Friday, April 1, 2011


I don't really know my way around Alfred, Maine...but map 3 in my Delormes Atlas showed a nice big green patch indicating a preserve area, a separate part of the Massabesic Experimental Forest that I run so often in the Waterboro/Hollis area. I pulled the car off the road and set out at an easy running pace. Twice, I entered the woods on trails that looked promising and had to back track due to dead ends. That's how these exploration runs go and I don't mind a bit. It's all good trail miles!

Soon I found a gated unmaintained road that had seen snowmobile traffic through the winter. The surface was mud and gravel in small patches between larger patches of loose granular old snow. Slow going, but runnable. I passed a lot of very tempting side trails that will have to wait until later in the Spring after we have more melting. I stopped to check out a very large cemetery from the early 1800's, a beaver dam, an old foundation, coyote scat, and a deer carcass. If you don't take the time to look, you're not getting the full woods experience!

I was attempting to loop back to my car, but knew I would have to turn back and retrace my steps if the trails and tote roads didn't take me in the right direction. I didn't have my Garmen with me, but I did have my cell phone. I don't use the Garmen very often, I like the fact that I can judge distance and direction and pace so well. If I started relying on the GPS all the time I think I might loose that. A GPS would just take a lot of the adventure out of trail running.

Kevin called at one point to say he was picking up some groceries for dinner. I told him I was running somewhere in the woods of Alfred or Lyman and would be out before dark. He just told me to have fun. I sure would hate to have a worrier for a husband. Kevin trusts my trail sense as much as he trusts his own. We are very alike about being in the woods. Kevin doesn't run, but his passion for moving through the woods is the same as mine. He walks or mountain bikes or snowshoes or snowboards through the trees. A person could pogo stick or cartwheel or hop on one foot, it's all pretty much the same as long as the person is moving under his own power and enjoying the experience.

I ended up retracing my steps and got to see everything from a different point of view, with dimmer light and from the opposite direction. I was pleased to see that the coyotes had been through since I had been. They had walked over and pooped in my footprints. I made it back to the paved road before dark and picked up the pace for the last few miles back to the car. I ran about 14 miles in just over 2 hours. I can't wait to get back out there when the snow is gone! I have more exploring to do.

1 comment:

  1. Your observation about the GPS is more important than one might think. I just read about a research study of taxi drivers, which found that drivers who navigated around their city the "old" way developed a larger hippocampus (the reasoning center of the brain) than those who relied on GPS. This finding may be especially significant in light of the "running man" or "persistence hunting" theory of human evolution. I am developing this idea further on my website, where I argue that our ancestors' ability to endure and navigate in the wild was what eventually gave us the essential capabilities we possess as humans today--our persistence, patience, and ability to envision what our eyes can't yet see. Mental mapping is a big part of it! I'll be posting the bit about the taxi drivers tonight or tomorrow.

    Ed Ayres