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2009-05-31 - Schaeffer Farms

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Schaeffer_farms_run_route.jpg

(Map of our route, gray line added to base map [1], starting at lower-right corner and passing through numbers 3, 2, 1, 8, 9, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 15, 14, 13, 11, 10, 6, 5, and then exiting again at lower-right)

~8.5 miles @ ~16 min/mi

"Slow down! You're going too fast!" the voice shouts at Caren Jew and me as we trot along the mountain bike path. We look around, expecting to see a cyclist zooming toward us—but it's Mark McKennett, parked at a trail junction and pulling our legs. I last saw Mark at 2am on Massanutten Mountain, at the fire ring for the Gap Creek Aid Station where he was waiting to take on pacer duty with a 100 mile racer. Today he's exploring the bike paths, as we are. He shows us a photo on his Blackberry from his run on the Appalachian Trail yesterday with Cathy Blessing.

Today Caren and I are enjoying a Sunday afternoon trek, and it's truly a delight in spite of warm weather. Both of us arrive a quarter hour early at Black Rock Mill, where I find it difficult to ready myself for the run as bikini-clad girls cavort nearby and prepare to jump into Seneca Creek with their friends. As Caren observes, they're "obviously very comfortable with their bodies", though they do appear to risk falling out of their garments (cf. "Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown" and BrainyJogbra). But eventually I manage to tie my shoes.

Caren and I climb the steep hill from Black Rock Rd to join the Schaeffer Farm labyrinth at the white-blazed trail near where a bicycle hangs high in a tree. The first park map we consult is covered with daddy-long-legs spiders. Caren has ridden her bike here some years ago and suggests a lovely roundabout route that leads us across fields and over hills. She neglects to mention half a dozen water crossings, where streams are swollen from recent heavy rains. That's OK, though I'm still more timid than I should be about getting wet feet. But the waters do wash off some of the mud from our shoes.

Oddly enough, ~80% of the bikers we meet here are impolite and don't even respond to our greetings. But the day remains splendid, with noteworthy sweet-smelling honeysuckle in bloom, a tree covered in mysterious red/black berries, and a garter snake which Caren spies slithering away. We remember running here with Mary Ewell almost a year ago (see 2008-06-20 - Blowdown Town). A cellphone tower stands so far away across the fields of soybeans that I find it hard to believe it's the same landmark when the trail takes us to its base after a roundabout meander through the forest. And there's the photo I wish I had taken, as Caren's fuchsia top contrasts with the verdant hillside in our crossing of an open meadow. Of course, as a male I don't remember the color-name "fuchsia"—I call it chartreuse, much to Caren's amusement. But I do remember the girls in their swimsuits ...

^z - 2009-06-10