On Sunday 27 June 2004 Paulette & Gray & I drive a thankfully-uneventful 9 hours to western Massachusetts where Gray has a summer music camp session ... and once we're settled I take advantage of the opportunity to jog along a local rails-to-trails right-of-way conversion project, the Norwottuck Trail and its extension to the east, the Catherine Arnold Trail. GPS coordinates for the mile marker posts follow, along with brief notes on the past week's worth of pedestrianism ...
(23 Jun) --- 11+ miles, 122 minutes --- Silver Spring, MD: GB/NIH/RC loop, but in the opposite direction to my customary route ... about half an hour out I pass a young lady, walking and carrying (but not listening to) a CD player ... I take a walk break after finishing my mile 3 and she jogs past me, but reverts to a walk again several steps ahead ... I ask how she's doing, and she shakes her head, rubs her side, and says "Cramps!" ... I try to encourage her with the safe comment, "Well, keep doing what you're doing --- your form looks good!" ... "Thanks!" she replies, and smiles ... the late day is cool, low humidity ... my first four miles fly by at an average ~10:30 pace ... I soak my head at water fountains (downtown Bethesda and on Beach Drive at Cedar Lane) to good effect ... mile 9 along Rock Creek flies by in 9:33, but I slow considerably on the hills between there and home, where I recover by inhaling a Negra Modelo beer and Taco Bell leftovers ...
(26 Jun) --- 8+ miles, 98 minutes --- Silver Spring, MD: lethargic loop from home along Dale & Wayne to Sligo Creek Trail, thence upstream a few miles and home again via Dennis & Georgia & Forest Glen ... too warm in the sun, too humid in the shade; I survive by pouring liters of water over my head at the fountains ... the only measured mile (#4) takes 11:03 ... exhaustion lifts in mid-run as I pass an open field with an ivory stretch limousine parked on one edge: a glowing bride and a cluster of almost-as-radiant bridesmaids line up for the photographer, as a pair of miniature flower girls try to skip away on the green grass --- everyone with hair in topnots and deep ebony skin tones that make their dresses seem impossibly white ... and further along, a perfect but gigantic spiderweb-shadow covers the pathway --- I look up and discover the splayed-hand tree branch and leaves that create the illusion ...
(28 Jun) --- 11+ miles, 125 minutes --- Amherst, Massachusetts: on Sunday we deposit daughter at summer music camp http://www.musicorda.org/, settle into an Amherst motel, and this morning the car won't start! ... so from the mechanic's shop on College Street I set off south to the NorwottuckRailTrail (NRT) where I had some nice jogs in August 2003, armed with a GPS to collect coordinates of the mileposts ... a brilliant yellow goldfinch flits by, and shortly thereafter a New England Central freight train chugs past on the track that parallels the path ... it's warm but not unpleasant in the swampy eastern end of the journey, with only a few dozen stinging black flies to plague me ... the route is from garage to NRT mile ~1.2, southeast to 0, plus another ~1.6 miles along the Catherine Arnold Trail to turnaround, then back to NRT milepost 3, finishing the loop along town streets ... I return to find the car not yet fixed, quaff a Mountain Dew, and jog a final mile back to the motel ... NRT measured miles go by in 10:00, 10:44, 10:36, and 10:15 ...
(30 Jun) --- 14 miles, 163 minutes --- Amherst, MA: cool, slightly humid morning jog from University Lodge south a mile to the NRT, then SW half a dozen miles to the pathway's endpoint in Northampton on the far side of the Connecticut River ... I collect GPS coordinates of mileposts 3-8 along the way ... the asphalt sparkles in the sunlight with embedded glass chunks from local bottle recycling project ... outbound five measured miles average 11:32 pace, return trip slightly less glacial at 11:01, including pauses both ways to refill water bottle (thanks, Saturn of Hadley, for the fountain!) ... countless squirrels and robins, one chipmunk, one rabbit, and a variety of golfers on an adjacent course, perhaps inspired by the US Women's Open taking place a few miles away in South Hadley ... portajohn at the trail's end provides welcome "relief" (note to self: a big dinner of spicy Indian food, no matter how excellent, may be unwise the evening before a longish trek) ...
|42:19:47||072:27:49||Catherine Arnold Trail starting point|
|42:20:33||072:29:15||Norwottuck Rail Trail (NRT) start|
|42:21:12||072:30:02||NRT milepost #1|
|42:20:06||072:37:17||NRT terminus, near exit 19 of US Interstate Hwy 91|