Some Days, a Road is as Good as a Trail

I head to Temple, New Hampshire, nearly every New Year’s Day for a 3-mile walk. Most of the two hundred or so people around me see it as a 5-k race for runners, but a few of us take a slower pace. The race fee goes to charity, the atmosphere is festive, Temple’s a pretty town, and all comers are welcome. Last week, that added up to 45 minutes of New Year good cheer for me.

The route is a simple loop starting near the town green on Route 45: West Road, Fish Road, Mill Road, Hadley Highway, and back to the distinctive town hall building. Traffic is nearly nonexistent on New Year’s Day, but even on a business day, this would be a safe & relatively peaceful route.

Why would I go for pavement when there are trails with fresh snow nearby? This event is an annual tradition for me; the roads with their bucolic views are ¬†plowed and clear; there is virtually no auto traffic on a holiday; the very sight of the Sharon Ledges on Temple Mountain’s ridge makes me smile as I think of the berries I’ll be able to pick when I head up that way in the summer. All that, plus the post-race hot soup provided by the race committee, makes this trip worthwhile.


New year, and I’m back outside

The P’Nut Chip 5k in Temple this morning was the perfect way for me to put months of inactivity behind me. Several things falling under the category of “medical issues” turned me into a slug, and I and my plantar fasciitis are ready to hit the roads and trails again to make up for lost time.

Our whole region endured a severe ice storm a few weeks ago, and I’m sure I’ll be seeing the aftermath for months to come. I was heartened by the look of Temple today; that town took an even harder hit than my own. Broken branches lined the roadsides today, but no roads were blocked by fallen trees. I must have seen half a dozen utility trucks (and on a federal holiday, too) making their way through town. A road race couldn’t have been very high on the priority list for town officials & residents as they cleaned up the mess from the storm, but everything today went smoothly.

Walking the course before the race began was a real pleasure. I haven’t been outside much over the past few weeks as that whole “slug” thing took over. Clearly, I’ve been wasting time. As cold as the weather was today (11 degrees at the start of the race), I had the right clothing, so there was no problem on that score. My regular walking shoes handled the packed snow just fine — no boots for me when I’m timing myself on a course. And never mind what my time was. Think “slow”, which was all the better for enjoying the sunshine and the rural roads along with all those cheerful, energetic people who were much faster than I.

I’m not forgetting that the trails around here, unlike the roads, are still a mess. I needed today’s outing to restore my optimism for the pace of recovery from the ice storm. Monadnock State Park is still closed. The Friends of the Wapack have posted a message on the group’s web site warning against hiking the trail for the time being, since the tree damage has rendered the trail “very hard” to follow. My favorite cross-country ski area, Windblown in New Ipswich, was shut down by the storm, and the owners are doing heroic work to arrange for the extensive logging and cleanup necessary to restore at least a few kilometers to skiable (and hikable) condition.

Today proved, as if any proof were needed, that things are looking up.