Monday, April 18, 2011

Bay Circuit Trail Run, Section 2 - Boardwalks And Water Crossings Galore

My original plan for the past weekend was to run the Traprock 50K in CT. During the week I was having a bit of knee pain so I reluctantly scraped that plan.  I did not want to risk damaging my IT band further with 31 miles of steep climbing and descending on the rugged trails of Penwood Forest.  As a backup, I decided to run something shorter with less elevation.  Section 2 of the Bay Circuit Trail (BCT) was the perfect substitute. 

Earlier in the week I received emails from Emily and Rob who after reading about my plans to run the entire BCT, wanted in on some of the fun.  I told them I would be heading out for the second leg of my journey and they were eager to accompany me.  We met at Prospect Hill in Rowley on a cold, windy and cloudy Saturday morning.  I'm not sure what I was thinking but I was way under dressed for the conditions.  Em was kind enough to let me wear her sleeves and it made a huge difference.  It was time to rock this thing.

Section Two starts in Rowley and ends in Boxford for a total of 18.5 miles.

This section had more elevation gain than section one but still generally flat.

Overview of the two sections completed. Total miles = 30.5

Start of leg two.

We started out on a flat dirt road but soon found ourselves climbing up the steep trail to the Summit of Prospect Hill. This would be the high point of the run at 239 feet.  The trails through the Prospect Hill section were a bit of a mess with many downed limbs and some large trees.  I missed a turn early on but the mistake only added a few hundred meters to the run.  A later oversight would cause us to run an additional 1.9 miles.  So far I am two for two, going off trail on both of my BCT runs.  I guess that's just part of the deal when you take on a new trail.    

Rob powering up Prospect Hill.

Emily following behind.

From Rowley the BCT enters the Pine Swamp section of Willowdale Forest in Ipswich.  We ran on some of the same trails used for the Stone Cat Trail Races but we were going in the opposite direction.  All the snow from two weeks ago was gone and the trails were dry.  That would change later on in the run.  When we entered the Hood Pond section of Willowdale the trail was carpeted with a layer of pine needles. Running here was very gentle as the needle cushioned our steps.

Entering Cleveland Farms Forest we ran along a narrow esker that dropped off steeply on both sides.  Soon we encountered the first of many water crossing on the day.  We would have to get our feet wet crossing the swollen Mill River.  The water had dropped a great deal in the past two weeks so the crossing was not as difficult as I had anticipated.  This first crossing was a preview of what was waiting for us after we crossed over noisy Interstate 95 and entered the tranquility of the Georgetown-Rowley Forest.  Although there were many boardwalks to keep our feet dry, there were just as many times when wading through cold, murky water was the only way to continue forward.

Traveling along an esker.

Rob makes it across safely.

"How am I going to do this?"

An abundance of boardwalks.

And underwater trails as well.

The entire 18.5 miles of trail on the BCT were very well marked with white rectangular blazes.  This didn't stop me from running past a clearly marked right hand turn and adding another 1.9 miles to the run.  Luckily, Rob noticed that we had returned to a spot that we had already covered so my mistake was not as bad as it could have been.  If I was on my own it probably would have taken me longer to realized my error.

With our energy levels dropping like the afternoon temperature we were all very happy to leave Lockwood Forest and cross Middleton Road to Boxford Wildlife Sanctuary where our vehicles were waiting for us.  We didn't get to spend much time together after the run.  Emily had a track meet to officiate and it was too cold for me to stand around in my short-sleeved T and running shorts.  Still, we got to spend several fun-filled hours together on the trail.  It's amazing how fast time passes when you're having fun!

Good luck to all the Boston Marathon runners today!

More photos can be viewed HERE.

Stats:
BCT Leg 2: 18.5 miles
Surface split: 16.7 trails, 1.8 roads.
Elevation gain: 890 feet
BCT Legs 1-2: 30.5 miles
Surface split: 20 trail & dirt road, 10.5 pavement
Elevation gain legs 1-2: 1297 feet
BCT remaining: 169.5
Start Point: Prospect Hill, Rowley
End Point: Boxford Wildlife Sanctuary, Boxford
Other towns: Ipswich, Hamilton, Topsfield, Georgetown
Green spaces: Prospect Hill, Willowdale State Forest, Cleveland Farms State Forest, Georgetown-Rowlet State Forest, Lockwood Forest
Hydration: 3 liters Heed, 20 oz Water
Fuel:  Gu gel (2) PB&J crackers (4), Cliff Bar, Em's home-made goodies
Footware:  Brooks Cascadia 5 and Injinji performance socks

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