Sunday, January 19, 2014

Keeping It Simple

Let's be honest with each other for a second... I'm a grandpa.

It's Friday night... 7pm... and I'm grocery shopping. EXTREME!!!! Actually... it's not so bad. We are walking through Publix, I just picked up a huge package of Sour Patch Kids, and just made eye contact with a gorgeous Belgian... and when I say gorgeous Belgian... I mean the variety pack of beer. This is a typical Friday night for us.

On weekends that Kati has to work... I get a weekend pass to do as I please. This means late nights getting smashed with my friends, strip clubs, and hard core drugs...

Actually it means none of the above (grandpa remember?). It simply means I'll be in my robe, house slippers, and in bed before 10pm and get to run for hours on end without feeling guilty that I'm leaving my wife home alone. Keeping it simple.


After going into work for a few hours early Saturday morning to run the monthly alarm tests, it was trail time!

I work close to Tannehill State Park. By no means is it my favorite place to run. It is a smaller park, decent singletrack with some wider trails. To get any decent mileage out there, you have to string together some loops and run them a few times. However, Tannehill has so much history behind it.

I parked in my normal spot near the Blacksmith shop and popped in to see what he was making. After chatting for a few moments I hit the trails. I started out on the wider jeep trail until it hit the singletrack. A few miles in I came across the slave cemetery.

I love this place. It's extremely peaceful. The South has so much history. I'm not saying all of it was good, but show me a history that was. I'm proud as hell to be from the South. We, as a region and country, have progressed so much, and I'm so thankful to live in a place that believes in equality. Hopefully we will continue to progress as a region and country and continue the fight for other types of equality as well.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

I sat around a few minutes praying and paying my respects to the dead before heading back into the forest.

I hit a few switchbacks before rounding off my 2.5hr run out at Tannehill.

I usually don't break up my runs but on days where I have other obligations (haircut)... sometimes it happens. I grabbed a glorious double bacon cheeseburger on my way to get my hur did... and before I knew it... I was at the north trail head at Oak Mt. A solid 3.5hr run would have me back at home, showered up with pizza in the oven before the wifey got home.

I didn't have a specific route I wanted to take. I simply wanted to do a lot of climbing and be on top of Eagle's Nest at sunset. I started on the Blue trail and headed up to King's Chair for a brief peek out over the valley. I ran hard along the ridge of the Blue trail until I hit the Orange/White connector. At the end, I decided to blast down the Red trail. I knew if I went down Red I'd have to climb Shackleford. I love running the Shackleford ridge during the winter because all the trees are dead and it gives way to some amazing views. I dropped down the long Yellow/White connector climb and continued on Yellow around Tranquility. I refilled my water bottle in the bathroom before heading back onto the trail. I heard some hammering up near the old abandoned cabins so of course I had to make the steep climb up through the pathless woods to investigate. The Boy Scouts were fixing up some of the old broken down cabins. Well... I say the Boy Scouts... the Boy Scout's dads were doing most of the work... the boys were mostly huddled around the fire pit. I followed the gravel road up to the beginning of the Lightning MTB trail. I chatted with two MTB riders as I downed a salted caramel GU. I took the horse trail to the base of the Y/W connector to ensure another good climb.

After surfacing from the climb, I ran the ridge until I hit the Orange connector to hop over to the Blue trail. I was in the shadows now. I was racing the sun at this point. You can see Eagle's Nest almost the entire time you are running the Blue ridge. I was keeping time by the amount of sunlight left on Eagle's Nest tree line. I finally got to the base of Eagle's nest before making the steep climb up. I scaled to the top, climbed the rock facing, and looked out over the horizon. I tossed on my headlamp and started the decent right as the sun started to disappear over Shackleford...


I got up early to catch a sunrise... well... I didn't get up early enough to actually see it, but I did spend a lovely 2hrs cruising some of Alabama's finest single track. It was perfect to say the least!

I got back to the house in time to have a cup of coffee with Kati before she headed off to work. I then proceeded to enjoy my bacon, toast, and orange juice breakfast before curling up with the cat for a 2hr nap. I awoke from my slumber, cleaned up around the house, took the recycling, and ate lunch. What to do now? I guess I could go back out and run...

I parked at the beach area, laced up the shoes and headed back out onto the singletrack. There were soooo many people out hiking today! I stopped to take a picture for an older couple who had just climbed to the overlook on the Green trail (quite impressive btw!). We chatted about the crazy Alabama weather (is weather the go-to language for older folk?) and then we parted ways. I debated whether I really wanted to go down to Peavine Falls. Beautiful weekends attract so many hikers to Peavine. "It would be nice to soak my feet..."

After descending down to the base of the falls, I removed my socks and shoes and soaked my tired feet for a few minutes. BRRRRRRRR!!!! The water was freezing... but relieving at the same time. I sat on a rock to let my feet air dry before re-lacing and heading up out of Peavine.

I finally got back down to my car. I threw my water bottle into the back, grabbed a koozie, and headed down to the water. I peeled away some trees sagging down into the water to reveal an ice cold beer. You really don't need to pack a cooler in the winter if you have a good hiding spot near the edge of the lake. I finished my weekend off basking in the warm sun with an ice cold brew in hand...

(Well... I really finished it off with an Epsom salt bath and an ice cold brew in hand... but I'll say it was by the lake... a little more manlier that way...)

This weekend was all about keeping it simple. I put in a little over 10hrs on the trail. No specific routes, time goals or mileage. Just pure and simple enjoyment of being outside and on the trails. Honestly... I think it's better that way.

I guess it's about time to throw in a Red Box, pour another Belgian, slip off the house slippers, and call it a night...

Till tomorrow...

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