We started out on the east side trails: Link to Snowmobile to Knight Woods. From Knight Woods we took a fork off to the left which then led us back across Rt. 9 on the snowmobile trails. This trail, which none of us had ever been on before, runs along the south side of the park just outside of the park boundary, and I could make out the rocky South Ridge above us. The most noticeable characteristic of this trail was the excellent rolling hills. It’s always fun to run with Erik O because he has big trail running cojones and likes to go exploring, and loves to run fast downhill.
This trail came out next to the Pownal elementary school and then crossed Elmwood Road. By now the sun was out and we wished we had brought our sunglasses. After a little more than a mile of beautiful trail we came out to another road, I didn’t know where we were but just as we emerged from the woods we saw a runner coming down the road and he informed us that this was Lawrence Road. This friendly runner joined us for a few minutes on the trail and we got the opportunity to ask him if he knew anything about the trail to Pineland. He had never gone that way but gave us a few pointers before turning off on the next road we crossed, Leighton Road.
The snowmobile trail led into a big open field where the snow was soft and almost every step had us sinking in to mid-calf. From the high spot in this field we could clearly see the two cupolas atop the Pineland Farms Equestrian Center stables and the unmistakable black orb that is the Gray weather station. We estimated that we were only about a mile away as the crow flies, but knew that trails rarely keep a straight line. The trail led us back into the woods for a short stretch and then came out onto a power line trail running north-south. Erik and I both have a pretty good sense of direction and knew that we really wanted to head due west but this wasn’t an option. We took the advice of the runner we had seen and headed south under the power lines but unfortunately this lead to a river which was only partially frozen and neither of us were in the mood for a swim (or the freezing run back to the park). So we turned back here, 4.5 miles from where we began. The connection to Pineland would have to wait for another day, but we made good progress.
After returning to the park Erik and I decided to punish ourselves some more by running a loop of the mountain on the Boundary Trail, then onto the South Ridge where we found a trail leading off of the mountain and onto the “Pineland Connector”. This would make for a shorter route than the way we started out, but given the current conditions isn’t really worth checking out. Erik referred to the latter part of our run as a “suffer-fest” which is a good way to summarize the conditions.
distance: 11.92 miles
heart rate: 162/186