Monday, April 16, 2012

Solitude on the Chippewa

Last weekend, I find myself back in Wisconsin visiting family with only
three weeks to go before the North Coast 24-hour National Championship.  I am a little bit stressed because I have gotten way behind on my training.... oh well, I end up having a few hours to kill and so go exploring on the Chippewa River State Trail.  The name is a bit misleading because it is not exactly a "trail," but a very nice asphalt bike path.  From the looks of things, it is quite new and very well maintained.  The west end of the trail starts in Durand, Wisconsin and ends up in the east at Eau Claire, for a total of 30 miles one-way of paved trail.

I start in Durand on a bright and sunny day.  The temperatures increase throughout my 20 mile run to the point of being downright hot.  What's up with that?  It is only mid-April.  It still should be snowing!!  The trail is completely flat. Apparently it is converted from an unused railway corridor.  Early on, the views are of fields and farmland.  Even though it is mid-afternoon on a Saturday, I see only two runners, a handful of bikers, two fishermen and one snake.  It is very quiet and peaceful.

After about seven miles of running, I see my first real glimpse of water - the Chippewa River.  The Chippewa eventually drains into the Mississippi River.  It was used heavily in the 1800s for logging.  Now, it's a popular river for canoeing.  Although I would like to keep going, I have to turn around at the ten-mile mark and head for my car.  Unfortunately there are no drinking fountains on the trail and I have brought no water with me.  I am parched.  I am tempted to jump in the river but decide to keep plodding along the path.  When I eventually get back to the trail head, my car is a welcome sight as I drive off in search of drinkable water!  Definitely though a nice way to spend an afternoon.  I will be back to see the rest of the trail as I missed the sandstone buffs that are further east.

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