Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snowmobile trails are a winter runners friend...

especially when we have received a foot of snow in the past week and the single-track trails aren't packed down yet.

I live about a mile from the eastern terminus of the Duluth Cross City West Trail and run on it regularly. Today as I contemplated where, and when, to run Mr. Wildknits offered to drop me off at a trailhead (he knows how much I like point to point courses). With a little checking on line I determined that starting at Magney-Snively would result in about a 10 mile run, so we had a destination!

It has been pretty warm lately and the snow is fairly soft so there was a possibility that this run would be more of a slog. Fortunately if it got too bad there were plenty of road crossings that would allow me to bail and take the paved route home.

We arrived at Magney-Snively and it turned out that the snowmobile and cross-country ski trails shared the access route for a short bit. Up the hill I headed and off towards home. The woods surrounding the trail are lovely, and full of small hills. This trail took me into an area of the park I have never been in before and I had a nice time looking around as I ran.
Looking back down one of the hills.

At Skyline Blvd, looking west/back.

Spirit Mountain ski area is off to one side and I would cross an
overflow parking lot just to the left on my way down the hill.

It was as I ran along the trail in the overflow lot (set on top of the plowed up snow) that my left leg broke through and I went down - up past my knee! Thankfully the snow is pretty soft and no real harm was done.

From here it was all down hill, though not before one of the switchbacks brought me within spitting distance of the ski hills' terrain park. Soon I was passing the infamous 131 steps on the Superior Hiking Trail. Can you see them in the following picture?

SHT's 131 steps

Running downhill on a cushion of snow is FUN! The snow was flying off my shoes and I am sure I had a silly grin on my face. Despite my best efforts to warn some dog walkers I think I gave them a bit of a scare as I passed by just before reaching the base of the hill. From here the trail is flat for quite awhile(along an abandoned rail road), before another descent towards the Zoo, and then back onto another abandoned railroad grade.
A long straight stretch of trail. If you click on the picture to enlarge it you can see the
freeway overpass and my ultimate goal at the top of the hill off in the distance.
(Enger Tower is barely visible and I live just this side of it. Seems a long way off, doesn't it?)

The run started around 1100 feet or so and this railroad grade was near lake level - about 625 feet. By the time I finished the run I would have climbed back towards 1200 feet and then descended again to about 900 or so. Yup - hill training; with the added bonus of a soft surface for an extra bit of resistance.
Passing under the freeway

Climbing back up the hill. This railroad trestle is tagged with the neighboring streets name.
The SHT also passes under this trestle just a few hundred feet to the east (right).

Looking back down the trail from the road crossing at Skyline Blvd.
Somewhere near 500 feet of climbing in the past 1/2 - 3/4 miles.

Sign post at the road crossing

Once I arrived at the top of the hill, it was off to the east... and more hills!

I encountered a few snowmobilers while out and they were all very gracious about sharing their trail. Once reaching the trails terminus it was onto the roads (and down the hill) for a little over a mile to reach my neighborhood. The route map can be viewed here.

OKC (Obligatory Knitting Content)

I finished my only Christmas knitting project - a pair of socks - just in time to gift them Christmas morning. That left me free to finish up a baby sweater that has been languishing this past month. And now, I have nothing on my needles (What's that you say? What about those lace curtains?!).

I did download a pattern for some toe-up toe socks. I am thinking about giving them a try as I know a few folks that run in Vibrams and, if the pattern is reasonable, this seems like a good gift idea. Now to get a proper foot tracing....

I also have 5 skeins of a lovely alpaca waiting for the perfect pattern as well as some sock yarn that is insisting it would make a nice shawl if I would only give it a chance.

Link to pictures from todays (12/31) run on some of the same trails as detailed above. It was a bit slicker and wetter than last week. Yesterday it was raining - hard. Today temperatures were in the high teens to low 20's.

The shawl was cast on the other day and is well on its way towards completion.


Jean said...

Awesome, Lisa! I love the shot with Enger Tower in the distance. Those look like fantastic winter running trails. Very cool!

I was laughing today on my run, as they have not plowed my local park trails since the snow over Christmas. The only thing that made them passable was the fact that a snowmobile had driven over the trail to pack it down. Everyone's footprints were following the snowmobile tracks! :)

wildknits said...

Jean - the trails were a blast, though I realized that I really dislike flat, straight sections where you can see forever. I guess I am a child of the woods!

Yes - snowmobiles are our friends - at least when it comes to packing down trails!

Glad someone has been out in your neighborhood - don't want to be running indoors all winter.

Wayne said...

Enger Tower is ALWAYS a long ways off... :)

wildknits said...

Wayne, what is with that anyway???