Saturday, July 6, 2013

Lynn Woods "Long Run"

Emily and I have been meaning to get out to Lynn Woods for quite some time. In particular, I've heard rave reviews from North Shore residents and many of the Thursday night Wicked crew. In fact, at a 4th of July BBQ with said Wicked runners I spent several minutes chatting with my friend Mickel about the possibility of a Saturday morning group run. I passed along the news to Emily, and we agreed to meet up with their crew, at least at the outset so we could discern the lay of the land.

Ah, the best laid plans.

For starters, things derailed when I found out at 7:45am that the Salem contingent was going to the trails at 8:00. Since Emily had already texted me late the previous evening about her disinclination toward an early run, I knew it wasn't going to happen. By the time she woke up and we both got moving, it was slightly past 10am and solidly past 90 degrees outside. But hey, we thought, who cares? We hadn't seen each other in over a month, plus we were both admittedly slow and out of shape, so we were content to meander around and explore the trails for an hour or so without being in any danger of succumbing to the weather's ill effects.

What was that part about best laid plans?

Just as we were about to set off along the main fire road, I encountered a kind gentleman leaving the park who overheard that it was our first visit and offered to give us a trail map. "At least this way you won't get lost!" he said with an ominous (in hindsight) chuckle. I tucked it away into a plastic baggie that was lying around on my floorboard, and off we went. Despite the oppressive heat, we both quickly agreed that the park was beautiful, a perfect mix of wide open fire roads and winding single-track paths. We tried sections of both, all of which at some point seemed to intersect with each other. So when we found ourselves approaching our cars at the 55-minute mark but wanted to add on a few minutes of additional distance, we just assumed that taking a still-unexplored trail just off the main thoroughfare would be a simple solution. At some point it would surely end up back where we'd started.

That line of reasoning came to a dejected, thirsty halt when our "quick add-on trail" deposited us in the back parking lot of a car dealership off Route 1. You wouldn't have to be super familiar with the area to deduce that we were nowhere close to where we needed to be. Instead of panicking, we tiptoed into said dealership, attempting to drink as much water as possible from their cooler whilst not raising too much alarm from the clean-cut salespeople and suburban families who were there enjoying a wholesome Saturday afternoon. With our sweaty, dripping clothes and dirt-caked legs, we looked like some sort of escaped wildlife exhibit. Past the point of self-consciousness about our disheveled state, we approached the receptionist behind the desk and explained where we were trying to go, assisted by the visual aid of our (increasingly useless) map. "Oh, I know where you mean," she said. And then, in response to our crucial follow-up question: "Left. You definitely want to go left."

Armed with this information and a renewed sense of purpose, we set off along the sidewalk adjacent to Route 1, trying to ignore the boiling mid-day sun as it glared down at us. (Looking back, I'm confident I can pinpoint this particular section as the reason why my eyelids were sunburned the next day.) We ran past a steaming car, acrid smoke seething from its engine as it sputtered to the side of the road, and I said optimistically (and, I must admit, with just a hint of smugness), "See, it could always be worse!"

Oh, and could it. I have too much pride and not enough energy to detail the remainder of our misadventure, but I can tell you it included all of the following: another section of trail, another failed attempt to interpret the map (It's all lines and squiggles! Where are the words?? Use your words!) another dead end, another vehicle-related establishment (this time, a garage, where three friendly if not slightly lecherous men offered us ice cold water and yet another set of directions) and, finally, admission of defeat and a life-saving ride back to our vehicles from none other than the family members of the woman with the blown-out car. Honestly, you can't make this stuff up.

Total time elapsed: 2 hours 32 minutes
Total time spent running: 1 hour 46 minutes
Total distance covered: 13 miles max

"Map"of Lynn Woods. You can see Route 1 at the upper left...and where we parked,  Great Woods entrance, down near the bottom right. One could say the two locations are diametric opposites.