My jogging adventure

I set out for a run this evening about 5:00pm. It’s the first time I’ve run from my house so my route was rather vague: go east until I run into the Bonneville Shoreline Trail about the ‘H’ rock, go south until I run out of time, turn around.

It’s straight uphill to the ‘H’ rock so I was pretty well busted by the time I got there. I stopped for a minute and looked out over the valley. Salt Lake is in the grip of an inversion, which means that the valley fills up with what the TV people euphemistically call ‘haze’. I seemed to be about eyelevel with the top of the inversion, the Oquirrh mountains 20 miles away across the valley clear as day, the city below lost in fog. It was a grey twilight, silent and cold. The foothills were dry, everything dead or dormant. Bare twisted scrub oak branches made the scene eerie.

I set off south along the trail. It was the first offroad running I’ve done since high school but the gait came back easy. I didn’t see another soul as the trail took me south, then turned east up a little canyon mouth.

The trail grew narrower and narrower. The slope was treacherous and small snow slicks tried to trip me up. I was forced to walk a few stretches.

Suddenly the trail dead-ended straight into a chainlink fence. Must be new construction. Some nouveau riche bastard building his empire in the foothills cutting off the trail. The fence, though, looked to end shortly to the north, and the trail might well continue on the other side. I started pushing along the fenceline, squeezing past dry oak branches that snagged my hair and scratched at my face.

About twenty yards of slow uphill progress in I heard a great barking and two dogs came running over to fling themselves against the fence. They looked to be golden labs so they probably just wanted to lick me, but they sure were acting otherwise. I have no idea if you can train a lab to be mean. Probably, I concluded, and made sure not to stick any digits through the fence as I continued forcing my way north.

Finally I rounded the end of the fence, still accompanied by my barking friends, and headed back south to where I reckoned the old trail should pick back up.

No trail.

Just oaks, getting thicker, the dark setting in hard now, the dogs going mad behind me.

But there appeared to be a bit of road to the south. It looked to be easier to get to than backtracking would be now. So I pressed on, wrestling the oaks and the sticker bushes. I could see other houses up ahead – well, mansions, really, and it seemed all of them had their own dogs howling and barking.

Finally I managed to claw my way out of the underbrush and to the road. Trying to look casual I set off at a jog, goggling at the lavish houses. Security cameras everywhere. Serious fences. No people to be seen.

Half a mile later I ran into the gate across the road. Clearly I had ended up in some gated community of doom. Frigging great. No way I was going back the way I came. I considered trying to hop the gate, but the spikes on top dissuaded me quickly. Surely, I reckoned, they wouldn’t bother building too long a fence here. So off I went, following the fence to the south. Just a few yards later it ended and I only had to endure a couple more oak scratches to get back to the road. I looked back at the gate, but it had no name, nothing to indicate what this wicked place was. I suppose it’s too exclusive for a mere name.

I managed to rejoin the shoreline trail shortly thereafter, finding a lucky trailhead. Running homewards in the dark was a delight. I used to think people running in the night were mad, but now I see the advantages: unlike a bike, you don’t need to see very far ahead, and you don’t need to fear the cars. Especially when you’re offroad. I might be doing a bit more of this in future.

But next time, I think I’ll go north instead. Hopefully the people who live in that direction are a little more welcoming of jogging strangers.

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