Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Youthful Spring Run - Big Cedar to Kiamichi River

I love it when I have an unexpectedly great run.  Sometimes you can plan a run for a month and it not meet your expectations.  Other times, you just go out and give it ago and it is wonderful.  That is exactly what happened today.

Here's a topo map of the two sections I ran today.
My sciatic/piriformis has really been bad for a while now so I had very low expectations for this run today.  In fact, I ran an easy five miles on the streets near home this morning and really struggled.  Since nothing else was going on and most of my household chores were caught up on, I thought I would go to the forest to celebrate the start of spring break.  But I almost did not go because of my sciatic pain in the butt.

After a little thought, I decided to just go and 'hike' and maybe run if at all possible.  If nothing else, I could just get in a pleasant four or five mile hike and that would be nice for a change.

I got to the trailhead rather late, it was a little after two when I started.  But with daylight savings time, that still gave me five or six hours of daylight so plenty of time to enjoy the forest.  As it would turn out, I would need nearly all of that daylight because things went so well.

I slowly made my way down this section of the Ouachita Trail that goes from Big Cedar Trailhead with thoughts of maybe going all the way to Kiamichi river if by some miracle, I felt up for that.  As I made my way down the trail, my body slowly came out of its stiffened position from having driven for forty-five minutes.  My legs began to warm up and after about thirty minutes, I was moving along and remarkably, the sciatic really wasn't a problem.

Perhaps that is because this is very technical trail with a lot of climb so I was never able to run for more than ten minutes at a time so my sciatic/piriformis never got too flare up.

Mileage sign at Pashubee TH.  Family camped here in December and froze our fannies.

Whatever the reason, I felt great and made my way to the Pashubee Trailhead.  From there you go down to a water crossing and there are several in the first four miles.  Then there is a big climb that I had forgotten about.  It has been many years since I've done this section of trail and I underestimated it's beauty and it's elevation.

At the top of this climb you run a long a ridge for a mile or so and it is here that I came across my first snake of the season.  I hate snakes and fear them but I am trying to not let the little slithering suckers keep me from going to the forest in the early fall or the late spring.  The snakes and other bugs and the heat can have the forest in the summer and I will head to higher elevations in the Rocky Mountains.

Watch your step!

After jumping over the snake, I thought of turning around but continued down a long descent.  I thought I would still have a mile or two of running in the valley before reaching the Kiamichi River but to my surprise, there it was!  There were some boy scouts camped nearby as well as two guys that were backpacking to Queen Wilhelmina.  They were camping next to the river and had a terrific spot.

I visited with them for a little after soaking in the river for a few minutes.  The cold water felt great and I was having such a great day.  It was peaceful, solitary, reflective and effortless.

Kiamichi River is beautiful, cold and feels soooo good!

On the way back, I floated back up the mtn and then gracefully came down the other side.  It seemed so easy.  At forty, I am not old but I am old enough to appreciate these days.  Especially with this sciatic pain, it seems as though I never quite feel like I did when I was thirty but today I did and I definitely needed that.

One thing that pictures cannot capture is the beautiful shades of green that come alive this time of year.  It is as beautiful as the fall foilage but instead of orange and red, the forest is coming alive with so many shades of green that look so young and vibrant.  Maybe that's why I felt so young today as well.

Now I can plan new adventures but I doubt that they can match the fun an sponteneity of todays youthful spring time run.

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