot just off the Horseshoe Trail and set off down some sweet doubletrack.
We had mapped our potential run the night before and, looking at the elevation profile, saw that 85% of the run would be a gradual downhill. The final half-mile would be a steep climb up sketchy singletrack to get back to our car.
The total run was to be 4.5 miles. (Cue Gilligan’s Island theme here…”A three-hour tour. A three-hour tour“)
When we got to the turnoff to return to the singletrack, Bill asked me if I wanted to take a longer loop. Turning right, rather than left would add a few miles onto our run.
Of course, I said “Yes.” We had been running downhill and I felt great.
The longer version of our run included lots of uphills, which I was not prepared for but the scenery was gorgeous. We found some vernal ponds filled with frog eggs and heard Rufous-sided towhees scratching in the leaves and calling from the underbrush. The trees and bushes were alive with pale green buds.
After running for a long time and not seeing any landmarks that looked familiar, we began to get worried. We had not eaten breakfast before our run, nor did we carry any water.
We finally saw a couple walking their dog on the trail, the first people we had encountered in over an hour. By coincidence, I had their daughters in class when I taught in the local high school.
We asked them (socially distancing, of course) where the heck we were. As it turned out, we were just over the rise from the landmark we had been searching for.
Unfortunately, when we got to the landmark, a clear-cut under a power line, we could not find the singletrack that would take us back to our car.
We began climbing the mountain in the clearcut. Before we got very far, we realized “clearcut” was a very inappropriate name for the area under the power line.
The “cut” was anything but “clear” and our legs were scratched and bleeding from passing through thorn bushes.
We noticed the woods were relatively clear of underbrush this early in the spring, and ducked into the trees to climb the steep side of the mountain, pausing every few hundred yards to put our hands on our knees, puffing to catch our breath.
Finally, we saw the parking lot with our car and gratefully stumbled out of the woods and into the front seat.
I don’t know if that is what Ruby Bridges had in mind when she said, “Go where there is no path and begin the trail,” and I think we may have left our “courage, strength, and conviction” at home with our water but we did have quite an adventure!
And then we went home and had breakfast.
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