Sunday, March 9, 2014

Horseshoe Trail Hike: Opperman's Corner to French Creek Elementary School

A 9+ mile hike in early March on snow packed hills when one has done almost zero miles since the second weekend in January probably was not the brightest idea I've ever had. It's probably not the worst either. And now that I'm home, showered, fed and comfortably ensconced under an afghan on my couch I can say that all in all it was a great day! Toward the end of the hike, though, it was difficult to keep smiling, keep moving and not whine. 

The date was originally chosen after checking in with Mike K. We had done the first two sections together (with others on each section). Unfortunately, Mike was not feeling well today and had to skip. And for various reasons from illness to child care issues our group went from 10 to 3 before it began. 

Maggi, Russ and I met at French Creek Elementary School at 9 am then carpooled to a parking spot lot on 113 just west of 401. The first 4.5-5 miles were mostly on the aptly named Horseshoe Trail Road. Not all that exciting from a hiking perspective but there were some nice views and ridiculously large houses. And if I had known what awaited us when the trail would go off road later I might have been a tad less anxious to get off the road. 

At Green Lane we went off road for good. After a short more or less flat section the trail began climbing and descending. The snow made for some slow going. Where others had gone before us their tracks were slippery. In new snow it was tough to get a good rhythm going. If your feet sunk it was ok until the one step when your foot didn't sink and then you were thrown off balance. At some points the snow was mid-calf deep on me. My hip flexors - which have always been a weak spot for me - were not happy. Climbing over the many downed tree branches became a real chore for me. 

Despite all that it was a real adventure and I'm glad we did it. An argument could be made that I was wearing the wrong shoes. I opted for sneakers over hiking boots. I don't like the boots they are too heavy and I end up with shin splints. Yes my feet were numb by the time we were done but Russ said his were too and he had hiking boots on. Given all the high stepping we ended up doing I think I made the right choice for me. 

We crossed a few creeks which were swollen from run off. All were manageable until the last one. Russ jumped and Maggi one hopped it. My shorter legs were so tired and by that point I knew if i tried to jump I wouldn't make it. My feet were getting pretty numb by now too so trying to balance across the narrow branch was not going to happen either. I couldn't feel enough to balance well. so I crawled over and under brush to a narrower point. Russ found a tree branch and three it across the width. Maggi stood on the end to hold it relatively still and I was able to get across.

Trying to cross the creek and struggling through the last two miles or so of the hike made me feel really old. But I made it - there wasn't much choice, LOL. I'd like to think that the long period of inactivity and the snow were more significant factors than my age though. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it. 

Looking forward to part 4. Maybe in May. 

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