I’ve been itching to do some trail running lately. I don’t know if it’s the summer time weather or the Olympics or just needing a change of scenery, but it’s been in the back of my mind to set out on my own in the wilderness (even just for a few miles). I have to preface this account with the fact that you shouldn’t go in the woods alone, even in populated areas, and, depending on where you are, bring pepper spray or a cell phone or tell someone where you going at the very least. If you plan on doing any sort of trail running, WATCH YOUR STEP! Twisted ankles and a face full of dirt suck.
My first “real” experience running in the woods was about two years ago at Glacier National Park in northern Montana. Obviously, I had been hiking before this, I had been running before this, and I’m sure the two activities had overlapped a few times, but this was the first time I remember making the conscious decision that we were going to run the 3 or so miles back to camp. The whole situation was ill-advised to begin with as it was getting dark, we had no lights and there were allegedly bears about. Hence the panicky running home. I was also wearing jeans, which are good for nothing outdoorsy except maybe horseback riding. It was scary, but it was fun. This is a far cry from the types of trail running I do these days, but I still like to have that same kind of exciting, primal energy going on.
Keeping this feeling in mind I set out this week for Baird Creek in Green Bay, WI, to do some much needed communing with nature. Baird Creek is a nature preserve/park/disc golf course/tubing hill/ dang cool place to spend an afternoon. I haven’t been to this magical place in a few years, but did at one point live directly in in front of the main sledding hill area. I could look out my back window and see people having outside funs at all hours. Like most parks it is also a great place for teenagers to drink beer and I don’t blame them (really good, secluded location for that kind of debauchery), but I don’t like seeing trash in the woods. Sad times. Aside from that I had a blast.
The day was a bit rainy but I snuck out a two-hour window to strap on my old hiking shoes and hit the dirt/mud. This park has a great variety of hills and little streams and semi-flat areas to keep things interesting as well as a mix of traditional dirt, paved and single track trails. I love the single track stuff for running, but am always wary of running into mountain bikers. Not because they aren’t nice or considerate on the trail or anything, but because I don’t want to be in their way. To be honest, this has never happened in real life, so I don’t know why it would be an issue. If anyone know the proper etiquette for this type of situation please let me know! It really didn’t cross my mind that the rain part of the day would equal mud and I got pretty sloppy by the end of the four miles I ended up doing. I also got kind of lost in the woods when I took a scramble up a bike trail and wandered around for about a half hour before I found a path again. All in all, I had a great time. Sadly, this particular park is a good 45-minute drive from my current home base, so it’s not really practical to do on a more than weekly basis, but I could definitely see it being a good weekend adventure. Most large parks have hiking trails and, by default, running trails. So get outside, bring a buddy and watch your step. Enjoy some summer while it lasts, kids!