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Returning to the Trail

Jewelweed on the Lake Macbride Trail

I view trail hiking with trepidation.

Since entering a low-wage work world a few years ago, where standing for long shifts on concrete floors contributed to plantar fasciitis, I haven’t jogged and reduced the amount of trail hiking I do. Now that I’m semi-retired, my feet appear to be healing. I’d like to get back out on the trail on a regular basis.

We live near an entry point to the Lake Macbride State Park trail system.

The hard-packed gravel trail runs from the state park entry, five miles east to the City of Solon. It is well used by hikers, bicyclists, joggers and locals, and soon will be connected to a much larger trail system. Over the years I’ve used it a lot, notably as a jogging trail where in peak condition I’d jog five miles each day before heading into Cedar Rapids for work.

Friday I hiked home from Solon after dropping my automobile at the repair shop, then hiked back to town once it was repaired: six miles.

The trail is changing.

Human activity in the form of development has taken the biggest toll on nature. The Solon Recreation and Nature Area has been encroaching on natural areas near the trail since it was established. Addition of a paved, concrete bike path near the railroad easement has taken even more of the natural area out of the trail. The city end of the trail has been a mess since the construction began and will end up being an industrialized area rather than the nature it purports to be in its naming. I ran into a townie I know who said designers plan to keep the gravel portion of the trail. If that’s true, it is a blessing because there are so few low impact trails in the area.

My trail experience is partly about exercise, partly about viewing the condition and maintenance of the trail. I enjoy finding new wildflowers like the Jewelweed in the image above. When there were more of them I picked wild blackberries, competing with birds for the sweet treat. The good news is my feet didn’t ache Saturday morning and on Sunday they returned to normal. I should be able to hike regularly again… and complain about human activity encroaching on nature right in front of my eyes.

Lake Macbride from the Trail, Sept. 7, 2018