Thursday, April 26, 2012

Puzzling Over Trails

If there's one lesson from Tuesday's run, it's my tendency to underestimate distances.

Over the last year or so, I've been obsessed with piecing together the sections of the Buckeye Trail through Akron and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The "blue blazes" that mark the statewide network of hiking paths are everywhere. There are even some running through my neighborhood in West Akron.

With the expansion of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, parts of the Buckeye Trail have migrated to the more convenient and scenic canalway. Now you'll find what seem like random blue blazes throughout the region. Such is the case with my neighborhood.

Until 2005, the Buckeye Trail traveled through Akron on city sidewalks, following what is known locally as the "Portage," a path Native Americans used to transport their canoes from the Cuyahoga River to the Tuscarawus River, and hence the name of the road Portage Path, which is where I see those markings when I'm out running around Highland Square.

There are also snippets of the trail through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, but I only know sections such as Jaite to Boston Store, Boston Store to Pine Lane, and O'Neil Woods to Ira Road. This last section I ran for the first time Tuesday night.

From Pine Lane northward, the Buckeye Trail is pretty continuous, although I've only ever run as far Jaite. Southbound, however, the trail starts to break up as you enter the village of Peninsula and merge onto the Towpath.

Between the Pine Lane trailhead and the Ira Road access point, the distance is about six miles, but I'm almost positive the Buckeye Trail doesn't follow the Towpath the whole way, as evidenced by the blue blazes I've seen by the Everett covered bridge.

My plan Tuesday was to run the Buckeye Trail from O'Neil Woods to the Riding Run trail, where I went bushwhacking last week. First, I ran a loop of the 1.8-mile Deer Run trail and then diverted onto the Buckeye Trail toward Ira Road. When I got there, I saw the blue blazes pointing me toward the Towpath instead of straight toward the covered bridge.

That's when I realized that the distance between where I was, where I wanted to run, and how far it would be by the time I got back to my car at the O'Neil Woods parking lot would put me beyond 12 miles and likely past sunset without any light to run in the woods. Five miles was enough.

But still, I'm wondering how it all fits together. I suppose I could just buy a map, but what fun is that?


Nitmos said...

Why don't you ask Mr. Creeper? He probably knows all of the nooks and crannies of that terrain.

Spike said...

Well, if you had a Garmin you could put all of the different parts you have run together to make a map.