Sometimes the best runs are unplanned. I had an unexpected early day in Muskogee, and had a few hours to kill--so I drove north and east to see if a faint road that led to a hidden gate showed anything interesting.
The well maintained gravel road I drove to get here was squishy, and the first half mile or so of my journey down this route was not quite shoe-sucking mud, but I was glad I was wearing my Gortex Asolos.
Old dead trees were plentiful. In this place, trees lay peacefully after they fall. They become a home for a raccoon or possum, and food for beetles, and other burrowing insects.
I saw several deer. I'd round a curve and 5-6 of them would flee, leaping and bounding, flashing bushy white tails as they mover a several yards up the road, where they waited for me only to repeat the show. Were I not on a mission to see how far this road went, I would have crept up with camera in hand to get a picture. That just never happened--maybe next time.
Eventually, the double-track/jeep road turned into the woods and began a gentle climb. The mud was not as bad. I could hear only the sounds of air whirring through the tops of the pines, an occasional call of an eagle, and birds chirping just out of sight.
Just when I thought this road was cut purposely flat, I came to a hill. The road/trail climbed for about a half mile, flattened out, then descended sharply to a creek bottom.
This stream is probably normally dry, but the snow-melt had filled in to the gentle-trickle level. The sound of a clear running stream is music, so I stopped to listen for a while.
I did a little boot swishing here. The stream left my feet clean. Gortex kept the feet dry. (Ok, now someone is thinking How could he Run wearing Boots and Jeans?) My answer--the TZ Shuffle. I will win no races with it, but it can be done in shorts and racing flats, naked and barefoot, running tights and Hokas, and in blue jeans and hiking boots.
There were two small waterfalls here--one to the left which you can see, and one at the far right which made more noise, but was not worth a picture. I had pretty much drained my water bottle, and refilled from the waterfall to the left. I drank about half of that (10 ounces) and have had no problems from it.
I had ran 5 miles, and I thought this road would surely run into a main road and I could run about 3.5 miles back to my truck I would have bet money on it. To verify my bearings, I brought up the map app on my phone. It did not show the road/trail I was on, but it would show me sort of where I was in relation to the mapped roads. I was nowhere near where I thought I should be. I suppose I got a little turned around, thinking I was going northwest, and was in fact going east-northeast.
At this point I thought about continuing on and trying to make some sort of a loop out of it, but stopped and had a serious inner-argument with myself. The adventurer in me said go on. It was 3:00 and there was at least 4 more hours of daylight. How cool would it be to discover a 10-12 mile loop out here.
The seldom seen more rational side of me countered with the fact that these roads really had no rhyme or reason as to where they led. They could go 8 more miles and dead end. My cell phone had 29% left due to having a spotty signal and not turning my location services off. My truck was parked on a seldom traveled country road and was ripe for vandalism. The skies (pictured above) were darkening and Snowageddon part 3 was due around 6:00 pm. Turning back would net a 10 mile run and that would be my longest run since December.
SHEESH!! I hate the rational guy! I turned back and enjoyed a near-continuous run all the way back to my truck. No vandalism. No harm done except for a super dirty truck and muddy boots. I will be back to explore more and maybe all of this route, and would love to have friends with me.
I did stop to take a couple of pictures of the lovely new bridge being built over the Illinois River near Pumpkin Holler.
Progress is a wonderful thing at times, but in THIS case, progress sucks.