Black Hills Trail Running over the 4th of July Weekend
Over the 4th of July weekend, Haliku and Ashley came up to visit.
It was a lot of fun: good food and great company!
On Saturday Haliku and I went for a hike/jog on the trails of the Black Elk Wilderness. We started at Iron Creek Horse Camp, went up Grizzly Bear Creek and back down Norbeck Trail.
While we were running, Ashley, Jeanne and Nathan went to Custer State Park to see the bison and begging semi-feral burros.
I don't know what species of beetle these are. They seem to be having one heck of a beetle-orgy, copulating and eating rose petals at the same time.
I had not been on this trail for a few weeks. It is amazing how the number and types of blooming wildflowers change with time.
This is a western wood lily or Lilium philadelphicum. In some states it is endangered or threatened, due to overcollecting and loss of habitat. We saw several scattered through out the forest.
We stopped often to enjoy the scenery. Surprisingly, there we very few people on these trails and no one parked at the trail head, even though this was a holiday weekend. It wasn't until we got to Harney Peak loop that we saw more hikers.
For those of you who have been curious…
The rectangular mountain of granite is what the back side of My Rushmore looks like. Sorry, fans of Nicholas Cage and National Treasure: there is no secret chamber with gold. However, there is a vault that is supposed to hold copies of important documents and literature of Western civilization for future generations.
I wore my Vibram Five Fingers KSOs again for this run.
They did great but on particularly rocky areas I did have to slow to a walk and pick my way carefully. I only stubbed my toe once but a few times had a sharp rock poke into my arch. It hurt for a second until I pulled my foot off. The next day my feet were only mildy sore, as if I had simply done a good workout, rather than painful and trashed as I worried they might be.
An unexpected surprise was that once in a while grass, stems and flowers would get stuck between my toes. I had to reach down occasionally to pull them out. Look closely at the foot in the background and the leaf stuck between my big and second toe. This was only a mild annoyance more than anything else. Not enough to keep me from wearing them.
One nice thing about KSOs that I've discovered: I can run right through water and creeks and not have to worry about wet feet. Even while wearing Injinji wool socks, they dried out in 20 minutes.
If I had my shoes on, I would have been wet for much longer and at risk for blisters.
Hmmm…. I am beginning to really like these.
I stopped for a moment and played my Native Flute. It is a High Spirits Kestrel F# built by Odell Borg of Patagonia, Arizona.
After my experience at Javelina Jundred and the curious coyote listening to my flute last November, I regularly carry and play a flute while I run trails and ultramarathons.
On flat trails I can play it while I'm running. I don't play while running technical trails- well- because I really like my front teeth!
We ran a short time on the Harney Peak Loop and got to see some of the Needles before heading down the Norbeck trail. Some hikers saw my KSOs and were curious about them.
In the foreground, you can see some dead and dying pines. There is a severe infestation of Pine Beetles here and the outlook is not good. Much, if not most of the forest has been affected. One lightning strike and this all will go up in flames. I suppose that would cure the beetle problem but it will be generations before the pine forests return.
We headed down Norbeck. My feet were tender on the parts of the trail with especially sharp rocks so I spent much of the return choosing my foot placement carefully.
My toes felt as if they had been extended and stretched backwards during the uphill climb on Grizzly Bear Creek Trail. Although they were sore, it was the kind of pleasant soreness one might get after doing a good workout or stretch. Since running in KSOs, my plantar fasciitis has all but resolved. I think it is from the toe-stretching and constant massage from landing on irregular ground.
Only two miles from our vehicle I heard Haliku shout. He had turned his ankle on a rock. That's how it is with trail running, you're floating along one moment and then the next you are down and injured. After a short rest, we walked the rest of the way back. Hopefully, it's only a minor injury and he'll be back and running soon. Injuries suck!
Our total mileage was 12.9 miles. My feet were tired but felt OK. The next day they were only as sore as one would expect in muscles not used to a new workout.
This coming weekend 7/12 I've decided to run the Mystic Mountain 8 mile race as a training run. I think I'll do it in my KSOs. It will be a good way to see trails I haven't run on before as well as get to know more people in the local running community. If the trail is rockier than expected, no worries, I'll just go slow and carefully.