I found myself visiting an old friend this morning: the trails of Weko and Warren Dunes along the Lake Michigan coastline in Southwest Michigan. I’ve always found that I know every intimate details about the routes I run the most and the Weko and Warren Dune trails I used to run often. On this trail, for instance, I notice which trees have been downed from the last storm, where someone has carved out a new path, a pile of branches which someone has cleaned off the trail, how long it’s been since someone has come through and done some trail maintenance, and so on. Even though I’ve moved from the area and only get down once or twice a year to run these trails, today it felt as though I never left. I was giddy with excitement as I ran along the deep wooded ravines on the quiet inner trails and on the outer ridgeline trails with spectacular views of Lake Michigan. Yes I was back in my element and home on my favorite trails!!
The indians that lived in this area centuries ago used to claim that the woods and trails in the dune region were healing grounds for their people. I think of that whenever I run out there and can attest that I have been healed many times on these trails over the years. Regardless of my state of mind when starting off on my journey onto the trails, whether walking or running, I always finish feeling refreshed, cleansed and “healed” of any stress or problems I was dealing with. I’ve run on some incredibly beautiful trails throughout Michigan and the United States but none match the spiritual effects that I find while running these trails. Each time I come back I’m reminded of that.
A few years back I used to put on a 1/2 marathon run on these trails and the first couple years the race was in late March. I didn’t want it to necessarily be a trail race but more of a trail experience that I could share will the local trail runners followed by an awesome all you can eat breakfast buffet in the beach house. March was a good time because it was before the racing season started for a lot of the runners and the snow would be melted off the trails. Although the experience is one to remember in any weather conditions, I was a little disappointed the second year when the fog was so thick you couldn’t see more than 6 feet out. For the first time runners they couldn’t appreciate all the views throughout the course. Nevertheless the runners were all smiles at the finish!
As I was running this time the thought of organizing another Spring run crossed my mind, but only for a moment before drifting back into the glory of running with an old friend! If you have that one special place to run or spend time, make sure you take the time to visit it. I know I will!!!