Dear Virginians: Get Lost

Blog entry posted by rb2001, Apr 19, 2016.

How is it possible that people in Virginia don't just break into a spontaneous running event on an April weekend?

I was staying in the Fairfax area of this state for business purposes. My colleague drove the rental and I ignored him as I marveled on my map all the trails in the area. Not only that, a bumper crop of walkways trim what seemed like every major parkway and major thoroughfare.

A normal person will look up the maps, do some internet research, and determine a suitable running route. I did all of these. Then I forgot all of when it and went out to my first run. I am a bit absent minded. I lost my wallet including drivers license and all credit cards early March. Then, after I got them all replaced, I did it again in early April. I make more spare keys than Stan Lee makes cameos. Leaving needed things behind in a hotel room doesn't even begin to be a problem till I forget that I left the door propped opened.

My own ability to lose things extends myself. I truly and honestly do not know how people traveled anywhere before the age of the satnav. I have no Native American tracking skills and would need to be Senator from Massachusettes to be any less capable.

I have been lost in Korea, UK, Singapore, and Japan. I have also been lost in two different mountain ranges. I have taken extensive courses in compass use and map reading. It has helped manage the problem, but not alleviate it.

Fortunately I am trained in survival skills. I have used them only to a small extent. The biggest benefit is they give a needed calmness to get oriented when one is lost.

This creates an unsual characteristic in me: I actually enjoy getting lost. I did it repeatedly while barefoot running in Virginia.

There was a trail I saw on a map and I chose to find it through the retail and townhouses that surrounded it. I would run into subdivitions and all sorts of dead-ends which are affectionately called culdesacs. I did this for two days without success into the trail. I found a service road to some power lines that had succombed to wild growth. I found a pond with a rather severe no trespassing sign. I found little fijelds and off-paths that connected the neighborhoods. I just found interesting roads to run. At the end of both days, I had topped by best distance twice.

I went another direction on my third attempt. I got started late and it was getting dark soon. I just decided to run in a direction where freeway entrances are more common. I saw a business park there and decided to see what it might hold. At a stop light I looked across the street and noticed and overpass had a sidewalk. It ended at the intersection corner. There was in this area a place where no pathways existed on this side. I wondered and took it.

The sidewalk ended as it came off the overpass peak and changed into a trail, my elusive trail. I took the run as far as I could which wasn't very far. I am no stranger to running barefoot in the dark as I usually run before sun-up. But running on a trail without any lighting through the woods was more than I was prepared to do. I got in maybe 1/2 mile before I put on my feet covers and struggled to get out. The rest of my run felt sad.

No biggie. I will be returning soon. Here's hoping my trail feels the same about me as I do about her. In the meantime, I will hunt for off paths in my own neighborhood.

People often ask me when I go out of town if saw some toursit attraction or another. I find travel to be about people and the experience about the things I see by getting lost in these places. I meet people, I see simple things. Yes, I have been to the National Mall. I love it. I also love the couple who seeing me run without shoes asked about it. With running I now love getting a little lost in each place I go. I always come out of it feeling a little more discovered.

Happy trail hunting.
Bud, rik, hikerdana and 1 other person like this.

About the Author

Only puny secrets need protection. Big discoveries are protected by public incredulity.