Unhappy Trails

Yesterday, for my cross-training workout for the week, I did a trail hike/run. The Higdon Intermediate 10K Plan calls for a 60 minute cross-training workout every Saturday, but I’ve been making that a trail day and trying to choose more technical trails so that it doesn’t end up being a real run.

I picked a new trail this week, a section of the Superior Hiking Trail starting at the Martin Rd parking lot and heading out north along the North Shore State Trail, which is mainly a snowmobiling trail. (I would never run it in winter for fear of getting plowed over.) This isn’t a trail review per se, since I didn’t stop/turn around at a traditional spot along the trail. I think I turned around at Prindle Rd.

This portion of the trail was not fun. It was grassy, but not tamped down at all, so at times I was crashing through a barely-forged trail with grass up past my knees on the sides. I sorely wished I’d worn long pants. I also need to invest in some kind of bug repellent post-haste.

I suffered through most of this run, not because it was hard, but because I couldn’t stand the feeling of grass brushing against my legs. I know that’s silly, grass isn’t poisonous, but it made me itch and I kept thinking ticks were going to jump all over me. It was a bit wet and muddy in some spots, though not terribly so, and there were piles of horse crap along the way to dodge.

If the grass was tamped down enough to forge a nice trail, the run would have been pleasant. It was very run-able once I got past my annoyance with the grass. I passed UMD’s new wind turbine and Sustainable Agriculture Project Farm. After I got past the farm, the more open area turned into deciduous forest, with private lands on either side of the trail and many houses visible through the trees.

Despite a few cars in the Martin Rd. parking lot, I didn’t see anyone on the trail, and I suppose I am not surprised. In the opposite direction, the trail is a lot more traversable and more scenic. However, the Martin Rd. lot is the first spot where thru-hikers can jump on the trail and find campsites (though I’m not sure how one would need a campsite just a few miles in), so I would have expected to find evidence of someone else on the trail. (Someone not equine, I mean. I found plenty of evidence of those folks.) The trail would be a heck of a lot better if more people braved the grass and made more of a true path. Right now it’s not even single-track, more like one-third-of-a-track wide through most of the grass.

Maybe I’ll try it again in a month or so and see if it’s improved a bit, when I’m in need of a long run and can travel the whole distance and back or something.

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