Running a mile or two in the woods and still seeing the moon and stars peeking through the trees can be rather surreal. It's a unique experience that is a nice one to share with friends.
On Sunday morning , I met Jefferson and John and we headed east on the Horseshoe Trail headed for Eagle Rock. Because of the preceding week's multiple small storms, there were several inches of snow on the ground. For the most part, the trail had already been broken, though the track was narrow because those who had come before us had stuck pretty closely to the initial path that had been blazed. The higher we climbed the fewer footprints appeared ahead and more trail-breaking was required.
Each of us had our individual reasons to be concerned less by pace and more by simply getting a workout and enjoying the time outdoors. In my experience, that's usually a healthy recipe for having fun in the woods.
The last moments of darkness hung in the air when we topped out at Eagle Rock. I tried to coax the camera into taking photos in the limited light and, thanks to my rudimentary (at best) ability to manipulate settings, managed only a couple of successes and even those bore peculiar effects.
Moments after our arrival, the sun poked its head above the horizon and our headlamps became unnecessary. With full fields of vision and the surer footing of a beaten path, we bounded swiftly down from the ridge top before post-holing through virgin snow on the climb up the neighboring ridge.
We completed our short run (about 5 kilometers) happy to have stretched our legs and spent time together. In the parking lot we swapped stories about recovering from sicknesses and injuries. We discussed the focus and dedication of elite athletes and mutually agreed that we wouldn't trade for their success if it meant being lesser parents, spouses or friends to those who contribute so much to our overall happiness. Being able to get out and run on a regular basis, be it alone or with company, and enjoy ample time with my friends and family seems to me to be overwhelmingly successful.
I slid into the drivers seat of my car and started the engine with the dual goals of getting home to the girls and thawing out my beard.
As if the loveliness of the woods hadn't been enough, the sun rising over the farmlands outside of Manheim painted a beautiful landscape.
Even though it wasn't yet 8:00 and I had a boatload of work to get done before the sun would set that evening, it had already been a great day.