Saturday, January 1, 2011

volunteer + Pigeon Hill trail

I decided to start the year off right, with good karma, by volunteering at a race that I've run a few times. I volunteered for the Atlanta Track Club's Resolution Run 5K/10K. I was assigned as a monitor and told to go to a specific office complex parking lot entrance and not let cars leave while runners were on the course. Thankfully, there were enough volunteers that there were two of us at this location and therefore, had someone to chat with. It was cool and raining, so I'm hoping for extra brownie points for volunteering in the rain. It was amazing watching the lead runners; what incredible form and speed! When I grown up, I want to be just like them...

After my duties ended, I grabbed a bite to eat and then went to Kennesaw Mountain for a trail run. When I had researched it, the directions indicated that I should go to the visitor center, park, and then hit the trails from there. Unfortunately, the visitor center and parking lot was closed for the holiday. Oh no! What do I do? So I hoped that Spurgeon was on twitter and sent out a tweet because I know he runs here often. He responded immediately and told me exactly where to go. Take Old Mountain Road until it dead ends into Burnt Hickory. There are parking spaces on Burnt Hickory. To the left is Pigeon Hill, which has an initial steep climb, and to the right is a great trail without the initial steepness.

I only planned to run 2-3 miles, but I was having so much fun splashing in the mud puddles that I lost track of time/distance. I was actually a little surprised to see a few other runners on the trail. At the top of Pigeon Hill, I made a right turn onto the East Trail. I followed it across the street to Cheatam Hill. This trail is by far more scenic than Sope Creek, which was my favorite local trail... I loved that it was mostly a narrow dirt road with minimal rocks/roots to trip over.

I crossed this bridge and headed along the creek for a little ways until the trail ventured off into the woods. So many decisions on which path to take. I vowed to return to try out some of the other trails on a later date. I took it slow, stopped to take photos, and had a great time! My only regret is not carrying a water bottle with me so I could have gone longer. When I came to a road (I think Dallas Highway), I turned around and tried to back track my route. At one point I couldn't remember which intersection to take, so I switched my Garmin to direct me "back to start". Thank goodness for this feature!

On my return, I stopped to photograph a sign for Eaton House and heard a scamper. I looked over and saw three deer about 20 yards away from the trail. I stood and stared as one stared back at me. He started stomping his right hoof. The stomping increased so after snapping a photo I went on my merry way. A few minutes later I felt like I was being watched. I looked to my left and saw at least a dozen deer, equally spaced about 10 yards apart, about 10 yards off the trail. Wow!

5.53 miles later, I made it back to my car. I was completely soaked and filthy!  Glad I had a towel in the car to wipe off some of the grime.

What a great way to celebrate 1/1/2011!

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