I was at a party once. I stood next to a female British maintenance officer. We were both leaning backward on the bar looking out at some women carousing in the Officers Club. The decibel level was high in volume and pitch. She said, “Tell me. Why are American women always shrieking?” I shrugged.
Twenty years later, as I started my run from Crosby Manitou State Park, I wondered the same thing. The shrieking echoed through the woods. Always hard to judge distance. I guessed a quarter mile down the trail. About a mile later, I caught up to the last of the group and said, “Hello!” to her back so I wouldn’t surprise them as they walked the same direction I ran. Leo and I ran past the dozen women. There was a gap of about thirty yards and I came upon another one of the women. She turned around and gasped, “Oh!”
Then, speaking as if I wasn’t there, she said, “Surprised me. I turned around and suddenly, there was a man.”
Naturally I heard this as “There was a MAN.” You know, studly. But, truly, it was more like “There was a man.” As in ewww, disgusting. Anyway, it was a long time before the sound faded behind me.
The rest of the run was filled with little novelties as well. Shortly after encountering the ladies, Leo and I flushed a woodcock. Or timberdoodle, which may be the coolest slang name for a bird ever. First one I’ve flushed since I was a teenager.
We continued through the naked maples, which were very different from the blazing colors a week ago. We eventually found Lilly’s Island in Sonju Lake. A pretty island connected to the land with a boardwalk. It was spitting rain at 40F, but still a fun spot.
I forgot my GPS watch on this run. I started to get it by taking off my regular watch. I got interrupted and now I had neither. So I had no clock, no beeping irritation on my wrist accounting the miles. The run was different because I just ran until something was interesting to look at. I ended up running the 11.8 miles in 2:50, which was faster than most of my runs have been lately.
We went through a cedar swamp. I was concerned that I might see some R.O.U.S.’s. (Reference The Princess Bride movie.) We eventually made it past an old broken down fur trapper’s cabin. We made it to scenic, and quite large, Egge Lake. Still breezy and cold, so we didn’t linger. We also discovered an old bear den. How did I know the nondescript hole in the ground was a bear den? My incredible outdoor experience? No. There was a sign. Leo also found a big burl on one of the trees we passed. He also found several glacial erratics sprinkled through the woods. We heard the sound of freedom above us in Snoopy and even saw some contrails through the scud. “Contrails” are really chemicals used to perform mind control. Everybody knows that.
Somewhere near Egge Lake, on a very easy, flat, generic piece of trail, I went down hard. After I checked that all my limbs worked, I went back to find the culprit. A little pyramid of rock sticking up. Funny how you can run through a boulder field or a swamp filled with roots with no problem. But then on trail that was as easy as a sidewalk, you falldowngoboom. Anyway, it’s always the one you don’t see that gets you.
We met a couple nice older gents. We originally saw them in the take-out parking lot earlier that morning while Leo and I waited for the shuttle. (One guy was in the shuttle. He was going to through-hike the whole SHT in two weeks. He was headed to Otter Lake Road at the far eastern terminus.) These guys had through-hiked the trail when all of the trail was from Castle Danger to the northeast. They said they were revisiting some spots they had seen years before. Naturally, Leo made it weird by dropping a deuce right next to the two guys while we were talking. Awkward.
Anyway, we finished the run by running past about a dozen women who were starting out their backpacking trip from the Finland Community Center parking lot. Strange symmetry.
Today’s Data: No GPS watch, but this leg advertises itself as 11.8 miles.
Consider a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project: North Shore Shmo!
T-Shirt of the Day:
Last fall’s Gobble Gallop in Duluth was momentous. It was the first time Sam beat me in a race. Two miles into the 3.1, I started to string him out a little. See what he had in that no-man’s land about 2/3 through a race. He said, “Slow down.” So I did. Then, with a half mile to go, he recovered and went for it to the finish. I tried as hard as I could, but I couldn’t stay with him. He crowed about how he beat me. I reminded him, I showed mercy at two miles in. He remembered. But then he kicked my ass in the Minnesota Mile this year by almost a minute. I thought I’d have a couple of years of parity before I was done. He went from behind me to way ahead of me. In one year. Dang. (You can see the mud from my dirt sample today in the photo.)