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2013-05-18 - Sligo Creek - Northwest Branch - New Place Loop

~22 miles @ ~11.9 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Sligo_Northwest_Branch_loop_map.jpgA dozen nicely-dressed people on Northwest Branch Trail near the Quebec Rd bridge are reading aloud softly in Spanish from small books they carry open in front of them. Bibles? Catechisms? They're followed by another dozen walkers doing likewise, half a block behind. Is it a Pentecost celebration? I smile at them and they smile back.

I'm in the middle of a long and pleasant solo trek. At 5:35am I set out from the New Place and turn right at the miniature train tracks to head down Sligo Creek. A large deer peers at me from beside the woodsy path in Wheaton Regional Park. The day is cool, and lots of friendly dog-walkers and fellow runners greet me. Many locations that I've seen before are strikingly verdant and alive this spring morning. I think about friends who haven't been here, and daydream of introducing them to the lovely trail.

Upstream along Northwest Branch the rocks and rapids are dramatic but hard to photograph. A stone outcropping forms a crude face behind mine. Chipmunks scamper across the leaves.

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Northwest_Branch_Trail_rocks_z.jpg
http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Northwest_Branch_Trail_under_I495_Beltway_z.jpgViolet blossoms of wisteria hang vivid above the creek. Stephanie Fonda teaches me the plant's name when we see it the next day. The Capital Beltway (I-495) bridge is noisy overhead.

At the end of the paved trail a pair of crimson-clad University of Maryland student fishermen pick their way cautiously across the boulders and down to the water. A little farther upstream a bicycle leans against a tree and a buff young African-American fellow does Aikido-like ritual exercises.

As the trail nears Kemp Mill Rd DETOUR signs confuse me and I end up on neighborhood lanes. I random-walk until I find my way back along major streets to Wheaton Regional Park. A week later the manager at Jerry's Sub Shop in Silver Spring asks, "Didn't I see you running along Randolph Road not long ago?" My sons tell him that I'm often seen on rambles within a ten-mile radius.

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

Runkeeper and Garmin roughly concur. Splits from the Garmin are 11:25 + 11:18 + 11:55 + 10:50 + 12:06 + 11:10 + 10:42 + 12:04 + 10:43 + 10:35 + 9:58 + 10:32 + 10:15 + 10:39 + 15:34 + 21:15 + 12:04 + 12:06 + 12:17 + 10:33 + 12:21 and 9:47 min/mi for the final fraction.

^z - 2013-06-05

I like this!