Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Slip Sliding On Down The Trail

Went to Hitchcock Nature Center this morning.  I knew that there would be snow on the ground there but there was a lot more than I expected.  most of the trails had four to six inches with some drifts being knee deep.  It turns out, though, that the snow depth was not an issue.  Last weekend the Greater Omaha Area Trail Runnerz (G.O.A.T.Z) ran the Hitchcock Experience.

The Hitchcock Experience consist in three races - an half marathon (13.1 miles), a 50 mile, and a 100 mile trail run.  All those runners, and the ATVs that broke the trail through the snow, left most of the snow in the trails compressed down.  This was good and bad.  On level trails it was good since you didn't sink into the snow.  Going downhill sucked since the compressed snow was slick as ice.  Going up hill wasn't too bad because the racers had pounded little stair steps up the hills.

Early morning sunshine on Badger Ridge Trail.
I showed up at Hitchcock early in the morning to try to beat the thaw.  If the ground is frozen there is no mud.  I hoped to get my hike done before any exposed trail got muddy.  I didn't quite make it.  I was five miles in on my hike when I started down the Angel's Dead End trail. Angel's Dead End is a steep trail dropping down from the top of Fox Run Ridge.  Some of the trail did not have any snow cover and had been in the sun for a few hours.  I stepped on what I thought was dry ground but it turned out to be covered in a thin layer of grease-like mud.  I promptly began sliding.  Ended up with thick, sticky mud up my pant leg, on my butt, and all over my jacket.

I got back on my feet, took inventory and found nothing wrong, and decided to keep going.  I took one side of the Legacy Loop trail back up the ridge.  I was planning to go back down the ridge on the other half of Legacy Loop trail.  When I reached the top I realized that the other half of the loop was a very steep muddy trail.

A nice, easy, flat part of the Hidden Valley trail
showing how much snow was on the trail.
I thought it over and decided to try walking on the snow along the edge of the trail.  I took three steps when the snow under my foot gave way.  I grabbed onto a small tree and swung around it as my backpack pulled me downhill.  I ended up on my back, head pointed downhill, holding onto a tree.  At least it was snow and not mud.  To get back up I released the tree and, as I slid down a foot or two more, rolled over so my backpack was up (think a turtle flipping itself over).  I climbed back up and decided I'd had enough and took the easiest way back to the car.

I ended up doing only 5.7 miles today - 2.3 miles shorter than I planned.  Can't wait til the temps go low enough, and stay low enough, that I don't have to worry about mud.

P.S.  As I got in my car I'd placed my GPS on the roof of the car.  Three hours later I realized I'd left it on the roof.  I ended up driving back to Hitchcock where I found the GPS in the middle of the road.  It still works.

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