Two 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.
In 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!