Fifty miles in the last five days and things were starting to fall apart. I looked close at my New Balance trail shoes and the upper was starting to shred. I was feeling pretty shredded myself.
The dog and I were waiting by the entrance to Crosby Manitou State Park in the gorgeous September sunshine. We had a ridiculous stretch of good weather that week. It was calm and quiet as we waited for Ken Nelson in the Superior Shuttle to come fetch us. Then, a unique event happened. I heard some rustling behind me. Keep in mind it was completely silent. An aspen decided it was time. All of the leaves in this one tree behind me started falling off at once. Not forced by the wind or anything. It was just time, I guess.
Maybe that was a weird omen. Because things kept decaying for me. I started up the hill from the Caribou Falls wayside excited to go see the falls again. Suddenly, we were at the main trail from the spur. I missed the short link to the falls. Oops.
Then I ran into a branch. Right in the face. It’s a good thing I wear sunglasses, even in the shade. I do this to protect my eyes from branches. Good thing. Because I ran headlong into another one. I wondered what I was doing different. I have to look closely where I put my feet, so I look down. But I don’t normally have this kind of trouble. Then I hit a sharp, pointed branch the diameter of my wrist. Right in the right temple. Almost brought me to my knees from a full run. Not good. Felt like somebody rang my bell with a hammer. (I’m writing this six days later and the side of my nugget still hurts.) I’m just glad it wasn’t an inch to the left in my eye.
Then some more foolishness happened. I turned my ankle a couple different times. I turned my left foot so far that I kind of stepped on the ground with the top of my foot. And kept right on going. No pain. No issues. I don’t know whether that means my legs are limber and in shape. Or maybe it just means I’m a mule.
We arrived on some ledges above the Manitou River. Followed along something called Horseshoe Ridge past several more ledges. Views to the southwest along the shore through the flaming oranges and reds of the foliage. So many different awesome views I stopped taking pictures.
We descended down to the Manitou River. Yet another drainage for Leo to take water samples from. The climb out of that gorge to the west was one of the steepest yet. Big rocks and straight up. That’s when my trail run shifts down to a hike and then degrades to a scramble using all four limbs. Like Leo I guess.
We passed the campsites for the state park along the river. Kind of an unusual park in that you can’t just drive in. You need to work for it. Which I approve.
Then Leo and I explored two spurs that had signs advertising “overlook.” So we explored them. The ledges earlier in the day were more impressive, but without signs. That’s the way it is. Things are sold to the public as impressive…simply because they are near the public. There are lots of things that will impress us even more, but we might need to sweat for them a little bit. The trail as metaphor for life.
We stumbled out into the parking lot. The Big Week was over. Made good headway, but I was feeling tired and beat up. I went to the Trestle Inn and gave the dog his early supper in the bed of the truck. I went into the remote snow machine stop for something to eat. It’s built from timbers reclaimed from an old railroad trestle. An adult beverage first. And then…hmmm…a burger sounded good. But a burger called a Trainwreck sounded perfect. Because the name matched my physical state. Burger, bratwurst, bacon, and cheese. I ate it in one bite like a snake. And a dollar from every Trainwreck goes to the Finland Rec Center. So, that’s cool.
The dog and I stopped at the crystal blue waters of Echo Lake as we made our way home. It is right next to the road. It was actually hot out as we looked at the edge of the pond rimmed with color. Leo did his water testing. I gave thanks for my intact eyes and ankles after five straight days of beautiful running weather.
Today’s Data: North Shore Shmo: Leg 27
Donate here to the Wounded Warrior Project: North Shore Shmo!
T-Shirt of the Week:
Another Bangin’ in the Brush shirt. Seemed like a good one for peak foliage. One of my favorite shirts of all time.