I went for a run today at Moreau Lake State Park, to explore the 15k route some, and to continue my mileage build-up for Savoy. I parked at the Baker/Western Ridge trailhead again, off of Spier Falls Road, with the intention of running down the Western Ridge Trail, over to Mud Pond, then up and over the ridge to pick up the Western Ridge Trail on the other side. My goal was 6 miles, and I hadn't spent a whole lot of time plotting it out, figuring I'd adjust my route as I went.
As I was getting sunscreen and bug spray on, I chatted with a couple who had driven up shortly after me. They said they were heading up the Western Ridge (the other way), and I chuckled a bit, saying that it was a bit steep. They asked how steep and I said that it climbed a couple hundred feet, and they shrugged it off and said it would be fine. I haven't actually walked up that trail, but running down it was steep and intense. I said I'd see them out there, and headed off.
I started out way too fast, and it took a while for me to slow myself down. It's mostly downhill from the parking lot to Mud Pond, and my body was screaming "let's go fast!". I managed to rein myself in after the second stream crossing, where the trail heads up for a little bit, and settled in to a more reasonable pace. The trails get nicer around there: fewer rocks and a lot more stable footing, but it was hard to enjoy. There was what looked like bear scat along the trail, and I'd find more of it every few minutes. (It was large; the smallest animal it could have come out of was a coyote, but it looked like the animal had been eating mostly berries. I looked around for the source of the berries that the animal had been eating, but couldn't find them.)
Once I got down by Mud Pond, I started seeing other people quite a bit. I ran around what I thought was the pond, and did my best to pick out the trail based on my memory of the race course map from last year. In actuality, I ran around the northern portion of Moreau Lake, and then over an isthmus with a small break to allow boat traffic to travel between the two portions of the lake. After that point, I was at the beach area proper, with several hundred (possibly a thousand) other people, from the look of the parking lot and the crowds gathered on the beach and at the various picnic areas. It was *crowded*.
I made my way along the beach, and breathed a sigh of relief as I got away from the crowds. I ran in front of the cabin along the white trail, which was occupied, and eventually came to a portion of white trail that was too overgrown to use. There was a blaze right before the overgrown area, so I was certain that I hadn't stumbled upon a herd path. My choice was to either run through the water next to the trail, or switch over to the road. I crossed the road, looking to see if the Red Oak Ridge trail connector I was looking for was there, but it wasn't, so I ran through the water, which was shallow. I'm not quite sure how that trail will look in September.
From there, I got to a boat launch area across from the Warming Hut. I stopped to use the restroom (between the crowds and the mosquitoes, a wise choice), walked right past the trailhead for the ROR trail, and continued along the white trail. I got to the point where the white trail hits the road, and started scouting around for a connector that I had seen during the winter. The sign or marking was gone, as far as I could tell, but I could see the ROR trail, so I walked over to it and started running along it. Not long after that, I came to a point that I remembered from my winter run through here. Now, seeing it in summer, it looked like a herd path, and the real path appeared to run down to the Warming Hut. I ran down, hoping to get some insight, but the trail ended right at the hut. Frustrated, I turned around, and made my way back to the herd path I had just seen. Sure enough, there was a blaze, and it seemed to indicate that the way I had just gone, down to the Warming Hut, was correct. Stubbornly, I took the herd path.
I wasn't very far along when I came to the eroded portion I remembered from the winter, where it felt like I was going to fall down the hill at any moment. Eventually I came back to the trail, and turned right to see where it went. Sure enough, I found myself back at the Warming Hut, on the other side of the parking lot from the trail that I had decided was wrong. I stopped to take a picture of the sign that I had walked right past almost a mile ago, and then headed up. The mosquitoes got worse as I headed up. I did my best to run, but the heat and the terrain left me walking a lot. I made it up to the Moreau Overlook trail, passed by a gaggle of beach-goers having a walk in the woods, and pushed up to the top. I chatted with a few other people admiring the view, which was fairly clear today, and then headed off again. I had intended on running along the Ridge Run as far as the Cottage Path trail, but my unintended diversion had eaten up distance and time. Not long after starting out on the Ridge Run, I turned around, and headed the other way on it, with the intention of picking up the Baker Trail back to the parking lot. As I ran past the Moreau Overlook again, I saw that the party I had passed were just now pulling in to the overlook. I smiled as they gawked over the view, and pushed on.
I kept rolling my ankle on the descent, nothing serious, but I think I was a bit tired. I made it back to my car in one piece, and dove in to avoid the mosquitoes that were starting to swarm around me. The drive back home was uneventful. I had seen a couple dozen Tour de Cure participants on the way in, and I saw what appeared to be a few more finishing up on the way home. That must have been a long day for them!
Anyway, I think that's it. I'm getting excited about Savoy, and doing the Moreau 15k, if they hold it this year.
Oh, one more note: I read Jake Stookey's report on the 2012 race, and I can't believe he ran it barefoot in 2 hours! He went on to win the 2013 edition of the race in huaraches, which seems like a more logical choice. He even set a new course record in 2013, coming in at 1:27:11. I love being out and about barefoot, and while I can imagine hiking this course barefoot, I cannot imagine running it barefoot under race conditions. I'd be hobbling by the end.
Anyway, be excellent to each other, carry plenty of bug spray, watch out for ticks, call your mother, and tip your waiter. Until next time...