February 20, 2009

Elephant Rock Run

In early February I visited one of my favorite "stomping grounds," Elephant Rock, which is near Boston Hill. I don't actually stomp along trails but instead pick, wog or scoot (pixie-style). Sometimes I plod, slip and bumble-a-bit, too! When I run technical trails I imagine my form resembles a game of zig-zagging rock & root hop-scotch. In general running trails hones my mental focus and motor skills—with or without snow.

The footing in Ward Reservation is tricky regardless of the season. Trail running is meditative and I must be present every step. When I started running trails some years ago, I was quite clumsy the first few times (and still can be especially when I am tired & out-ah-gas). Yet, the more I run on a variety of terrain the efficient I become & the more proficient I am in handling what nature tosses my way!

In the spring I enjoy the surprise of punching through the snow. This is different than post-holing, because it is nearly unexpected. There probably exists some "nature formula" with landing pressure, temperature of day, and snowflake quality that enters into the equation of precisely when a foot breaks through... Still I prefer the surprise! The act of falling/tripping and the immediate recovery afterwards also requires personal experience and skill. However I don't recommend intentionally falling to get better at it.

Several trails lead to the summit of Boston Hill and the one I usually take has a small stream crossing and rocky technical terrain. When I am in tip-top shape I can usually run/jog the whole way up. But this time I wogged it, which is more enjoyable to me anyway. Wogging is a term referred to a mixture of jogging and walking. It's a technique that's essential to me on long runs.

For your inner-geologist, Boston Hill is a "glacial drumlin, which is a rounded hill that was formed when moving ice sheets pushed together molded masses of sticky glacial till" (ATC's Trail Guide). The retired Boston Hill ski area is fenced off but is a welcome sign that I've reached the top of it. I recall skiing on Boston Hill as a little kid. It's steep slope and proximity to the road terrified me. After the ski area closed down, it was briefly an alpine slide park. I found a great site exploring Boston Hill's history at The hill is now all overgrown and thankfully still UN-developed! The trail towards Elephant Rock runs along to the right of this defunct chair lift on a level surface before it opens up onto a beautiful field where the Elephant waits. The hill by Elephant Rock is a great for running repeats.

Here's a candid photo of Elephant Rock—with a clear view—snapped during a hike in October, 2006.
NO Snow!

I love this field and the surrounding woods because I've seen a gang of wild turkeys, deer parcels as well as, fallen—head over heals— two times!
What's next?

1 comment:

Dan said...

WOW! you have a lot more snow up your way. It wasn't that bad in Breakheart last week. Nice report and once again I love the video. Remind me to ask you about it next w/e at the Fells.