Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hills, tall grass, and chiggers

A couple days ago I had a couple hours to kill and needed a good mid-week run with hills, so instead of Turkey, I went to the Wilds of Chandler Park. This wilderness is easily twice the size of Turkey Mountain and has miles and miles of trailz. Some are single track, most are TV trailz, but you rarely see a motorized vehicle there. 

They have a powerline that runs east and west for about 2.5 miles--over twice as long as the powerline at Turkey, and longer steeper hills to boot.

Expect lots or rocks, roots, tree stubs, and if it's wet, figure on 10 pound shoe weights. This clay makes nice chunky pancakes on the bottom of your trail shoes, and where's a good mud scraping rock when you need it??

I ran up one hill, down another and up the next before the sun beat down on me enough to make the shaded trailz more appealing. 

Some of the way was a little overgrown, and lucky me--I had not brought bug spray. I usually spray Repel Permethrin on my shoes and socks and Deep Woods Off (40% DEET) on my legs from the knees down. That usually works fairly well. But without, my legs were begging these bloodsuckers to come and feast.

This is a view to the east where I had ran. Yes, I did run/chug up most of the hills.

Once into the woods, I enjoyed clear tall-grass-free running, and even stopped to check out the latest striped and burnt stolen car. Not much to salvage from this one. I was here a few years ago aand counted 12 stolen/abandoned cars.

The Wild's version of he Spider--a place where several trails dump out into an open area. Which way to go from here? I headed to the bluffs.

Above Avery Drive there are miles of huge towering bluffs perfect for climbing, rappelling, boulder hopping, sitting around a fire ring drinking or partaking of various recreational drugs. There are some kinda-sorta caves, and other caves that only a FEW people know about.

I hit the Hallways--a section that I named due to several passages between mammoth rocks. It did not look like there had been much traffic through here this summer. I started to think about all the loose leaves and brush, and chiggers that can go right through your shoes and socks, so I headed back toward my car.

I wanted to go a different way so as to make a big loop. It looks better on my Strava app. The plan was to run/shuffle/butt slide down the Gauntlet and see the scary brick house that looks like a home for insane clown/zombies, and then head up the 230' mountain bike trail. About half way up the trail, the natural tall grass (effin weeds) completely overgrew the trail, bu I had no choice but to plow through. From there, I headed toward the Chandler Park ball fields, and then headed south to pick up some trails that meandered to the south east along some creek bottoms and out by a pond. It used to be a really good route--not much in the way of hills, and real runnable. But once I got through the maze of rocks, the trail just vanished--like it was never there. I saw another remnant of a trail that headed due east and downward--not one I have ran before--but I followed it down a 1/4 mile to a dead end and more weeds aka launching pads for ticks and such. I picked off a dozen or so seed ticks along the way.

So rather than retracing my steps back to the slightly more established trailz, I started bush whacking the direction I remembered the trail being. Bad idea. My keen sense of direction did get me finally to an intersecting trail that took me on to where I needed to go, but it took all the fun out of an otherwise fun outing. I finished with 6 miles right on the button and 758' of ascent. I like that.

Two tick bites were not that bad, but that night the chiggers started itching. And a day later, it seemed lie even more popped up. Last night, Dana and I ate outside at Qdoba, and mosquitos started feeding on my ankles--right n top od a rash of chigger bites. I ended up in an itching frenzy!! I drove home, then rushed in the house, stripped off my soes and socks and did some serious fingernail-scraping scratching--gotta make it belld. Then I rubbed BioFreeze all over the bites and took three benedryl. That helped. Still--this wasn't the worse chiggers I've ever had. But it's in the top five!!!

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