Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday's Run/Walk/Hike Adventure

In my madness yesterday I decided to run/walk home from work....a 16 K commitment...from my workplace in the City to my home in the Village. (JD dropped me off at my work on the way to his work so I could get a few things done before the week officially started.)

Not only that, I decided to stop at the grocery store about a third of the way into my run to pick up a package of turkey Italian sausage to add to the Tuscan White Bean soup I had simmering away in the crock pot at home. Oh yeah, and I also picked up a Nivea for Men chapstick for my beloved, who is complaining of dry lips (what with all of his outdoorsy apprentice golf-pro-ing duties and all).

So picture this - a chunky, middle-aged woman jogging along the side of the country road in the blazing heat and sun, clutching her eco-friendly shopping bag (green in principle but black in reality). She is running too fast because she wants to get her raw meat home before it spoils...yeah, and did I mention this woman went to university and majored in MICROBIOLOGY, especially that of FOOD. Brilliant idea, that.


She crosses the S River (the one that runs into the Village) at about the 8K mark (thank you, Garmin) and spies a sign that reads "S River Trail". Looks lovely, shady, cool, inviting. She goes for it! Leaves the dusty country road and decides to follow the river home to the Village, on a trail she's heard of but never been on before. Not exactly dressed for the trail - shorts and a t-shirt, but at least she's got her newish Asics trail runners on.

At first it was great. Our gal is loving this - the trail is indeed beautiful and cool, though she can tell it is barely used. Many branches and even whole trees lie across the narrow trail and the foliage is pretty dense. So she can't run at all - too dangerous - but she walks along quite briskly and is delighted with herself for taking this route, away from the hot asphalt and the speeding SUVs. She spies a great blue heron fishing in the river, as well as another dove-grey waterbird she has never seen before. Where is her camera when she needs it?!?!

At some points the trail is almost completely overgrown and our heroine is scanning the trees for blazes, feeling very adventurous indeed. She notices that she is really quite alone out here in the "wilds" between the City and the Village and wonders if there are any "wild things" about that might be attracted to her little package of raw meat. She remembers reading in the newspapers of a black bear sighting in the county a couple of years ago. She decides, if challenged by anything, she will throw the sausages in its general direction (after retrieving the brand new chapstick from the bag first of course) and run like hell. Yeah, that would be the plan. She continues on, still loving the trail and ruing her lack of camera.

She passes through some open areas where the weeds are quite high. She finds out that some of the weeds she has passed through (which looked naggingly familiar) are indeed, stinging nettle. She feels a little like Indiana Jones when she says to herself "Stinging Nettle. Why does it always have to be stinging nettle?!"

Her legs are getting scratched up, and the stinging, but that's OK. She's having the time of her life and wonders why she doesn't get out like this more often. She passes a large marsh, thick with bull rushes taller than herself and majestic skeletons of dead trees rising above them. Who knew all this beauty was right in her own backyard?

Then she loses the trail in a damp meadow and decides to break her own trail through the waist high grasses over to a patch of forest, away from the river. Woohoo! She is only a few feet into the woods when she catches sight of a reddish-orange blaze. Back on the trail! There is a beautiful little brook babbling away in these woods and someone has created a makeshift bridge across it. More blazes - fantastic. This part of the trail is like something out of C.S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew. Our heroine thinks of the Wood between Worlds, where the toffee tree grew from a candy that fell out of someone's pocket. She thinks, just for a moment, about dropping a Werther's Original from her waist pack into the dark soil of the woods.

And that's when things get yucky. It gets muddier and muddier and finally our gal loses a shoe to the black stuff. OK - fun's over. Time to get the heck out of Dodge. She wrestles her beloved trail runner out of the sucking mud, slaps it back onto her now soaking foot (oh, her brand new running socks - ruined!!!!) and sees what looks to be a field or clearing up a slight hill. She carefully makes her way up to what she hopes is drier soil. But not carefully enough, as her other shoe slides toe-first and tongue-deep into the black stinking goo just as she is steps away from what she can now see as a soybean field. Just peachy!

She makes it onto the tractor trail of the soy field and realizes she is near the Townline Road that is the outer boundary of the Village. And begins following this trail along the edge of the field, stopping just once, to try a soybean, fresh from the pod. Hmmm...not bad.

More beauty - great clumps of Batchelor's Buttons, snapdragons, goldenrod. The low brush she is walking through is doing a commendable job of scraping the mud off of the shoes. Life is looking good again. She emerges from the field onto someone's driveway. Some people are partying in the back of a dilapidated house which is melded onto a barn. The home/barn owner, half in the bag, comes out to see the wild, scratched, mud and seed covered being clutching a little black shopping bag who has emerged from the field. "He made you walk, did he?" he offers in greeting. "Just walking home from the City by way of the S River Trail" she replies. This startles the party animal, who shouts back to his friends "She says she WALKED from the City!!!" A few more pleasantries are exchanged, and our fearless female gets onto the road and walks/runs the last few K back home.

Three and a half hours after she started her adventure, she leaves her disgusting shoes and socks outside her front door, puts the still OK (she hopes) sausage into the crockpot with the bubbling soup and heads into the bathroom for a much needed shower.

What ever shall I do to top this next week?

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