Trail Running through Chester Bowl
The thing I love about trail running is similar to what most people love about canoeing, camping, hiking, or fishing. IT’S OUTDOORS! It is such a wonderful escape from all the pavement. Stub your toe on a root and not a broken glass bottle in the nearby parking lot. Duck underneath the pine needles while you are darting in-between pine saplings, covering beneath their “parents” for protection. Put the headphones and armband away while you listen to Nature’s “Running Playlist”. These reasons are why my tale from the trail takes place in Chester Bowl. Once you get down from the street level next to the creek, everything shuts off mentally. That is when the primal takes over. Christopher McDougall sums that feeling up perfectly in his book Born to Run.
“There is something so universal about that sensation, the way running unites our two most primal impulses: fear and pleasure. We run when we’re scared, we run when we’re ecstatic, we run away from our problems and we run around for a good time”
This exhilaration is tough to shake when the only sound is the rushing of the creek and the pat, pat, pat, of your cadence with the ground. My most recent run in Chester Creek was similar to any beautiful love story. It’s so easy and accessible to fall into. When you are on the same level as the water it’s such a refreshing feeling and then there is conflict. No matter which way you go into the bowl, you need to climb up to get out. You can walk and let the hills win. The hills want to win; it’s appealing to them, conquering runners. In defiance of this game you, the runner, must not give them that pleasure. You can’t walk up the rocks and give them the silence of your broken soft footsteps. Each step up from the bottom must be taken at a jogging pace, just enough to hear those comforting pat pat pats coming from your feet. This is the coming of age story for many runners that happened to me that last time I ran. I heard my mind telling me that I was done, but my feet kept reassuring me. The pat pat pat was telling me, “Keep running, we can handle it.” Again, like any good romance, after the conflict is the top, the perfect paddling day after a week of rain in BWCAW, the sunshine and breeze falling on your back while you reach for the next hold.
So the next time you are running and you hear your thoughts. You are doing it wrong. Find a good trail off in isolation, eat up, wear the right gear, and then let your feet take over. Listen to the encouragement from your feet and the chirping of nearby birds
Blog written by Connor, outdoor enthusiast and Duluth Pack store employee