I discovered miles and miles of rocky, wet, muddy, root-y, rolling trails Sunday morning just twenty minutes from my house! Can I possibly convey the depth of my joy? Where have I been all these years? Why haven't I been running on these trails every weekend?
Actually, to say I just discovered these trails is a bit of a misnomer. I have known about this stretch of Connecticut's Blue Trail up in North Stonington for a year now. I hiked in a mile or so with the kids last spring after sampling the trail on a short run with Nipmuck Dave just before the Northern Nipmuck trail race last April. But then I never went back.
Mainly because I don't like running on seldom-traveled trails by myself. And there just aren't that many trail runners around here. So when ultra-running veteran Bob Buckingham asked if I'd like to join him for a long jaunt I jumped at the chance. He has been running on these trails for years and knows them well.
We met at 6:30 at the trailhead on Ryder Road, near the intersection of Rtes. 2 and 201 in North Stonington. It was foggy and damp and just starting to get light.
A word about hydration systems: For most of the winter I have been running without water on my long runs. It has been so cold, the water freezes in the bottle before I can drink more than a quarter of it. So rather than tote around a block of ice for hours at a time, I have been carrying money and buying bottled water at convenience stores when I get thirsty. (Which has been rare -- during most runs this winter I drank nothing at all.)
The temperatures Sunday morning were in the high 40's. Finally warm enough to carry water again. Bob had a hand-held bottle of Gatorade and a bladder of water tucked into his Northface pack. I had 40 oz of water distributed into 4 10 oz bottles in my Nathan waist pack. (I tried to download a picture of the waist pack, but no luck. I need to research this a bit. Later.)
This waist pack drives me nuts. While the bottles are full of water, the pack stays down nicely around my hips. But as soon as the water level in the bottles (and hence the weight of the pack) goes down, the whole thing rises off my hips and lodges under my boobs, where it proceeds to bounce and spin like a hula hoop.
I need to look into Camelback-style hydration packs. I would greatly appreciate advice and/or recommendations.
Half an hour into our run, Bob and I descended from a high, rocky lookout to a swampy, emerald green, mossy forest. It was enchanting in the foggy mist. We saw a big beaver pop out of his stick-and-mud condominium and splash into the water. A couple of mallards slid across the wide, shallow pond, and the spring frogs were in full throat.
Half an hour after that, now in the pouring rain, we ascended to another lookout (High Ledges) and saw evidence of bears. I didn't bring the camera because of the rain, but I will next time. A bunch of big trees were stripped of their bark from the ground to six of seven feet up. We didn't linger.
The trail got hillier and rockier at this point, and the rain continued to come down in buckets. The sound of the rain on wet leaves was lovely.
After two hours we came to the intersection with Rte. 49. We were both cold and soaked, so we decided to turn around and head back. Next time we'll cross 49 and go further.
The run back was great. We walked the hills and ran the flats, chatted sometimes, and stayed quiet sometimes, listening to the rain.
I am unspeakably thrilled to have found these trails and a willing partner to run them with me. Thanks, Bob! It was a great day.