Last Weekend: More 5Ks and bike trails

January 2016. Two helicopters crashed off the coast of Hawaii, and its impact was felt here at home. After days of searching, the Marine Corps declared the 12 members of the crews deceased. Among them was Sgt. Adam Schoeller, a 2008 graduate of Boiling Springs High School.

6 May 2017. Adam’s parents, with the help of volunteers and sponsors, put together the inaugural Adam’s Semper fiT Challenge and Semper Fest 2017 to support a memorial fund that raises awareness and support for non-profits that reach out to families in need much as the Schoellers were in the days, weeks and even months following the loss of their son.

I hope it was the first of many.

I never knew Adam, but I shared some adventures with some of his classmates when they were part of the youth group at my church while I was a volunteer youth leader. And there’s this thing around here. It’s kind of similar to a saying the Marines have. Once a Bubbler, always a Bubbler. So, of course, when I heard a 5K was involved I had to sign up.

I was passed early on in the race by what I think was a group of young potential Marines running and chanting in formation. it still amazes me that they all kept the same pace. And the chants!

This was honestly one of the more difficult 5K events I’ve done. The roads at the fairgrounds have a number of short, steep hills, and some were in better shape than others. One downhill, in particular, had quite a few potholes to pick your way through.

All that said, I’d love to do this one again next year. Hopefully, warmer, drier weather would make it an even better experience.

SUNDAY, MAY 7

Another day on the rail trail with alternating clouds and sun. I took the upper end that went over the new section into downtown Shippensburg. The new bridge is pictured at the top of the post. This time I went the whole way down to the Oakville rest stop, and turned around to come back to the car. Now, I have covered the entire west end of the trail. There’s not much to speak of at the east end yet so I don’t know when I will do that end.

What’s great about the rail trail is that there is plenty of space to be alone and soak in the beautiful scenery, but there’s also not a single place on the trail where I felt that I was so far away from other people that I couldn’t get help if I needed it. Of course, it’s fun to pass by the families and other hikers or bikers out on the trail. I never can remember, though, which ones I have already passed so they probably think I’m crazy for saying hello every single time I pass them – which is at least twice on an out and back run.

 

 

Last Weekend/This Weekend: Rain, snakes and service

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Confession.

I have lived around the Appalachian Trail my entire life. I pass the signs regularly as the trail crosses the main state roads in and out of town to the east. I’ve stopped at the AT office in Boiling Springs just to see what was there. Once, I even saw some through hikers give an impromptu concert on a street corner at Foundry Day, collecting tips that – in my imagination – were used to pay for an air-conditioned hotel room and a hot shower sometime later in the trip. Though I suppose it’s entirely more likely the tips bought a couple of beers at the Boiling Springs Tavern a block or so away.

But, I can honestly say I have only hiked the trail one time. It was a crazy rocky patch in Michaux State Forest after a guided tour of the old World War II POW camp. The tour guide gave us the option to go back to our cars on an easy trail or we could hike the AT back. I chose the AT. That ankle-twisting adventure was the last time I had been on the AT until last weekend.

During the First Steps program, I settled into the routine of going on a group run on Saturday mornings, and I hated the idea of breaking the habit I had only just established. So I decided to join up with a group run on the AT north out of Boiling Springs that was billed as “ a relatively flat, easy part of the trail without too much technical terrain.”

Key word? Relatively. There were a few little hills, one fairly rocky downhill, and one swinging branch that my running buddy and I dodged. There was also a little rain, a lot of mud, and a half a dozen hikers who were far more prepared for the conditions than I.

I finished four miles wet and a little chilly with a good bit of mud splashed halfway up my calves.

And I can’t wait to do it again!

Sunday, I took my mountain bike, Blue, out to the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail for the first ride of the season – an easy 10-miler. Last fall, I made the colossal mistake of going on a bike trip without having ridden much over the summer so I’m trying to avoid that disaster this year.

It was a gorgeous day, and the ride went quite well … until the last half-mile or so. I pedaled across the newly installed bridge high above a road below and continued a short distance to the trail’s end. I turned around and started back toward the bridge, and saw a number of people on the bridge. It seemed odd since the bridge had been empty moments before – and even odder when someone else stopped to join the conversation.

When I got to the bridge, a young Mennonite man on a bicycle said, “Did you see the snake?”

THE WHAT??

It is at this moment that I was (one) glad the bridge had high railings (two) annoyed that the only way back to the car was past the snake on the bridge.

As I neared the end of the bridge, staying as close to the opposite side from the snake as I possibly could, one of the people who had gathered helpfully told me it had slithered up through the cracks.

“Great,” I thought, looking down at the crack on which I was standing.

For a moment, the critter looked as perturbed at our presence as I was at his, and it looked like he might take a header off the side down to the street below.

In the end, he went his way. I went mine.

No offense, little dude, but I hope we don’t meet again.

NEXT WEEKEND: On Saturday, I’ll be doing my usual run/walk routine at Adam’s Semper Fit Challenge and Semper Fest 2017  It’s a first time event in memory of a local man, Adam Schoeller, who died in a helicopter crash during a military training exercise off the coast of Hawaii last year.