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Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Last Trail is ALWAYS the Longest

My country mourned over a great tragedy yesterday when a madman burst into an elementary school and murdered twenty young school children and several adults.  Though we all mourn, this event, like other similar tragedies, divides us as a nation as we all weep for the poor families involved. We argue about gun control, public school responsibilities and mental health laws.  I have my opinions and in my sadness have expressed them. 

Today, I merely wanted to get away and run.  Rain fell down upon my windshield as I drove under darkness to Modjeska Canyon.   I had planned on a group run.  After waiting 15 minutes at the trail head, no one showed.  That’s okay.  I needed to get away.  In fact, I felt a little relieved that no one showed.   I felt a great urge to exist in The Now without interruption.  Though my mind travelled to the terrible happenings of yesterday, I forced myself to bring it forward to the present.  And though my mind travelled to the future, as in what should we do????  I again forced my mind to The Now.  And I ran 24 mountain miles for the teachers and children who were murdered, and their families.

The first 12 miles were up hill.  Some slight down hills existed, but overall, it was a 12 mile, cold grind. 

Harding Truck Trail:

At the top of Harding Truck Trail, I came upon one of the thousands of  “Four Corners” on Earth.  It had spectacular views of snow covered mountains from afar.  From there, I took one of the 4 paths, The Main Divide, toward Modjeska Peak, and ran upon crusted snow and ice.  When my feet hit, I could hear the crackle of broken ice crunch down – a delightful, delicate sound.  Often I had to run into the bushes, around giant frozen puddles.  I also needed to concentrate on a strong footing, else I slip.  So much time had passed since my last run to Modjeska Peak from this direction, that one false summit fooled me. (I just love false summits,” said no one ever!)

Four Corners:

Running up The Main Divide toward Modjeska Peak:

At about mile 12, I HAPPILY reached Joplin Trail.  I’ve only run Joplin Trail once; that was UP Joplin.  And I’ll tell ya, if I had come upon a sword during that trip, I would have thrown my self upon it.  Running down Joplin was a chore no doubt.  I ran on snow covered ground.  Though I could not pick up my pace much running down Joplin, the experience was joyous.  Rocks tumbled beneath my feet.  Moss grew upon the boulders.  I fell only once landing on my butt, and my hand slammed down on a jagged rock (that wasn’t so joyful).  I hopped over a spring that was not flowing on my last visit to Joplin.  And I even came upon crazy men struggling on bikes to make their way up this trail.

Just like when I ran up Joplin, I had to grab onto branches running down Joplin, else I fall flat on my face.  After my fall on my butt, I tripped hard once and nearly twisted my knee.  Best of all (besides the glorious snow covered single track), I ran beneath a gigantic tree that had fallen and created a sort-of-bridge over the path.

Eventually, I made it to “Old Camp.”  Here I took off the warm clothing and took out some fuel to consume.  As always when I stop, I turned off the music so that I could hear EVERYTHING.  I heard two men down by the stream.  After several minutes, I noticed that they noticed me.  And then oddly, one of them walked off, not assuredly, looking back at me, toward Joplin Trail.  He wore a pack on his back.  But he wore long pants and was obviously a hiker, not a runner.  Oddly, the other guy disappeared in the opposite direction.  And I had the sinking feeling that he was going to flank me, that is, make his way around the stream and come up behind me.

I got out of there quickly, and began running up toward Santiago Truck Trail.  On my way up, I looked down onto Old Camp, and SURE ENOUGH, that guy, had come around to what have been the back of me.  He looked up on to the road as I ran past.  And I continued running all the way to Santiago Truck Trail.  Though I got an odd feeling about those men, I’m going to believe that the first guy went off ahead because the other guy wanted to explore some more.  Still, I am very cautious and pay attention to everything.  I wasn’t going to take chances.

Joplin Trail:

Old Camp:

I felt great relief upon reaching Santiago Truck Trail.  It was however THE LONGEST TRAIL IN THE WORLD.  Isn’t the last trail always the longest?  I judged “how much longer” by the flag overlooking the vulture crags.  I knew when I came upon the U.S. flag, I had only about 6 1/2 miles left.  It took, of course, much, much longer than I imagined.  I was overjoyed when I finally spotted the flag from afar.  Still, I had about a mile before I actually reached it.   

Next anticipated spot was the trail head to Santiago Truck Trail.  It took flippin’ F O R E V E R.  I wasn’t overwhelmingly tired physically.  I was just tired, more so mentally.  When I finally spotted the trail head, it took me TWO  miles to reach it.  Then I ran another 1.5 miles back to my car.  I was moving pretty slowly in the end.  But it was all worth it, WELL WORTH IT.  Still, I couldn’t wait to get home to hug my boys. 

Santiago Truck Trail:Running Harding, MD, Joplin, Old Camp, Santiago Truck Trail, Modjeska Grade-Cyn 12-15-2012, Elevation - Distance


  1. I'm so ready to get back to those trails. Don't think I've been to Modjeska Peak though, have I? You are putting in some awesome mileage and elevations. Great report and pics!!!

    1. Modjeska Peak Hank, is the one after Santiago (or before in my case yesterday.) In order from North to South, the canyons go: Silverado, Modjeska, Rose, Trabuco (I'm sure there's lots of others, those are the main ones.) When you ran Twin Peaks and reached Santiago Peak, if you were to keep running past the peak, Modjeska is the next one. It's about 3 or 4 miles from Santiago.

  2. Be careful out there Lauren! In these mountains and time, those guys could have been scouting where they are going to be planting their, ahem, "crops".

    1. Thanks Glenn. I am extremely careful. And still I worry my the heck out of my family and friends. I am always on the alert of suspicious things. I didn't think about crops on this particular day with those guys behaving oddly, though that is usually something on my mind, especially when I see hoses siphoning water out of the creeks.

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