The course is mostly gravel roads, with a little dirt road here and there. The black lines on the map are good maintained forest service roads with places where the gravel was a bit loose and a bit large. I wore my Montrail AT Plus trail shoes, and they did me well, but the balls of my feet feel slightly bruised after 17.4 miles of these roads. Not complaining, just commenting.
It was DRY there, but early on, we did have one spot that was almost a mandatory water crossing. A good Kodak moment, and then we stepped around it.
I suspect there are around 20-22 miles of good roads like these, and several off-shoots which are not as well groomed. We took one such road/trail, and followed it for a mile thinking we would get a good view of Lake Spavinaw. My map showed it to be a dead end, but I still thought it might connect to another similar tail for a loop, but it did not. So, we had an out-and-back added which included a LOT of rustling through loose leaves. The game management folks just don't rake leaves.
There is another distinct feature to the roads and trailz here. The area includes Hills. We had 6 or 7 significant climbs on the run, and we talked about whether these were worse than Pumpkin Holler. I'd say close, but there are definitely more of them. Look at the course elevation profile down the page--or don't. I'll talk more about it when I get there.
I love running under the pines. It was nice to see something still green. I mentioned while taking pix that I loved doing so (and of course posting them.) I feel it's like throwing out bait--the next time we come up, we'll make a TOT run out of it, and pictures help sucker people in--hills or not.
This is hill number 4 or 5. We ran some of them, and would stop to walk the last little bit if they were real steep. I also use the take-picture excuse to catch a breather.
Danielle almost had Scott talked into walking across this fallen tree. It would have been about a 20 foot drop if he fell. No takers today.
At around mile 10, we ran through an area where a fire had cleared a large area of trees. It was still a beautiful area though. Not sure what these two were talking about--probably the fiscal cliff or something.
This is the start of a 1.5 mile gradual downhill. Fun.
Lots of little ups and downs to go with some of the longer climbs, but a lot of it was runable.
We finally came to an intersection where we accessed our pace/progress/time remaining, and decided to shorten our run. The big loop we had planned would have definitely been longer than 20 miles--maybe as much as 24, and Scott had a commitment at 3:00--so we lopped off the loop furthest west. This move dealt us a long steep hill which we discussed the possibility of there being a McDonald's or a QuikTrip at the top. I even thought we might see the pearly gates there, but we were all wrong.
With the map I had, I never felt lost. The roads marked were good roads, and we never made a wrong turn (while running anyway--I did miss a turn driving up here due to yapping and not paying attention.) Here, I KNEW we must be going the right way since there were TATUR PINK RIBBONS on the trees.
After running through a 2-3 mile stretch on the bottom of a beautiful valley, we had one more climb to get back to where our car was. This climb was followed by a very steep downhill that Danielle ran like a gazelle. Scott walked it, I jogged it, and Scott's walk was faster than my jog. My poor feet were sore, and I was to the point where I was liking the uphills more than the downhills.
This is the route we ran. The loop on the left would have been about twice the size if we had ran it. We might still be out there--ya never know.
And the elevation profile from my Garmin. I like looking at these, but they don't always tell the true story. I will not tell you this was a "relatively flat" course. But looking at this profile, you might think there were NO FLAT SECTIONS AT ALL. Well, there were. The first mile did not even seem hilly. We ran it all. Miles 2-4 were easily runable. Miles 9-11--another good fast section. And even though it looks like a killer climb, mile 14.5-15.5 was right down the bottom of a flat valley. It might have been a very gradual climb, but it was easy to motor even though we were all pretty tired.
This is a fun place to run. I wonder a little about whether we should have been there as I really don't want to interfere with a hunter and his prey. I'll check on the regulations before bringing a TOT group up. And when we do make the trip, y'all better come.