Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Double Skyline Week

Last week I took two short day hikes on separate trails named Skyline.

The first hike was on the Skyline Trail in Blue Hills Reservation. The loop from the park headquarters to Great Blue Hill and back is less than three miles but includes many steep ups and downs with nearly 800 feet of gain over very rocky terrain. That may not sound like a lot of climbing but it’s on the same level as some mountain 100 mile races on a feet per mile basis. The pace was slow due to the above mentioned elevation gain, my poor fitness and lack of confidence on highly technical terrain but this is a trail I would like to come back to again. The only downside to hiking in Blue Hills is the crowds. Don’t go there looking for solitude. 
 Stairway to heaven or hell?

Be careful what you wish for

 One of many steep, rocky climbs. The photo makes it look much easier than it is.

The big city in the distance.

 More rocky "stuff."

Nice work done by trail crew. 

 Super steep and rocky!

The second hike was on the Skyline Trail in Middlesex Fells Reservation. At least it was supposed to be. I missed a turn about four miles into the hike and finished the final three miles on the Reservoir Trail. I have a lot on history with the Fells. It’s where I attempted my first 50K with KZ and caught the ultrarunning fever; met a colorful race director named Bogie and a slow but determined dead last ultrarunner named Steve. It’s also where my love of long-distance trail running was forever embedded in my soul.

I was alone in Middlesex Fells. The gray sky and threat of rain kept people away. There’s something magical about being alone in the woods on a damp, dank day. The air has a certain smell, and sounds are deadened by brush hanging low under the burden of rain soaked leaves. Even the birds are quiet. It took a day like this for me to gain an appreciation of solo hiking. Immersed in my thoughts, the miles passed unnoticed.

New (to me) trail marker.

Silent woods

Nothing but gray and green.

Walking gently.

The trail is calling.

I may have been the only one in the woods but I was not alone. The trail is a temptress and I heard her whisper for me to drop my hiking poles and run. I envisioned myself moving swiftly, smoothly, for many miles.  My feet skimming over rocks and roots.  Climbing steep hills effortlessly. But I resisted the temptation, not wanting to make my current situation worse than it already is. It could have saddened me, knowing what I have lost, but it did not.

For that brief moment I was moving with purpose. I was alive.
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