After watching Penn State lose to Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl, I decided to go out for a late afternoon run to burn off some frustration and holiday sweets. I am usually a morning runner, but I slept in. I planned on running 6-7 miles, and surely I could get it in before dark.
Please don’t call me Shirley.
I was visiting this weekend and running in unfamiliar territory. Being not far from Valley Forge National Park, and having run part of it a few days ago, I thought this would be a good place to run. There appeared to be a nice loop on the map which looked about 6-7 miles. What could go wrong?
This same question was asked by James Franklin and the Redcoats. Neither fared well, and neither did I for that matter. The plan looked great on paper.
Everything went well for the first five miles, until I reached a point which on the map below, corresponds to a covered bridge.
The bridge was closed for repairs, and so was the nice little blue path I had been following.
I was at the red circle. I was parked at the green square. I was as far from my car as I could get, and I could not go any further.
At this point, I had three choices. One, I could turn around and head back the way I had come. This would have put me in the 8-10 mile range which was a little longer than I really wanted to do. The advantage, though, was that I would be traversing known ground.
The second option was to take a trail which ran along the same river as the blue paved path. I hadn’t bothered to bring a map, but this same map was posted alongside the road before entering the trail.
The third option was to curl up in a fetal position and suck my thumb, waiting for a park ranger to come and rescue me.
Alas, I opted for the dotted line trail. It didn’t look too bad. Besides, it was getting dark and my mind was still numb from Penn State’s loss.
I made a mistake.
The trail climbed a mountain. I was weaving in and out of trees, roots and rocks as the sun was disappearing and the already dimly lit woods was getting darker. Each step brought me closer to a difficult choice: turn around and go back, an ever longer alternative as I continued forward to what I hoped was the warmth and comfort of my jeep. But I could sense lions, tigers and bears rustling in the underbrush around me, waiting for me to collapse into an asthma attack with the elevation, or in the fetal position sucking my thumb and waiting for a park ranger to rescue me.
Either way, I was wondering if I would ever get home. I wasn’t even sure this stupid dotted trail would cross the water or if I was even going in the right direction anymore.
Just as the westering sun was setting, the trail headed back down Mount Krumpet and eventually deposited me on Route 23. A welcome sight came into focus. A bridge! And on the other side–a paved trail that headed back to Washington’s Chapel.
I was saved! I lived to get lost another day! I wonder if Washington ever considered collapsing into the fetal position, sucking his thumb?