Trail Running or Ruining

HikeItForward-Final-MediumTwo weeks ago when I was hiking the path, a trail run (Frosty 14) was held at Caesar Creek. Standing alongside the racecourse I could see that the runners where tearing up the trail significantly. Hiking on that same trail just a couple of days ago, I was impressed (with almost every step I took) with the impact that the run had on the path itself. Please understand, I am not against trail running in anyway – in fact, I think running the paths of the MetroPark would be a great way to stay in shape, enjoy the woods and breathe some wonderful fresh air. But, I would question the wisdom of holding a major trail run in the winter/early spring when the trail is so vulnerable, wet and muddy. The event might present a nice challenge to the runners but it is the trail that is the biggest loser.

Trail Run MudIn the morning when I started my hike, the temperatures were just below freezing so the trail was still quite hard. The ruts and deep footprints left by the runners were like uneven rocks scattered along the way. Each step resulted in a twist or turn of the ankle and an instability to the bottom of my feet. Some sections of the path were great while others were treacherous and difficult. I knew if the temperatures rose to the promised forecast, the trail would turn quite muddy by the afternoon. The forecast was accurate…. and I was right as well. During the last three hours (when fatigue began to yell at my legs and grab my feet), the miles were sluggish, slow going, slippery, and sloppy. My mind began to generate some negative thoughts, not against the trail runners, but with the organizers of the event. I have not hiked enough to know if the trail will adjust and heal itself or if the damage is more permanent. I hope that the path is resilient during the next few weeks and that I will see a great recovery.

I know this blog has been a bit negative but I have come to appreciate and respect the path a great deal. I want others to enjoy the trail in all its beauty. I special “thank you” goes out to the many volunteers that care for and maintain the wonderful local trails!

Categories: Caesar Creek, Hiking, Local Hikes, Trail | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Trail Running or Ruining

  1. Be prepared to see some definite human impacts on your thru hike. Beyond the few thousand who attempt the entire length the AT is very popular with all sorts of hikers and backpackers. The organizations and volunteers who maintain the trails work very hard to mitigate the effect of all of those feet but many places, especially the steep sections, are badly eroded. As you noted on your hike it can add difficulty and danger to every step as well as make a person a little sad to see. Good that you are noticing this though. That means you are not just walking through the woods but actually looking where you are going. Very valuable skill for someone intended to go for a long walk 🙂

    • Lone Stranger –
      I always enjoy your comments – they come from the log of experience and the love for hiking. When I hit those ruts on the A.T. I will try to remind myself of the many brave thru-hikers who have gone before me. I will be placing my feet in the footprints of American history.

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