Tales of Trails (…and roads & lakes & other things)

Spring (or something like it) has sprung in Truckee this week, in a glorious, 60-75 degrees, bright sunshine sort of way (…with the small exception of a few inches of May snow that also fell this weekend), but with the arrival of blue skies and shorts days has also come the advent of Running on Dirt Season.

Except the dirt to run on is questionable and not quite ready for running, and even where it is, my Tahoe-newbieness and unfamiliarity with the intricacies of the local trail systems is already wreaking subtle havoc on my running plans.

My first new trail adventure was scheduled for last Wednesday and was meant to be a fairly straightforward six mile lollipop by the Prosser Dam. I’d attempted to run there a few weeks ago when all was still very snow-covered (and failed), and so I was pleasantly surprised to find out, with some Strava investigation, that there was more back there than just a road.

Prosser trails with some mountain views.

Despite that I had to literally stop every 400m to double- (triple-) check that my blue dot was still moving on the orange route THE ENTIRE RUN (and thus it took probably twice as long lapsed time-wise to complete, which was highly stressful given I’d decided to do it as a lunch-time run in between pair programming sessions), I was pleasantly surprised by the sights and terrain and am looking forward to coming back with a bit more of an idea of where I’m supposed to be going.

Lloyd’s trails.

The second run, however, was a completely different type of adventure.

I’d run on Waddle Ranch, which is a network of trails across 267 from Martis Valley and my backyard routes, once before the snow had started to fall right before the Christmas hols, and so I had a vague idea of what to expect and managed to make it through the first half with route-checking happening only every mile or so (HUGE improvement), thanks to well-marked out logging roads and few places to go wrong.

A brief moment where waddling was actually running.

There was slow and steady climbing, and Dry Lake, and a smidge of snow, and I was waddling along in a half-awake run stupor.

Dry Lake morning fog.

And then I hit a creek.

And when I say creek, I actually mean what looked like five creeks, rushing in an elaborate star pattern in a valley of fallen trees, mud and icy, crusted snow, with my trusty blue dot flashing in what appeared to be the center of them, telling me I was supposed to head vaguely in an upward left direction, where there was definitely nothing that even slightly resembled a cleared trail or even something that maybe, pre-snow, was once something somebody had walked on.

One rushing creek. Of several.

After about 20 minutes of staring, circling, staring some more, attempting to wrap my direction-less brain around which way was back to 267, and staring some more, I finally decided to just suck it up and cross one of the gushing octopus arms and start climbing over the branches and hope that my dot would stay at least somewhat close to that orange lines… and so into the icy waist-deep water I went, with the horrible realization that ‘well, this is how people die’ suddenly becoming very obvious.

Anyway, because my dot did in fact start moving in a vaguely correct direction, I carried on, hopping over downed trees and through bristling bushes up a rather steep hill, until I finally hit something that kind of looked like someone had walked on it before in some previous non-winter time. For the next three miles, I climbed over bushes, under trees, stepped through patches of snow that looked shallow and sturdy and in fact had me falling waist-deep while the icy edges tore open my bare legs, crawled on all fours, and waded through another waist-deep creek, until I finally rounded a corner and could see through the trees faint blips of color rushing through a mountain-lined valley… and I have never been so happy to see 267 in the eight months of being in these regions.

267 in the distance praise hands!

It was intense, in the way that running what should’ve been a quick eight miles took nearly three hours door-to-door and resulted in scratch and bruise battle wounds before the day even started.

For the third run, I was meant to climb a mountain in Reno, but I didn’t have enough hours in my Saturday to commit to the roundtrip driving and hours of running in mucky weather, and so I ended up doing a small six on a gradual inclined, well-packed logging road that was incredibly pleasant to trot on, until I hit snow at the exact moment the comfortable drizzle turned to complete downpour and decided that, like all good things, this run was going to come to an end.

Soggy loggy trails (pre-downpour).

I did manage to rectify it Sunday and get back on track with a lovely, leisurely cruise through the Sierra Valley in perfect 60˚, light breeze, clear sky conditions AND get back on the bike to catch some lake views on Monday evening, so all’s well that ends well, right? A for effort?

Tahoe City #seenonmyride.

In other news:

– Otis is still sleeping.

Slumber Disturbed.

– Everything else last week was really enjoyable, but there was also a very tough emotional undercurrent through it all.

– I need to get more organized and stop leaving mail in piles that magically disappear.
Softball cheers haven’t changed in 20 years.

…But Coventry Little League did NOT have a mountain backdrop.

– There was a hummingbird trapped in my living room for a night, and it was traumatic.

…But these are all tales for some other day. Until then, happy Wednesday?


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