Friday, May 25, 2007

My Own Private Idaho

As I'm sure is the case with every runner, I have a favorite route I love to run. Depending on the distance I plan to cover, I can stretch essentially the same route anywhere from four to nine miles long. It's a route that is really only runnable during good weather because much of it traverses gravel and dirt roads that become a muddy mess under even a light rain or snowfall. But on a beautiful spring day, this route offers a little bit of everything: quiet solitude, breathtaking scenery, challenging inclines as well as gentle rolling hills. More than once, while running my favorite route, I've said outloud to myself, "This is the reason I run".

Also more than once, I've wished I could share some of the things I see on my favorite running route with my family and friends. But not until the other day did the thought occur to me how I could do it. I had set out for a morning run and while starting past a pasture of grazing cows, it struck me. I turned around, ran the quarter mile back home and grabbed my digital camera. It wasn't the most efficient of runs, carrying a camera and stopping every couple of minutes to snap a picture before picking up into a run again. But over the course of seven miles I grabbed some shots that depict pretty well why I love to run Idaho.

(If any of you are inclined to do the same thing along your own favorite running route, I'd be your most interested reader!)

The previously mentioned pasture of cows. It always cracks me up how cows will stop everything they're doing (except chewing their cud, of course) to unabashedly stare at me as I run past. When I'm in a really good mood, I'll talk to them. Otherwise, I'll just nod politely and continue on. The other picture I caught of a farm truck filled to the brim with nothing other than potatoes. It's planting season right now and the sprouts of older potatoes are used to grow new ones. During the spring and fall, I'll see half a dozen of trucks like these on any given run.

On the top, a road that runs alongside a farm canal (there is something about running alongside a body of water-- whether it's a canal, a river, a lake, whatever-- that is so peaceful to me). The field next to it is used to harvest corn, a rather uncommon crop in Idaho, but one that makes for unique running scenery, especially in August. In the distance is the mountain butte I'll be climbing and running across. On the bottom is a shot of the farmland below as I begin climbing the butte (a helluva hill workout, by the way).

Halfway up the butte is a nice little trail run that stretches about a mile. Part of it runs practically through a forest while the other part runs literally across a farming field (I've had to dodge around huge standing water pipes while running this trail). Continuing on up the butte, I run into nothing but farmland and country roads for as far as the eye can see. The road eventually turns into gravel, which makes for easier running on my knees, as well as provides a strange sort of satisfaction upon hearing the constant crunching sounds under my feet. The farms in this area grow potatoes and certain kinds of grain (usually barley and hay). The fields alternate year to year, so the farms you see growing grain now you'll see growing potatoes next year. Every fall, all the local schools release the students for two weeks for what's known as "Spud Harvest". Theoretically, it allows the children (typically, high-schoolers, but younger children help as well) the ability to earn some money while working with farmers to harvest potatoes.

This part of the route cuts directly through the middle of the farms. I have to cross my fingers when I do this run in hopes I don't do it on a day when the sprinkler pipes are situated right above the trail, watering the surrounding fields. Several unlucky times, I've been caught in a mile long stretch of mud that causes my feet to sink deep into the ground with every step. But on the days when it's dry, there's no prettier sight than coming to the peak of the trail and seeing the landscape of the town below... especially if it's accompanied by the sun setting behind the mountains in the western horizon.

Speaking of sunsets, I took my camera again a couple days later to try to catch the same shots while the sun was going down. Although it wasn't the most colorfully spectacular of sunsets that night, it certainly was a lovely sight to see.

Finally, it wouldn't be a photo essay of running in rural Idaho without pictures of some of the local yokels.

Notice the lilac bushes in the background of this last one... they're everywhere around here and because they have such a powerfully fragrant scent, they make running past them a bit of temporary torture for me.

So, there you have it: Running in Idaho! If you're ever in my neck of the woods, bring your running shoes and I'll take you on a personal tour. Just stop and ask one of the cows where to find me... he'll point you in the right direction.


robison52 said...

I am sooo jealous of your route that "offers a little bit of everything: quiet solitude, breathtaking scenery, challenging inclines as well as gentle rolling hills."

Currently my own route is on the treadmill with a view of a huge sweaty Black guy walking on a treadmill in front of me. Hmmm, wouldn't that be a picture!

I also love your signature photo of Idaho in the backdrop and you standing off to the side. Well done!!

AddictedToEndorphins said...

That is certainly a fantabulous idea! Your running route looks like a little peice of paradise! I'm going to have to try the camera bit on Sunday.

Ovens2Betsy said...

Hmmmm... What route to pick? I probably should do Greenlake as it's the one I run most frequently (it's just a couple of blocks from our house; although I don't do my really long runs there, I often do a couple of laps to make a 6-mile run). But then there's Shilshole with fantastic views of the Olympics, or the route heading downtown that also has fabulous water views, or the many spots of the Burke-Gilman.

At any rate, thank you for a fabulous blogging idea! I'll be bringing my camera along for tomorrow's run.

Allen said...

I was raised in a small town in Southern Utah, and I lived in Massachusetts for 17 years in a small town. Every time I leave my home in metro Salt Lake, I dream of being back in a small town again. Thanks, Angie, for a look at your Idaho!

For those who haven't visited my blog, I have some pictures of the Jordan River Parkway where I run. That is my Utah.

Anonymous said...

I love the route!! I'd run with you anytime. :) GG

Joe said...

Great pics. How many people live in that area? Three?

See Zanne Run said...

I love this idea! And your route is so gorgeous! I will do the same ... certainly way more fun than whining about my recovery - or lack thereof ... it will just have to wait till i can run on the road again .. the grass loop i've been doing is EXCRUTIATINGLY boring & will offer nothing for showing how nice a kentucky run can be ... great idea - thanks for sharing & thanks for putting all your readers' up to the same task -this will be fun!

Jim said...

What a neat idea! Thanks for sharing.

Ovens2Betsy said...

I OBVIOUSLY have too much time on my hands. Here's mine:

Laurel said...

I love this! I often daydream of doing this myself when I am running but with video and posting it on youtube. Maybe I will try it with my camera one day. I will let you know if I do.

P.S. Your route is absolutely beautiful and looks so peaceful! I am jealous. I'm usually dodging cars and trying not to get run over here in Miami.

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