Today my family and I traveled to Coopers Rock State Forest in delicious West Virginia. Yesterday I eked out a DJ Caspar Cha Cha Slide solo mile, so I wanted to go for some gusto today, do a real mountain dance. I needed elevation training, fell running. Pollen be damned. I took my wheezing, allergy-ridden self onto the rocky cross-country ski trails of Coopers Rock. I ran for a little over an hour-and-a-half and didn’t see one single person. When I met up with my folk at the playground slash parking lot slash Lookout Point slash whatnot area thing I felt like I had actually done something good. I felt massaged.
The trails are incredibly rocky. It’s necessary to raise your knees and stay off your heels more often. Heel striking on slate rubble can be pretty scary, and there were all sorts of rocks jutting from the paths at odd angles. My shoes have a thin layer of reinforced material, a rock plate, to help spread loads when I stomp down on a sharp rock. My wife dropped me off inside the park entrance and I slipped into the woods, following rough trail downhill for two miles from 2,200 ft to 1,600 ft, then climbed back up again to around 2,100 foot at mile three, goofed around at about 2,000 feet on some rolling and sharp hills, dropped low for a mile, then back up again to around 2,000 feet to arrive at the Hey Y’all station.
I had not been on these trails in a couple of years. It was nice to get swallered up by a big old mountain on a perfect afternoon, just dandy. The trails were challenging, almost entirely single-track sliding around the faces of steep hills and, in the hollers, cut through thick fiddleneck ferns and tall grasses, nettles and washouts. The trees were impossibly tall and straight, with sun filtered down through the canopies rather sparse and beautiful upon the rocks and arboreal whatnots. I wished I had more time to drop down to Cheat lake and have a dip at around 700 ft., but the climb back up to the summit at Lookout Buy Stuff Toilet Family Corral would have taken me too long. I was supposed to meet up with my wife and her family for a standard hem and haw session, for putting feet on stumps and prognosticating and cursing and general ribaldry. So, I stuck to a sub – 2 hr. plan and made it back in plenty of time.
I got a good nine miles. It’s my favorite place to run, favorite place to train. I had a nice cool-down on a playground with my kids. I emerged from the woods muddy, juiced. I saw everyone and said, “Hey, y’all, I need to change clothes.” We had a proper get-down with some watermelon and jibber jabber. I had a cool-down on the playground.