Why did the trail runner cross the creek?

No, this isn’t a bad riddle. It’s a trail runner’s constant challenge, especially in the winter.

I was at Fort Harrison State Park this morning, running on the Bridle Trail.

One minute I was trotting through the woods, as carefree as a bird. The next minute, boom, I found myself at a swollen creek.

There were a few stepping stones, but many of them were covered with ice or submerged in water. And the water looked cold.

What should I do?

A) Splash right through the icy water.

B) Hop from rock to rock, and pray for the best.

C) Look up and down the banks for a better place to cross.

D) Turn around, retrace my steps, and find another trail to run.

It was a doozy of a choice.  But it was really a problem of my own making. I’ve run this trail dozens of times, and know perfectly well that this creek is here. In the past, I’ve made it across just fine.

But today was different. I was surprised at how high the water was, probably five or six inches. We’ve had lots of rain in recent weeks, including an inch or two on Christmas Day. Many of the stepping stones were slippery or under several inches of water.

And with the temperature at 29 degrees, I didn’t feel like splashing across, soaking my feet with icy water.

So that kind of ruled out Options A and B (splash across, or jump from rock to rock).

So I stood there, at the water’s edge, wondering what to do. My options at that point were C and D (look for another crossing point, or turn around).

I looked up and down the creek for a better place to cross. Here’s what I saw.

I decided to walk upstream, along the banks for a few minutes, to find a better place to cross. I trudged through snow and mud for a few hundred feet.

At one point, I saw a fallen tree that spanned the creek:


If I were younger and more sure-footed, I would have chanced it. But I didn’t feel lucky today. I had visions of slipping off the snowy log and splashing in the creek. So I kept walking.

After a few more minutes, I saw a wide bed of stones in the creek. Yay!


I decided that this is where Trail Boy finally crosses the creek.

And, indeed, with a few well-placed steps and jumps, I made it safely to the other side.

I rejoiced and took a photo to mark the happy occasion.

Once across, I ran for about another half-hour, for a total of about an hour and 15 minutes.

So to answer my original question: Why did Trail Boy cross the creek? Because that’s what trail runners do.

Even if it takes 10 minutes some days to figure out how to do it.

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2 Responses to “Why did the trail runner cross the creek?”

  1. the fallen tree looked fun!

  2. But then weren’t you far away from your trail? Did you find a new one? I guess you have to be adaptable to run in the winter.

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