Depending on how you count the miles ;->
The original plan was to do a long run on the Superior Hiking Trail. I pulled out my map, plotted a run, added up the mileage and realized that I would need to modify the original plan.
I had thought about starting out in Jay Cooke State Park and running to my house. Once I did the math I realized that was a 24.5 mile run. Too far (for now). Lopped off the first section - 4.2 miles, added on a spur trail and came up with the run for today - Fond du Lac (a neighborhood in Duluth) to my house. Total mileage for this section would be 20.9 miles. A bit over the plan, but I knew I could lop off a bit by running roads home in the neighborhood vs staying on the trail to my house.
Enlisted the help of my daughter (in trade for letting her have my car today) to drop me off at the starting point and started tracking down water carrying options. I am leery about leaving water at road crossings - will it still be there when I come through? The quickest driving route to Fond du Lac is no where near the trail, so it was inconvenient to stash water also. I got out the Camelback, filled it full of ice cubes and water (32+ ozs), got out the waist belt and another water bottle, filled that up, loaded the pockets with Cliff Shot Blocks, small amount of tp, and my cell phone and headed out.
As we drove along 35 we passed a sign that listed the temperature as 72 degrees (9:30 am). Hmm - guess I am getting my heat training in. Made me wonder if I had enough water along though.
The Fond du Lac neighborhood is located along the St. Louis River near Jay Cooke State Park. My house is near the ridge line. The run started by heading up the old Mission Creek trail for 0.5 miles until it crossed the SHT. Then it was up some more onto a ridge where the trail levels off. Saw yellow lady slippers here. The starflowers are out in profusion, large-flowered trillium are still blooming, and I saw a couple purple clematis also. The trail eventually drops down to Sargent Creek and crosses this incredible bridge. You have to see it. Very cool - and all the components were carried in by hand!
From there it is onto the Munger Trail for 0.4 miles (flat and paved). This is where I ran into a porcupine. I started chatting at it as soon as I saw it and by the time I drew abreast of it, it had turned back into the woods, but was displaying a nice set of quills for me to see. Once you turn off of the Munger it is about a half mile climb up Ely's Peak. This is a local climbing hot spot and the trail, in some spots, could be a rated climb! Once you are up, it is a rolling run until you climb to a crossing with Skyline Parkway. It was in this stretch that I saw a pine marten. The trail was flat and pretty clear of rocks so I was able to look around. That was how I caught movement ahead on the trail. The great thing about pine martens' is their curiosity. It was as interested in checking me out as I was in checking it out. We had a nice visit and then I headed off. After crossing Skyline the first time you get to the Magney-Snively section and more yellow lady slippers. This secion has some nice old growth forest and is a pleasure to run. It was warm enough that by the time I hit the white pines the needles on the ground were emitting a nice scent.
Skyline Parkway traverses the City of Duluth following an old beach line (Glacial Lake Duluth). It is near the ridgeline also, so when you are on Skyline you are pretty much at the top of the hill in Duluth. The section from Magney-Snively to Spirit Mountain goes from near the top of the hill to the bottom and then back up again. This was also the first section where the soils were really wet. There is a spot here that never seems to dry out and it was slow going as the mud was slick as grease. Never knew which way your foot might slide. Fun times!
From the base of the ski hill to Highland and Getchell is another up and down section. I ran this last Tuesday after hiking it with a group from Harbor City International School. It features a lot of steps, crossing under railroad tracks on a bed of taconite pellets and having to climb over a road barrier to get to the next section. I was starting to worry about how much water I had left at this point and was feeling the hills I had climbed.
The section from Highland and Getchell to my house is an old favorite of mine, though I usually skip the uphill climb from the trailhead. Not today. At least 0.5 miles of uphill on a very rocky trail along Keene Creek. Then some more climbing after crossing Skyline and heading into Brewer Park. Running the flats and downhills was still feeling pretty good, but uphills were hurting. I started thinking about my options for getting home. No ride was available so it was a matter of deciding how long I was going to stay on the trails. While running along the ridge above Haines Road I spied some.... dang, could name them while running, now can't remember their name. Pink and yellow, member of the poppy family....maybe a foot tall, prefers rocky places up here.... pale corydalis!
Down a steep hill to Haines and across and up into the Piedmont hills. And this is where I took my last sips of water. Now, I have run this section plenty of times without water - on shorter runs. Not today. Between my tired legs and the water issue I decided to bail out at the access trail down to the big overlook on Skyline. 19 miles. Cut off a couple of big climbs and a long downhill on the trail. Walked along Skyline towards home. Mostly flat, other than the four block downhill section and then the climb up my 36 steps.
The mosqitoes were pretty fierce in a few sections. Ticks were not too bad. Took one off during the run (Ely's Peak) and three at home - they were hiding in my shoes.
So, next weekend I think a shorter run is in order. As much as I would love to avoid steep hills, it is good training for the Half Voyageur, so may do a similar run.
Finished the baby surprise, just need to sew up the seams. Looks like a good fit for my nephew Zander and my sister likes the color. The first baby surprise I made for him fit for about 1 day :->
I have been working a bit of the bobble-cable hat, may finish the band one of these days.
Bird mittens?! Now I have a deadline. Sarah is moving to Montana in August so I either need to get them done before then or save them as a Christmas gift ;->