Monday, June 23, 2008
Pennyrile Nature Trail hike
When hiking the previous day, I had wondered about laying out trails and choosing routes. Sometimes one end point is obvious - the natural wonder or the top of the mountain. How do you decide where to put the other end? How long should it be? Which direction should you approach from? At the Walls of Jericho, the natural wonder is one end, and the trail has two other ends, both of which connect to the nearest roads. I was still thinking about this on Sunday as we set out.
The Pennyrile Nature Trail doesn't seem at all obvious in its layout. One end is in a state park, and the other is at a random parking lot. The scenic high point is about 1/3 of the way from the park. So why not just build a trail to there and stop? There is a road parallel to most of the trail, so access points aren't the determining factor. This isn't to say the hike isn't pretty or good exercise, but it doesn't seem to have a strong raison d'etre. I think the result of this is low traffic. We saw no one else on the trail, and in some places there wasn't really a trail at all. (It was very well signed, so we couldn't get lost despite the lack of a trail.) It didn't seem to be receiving a lot of use.
13.5 miles is a long hike for me, and I was feeling the effects the previous day's hike. Around miles 7-10 I was sure my body would insist on giving up the moment we reached one of the places the trail crossed the road. But after mile 10 or so, I got my cliched second wind. Today my legs are sore, and there's no way I'm up for my Ashtanga yoga class tonight!
You can see photos from another hiker here.