Before trail running there was hiking
I hiked alone. I didn't have a car. I bussed from West Seattle all the way out to Issaquah or North Bend. From there it was easy to hitch the last few miles to various trailheads around town, or even walk!
I have fond memories of troubleshooting the bus routes while hunting bus stops and back roads. Many hours were spent in my room with maps and pamphlets, figuring out which trails I could access by foot and by transit.
There were failures
Once after work, I set out for Grand Ridge from the Issaquah PCC on a broiling summer day. This was unplanned and I was cocky. Out of water and energy, I stumbled down the I-90 horse trail to the Seattle Concrete’s trailer office, where the sole employee was kind enough to let me fill my water bottles.
There were surprises
Last year I went home to O`ahu at Christmastime. I ran from Waikiki to Kailua over the Pali, using trails and abandoned roads wherever possible. I grew up with nightmares of missing the last bus and having to walk home from school, and now I can’t wait to do it again.
A lot has changed
Having a car has allowed these local trails to really open up. I can and do run in Snoqualmie Valley any day of the week. The trails deep in the Middle Fork are no longer strangers, and the summertime haul up Snoqualmie Mountain or Guye peak is no longer dependent on the kindness of strangers.
I’m grateful, to be sure. But the luxury of a car has displaced the elegance of looking up at a peak from town and running out to it. I get the sense that this style is shared by the mountain runners in the Alps, and human powered adventure stories are constantly flowing out of Colorado.
Besides, this method virtually always carries the benefit of coffee at the start and beer at the finish.
The Ticklist From Town
To this end, I have started to compile a list of short town-to-trail runs east of Lake Washington. Aside from the aesthetic pleasure of starting and ending in civilization, I expect these routes to help familiarize me with lesser known towns and trails. I also see an opportunity for some longer, easier runs in the snow-socked winter months.
These will live in a tab we launched called “ticklist”. It’s barebones right now, but we have some pretty rad plans to dress it up with some data design.
A final remark
Running trails repeatedly helps bind you to a place. Moving by foot lays down a richer set of memories than driving. You really know a place you repeatedly run in. I’m sure the Ticklist From Town style helps to make trails more accessible and make us more connected with the towns around us. If we are disgusted by the road sections, so much the better! Let’s work to minimize them! The suburban strip mall or box store barn plainly do not have the same aesthetic as a café-lined cobblestone street in the Pyraneés. So what. Connecting the storefront to the trailhead with our feet, with our sweat, with our intentions may help bring the outdoors closer to us and our fellow humans.