Be sure be sure to read CSGA Cartography – Part 3.
Long Run Cartography
I can’t think of a better way to map out trails than on a long run, and on this mid-March run I was set out to get a better GPS track for the Pirate Trail, Inside Loop, and explore whatever trails I could when I looped back around. The thinking was to run the trails as I knew them, plotting a solid course, and using the map on Garmin Fenix 3 when I was exploring the forks and trails that extend out from the primary single track. This approach helped me keep a bearing and perspective on where I was relative to the trails I had just run.
The Pirate Trail still is as hard as ever to find when coming from 4 Mile Rd I usually run past it, double back, and then finally catch a small cut in the woods where you enter; today was no different. After getting back on the trail I ran north, crossing the creek, then coming to a set of massive trees that were down. With the downed trees I had lost the trail and had to spend some time climbing trees and searching for the trail which I later found just west of me.
Eventually on the Pirate Trail you come up on a brown house to the west that is fairly close to the trail, you’ll see some trails west of the Pirate Trail but they are all private. Shortly after you pass that house, maybe 0.1 mile, there is a fork in the trail that is barely noticeable to the left. If you stay right it brings you back out onto Section 1 of the Main Loop and going left will keep you on the Pirate Trail. On this run I still couldn’t get this fork down and found myself standing on Section 1 and realizing that I needed to turn around to get back to the Pirate Trail. The remainder of the Pirate Trail was pretty easy to follow and it ends at the 5 Mile Rd connector about 1.5 Miles into Section 1 of the Main Loop.
After getting lost running the Inside Loop backwards the year before I was determined to give it another go on this run. I headed out Section 1 to Dursam Ave and entered the Inside Loop from the parking lot. The main trick with running the Inside Loop backwards is to take the first left about 0.2 mile up the trail, going straight and left later will cause you take the switchbacks in the direction that heads back to Dursam Ave. After taking the first left the primary single track is pretty easy to follow by not taking any of the hard turns and going with the flow of the trail. When I got back to Section 1 I went left (south) and headed back to the parking lot to refill water before starting a second loop.
Starting the second loop I once again went out the Pirate Trail, took the wrong fork which lead me to Section 1, and doubled back and completed the Pirate Trail. I was back on Section 1 and decided to take the right turn towards the very end of Section 1 just prior to Dursam Ave. I had inadvertently run this section of trail a month or so prior at night in a couple of feet of snow while trying to follow a set of cross country ski tracks. During the day with no snow the single track was fairly easy to follow and lead back to the “old section 1” portion of the trail and continues straight west after a short stint on the main single track. This trail is fairly wide and hilly and exists back down into a latter portion of Section 1.
At this point was heading counter clockwise on Section 1 of the main loop, as I came up to the field portion of Section 1 I couldn’t help but notice a trail to the left that heads slight southeast. I took that trail and pulled up the map on my Garmin Fenix 3, realizing that this trail has a heading towards the Inside Loop. This trail runs through a beautiful section of mostly open field and reconnects with Inside Loop at the same point where you turn to right to head towards the Dursam Ave parking lot if you are coming from Section 1 or where you would turn left if you were coming the opposite direction.
I took a sharp left and ran the initial set of switchbacks in a counter clockwise direction. About 1.0 miles into the switchbacks I decided to take a trail to the left that headed southwest. This trail cuts the remaining switchbacks inside of the Inner Loop and I would later find out that it also provides access to the Coke Machine Route. At this point I was about 19.7 miles into a 20.0 mile run and already a few minutes late to get home due to my trail exploration efforts and I decided to blaze a trail directly back to Section 1 through the deep woods to cut out some distance and time; I would have to clean up that GPS portion of the run for the final map later.
Read on for more trail details in CSGA Cartography – Part 5.