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Four thousand miles later, here I am. Doing what I do.

08/29/2010

The best way to explore a new town is to lace up the sneaks and run it.  

Unless your new town is a lion-infested African savannah. And unless you’ve just moved to a place that happens to specialize in coal-production, lead smelting, or flagrant street crime.

We can cross Cubatao Valley, Brazil off our list of prime running destinations.

If, on the other hand, your new town is this place, I reckon you’re safe:

I don't know the names of these mountains yet, but I do know from walking here to take the picture that this beach is one block from the house I'm staying in.

Despite that the Juneau weather forecast looked like this,

Does the consistency not amaze and amuse you? Monday must feel mortified by it's 40% chance of precipitation. Did Monday miss the memo? How awkward.

I nearly skipped out the door this morning, ready to leave my waffle footprints all over this joint.

True, perhaps the race calendar for the remainder of the year is sparse, and true, perhaps black bears are a constant concern (for people who seem to naturally attract animals, likeme), and true, perhaps it’s always cloudy and rainy, but the trails! Oh, the trails! The mountains! The trails! Pinch me. Or maybe just punch me, for all of my gushing fresh air enthusiasm.

After trotting out of Douglas Island (where I’m living) and across the bridge, I ran around downtown this morning and stumbled my way onto the Perseverance Trail for about six miles of the run.

I met a pair of ladies at the trailhead who turned around with matching smiles and asked me, “Did you see the black bear just back around the corner?”

Ughhh…whaaaaaat.

I was immediately flooded with unease, so I stopped my watch and hiked with them for about two minutes, chatting and exchanging in-a-nutshell backgrounds. Juneau locals, they assured me that the shy little black bears around here are well-fed from all the fish and foraging available in the woods, so they won’t eat me like all those crazy Grizzlies in certain national parks recently. They also assured me I would see many of them. Frequently.

“Should I keep running?” I asked, anxious.

“Oh yeah, you’ll be fine. This is a busy trail. If you see a bear, just stop running, maybe give it a yell, try to make your body big, and don’t make eye contact. It will leave you alone. The biggest thing is not to surprise them.”

Fair enough.

I thanked the ladies and re-started my watch, occasionally yelling, “Hey bear” when I couldn’t see around trail corners. At one point, I heard some suspicious rustling around a corner. I yelled at the rustling because I was convinced it might be a bear. It was just a confused-looking girl running with her dog. Facepalm.

My bear fears dissolved as I saw other runners and hikers passing me in the opposite direction, and I was able to relax and set things to cruise control.

Speaking of cruises, if you ever take one that docks in downtown Juneau, this trail is the place to run. Maybe I shouldn’t say that yet, because it’s the only one I’ve explored so far, but you have my fervent recommendation anyway.

It’s fairly hilly in spots, but never too technical or rocky to preclude a proper running pace. And it’s absolutely 100% wha-bam grade jaw-droppingly gorgeous. The mountains are trussed up in sassy wildflowers and glittering waterfalls and misty rainforest garb, with vistas so punishingly pretty that you might start to hyperventilate, particularly if your vista involves a nearby black bear.

Really, though. What a run. What a run.

Sixteen miles really flies when you’re in a new town, especially if it’s a town like this:

Another view two minutes from the house.

 With trails like that:

This is not the Perserverance Trail I ran on today because taking my camera along would have been silly. It's the Treadwell Historic Trail, footsteps from the front door.

I consulted mapmyrun for a few pacing estimates, and through my downtown/Douglas roads on the way in and out, I managed something around an 8:15-8:25 pace. I’m not sure of the mileage on the trail, but I have to suppose my paces didn’t fluctuate too far out of that range. I ran for 2 hours and 18 minutes, which puts me at sixteen miles for the day at the very least.

I haven’t run this long in a while, and it felt effortless. That’s what fresh mountain air and 50*F temperatures can do for you, though.  

P.S. That weather forecast was wrong, because after a grayish morning, it’s become quite sunny here. More proof:

There are lots of older cars around here. I enjoy that.

Yes. Life is good today. Time to get back outside.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. Lori permalink
    08/29/2010 17:12

    Sweet pics…we would fit right in with the old cars 🙂 Tame bears? Any mountain lions???

    • 08/30/2010 20:29

      MOUNTAIN LIONS?! I didn’t even consider that. Will not research. Prefer to remain ignorant.

  2. 08/29/2010 17:44

    a-freaking-men to your very first sentence!

    i love the pictures and it looks like you are settling in well 🙂

    life is definitely good 🙂

  3. 08/30/2010 09:22

    Beautiful! But…”make your body big?” How about run away really freaking fast!

    • 08/30/2010 20:29

      I guess that trips their “chase” instinct. If I were Usain Bolt, I might try my chances.

  4. Pat permalink
    08/30/2010 11:44

    Juneau looks like an awesome place!

  5. 08/30/2010 15:13

    shyeah but what about in a few months when you’re buried under 10ft of snow and no daylight? hmmmmm? beautiful and 50 then? i think not.

    for now though, i’ll be jealous.

    • 08/30/2010 20:31

      You are entirely correct. Gotta live it up now.
      Although in Juneau’s defense, it doesn’t get any colder here in the winter than most areas of New England. Trust me, I did the research. Southern Alaska for the win.

  6. jbf permalink
    08/30/2010 17:57

    I’m unreasonably jealous of your life.

  7. 08/31/2010 04:34

    Totally, the best way to explore a new town is to run around it, except when there are animals that can maul your face off. Can you see Russia from your house?

    • 08/31/2010 17:25

      Nah, just the Yukon territory. I’ve heard you have to be a little further north for maximum Russia visibility.

  8. 09/01/2010 10:26

    Blow me!

    JK — but wowie, is that beautiful. I’m catching up on your last three or four posts and I’m loving the photos and illustrations.

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