Saturday, June 4, 2011

The earth is totally awesome

I found out yesterday that today is National Trails Day. News to me, but I could think of no better excuse for including some trails in my morning run. I slipped on the fingers (KSO) for a short run.

"How far are you going?" - "I don't know. 3 miles. 5 miles. Somewhere in between?"

I really wasn't sure how far I was going to go, or be able to go. Since running Pineland last Sunday, my IT band has been a bit tight/sore. I've been taking it easy and stretching it out, icing, applying heat, and rolling the holy hell out of it with the foam roller and a good old fashioned wooden rolling pin. I highly recommend the latter.

Beautiful morning for a run. I headed toward an unfinished section of rail trail. Truth be told, I wasn't really intending to hit the trails at first. But as I got closer I felt the pull grow stronger. Before long I was climbing the rocky slope to get into the forest. Ran mostly on dirt/pine single track, but there were many sections that were rocky, especially early on.

The trail branches in several spots, some of them leading to open meadows. Again I thought of Pineland, and stayed in the woods. After a half an hour or so I looped back around to the original trail. I thought about how well the fingers actually felt out there, how I was really paying attention and working on foot placement. Just enjoying the time in the woods. It was great. Then I came down on a small rock in just the right way and was forced to emit something that sounded like - "OHHH OW OW OHHHHH". Luckily no one was around.

I got back home and iced the foot, logged the workout, and shared the photo from the trail on dailymile. One comment on the photo got me thinking about how lucky we are to have these trails nearby. I had a thought and ran it by the kids.

Picture it. You're running along the wide gravel section of the rail trail. You see some single track that runs along the hill side and leads down to the river. You take it. Some roots and dirt. Pine and small branches. Leaves crackle beneath you as you make your way down the trail toward the river sound. Turn a corner and come across -

This spot has seen its share of parties.

I talked to the six year old.

"Did you know it's trails day today?"

"NO. Are we going to go for a hike?"

"I was thinking about it. But then I had another thought. You know what really bothers me? When people leave their trash behind in the woods."

"I know! That hurts the earth. I see that litter on my way to school too. People should throw their stuff away and recycle it."

"Do you want to take some trash bags out in the woods and clean up this spot that I know on the trail?"

"YES! Then we can help mother nature and the earth."

So it was decided. We headed to the trail. After about 15 minutes we found the debris and began working. Gloves on hands and bags at their side, the kids (4 & 6) helped me cleanup the whole area. We filled one bag and 3/4 of another. Then we moved down to the river and enjoyed a snack. The kids enjoyed some mountain berry and lemon lime clif bloks.

Soon we heard some people milling about our cleanup site. I went back to find a woman and her two grand kids. I offered to help them down the slippery slope to the river.

"Are you the ones cleaning up out here?" - "Yup" - "Wow, that is wonderful."

The kids were about the same ages so we hung out for a few minutes before I offered to lead them along the trail by the river. I run it at least once a week, and the kids and I have hiked down here so we're pretty familiar with the area. Along the river, across the stream. Over the mossy rocks and up the hill by the uprooted tree. Climb the narrow trail to the switchback, and eventually the gravel trail.

We parted ways with our new friends and went back to grab our full trash bag. Back toward the car. When we got to the trail parking lot, we encountered a woman on a bike.

"You didn't find all that trash out there?!?" - "Yeah, well there's a party site a little bit off the gravel trail." - "You know, it's really great that you did that."

It didn't take that long. It was a nice afternoon. Imagine if everyone simply did their part in taking care of the planet. Now that section in the woods will probably host another party, and will probably need to be cleaned again. Next time, I'll leave a note instructing them to procure some better beer. Keystone Light? Really?

Back at the car....

"I'm really proud of you guys. Great job helping out today in the woods."

6 year old: "Thanks dad. It was really good to help clean up nature."

"Thank you! I will smile every time I run past that area on my runs now. Thanks for helping the earth."

4 year old: "Yeah! Yeah dad. The earth is awesome. The earth is totally awesome!"

Yes son. Yes it is.


  1. What a wonderful thing you did, and what a great way to spend time with your kids! I'm sure you're an awesome dad.

  2. Thanks Caroline! It was a great morning. I am really proud of the way they acted and how enthusiastic they were about helping take care of the environment. Plus, now I can enjoy that stretch of trail again without getting angry. :)

  3. I LOVE the new blog layout - so light and airy and open .:) You are just terrific. Running is not just about getting your run on - it's about having a higher purpose, being aware, feeling connected and you exemplify all of that as/while you run. So blessed to know you!

  4. Thanks Mary! Running has done so much for me, and running on the nearby trails is truly one of my greatest joys. It felt right to give something back. It's something I should have done a long time ago. I was so happy when I ran past that area on Sunday. :)