Unskewing My Perspective

On May 19, 2008, in Uncategorized, by Meghan

My perspective on trail running had become skewed. During some of my recent long runs, I wasn’t exactly a happy runner. Tough winter weather that persisted too far into spring, omnipresent snow on the trails, an abundance of dead things to attract bears trailside, and an infinite array of hunting seasons had all left me feeling somewhat uneasy about my travels.

Last week, I successfully unskewed my perspective about all of this, and I had a superb long run. Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, Montana’s first state park, is best known for its active limestone cave system. Above ground, the park has a lesser-known but locally popular system of hiking/mountain biking trails. Basically, the park’s trails make a 10 mile sweeping loop with a few additional out-and-back extensions. In some fantastic weather and amidst the company of friendly mountain bikers and hikers, I did 3 1o mile loops in 6 hours, gaining about 7000 feet elevation throughout the day. Here’s the rest of the story:

This photo was taken from the trail system’s high point, about 6000 feet elevation. The Jefferson River traces through the valley (as does the trail system) about 1500 feet below, where the Lewis and Clark Expedition traveled through in 1805.

I was running solo, so you’ll have to forgive the self-portraiting. The cave system is some distance under my feet here, and this mountain range extends to about 7000 feet elevation. It was so-joyously-warm, but I covered up in a hat and long sleeves to protect my fair, winterized skin.

Here’s another photo of the mountains, and the cave system is still underfoot. This valley is appropriately named Cave Gulch. The trails were fantastically well-kept and runnable. Here, the trail descended through the valley and to the left side of the photo.

This is the snow-melt swollen Jefferson River, and it made a great place to swim post-run. As I went down to the water, I spooked a coyote who had apparently been swimming. It looked like the world’s largest wet rat, rather than a canid!

Ok, this photo makes it look like an unappealing swimming hole, but it was only a little muddy on the river bank. After I took this photo, I jumped in wearing my running clothes and floated in an eddy. It was about 70 degrees out, and this felt great!

Can you tell that I just ran 30 miles? After running, swimming, and changing clothes, I was off to meet friends for dinner in Bozeman, and I think they never would have known what I was up to during the day if I hadn’t told them!

Montana is beautiful in so many ways. I’m sorry that my perspective had been previously skewed, but I think my head is back in the right place now.


10 Responses to “Unskewing My Perspective”

  1. Bob Gentile says:

    Way to knock out those three 10 mile loops, Congrats!! Great Pics & no it doesn’t look like u just ran a 30 miler!

  2. Alisha says:

    Duuddde that’s amazing! Beautiful beautiful beautiful. It looks like my road trip this summer isn’t going to work out, but sometime soon I really hope to get out the the Idaho/Wyoming/Montana area. I’m glad you are loving the trails again, it’d be a shame not to with everything around there.

  3. Audrey says:

    that’s weird. i thought of you last night b/c we were watching a political rally on tv in bozeman and i thought…is that where meghan lives? or my other montana friend (doing a primary care residency in-i just checked-Billings, MT)? it was you!! funny you were there last night. i’m glad you had such a great day!!

  4. JeffO says:

    Beautiful country! I like caves too, being a caveman and all.
    Wish I could find warm rivers to swim in.

  5. Danni says:

    Those are gorgeous pics! Sounds like an incredible run. Are you that close to Bozeman? You must be closer to me than I realized (close by Montana standards). I really should come down there sometime this summer!

    Wouldn’t it be cool if the trails also wound through the cave systems (and the caves had lights of course and cool magicky places and such).

  6. The Salty One says:

    What did Meghan do this weekend? She went for a nice leisurely 30 mile jog in one of the most beautiful places on earth. We all need to put things into perspective sometimes. I’m glad you had such a nice long run after so many crappy long runs. And you are tough to swim in the river. I’d be scared!

  7. Backofpack says:

    I’m trying to remember where we stopped on the way home from Bozeman (many years ago) and toured a cave. It seems like it was something to do with L&C. Seems like it might have been the same place! Glad to hear you got unskewed.

  8. mtnrunR says:

    ur gunna rock at kettle!

  9. Meghan says:

    Hi Y’all! It’s snowing here, so I’m wondering if anyone will take a winter-weary trail runner into their sunny, warm home? Please? Pretty please?

    Bob- Thanks!

    Alisha- Sadly you won’t be making it out here this year. You are welcome anytime, though.

    Audrey- Obama was a reported hit in Montana. Thanks!

    JeffO- Oh, it was a very cold river. Think, snow-melt cold. Think ice-bath cold.

    Danni- Do visit, anytime. I am not super close to Bozeman, but it’s where us country bumpkins go to have fun! 😉

    Salty- Naw, you would have jumped right in, too, under the same hot and tired conditions! Thanks on the shorts!

    Michelle- I’m sure those are the caves you visited. They are very popular and well-visited.

    Tom- Thanks, I emailed you.

  10. olga says:

    You look awesome after 30 miles!!! Yay, Kettle!

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