Week two of my summer adventure series brought out six people to the east side, and is being fairly classified as hill training because... damn, it was a bit of a roller coaster.
We met at the parking lot of a recreation area in Mill Woods called Jackie Parker Park, a huge playground and spray park set aside a dog offleash park nestled at the edge of a golf course and connected at one corner to the natural area surrounding a winding creek. It is, in fact, the same creek — Mill Creek — where we often meet and run during the school year... at least when there is no pandemic. The same creek, but we were about 10 klicks south from our usual stretch, and I’m legitimately doubtful that the trail system even really connects the two spots, save wading through the water. I knew of the place because of the playground and had chaperoned a couple trips to the location as part of being the dad of an elementary student... multiple years ago.
I’d never run there.
The connection to the trails turned out to be just shy of a klick-long jog past the dog park, but once across the nearby road we dipped into a rolling trail system that twisted and weaved across the creek dozens of times, dodged up in the neighbourhood more than once, and never seemed to stop changing elevation.
Physical distancing requirement have been slightly relaxed in the last couple weeks, and were due for even more casual freedom in the hours following this run, but we still tried to keep a reasonable spacing between us even as we huffed and puffed up surprise hills, climbed random stairs, dodged runners, dogs, and bikes, and generally explored a new part of town.
In the end, we clocked just over a modest seven klicks which took us to the far end of the trail segment and back along a slightly variant route... and paused for some ice cream from a food truck back at the parking lot.
The point of these adventure runs is multi-fold: get out of the neighbourhood during the pandemic quasi-lockdown, try some trails I’d never (or rarely) run, and see my friends. Mission accomplished. The route itself isn’t something I’d rush back to run, so many hills and the access was a little spotty from where we’d parked, but for a weeknight adventure — even maybe a repeat someday — it was worth the drive.