The clocks changed today, and with that came Leg 7 of the Border to Shore run. I read back a bit, and found out that we did the first leg of this run when the clocks changed in the spring. The major similarity between these two runs is that it was pretty freaking cold out. At least we got and extra hour of sleep – a truly terrible swap for an hour of sunlight in the afternoon.
The day started with some confusion. We were going to drop a car at Castle Craig, our endpoint for the day. However, Rob and Dave had been there before and I depended upon Apple Maps (bad idea!). Anyhow, we tried to get there from opposite directions, and we soon both realized that the road up to the Castle was closed from both ends today. I guess they didn’t want anybody going to the only thing that makes Meriden interesting on a beautiful, sunny fall morning (side note – as a society we really need to invent some sort of sarcasm punctuation).
We ended up parking on a turnout along Route 71/Chamberlain Highway where the Metacomet crosses. Overall, it was a good decision but leaves us with a pretty anticlimactic final run on the Metacomet next time – about 5 miles, 4 of it on paved road and ending at the Berlin Turnpike. Maybe I can talk the boys into including the first couple miles of the Mattabesset to offset it…
We drove up to Carey Road in Southington where we left off last time and started the run. First up was Short Mountain, which is in itself is quite an ironic name. If it were short it would be a “hill”. Oh well, at least it was steep and rocky. Just like we like it.
After Short, we ran down to the Timberlin Golf Course and then had a stretch of about 1.5 miles of road running. It pains me to say it, but I’ve come to appreciate the short road segments on the Metacomet. The trap rock takes a lot out of your ankles and feet, and you don’t realize the amount of concentration you are exerting with each stride until you get onto the road and can fall into the mindless running zone.
Back on the trail, we buzzed up to the ridge line of the Hanging Hills. Well, maybe not buzzed. The first couple hundred yards were nice, but this soon deteriorated into what closely resembled bushwhacking. The portion of the trail up to the Castle from the north seemed underutilized and rarely cleared, but passable – just not great for running. What was great was the view from the top. Wow. I’ve seen this from I-691 and always wondered what it was like up there. For the acrophobic among us, there is quite a bit of vertigo inducing exposure on this segment of the trail – but without risk there’s no reward!
Once we hit West Peak (elev. 1,024), we thought we were home free. We all thought East Peak and the Castle were around the corner along the ridge line. We couldn’t be more wrong. What are all those elevation lines on the map? Oh, instead of the roadway or the ridge line, the trail designers want you to climb all the way down West Peak and then back up East Peak? Brilliant! Oh, well – it made us appreciate the apple donuts we got at Rodger’s Orchardlater all that much more…
The major difference between running roads and trails is that you can enjoy the downhills on the road. Trail uphills are difficult, but downhills are treacherous, and sometimes downright terrifying. After our second descent of the Hanging Hills, we cruised by a couple reservoirs and dropped back down to Route 71. A nice day on the trail today – one more to go and the Metacomet will, sadly, be behind us.