Long Runs are Longer When You’re Lost.

Today’s run was supposed to be a long one. I was shooting for 8 or 9 miles in the Harbison State Forest. The good news is that I succeeded in making the distance. The bad news is that my route was nothing like what I had planned. I was lost, several times, in the woods, alone.

At this point, I really thought I was safe for the day.

The plan was for Cara to take Dublin (our pug) to the forest for a while and pick me up later. I had things planned out pretty well. I had a color printout of the official trail map, my Garmin GPS watch, my iPhone and a bottle of water. Things were pretty good for a while, and I even tweeted happily about where I was.

The problem with a first-time trail run is that you’re just not familiar with the area. It’s the woods, after all. Things are marked pretty well, but it’s not a perfect system. I started on the Firebreak Trail, which is about 4.2 miles in a loop. I’ve been around that twice, so no worries. The idea was to take a connector trail to the Stewardship Trail and make it all one big, giant loop. This, of course, is where I got into trouble. I thought I was lost, but I wasn’t. Then I came to a turn and thought I was lost again, but used my trusty map to make the right choice. Still good. During this process I found myself almost worshiping a trail sign. (See the photo above.)

Things seemed a little better when I found the River Rest Stop. It’s about 100 yards off of the Stewardship Trail. There are some benches, and if you’re willing to walk through a little brush then you can get to the Broad River. I walked down to a nice flat rock and sat down on a log to do some tweeting and send a few pics to Flickr and post a vid on YouTube about the area.

When I was ready and I had soaked up enough beauty, I decided to get back on the trail. I was good for a while, but… well, why not let the tweets speak for themselves? Here they are, from the top:

The moral of this story is simple. iPhone maps aren’t all that useful in the middle of the damned woods. Just use a paper map, look at signs and ask people for directions like we all used to do in the Olden Days.