Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ice Fog

Friday morning's run, seven miles through the fog of evaporating snow. Hardened crust on the trail turned overnight to slightly mushy, still firm enough to run on, slush. In short, better footing.

Fog adds something to the timber, call it mystical, whatever: still seven miles.

By morning even the slush was gone- greens of the floodplain bottom, browns of the forest floor underneath. 50 degrees in December.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Taking Measure of Snag Creek

The Jeffersonian conceived Land Ordinance of 1785 sought to lay a grid, a defined measurement over the whole of the landscape. First to ensure government ownership, then for private settlement and purchase.

The surveyor's general required a standard tool of measurement, a chain of 100 links (66 feet).

Each link measured 7.92 inches. One mile equaled 80 chains.

The grid superimposed over the land. 36 square mile townships, each square one mile, 640 acres. No concern for topography, elevation, just the grid.

The prairies and great plains conformed largely to the grid. You can see it. Roads laid out on the township lines, fields cropped in squares, an orderly tapestry of planning. Not always so on the hills and mountains, less apt to be tamed.

Even on those plains, the land still rebels. Undulations of surface throw off the survey line, watercourses wander across the grid, serpentine anamolies.

A human creation and the land itself both in concert and at the same time in opposition, land not always bending to measurement and imposition of order.

An experiment of my own using the "Taking Measures" methodology. Some images culled from Google Earth and other sat. map sites of Snag Creek in Washburn, juxtaposed with images from the ground.

1. Original Survey from 1825--the Grid

2. Satellite image of creek bend

3. Map version of same with lat. long. overlay

4. Ground view of creek before bend looking from east to west

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snow Run

Another day you dream about all year. Decided on Farmdale yesterday rather than the steeper climbs of McNaughton. Gentle snow at the start of my run, the two inches or so from the night before made for better footing over the ice underneath. Snow never stopped, ebbed and flowed in intensity the entire morning.

There are few better times to run than in a new snow. Descriptors do no justice, but if you've been there, you know. There were no footprints other than mine, I did see two lunatic mountain bikers who didn't seem to be having much luck getting traction as their tires ate through to the slick ice more quickly than my feet did. Was a better day to be running, I think.

Four hours total for the run.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Taking Measures Across the American Landscape

An amazing book by James Corner and Alex Maclean that combines aerial photography and the concept of measurement to stunningly illustrate a new prism through which to view the land.

This is no mere book of photography. It is a methodology with which to call for a new paradigm.

"From the detached and synoptical view of the bird, the modern paradox is graphically expressed in the constructions and traces that mark the ground. From above, the various relationships among physical dimensions, human activities, natural forces, and cultural values can be seen as orderly, productive, and sophisticated as they are brutal and errant.

Maclean's photographs are staggering in their execution--as geometically coaxing as they are visually inviting. He teases at once both pattern and chaos from the land viewed from above.

Corner adds his map-drawings, fascinating overlays of markigns, dimensional equations, and cartographic data on USGS maps that in his words, "embody and attempt to acknowledge the primacy of rational, synoptic measure in the forging of the American landscape while revealing the fictional and metaphorical dimensions of the land's construction."

Some examples of Corner's work:

Monday, December 10, 2007

Deer Run Run 07

Early winter so far has been a series of freezing rain, ice, and a little snow thrown in. This mix makes for interesting footing on the trails. Throw into this mix a little 8k race at Comlara called the Deer Run, and you have a fun Saturday morning.

I ran this one for the first time in 2002, skipped '03 and '04, making this my third consecutive year running. The last two years both had quite a bit of snowpack on the course, '05 was snowy and windy, and last year we had had a 7-8" snowfall the week before the race.

This installment was no different. Conditions were about 3" of snowpack, ice in the tamped down spots and wind in the open areas. Additionally, the powers that be throw in 6 or 7 European style cross country barricades to jump/scramble/hurdle over at intermittent points along the course. The trail itself is not too tough, a few slight hills and some bridge crossings.

It's always a given I'm not in contention for awards at these things, it's just a nice run and a way to gauge relative fitness. I am in better shape this year than the last two, although lack of speedwork hurts finishing times in the shorter races.

That said, I was happy with a time of 42:27 or 8:34 miles, good for 41st out of 115. This for me is respectable, considering especially, that I didn't race all out, but ran more of a tempo type effort on what was in spots relatively poor footing.

It looks even better when compared with 51:10 last year and 51:25 in '05.

Followed up with a nice 6 miler yesterday, ran into Tapp and Kim Willi in the lake woods and crunched around the snow a bit.

More ice is called for this week, so the long run this coming Saturday at McNaughton could turn adventurous.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Run in Snow

Last night was our first snow of the season. 2 1/2-3 inches. My footprints were the first human tracks on the trail this morning.

All the branches in the understory were coated with snow. Sun peeked out at intervals to create the prism effect. Lots of deer tracks leading to the creek. Seven miles in the snow. Startled up sparrows on the grasslands, a gaggle of 100 or so geese huddled on a thin ice island in the middle of the lake.

Winds pick up heading north across the bridge. Seven miles and wishing there were more.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Ice Storm

Dec. 1, 2006 was 8" of new snow and a six mile run.

Dec. 1, 2007, Fast forward one year. Ice pellets, large enough to sting, falling just as my run at McNaughton started. By an hour in anything with a hard surface was frictionless and not advisable to use for footing, bridges (crawled over a few), roots, logs, open spots of dirt, and rocks. Not another soul on the trail. Not stopping after one loop, car door nearly frozen shut.

Second loop the leaves are freezing together, downhills treacherous. Water crossings bitter, slick. Deer everywhere sheltered in the woods. Scramble uphill to the finish.

All in all, a beautiful morning for a trail run and some solitude.

3:47 total.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Some Thoughts on Forest Primeval Part II

I recently finished reading Andres' Resendez's new book, "A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca." The story is oft-told and one of the more interesting ones in American history--Narvaez's expedition blows off course and lands in what is now Florida in 1528. The 300 men leave the ship and venture into the interior. Eventually this group was whittled down to four, de Vaca, two other Spaniards and an African slave named Estabanico.

They essentially traveled on foot through the swamps of Florida, then constructed rafts, drifting out into the gulf, shipwrecking again along the Texas coast, walking back into the interior of northeastern Mexico and the American southwest, eventually walking into Spanish territory some 10 years later. A truly remarkable journey.

Resendez scrupulously footnotes his book, drawing heavily from primary source documents, largely from de Vaca's "Relacion", an account published in 1542.

What is interesting, aside from the story of survival, from a historical geographical perspective, is the land that these men unwittingly traversed. They were the first Europeans to do it and the land they encountered was anything but a vast unoccupied wilderness.

At every turn the Spanish "children of the sun" encountered tribe after tribe of natives, all of whom had intimate knowledge of their environments, many were hunter/gatherer societies living in seasonal migration patterns, other inland communities were more sedentary and agricultural.

As they reached the southwest U.S. by the 1530's, they encountered relatively vast societies structured almost solely on maize agriculture and trade.

Moving through Spanish territory and the end of their journey, de Vaca encountered a landscape being radically depopluated of natives via the brutalities of the slave trade and, more impactfully, the ravages of virgin soil epidemics, which would in the matter of a few decades, take down Indian populations some 90-95% throughout the new world, a fate awaiting the peoples contacted by the de Vaca group and all of the tribes of what is now the eastern U.S.

So, Denevan argues that with depopulation came the cessation of human (Indian) intervention on large swaths of land, thusly allowing for more forest succession and the "wilderness" that Whitney analyzed as basically untrammeled prior to European settlement.

Thus, perhaps the notion of the forest primeval that rests in the American lexicon needs a re-interpretation, and is better viewed as a snapshot at a particular moment in time of a land in a perpetually dynamic state. The world that de Vaca and others would encounter was not at all in a "natural state." In fact, there may be no such condition.

To conclude, by triangulating the perspectives of the traditional European historical geographer, the intrepid explorer, and the archaeologist cum historian, I've had a subtle shift in my thinking about notions of wilderness, the forest primeval, and what it really means.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Some Thoughts on Forest Primeval- Part One

The traditional historical perception of the "New World" encountered by Europeans in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries is a perception that tends towards the idea of a clash of civilizations with an untouched wilderness or "forest primeval" serving as the idyllic backdrop.

The Indians encountered in this bizarre new land are generally thought to have struck a harmonious balance with what we think of as "Nature," untrammeled tracts of perfectly climatic forest and grassland. The cliche is that natives had little impact on ecological succession.

My early winter readings have been cause for personal evaluation of these historical interpretations. British historical geographer, Gordon Whitney uses the old contextual model of European imposition upon a pure wilderness environment in his excellent book, "From Coastal Wilderness to Fruited Plain"--operating largely under the assumption that upon contact wildness was the state of North America geography.

Whitney structures an almost geometric study of forest and prairie conditions throughout eastern and midwestern temperate American from 1500 to the present and the systematic changes that occurred with wide scale European settlement. While there is little doubt changes have occurred from pre-Columbian ecological conditions, I find it necessary to challenge Whitney's fundamental thesis.

Could it be that the thick woodlands and grasslands of our imaginations of the contact period through colonization in the 18th and 19th centuries were indeed much changed in a span as short as even 3 or 4 decades? That is to say, that the world encountered by early settlers might not have been the world at all of some 100 to 200 years prior around the time of Columbus and subsequent Spanish voyages. Indians perhaps acted upon the land in ways we don't fully understand the scope of.

An interesting study relating to this theory is William Deneman's 1992 article, "The Pristine Myth," which essentially argues that pre-contact native populations were much higher than thought and Indians manipulated their environments in remarkable ways.

Deneman puts figures of native populations in the 20-40 million range at contact. Large empires and 1000's of smaller bands of natives were patchworked consistently across the entirety of the Americas, and were engaged in forest clearing for fields, hunting, the burning of grasslands for both game drives and to keep an open understory for ease of travel. They also built numerous structures such as permanent and semi-permanent housing, earthen mounds, etc.

Throughout the south and Mississippi Valley alone from 1100-1500-the Mississipian cultures had vast, complex agrarian enterprises and trade routes, doubtlessly impacting the environment in myriad ways.

As Deneman hints, we must consider not only the impacts of native populations at contact, but the cumulative effects of thousands of years of habitation prior when evaluating just how radically the land was altered.

to be continued soon...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Snag Creek Habitat

Amongst the seemingly unbreakable horizon of row crops can be found some gems. At our place near Washburn, IL we put in some grass filter strips along the Snag Creek.

The land itself undulates a bit where there is some depositional till built up to the north from the country road and you can't see the creek. Snag itself is not a big waterway, 3-15 yards wide in most spots, we've got strips of about 30-50 yards in width, and while not visually imposing, this bit of grass provides amazing habitat.

Pheasant, quail, muskrat, coyote, deer and one resident beaver all take refuge in this narrow shelter belt. Unfortunately, with $4.00 corn, many farmers are planting corn "fence to fence" these days, and grasses are being tilled back under.

What we have along Snag isn't much when measured against the acreage of crops around it, but to me it serves as a testament of what once was amongst the agricultural fields and what could be again. Diversity.
Pics: 1. Grasses and hackberry shrub. 2. Waterway, just east of beaver dam, semi-closed cover. 3. Waterway on east side of farm, open cover.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Long Run

Desire sometimes trumps prudence. Not feeling the best, I still did my long run Saturday morning at Farmdale, 18 miles or so. Started off chilly (upper 30's) and gray but by two hours in was sunny and closer to 50. The leaves are now 90% off.

Back to prudence. I was rewarded on the run by noticing a few giant sycamores that for some reason I'd never looked up long enough off the trail to notice. My payment may very well be today's bronchitis.

Living and not always learning...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Blood Meridian

The 98th Meridian divided the Oklahoma Territory from Indian Territory. A line of demarcation between creeping civilization and the nowhere geography of the ignoble savage.

Cross that line, mayhem, the unknowing hand of god, spirits. The Blood Meridian. Cormac McCarthy's world.

Scalp hunter, savage, indistinguishable, both bent to the dark heart of man.

Prose over scalding embers, a black cauldron simmering roiling blood stew, murky surface sparks, launching projectiles of energy into the night sky.

An Old Testament journey, majestic in scope, darkly bizarre, horrifying, yet real. Dancing a dance of temptation, seducing our mythologies towards a greater shade of truth.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Last night was our first deep freeze, 22 degrees. Went out this morning for six miles, mostly in the woods. The season has lingered this year, many of the leaves are still on and in color. The honeylocust are down almost 100%, the orange osage along the banks came down virtually overnight, I'd say the sugar maples are 30% down, and many of the white oaks still have most of their wine red leaves.

The cold will hasten the end of the color season, but for this morning my run was dotted with radiance.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ham Brown Massacre

Two days ago was the 143rd anniversary of the Ham Brown Massacre in Missouri at the end of the Civil War.

The event holds interest to me since it occurred within a half mile or so of what is now our family's farm on the Audrain/Callaway County line.

In late 1864 Sterling Price led an invasion into Missouri in a last-ditch attempt to divert Union energy from Sherman's March and drum up recruits for the rebs.

The Ham Brown massacre came on the heels of Bloody Bill Anderson's famous Centralia Massacre just 5 weeks earlier, and 10 miles or so north, in which 23 Union troops were killed and scalped, and the Battle of Centralia where 123 pursuing Unionists were killed by Anderson's group, which included Jesse James. Those memories were likely still fresh.

This is a lengthy account of the event that appeared in the Fulton (Mo.) Gazette on May 1, 1914:


This is the story of the massacre of seven Callaway county boys in the barn lot of Hamilton Brown, four and one- half miles northwest of Hatton, on November 4, 1864, by a band of militiamen under the command of Major James C. Bay, of Wellsville. From the stories of survivors and others with whom the author has talked and corresponded, and it is believed that what is here printed is an accurate account of the blackest incident in the history of Callaway County.

While gathering the material and writing the story the thought often came to the writer that possibly it would be better to let the account of the tragedy go unwritten, so that the horror of it would not be revived, but the other view - the belief that the facts should be presented fully and accurately because of their historical importance has prevailed.

General Sterling Price's army was on its ill-starred raid into Missouri in the autumn' of 1864. The fight at Pilot Knob had been so costly to the Confederate forces as to cause the plan to seize St. Louis to be abandon- ed. Then, when the army was before Jefferson City, the Federals seemed so formidable that the planned attack on the seat of the state government was given up. Passing south of Jefferson City, Price moved westward to Cali- fornia, and there turned north to Boonville, which had been captured by Shelby.

One of the purposes of the Price raid was to get recruits for the Con- federate service, and at Boonville Wil- liam R. Terry (now a resident of Ful- ton and a former member of the coun- ty court), a private in Captain George Robert Brooks's company E of Par- sons's regiment, and Frank F. Turley, a cavalry trooper under General Jo Selby,were directed to come to Calla- way county, where they had been reared, to enlist new men. With the assistance of Robert Boyd, of Boyds- ville, a civilian, they quickly got to- gether more than two hundred men- or, better, boys, for very few of the recruits were twenty-one years old.

Late in October Terry, Turley and Boyd, and the men they had enlisted, started to join Price, who was then in the southwestern part of the state, re- treating before Pleasanton after the battle at Independence. The rendez- vous of the recruits was Millersburg, from which place they began a march across Boone county to Glasgow, where they hoped to be able to cross the Missouri river. Passing north of Columbia and avoiding the main Trav- elled roads as much as possible, the recruits reached the western part of Boone County before nightfall.

Up to that time the expedition had been more or less of a boyish frolic. Judge Terry says there were less than two dozen firearms in the company, due to the fact that the militiamen who had infested Callaway county al- most from the beginning of the war, had confiscated practically every gun in the county. In a haphazard sort of way camp was established the first night on a hillside. Without military training, without arms, without uni- forms, without tents, without stores, without even a realization of the seri- ousness of civil war, the camp the men made was a crude affair. In camp the men insisted on building fires and doing other things dangerous to their safety, so, to protect them, a military organization was quickly formed. The election resulted in the choosing of Terry as captain. Turley as first lieu- tenant, Boyd as second lieutenant, and the late James T. Miller, of this city, as third lieutenant.

The march to Glasaow was resumed the next day, and Turley, with five or six men, was sent ahead of the main body to reconnoiter. Four or five miles from glasgow Turley saw Union troops approaching and immediately sent a courier back to inform Terry of the nearness of the enemy and to advise him to take care of his men. Terry halted his company, formed the men in battle line, and waited for the Federals to approach, hoping to frighten the enemy by the size of his force. Turley also halted and in a short time the advance guard from the Federals came up with him. A par- ley followed and one of the Federals inquired of Turley, "Who are you?" Instantly one of Turley's men rose in his saddle stirrups and exclaimed, "Bill Anderson, by G---!"

The indentity of the soldier who answered the question has been lost,; but his reply saved the Cailaway boys., The name of Anderson was dreaded by every Federal soldier and militiaman in Missouri, for just a few weeks be- fore, on September 27, Anderson had perpetrated the Centraiia massacre on the farm of Colonel Milton Sineleton, who afterward moved to Callaway county and lived one mile northwest of Fulton. The exclamation of Tur- ley's young soldier caused the Federal advance guard to turn and run pre- cipitately, after which the Confeder- ates lost no time in getting away. "It was the luckiest thing that could have happened to us." Judge Terry says. "for we could not have made any kind of sucessfull resistance.''

Findiing That they could not cross the river, the Callaway boys turned back, purposing to join Colonel Caleb Dorsey (a Pike county man), of Shel- by's command, who was in Audrain county with several hundred men. On the night of November 3, 1864, they camped on Four Mile creek, about one- fourth mile west of what is now known as Walnut Grove school house, while Colonel Dorsey and several hun- dred men were in camp a mile or two north of them. It was during this night that the memorable snow fell. The snow was heavy and covered the ground to a depth of nearly a foot, while it weighted down the leaves and branches of trees almost to the break- ing point.

When Dorsey heard of the presence of the Confederate recruits near him, he sent word for the captain to re- port to him. "I went to Dorsey's camp," Judge Terry says, "and we talked about crossing the Missouri river in this county. He sent me and two or three picked men from his own force to make arrangements to cross the river and that night we rode to Cote Sans Dessein, where we made a deal with a foreigner who lived there to use two skiffs he had sunk in the river. We returned to north Calla- way the morning of the fourth of No- vember, and because of the heavy snow, had to ride in the public road which caused us much uneasiness, be- cause we knew there were lots of Fed- erals in the county."

The camp on Four Mile creek was like the one on the hillside in Boone county. As a matter of fact, it was nothing more than a place where the men fed their horses and laid down on the ground to sleep. Many of the men, however, spent the night under shel- ter at the neighboring farms, but those who slept in the open, under the snow, say they never had a better night's sleep and never slept more warmly.

"I was one of the men who spent the night in camp," the Rev. Noah W. Bedsworth, of Cedar City, says. "The next morning, after breakfast, a lot of us were sitting around in camp, when our pickets were run in by Major Bay's Wellsville militia. Our men mounted their horses hastily and started north, with a bunch of about ten in the lead, among whom were the seven that were killed. I was a memb- er of another bunch of about ten that followed the first crowd, while a third squad separated from us. Our squad was led by Lieutenant Dial (Dock) Barnes of Boone county, who belong- ed to Shelby's command and who had been sent home from Price's army to enlist recruits. When we came to a place where we thought we could make a stand, we turned out of the road and stopped. The militiamen passed us and continued their pursuit of the other men and we heard the shots fired at the Brown farm that caused the death of our comrades."

Two of the party that was in the lead are living. One is Judge G. H. Trigg, now a member of the county court of Callaway county, and the other is James Ed. Bradley, who lives near Miller's Creek Methodist church, in west Callaway. In the chase Judge Trigg was knocked from his horse by a limb of a tree and fell in- to the snow, where he stayed until Bay's men passed him. He thinks some of the militiamen must have seen him, but were too intent on over- taking the others to stop to kill him. Mr. Bradley was with those who were run into the Brown horse lot and killed and, so far as is known, is the only person now living who witness- ed the massacre.

"It was murder, downright murder," Mr. Bradley says. "Our men were not armed and were just shot down. We were driven into a corner of the Brown lot - the barn on one side and the fence on the other. The militia- men made us dismount and Bay gave orders to his men to kill us as soon as we could be lined up, I looked right up in the face of Bay and said, "You are not going to kill a boy like me, are you?" He looked me in the eye and told me to get on my horse and stay back with the captain of his com- any.

"The guns of the militiamen were not loaded when they ran us down," Mr. Bradley tells, "and the men who murdered our men had to load up be- fore they could do their work. No special persons were detailed to do the shooting, and the murders were com- mitted by men who walked up volun- tarily to do it. I was told to look at the shooting and that it would be a 'warning to me.' I remember it all just as clearly as if it were being en- acted before me this minute," Mr. Bradley says. "I never will be able to forget it."

The men who were killed were: James Polk Selby, orderly sergeant of the company, Joseph Adair, Charles Sinclair, John R. Davis, George Allen, Alfred A. Kemp and William Key. All were Callaway boys and all were under 22 years old. Selby was a mem- ber of the Selby family of west Calla- way and an uncle of S. S. and J. P. McClanahan, of this county, Davis was an uncle of W. Lee Davis, of Hereford. Allen was related to the well-known Allen family of northwest Callaway. Kemp was a brother of Mrs. W. S. May, southeast of Fulton, and Thomas A. Kemp, of Carrington. Key was a cousin of Kemp's.

Selby's body was buried at Prairie Chapel graveyard, west of Earl. The bodies of Adair, Sinclair and Davis were buried in one grave at Millers- burg, while the bodies of Allen, Kemp and Key were buried in Pleasant Grove graveyard at Hatton, where a monument bought with money raised by public subscription by the late Benjamin Wood, was erected and dedicated in 1910. O. W. Moss, who lives near Earl, though some younger than Adair, Sinciair and Davis, was their schoolmate and attended their burial. After they were murdered. Mr. Moss says, their bodies were tak- en to the home of John Adair, father of one of the young men, who was killed, and their parents agreed that inasmuch as they had been friends in life and were kiiled together, they should remain together in death and be buried in the same grave.

The young' men who were killed were practically unarmed. One story has it that there was not a firearm of any kind in the crowd, while another, which is believed to be ot Federal origin, says one of the men had a small-caliber revolver.

The shooting took place in the horse lot of Hamilton Brown, father of J. Shan Brown, of Audrain county. The Brown farm is owned now by Baxter Guthrie, whose wife was a dauqhter of Mr. Brown, and is located on the Callaway side of the county line road, four and one-half miles northwest of Hatton. One of the witnesses of the massacre was Miss Mary A. (Molly) Brown, now dead, another daughter of the owner of the farm. After the close of the war she married Thomp- son Fry, now a resident of Auxvasse, who was a soldier in the Confederate army.

"My wife, then Miss Brown, was standing at a window in her home and saw the Confederate boys riding across a field toward the barn lot," Mr. Fry says. "Then she saw the militiamen after them and she turned to her mother and said, 'I'm going out there and try to save those boys.' She ran to the lot and, meeting Bay at the gate, pleaded with him not to kill the boys. When he refused, she begged him to spare Bradley, who was only 16 years old. That request was granted. My wife recognized the Cal- laway boys when she saw them riding up. She knew Polk Selby as well as she did me, and just the Sunday before he was killed he called on her at her home." "After the shooting," Mr. Fry tells "Bay and some of his men rode up to the Brown dwelling and asked for the man of the house. Mrs. Brown met them and told them she did not know where he was. 'Tell him. when he comes back, to give those men decent burial,' he said, and then rode away.

Mr. Fry says that Hook Gay, of Boone county, was with the men who were kiiled, and that he urged them to ride through the Brown lot into the county line road and make a dash for the Cedar creek hills. They thought it better policy to surrender, however and lost their lives, while Gay acted on his own advice and escaped. Mr. Bradley has no recollection of Gay be- ing in the party, but Mr. Bedsworth says Gay was with the men who were in camp and he is convinced in his own mind that Mr.Fry has the story straight.

Bay's force comprised about 150 men, Mr. Bradley says. After the killing they went to Concord, where they spent the night in the Presbyte- rian church, The next day they went to Williamsburg, where another night was spent in a Church building, and the third day they returned to Wells- ville. Atfer their arrival at Wells- ville, Mr. Bradley was sent to Mexico, where he was kept a prisoner until about Christmas time, when he was released.

After the massacre the members of Terry's company scattered. A few went to Dorsey's camp. Mr. Beds- worth tells that he crawled into Dor- sey's tent and begged to he allowed to stay with his command, and was refus- ed, Dorsey saying at the time that he had all the men he could care for. Some of the men returned to their homes in this county, while others sought rufuge in Illinois and Ken- tucky.

The massacre occurred on Friday, and on Saturday evening Dorsey and his men, with a number of the Confed- erate volunteers who had started out with Terry, Turley and Boyd, met at the Millersburg Baptist church, where Dorsey delivered an address and offered to take as many Callaway men with him as wanted to go. Judge Terry and Judge Trigg were there and ( e) that Dorsey told those who wanted to stay to do so and take care of themseives. They say also that many of those who went South with Dorsey were killed. The assemblage at the church numbered about six hun- dred men. Dorsey and his men cross- ed the Missouri river at the Fergu- son place, near Tebbetts, according to Mr. Singleton Criswell, of Elk City, ( a.), who was a member of Terry's company. "They used a boat and swam their horses and made their way south without any further trouble, the ( s.) being busy further west trying to capture Price." Mr. Criswell writes.

The only report of the Brown farm massacre made to the Federal author- ities was in a dispatch sent from Mex- ico on November 7 by Joseph B. Doug- las, brigadier general of Enrolled Missouri Militia of the Eighth district of Missouri, to Brigadier General Clinton B. Fisk, in charge of military affairs in north Missouri, which said: Dorsey was in the western part of Callaway county at last accounts with from four hundred to six hundred men. I have not been able to raise force enough to draw him out. Major Bay, with a detachment of Sixty-seventh Enrolled Missouri Militia killed seven of his men and captured eleven last Friday." (See War of the Rebellion Official records. series I, volume 11, Series 4, page 479.)

The statement that eleven men were captured is a gigantic falsehood. The Militia at that time was not taking prisoners. As early as May 15,1864, (unreadable).

W. T. Clarke, lieutenant and aide-de- camp to General Fisk, writing from St. Joseph to Captain I. W. Stewart of company E, Sixty-Seventh Enrolled Missouri Militia (the regiment to which Bay was attached), at Danville, said: "You will arm them [a battalion of militia that was under Stewart's charge] as best you can, and will at once proceed to kiil and exterminate all tyhe bushwackers and gurillas who may infest your vicinity." After the letter had been signed, this signif- icant postscript was added: "The gen- eral [Fisk], upon reading over this letter, desires to say once more,'take no prisoners.'" (See War of the Re- bellion official records, series I, vol- ume 34, part 3, page 613.)

In the eyes of the militia of Mis- souri all Confederates were "bush- whackers" and "guerillas." The epi- thet most treasured by Fisk, how- ever was "traitor." This order of Fisk's, given by Clarke, was issued four months before the massacre by Anderson at Centralia. The persons who have sought to justify the Brown Farm massacre as retalliation for the Centralia massacre must not forget that the militia were ordered in May to do exactly what Anderson did - kill and exterminate.

The spirit of the militia is still further shown in an official dispatch by Major D. Dale, of the Fourth cav- alry, Missouri State Militia, written at Fulton on November 20, 1864, and ad- dressed to General Fisk at Macon City. It says: "There are but few bushwackers in this county at pres- ent that I can hear of, and the only ones that I have heard of for several days past were a band of six, some ten miles west of this place, yester- day evening. I sent two detachments of my command to make diligent search for them, and, in case they overhaul them, to 'muster them out.' " (See War of the Rebellion official rec- ords, series I, volume 41, part 4, page 632.)

Bay's activity in Callaway county did not end with the massacre. it ap- pears. In the dispatch just quoted, Dale said of him: "Major Bay, of the Enrolled Missouri Militia, has been in this county some two or three days scouting with a command of thirty men, taking stock from the residences of white rebel conscripts, by what authority I do not know: he says by the verbal orders of General Doug- las.' " It is easy to read between the lines that Dale's opinion of Bay was not very good.

James C. Bay, the man who had the Callaway boys killed at the Brown Farm, lived on a farm south of Wells- ville. Though the writer has made diligent efforts to obtain information concerning him, it has been impossible to find out much more than that he stood very low in the estimation of the persons who knew him in Montgom- ery county. His death, it is said, was horrible. According to a well authen- ticated story, he was delirious during his last hours and constantly impor- tuned those about his bedside to close the door of his room to keep out im- aginary avengers of the boys who were murdered at the Brown farm.

There is no doubt that Bay was in constant fear for his life after the war closed. The Rev. N.W.Beds- worth says that the way Bay treated him a few days after the massacre at the Brown farm caused him to write to Bay and tell him that he in- tended to kill him if ever he laid eyes on him. Mr. Bedsworth says also that after the war four Callaway county men went to Montgomery county to kill Bay. The men found Bay, but as he was mounted on a fresher horse than any they were rid- ing, he outran them and got into Montgomery City, where he found refuge.

It is said that the seven men who were murdered at the Brown farm fell at the first volley. Bay ordered his men,to make sure that all were dead and to rob their bodies. The examination showed that Selby had not been wounded and Bay ordered his men to kill Selby. Some of them demurred, and Miss Brown begged that Selby be spared, but Bay per- emptorily commanded that his order be obeyed, and one man in the com- pany spoke up with an oath, saying it was his "business to kill damned rebels." He shot Selby in the fore- head.

After the close of the war a west Callaway man who was in the militia was accused of the murder, and dur- ing a fair at the old fair ground west of Fulton, three companions of Selby took the man out of the crowd and into a clump of bushes on the fair ground for the purpose of killing him. The man denied his guilt so vehemently that he was permitted to go, but not until he had promised never to mention the incident. The man is dead now. It is believed he kept his promise faithfully.

Mention has been made of the threat of the Rev. Mr. Bedsworth to kill Bay. A day or two after the massacre Mr. Bedsworth started to Pike county with a neighbor woman, Mrs. Malinda Ellis Dooley, who lived in the Millers Creek church section.

It was Mr. Bedsworth's desire to see Mrs. Dooley safely to the home of a relative in Pike county and then escape from Missouri. "We rode horseback, and at Ashley, Pike coun- ty were halted by Bay, who made in- quiries about me," Mr. Bedsworth says in telling of his experiences. "We told Bay that I was a neighbor ( ) going with Mrs. Dooley to see her half sister at Clarksville. Bay asked my name and when he was told it he turned to a man whom he called Steve Kettle and asked him if my name was on the roll of Terry's com- pany. The list had been taken from the pocket of Polk Selby. Kettle look- ed over the roll and said he did not see my name. Bay asked when I was coming back and was told it would be in a day or two. He then ordered me to report to him on my return and per- mitted us to continue on our way. Mrs. Dooley and I rode on toward Clarksviile, and in a little while Ket- tle rode up behind us, and said ex- citedley 'There's the road to Frank- ford, and this is the road to Clarks- ville.' What he said made us under- stand it would be wise for us to go to Frankford, which suited us, for it had been our purpose to go by way of Frankford. A day or two later I went across the Mississippi river, crossinq with a drove of hogs owned by some friends. There I was taken ( )by a lot of Federal soldiers who helped me to get to Louisviiie, Ky. I eluded the soldiers in Louisville and went to relatives in the Blue Grass sec- tion of the state, where I stayed until after the war was over.

'I returned to Callaway county two years after the close of the war, and at Jefferson City on my way home, I wrote Bay reminding him of his or- ders to me at Ashley to report to him and telling him that I was late in replying. I also told him I would kill him if I ever laid eyes on him. He would have killed me like a dog at Ashley if Kettle had not deceived him. The night before he had had three of Dorsey's men shot.

Kettle saved my life by telling Bay my name was not on the roll," Mr. Bedsworth concluded. "A few years ago I was at Wellsville attend- ing a district conference of the Meth- odist church, and heard Kettle's name ( )led there. He mas then and is now the marshal of the town. A meeting was arranged for us and it took place at the depot the day I returned home. Kettle belonged to Bay's militia, but he had a good heart in him, and I greet- ed him warmly. I owe my life to Steve Kettle."

One of the men who spent the night of November 3, 1864, in the camp of Four Mile Creek and who eluded Bay's men was William B. Sampson, of Car- rington. "The next day,with John Van Horne, of Fulton, I went to Cote Sans Dessein to see about crossing the river to go South," Mr. Sampson says in talking of the massacre. "We were unable to cross the river and had to come back. The next day after- ward (Sunday) Van Horne and I were overtaken by James Holt, while we were riding near the house of the late Louden Snell, who lived a short distance northeast of Guthrie. While we were passing the Snell place six Federals, who belonged to the com- mand of Major Daily, of northwest Missouri, rode up on us. The ground was covered with snow and we did not hear them until they were right on us, so me had no chance to escape. Holt and I were compelled to dis- mount. Van Home talked back to the Federals when they told him to dismount and they shot him in the head while he was sitting in his sad- dle, killing him instantly. After talking with Holt and me. the Fed- erals shot us. The bullet that struck me entered just at the right of my nose and lodged in the back of my head, where it remains and can be felt. Holt was shot in the side but not seriously hurt. The Federals put him on a horse and made him go away with them. Holt went West after the close of the war and may be living yet.

"The Federals did not tell Holt and me they were going to shoot us," Mr. Sampson says. "A man named Mc- Millan leveled his pistol at me and fired. I was looking at him when he did it. I fell over, throwing up my hands and covering my face with the cape of my overcoat The Federals thought I had been killed and left me. When they were gone I went into a buggy house on the Snell place and waited there until Warner Criswell and some others came to help me. The Snell family was away from home, but Mr. Criswell and the others helped me into the Snell house. My wound was not serious and I was never unconscious from it. if I had not played dead, I am sure the Fed- erals would have shot me apnin. I have heard that McMillan was a bad character.

"Van Horne lived in Fulton and was about twenty years old. His Father was superintendent of the coun- ty poor farm before the beginning of the war, and possibly served in the same capacity during part of the war."

Judne Terry says that he and Tur- ley stayed in the county several days after the company was disbanded, and that whiie in the Boydsviile neigh- borhood they had a chance to kill Bay, but refrained from doing it be- cause they felt it would have caused the people of that section lots of trouble.

Judne Trigg attended the meeting at Millersburg Saturday night after the massacre, and then went to Jeffer- son City, where he took passage for St. Louis on a boat filled with Fed- erals who had been chasing Price in western Missouri. He was the only civilian passenger on the boat, but reached St. Louis safely, and then went to Kentucky, where he remain- ed until the close of the war. Terry and Turley went to Hancock county, Illinois, and then to St. Louis where they seperated. Terry went to New Orleans, reaching that place the day General Simon Bolivar Buckner surrendered. Turley is liv- ing now at Colorado Springs, Col.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tuesday Morning's Run

Darkness reigns. At least he is still king at 7:00 a.m. around these parts. The horizon is waking from slumber, coated in just the slightest bit of silver sheen, borders between frost and freeze define ambiguity. Not enough to show breath on air.

Six miles out there to be had this morning.

Mile One on pavement, the Jap maple in front of my house has finally turned rustic red, cock crows late on the path down the steep hill next to the organic farm.

MileTwo and the creek is low, pooled up in still pockets of water, alluvial sediment where she usually runs steadily toward the Mackinaw. Pods from honey locusts litter the trail.

Mile Three in the woods and out. Sugar maples explode everywhere, sunsplashed yellows almost strobe-like in their intesity. Man with dog. Restored grassland, bluestem up four feet housing shy deer. Out onto the road, I take the hill with relative ease today. Breathing just slightly elevated.

Mile Four through the subdivision. My favorite part is looking out over the bean field toward our farm, only two miles by crow flight to the south, but not visible because, even on the prairies the land undulates where glacial waters once ran.

Mile Five back into the woods, stumble slightly on a covered root, hedge apples scattered.

Mile Six across the floodplain. Surely there used to be trees here, now just trusty ol' Kentucky bluegrass.

This plain floods easily most years in the spring rains. I like when that happens. On high years the water hugs the ridgeline, threatening incursion, but never quite making good on its saber rattles. Today all is dry.

I turn off my watch at the corner post, two hounds behind the fence to bark my finish line signal.

Friday, October 26, 2007

This Morning's Run

Seven blazing fast trail miles today at forest park, along the bluffs of the
Illinois River. So blazing fast that i caught Meltzer with a mile to go and
nipped Jurek at the line. Started the run with a slight headache, probably
courtesy of last night's boxing match with my seven y.o. he's got this
perplexing Harry Greb-like windmill style that i haven't figured out yet.

Cool stuff I saw:

-lots of purty yellow maples, most of which probably need to be cut down, or
that's all we'll have in a few years.
-nice, new foot bridge, courtesy of some enterprising eagle scout.
-awesome big red rock that's probably been in the same spot for the last
125,000 years, but hell if i've ever noticed it before today.
-yuppie lady gabbing on her hell phone in the middle of the trail.
-two grey squirrels, fairly rare in these parts.
-the astonished look on meltzer and jurek's faces as i flew by them into the
parking lot and back to reality.

Oh, and the headache was gone by then.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A World Without Us

It has long been a fantasy of mine to hop back in time, say 200 years or so, to take a long look around at the place I live before permanent settlement arrived. Or maybe time warp back 15,000 years to a time when mile thick ice sheets had their violent way with the land. The mind, it wanders even further, to ice ages previous, to pine forests, back to precambrian swamps even, so foreign that we can scarcely conceive of their reality.

To get to flashback even a mere blip in time to 1800 would be a stark shock to a system used to row crops and small slivers of woodlands around our waterways. European ancestors, founding fathers immortalized in our county histories, had yet to bring large scale ag to the prairies.

"Native" Americans, long since crossed over the Bering land bridge had lived in the area for centuries, undoubtedly altering the land, but their exploits cannot equal what came with the plow.

There were no Indian dwellings along Walnut Creek when Joseph Dillon showed up in 1823 and broke up the thick sod two miles south of where the county courthouse still stands.

And we know what the land was like when he arrived.

Uplands were tallgrass prairie of a number of sturdy grasses and forbs. Lowlands in areas sculpted by thousands of years of water runoff through the till had at this particular point in the heating/cooling cycle been home to oak/hickory forest that fanned out miles over bisected ridges: snaking stands of various oaks, hickories, cherry, elm, willow, plum, mulberry, and others intermingled with the bluestem and switchgrass in irregular patterns of sweeping jigsaw fashion.

Creatures were here then. The deer, yes, buffalo, wolves, badgers, panthers, wild hen, turkey, avian species too numerous to list, all roaming through a maze of grassland and forest.

This seemingly idyllic picture changed, as it has at all points along the chain of human history, with the settlement of humans. We move in and rearrange the furniture to suit our needs. This story of Walnut Creek is indeed the story of everywhere humanity has stumbled upon since leaving the wild plains of Africa and populating most reaches of our planet.

Six billion of us here now. Things altered, certainly. But what of the alteration? Are we so arrogant as think ourselves the alpha and omega of creation, of life in all its forms? Questions perhaps we all entertain.

For me personally, my fantasy of seeing the past, what exactly these acres were like, how they looked, smelled, what life flowed out of and around them at points in time, is grounded in a deep sense of longing--of connection to this earth. A connection that is very human. This fantasy is, I think, a common one, an indulgence perhaps allowed of us as the top of the food chain.

A fantasy of the past may also be a fantasy of the future. Consider for a moment that all of us simply vanish tomorrow. Human life erased in an instant for whatever reason. What happens to the rest of life on Earth, to our creations, our marks upon the land, our civilizations? What might happen to other species, our cities, our countryside, all of our vain technologies?

In college I had a bumper sticker on the old Nova that stated, "visualize industrial collapse," not so much to be a contrarian or radical as to hypothesize what was to me a fundamental question. Is this planet so inextricably linked to humanity in its present form that we have forever altered the picture of life on her surface? These are the questions that Alan Weisman tackles in his book, The World Without Us.

In order to conjecture what will actually happen when we are finally gone, Weisman takes us journeying to some fascinating places: the forests of colonial (and modern day) New England, the DMZ between North and South Korea, the Panama Canal, Cyprus, all of them offering intriguing clues as to what the future may look like.

Not entirely a cautionary tale, Weisman doesn't condemn human endeavor as the fatal blow to the ecosystem that many enviros do, but rather views us through the lens of being part of the mega-cycle of life on the planet. He does so from the perspective of geologic time, the imperceptible scale that all ultimately must conform to.

Rather than the notion of humans standing apart from and impacting "nature," fanning out from Africa to pillage, plunder and destroy, we are collectively just organisms living within a system, and yet while the vast powers of time will erase our efforts, much of what our species has wrought (see: plastic polymers, enriched uranium, and the underground cities of Derinkuyu, Turkey) are simply elements of the cycle, ultimately broken down, altered into another form, or obfuscated altogether.

Still, in the short term, while humanity is yet the king of speciation, issues are here to be dealt with. Sustainability, ways that don't worsen our plight, possible answers to the path of our existence are discussed, but maybe not in ways you would predict. Weisman is a visionary with the refreshing perspective of the cool observer, taking solace in the notion of constant change as the catalyst for all.

But beyond the answers, the governmental policies, the despair of rusting modernity: When we go--and we will go--what happens?

Oak, hickory, grasses may yet return to subsume what has been built on my Walnut Creek ridges atop till of glaciers long melted, more ice may yet come and raze them, reworking, molding landform into something new, perhaps something beyond even my fantasies, beyond our science or even our collective imagination. Maybe the mega-mammals roam again, having found new life where ours has waned.

The cycle continuing, awaiting the sun's expansion to a red giant some five billion years hence, absorbing whatever has become of the world without us.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Morning Run/Farmdale

Frickin' work conference in Springfield last Friday. I did manage to get a nice seven mile run in on Friday morning on the Springfield Interurban Trail. When we lived here a decade ago I wasn't a runner, although I did bike all over the area. At the time the "trail" was an old railbed gone to seed.

I used to ride out to Chatham then over to the rt. 72 bridge to check out this old round barn just south of Panther Creek. You don't see too many round barns around that area, most are up north. I have no idea if it's still there, but I'd like to think so.

That old railbed is now the Interurban Trail. I started at Woodside Rd., the edge of suburban development hell these days, and headed south on what is now a nicely paved bike trail. At the western edge of Lake Springfield, what used to be Lick Creek before it was damned (and dammed) to make the lake, are some entrances to single track on the both sides of the lake finger. I ran all the way into town, diverting off on the south section of trail, an area I'd never checked out. The trail went a couple miles back into the timber and didn't look all that used.

Interestingly, that old railbed used to be an interurban. Interurbans were constructed at the turn of the 20th century to offer rail service into the city. Go here:

for more. So, it was a nice, chilly 7 miler on a historic route.

Saturday was working the Devil's Cliff aid station at the Farmdale Trail Runs, tremendous fun, and only a little work.

We took off Sunday morning for Missouri to unwind. Drove down 54, then south from Bowling Green, stopping at the Stone Hill Winery in New Florence, MO. Last night we walked the Katy Trail, really a very nice footpath through Columbia, MO., then dined at the Pasta House. Went out to our farm near Hatton, MO. (see Oct. 06 blog for more), then home on rt. 24 along the river road. I was hoping for fall color, but with not much cold weather yet, there isn't much in the way of reds, oranges, and yellows. Still a great few days.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Green River Swamp

Slough grass, cattail, indian rice wave in the afternoon air. Geese literally brown out the sky as pheasant, grouse, sand hill cranes, and wild turkey lurk in the murky swamp waters. It is said that in the 1850's local hunters could bag as many as 100 geese in a day's time.

By the 1880's there were vast swamps still untouched in northern Illinois in what is now Lee, Henry and Bureau counties. Most of the prairie land had long been settled and was in row agriculture by the 1850's. Yet, in the Green River Swamp of Henry County bandits took cover in the tall grass, there are tales told of these cattle rustlers and bandits finding solace in milieu of surrounding wood and wet grasslands.

The mid 1880's saw drainage district formed to dry out the swamps and open up the land for crops and grazing. It would take over 10 years to accomplish this.

In the 1930's my grandfather bought a farm in precisely the spot where the Green River Swamp once was. The Green River has since been channeled arrow straight, large ditches crisscross the landscape, yet the land is still interesting.

Timber comprised largely of cottonwood, walnut, and maple, some bur and black oak, numerous mulberry and hackberry grows on sand hills where glaciers stacked up their till in large, sweeping dunes, in the lowlands the soil is loamy, doesn't drain well, and sinkhole-like water holes pop up with rain.

On our particular farm a former homestead stood next to a fruit orchard of apple and pear. The fruit trees still exist next to towering cottonwoods and walnuts that age out at well over a century. While the land may be somewhat marginal in terms of prime Illinois farm ground, it is still a sparsely populated and somewhat enchanting place.

While most is now gone to fields, some wild areas do exist. Check out the Green River Conservation Area near Ohio, IL. for a glimpse at what the wetlands once were, and what we have lost.

1. Example of large walnut trees
2. Windmill water pump on site of old farmstead
3. Open area on dunes, area of uplift is 30-40 feet above the floodplain.

Soundtrack: 16 Horsepower, "Folklore"

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I Seen What I Saw

on a 15 mile trail run on a sunny, hot friday morning:

-a large coyote bolt across the trail and into a ravine

-whitetails fleeing deeper into the woods as I plodded by

-blazing sumac on the ridge at devil's cliff

-a girl on an expensive mountain bike with a very large, unleashed doberman

-small, closely spaced coon tracks in the sand by schroll's

-a sky bluer than blue framing waving bluestem at the top of horse hill

-compass plants in the low areas

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Asked to name their favorite season, most will say fall. But, truly perhaps it is easier to love the spring around these parts. Days lengthen and warm, the gray pallor our winter world has taken on for days on end shows cracks where the greens find entrance, possibility, it seems, seeps back into the sky.

They love fall, yes, but often with the addendum, "But I don't love what comes after." I argue that true affection comes not only from the indulgence of those beautiful, comfortable cool days, but also from recognition of consequence. Lovely October transforms into flat cold November. The runner in me knows and does appreciate this fact. November and after will not keep me indoors and inactive. I will run.

And so it was that autumn's bellwethers were evident on last Thursday's six miler. That chill had returned that portends stocking caps, gloves, breath caught in air, and yet a ripe orange harvest moon hung over the long dormant red brick Libby's pumpkin processing plant where I pass by often, but tonight bathed in fiery evening light, a beacon of change of its own, speaking to the rotations, ebbs and flows of season.

Lingering in the air the unmistakable scent of woodsmoke, a sure sign to compliment night air on perspiring skin. To the edge of town, moon hangs cerulean now over fields just faded a rusty brownish tint, some left stubble by an eager early-season harvester.

In the ditch along the fields, sumac, wine red halfway up its length, surely bloodied only recently by autumn's initial blade tip thrust. Only a mere rosebud splash of plasma. The others, the maples, oaks, display patience, still overwhelmingly summer green, yet ready to accept fate. It is palpable, this certainty.

Down the final half mile home I run lightly. Darkness has crept in quickly, air thick with night cold now. For myself, even knowing what is to come after, I can say with confidence--fall is my favorite season.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ultrarunning On youtube

Back from a gorgeous Sunday morning 7 miler. Motivation not needed. If you need some, here are some great links:

Tony Krupicka, winner of the Leadville 100. Homeboy trains 220 miles a week:

Uphill Challenge:

Dances With Dirt, Gnaw Bone:

Monday, September 10, 2007

IVS Half Marathon 2007

Spent four days last week in the Smokies of East Tennessee. Luckily I was able to get out and get a few miles in. Ran pretty much the entirety of the Ramsey Cascade trail, hill repeats for 20 minutes around our rental house, and a 6 mile run on Greenbriar Road.

Hiked Chimney Tops, only 4 miles total, but 1300 feet of climb in about a mile, no switchbacks. Saw a bear on Abrams Falls trail. All in all, a great trip. Temps stayed mild but humidity low due to persistent drought conditions.

Ran the IVS Half Marathon yesterday. Hilly, fairly tough course, double loop up through Springdale Cemetery. I managed to finish in 1:55. Not a great time, but I'll take it. Have been scaling back long runs until late September for a buildup to McNaughton and really had no time goals or speed specific training for the race, just a fun run. But then aren't they all?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Running Stuff

Ran Dave's Eureka Trail Race on...well...Eureka trails.

Trails where used to be just woods and deer paths and swimming in the creek bend in the summer as a kid. Now, trails! Not just trails, but a trail race. Where you run. Against other people!

So I went the trail race because I enjoy a good trail run and, sometimes, a good race. Ran it in 23:56. That got me lucky 13 out of...not too many more.

Postrace. Never win so much as a water bottle at the postrace drawings but...low and behold, a nice free pair of Inov-8's came my way. Not sure Inov-8 even makes shoes for dorks my size, you know, this running stuff should be for the sleek and swift, and surely size 13/14 gunboats are neither. But, free shoes nonetheless, baby. Take that.

Training: Volume has decreased a bit because, well, just has--but still got in nice 7 and 10 mile tempos on Saturday/Sunday.

Will try to do the same this weekend, then off to the hills of the Smokies/Blue Ridge for 5 days before the IVS 1/2 Marathon on Sunday the 9th.

This should be an interesting race. They've moved it back into Springdale Cemetery, hence lots of nice climbs, albeit on pavement, so they ain't THAT bad. I ran the 6.5 mile loop a couple weekends ago and enjoyed it.

After that, will get back to long trail runs, building slowly toward McNaughton.

Farmdale Trail Runs on the 13th October. Devil's Cliff aid station again.

Good luck Pam at Moose Mtn. You'll tear it up!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Running and Arthritis

This is a great article that came across the ultralist about a question distance runners often get from those who, well, aren't distance runners. Originally from "Runner's World"

Enduring Questions - Does Running Cause Arthritis? by: Amby Burfoot

My 85-year-old Aunt Marian thinks it's pretty cool that I'm a
runner. Only problem: She wants me to give it up. The way she sees
things, I'm doing fine now, but trouble looms. A few years down the
road, I'll probably need a wheelchair. All that pounding and wear
and tear; it can't do a body any good. Marian's got her share of
aches and pains, and loving auntie that she is, she doesn't want me
to end up in even worse shape.
I bet you've got an Aunt Marian in your life, too--a family member,
or friend, or coworker who's always tsk-tsking the toll running is
taking on your knees, hips, and back. You might even be worried
yourself. We all know a few onetime runners forced to become
swimmers, cyclists, or mall walkers. We wonder: Does the same fate
await us?

The logic behind the wear-and-tear scenario can seem convincing.
After all, your car eventually breaks down, even if it's a Volvo.
Same for your toothbrush, and the foam in your running shoes.
You'll need to replace them at some point. You understand that, and
you've worked the expense into your budget. Chances are, however,
that you're not so keen on the idea of replacing body parts.
The Human Response
Fortunately, your body is different. It's a biomechanical system,
not a mechanical one, and those three little letters make all the
difference. Your body is composed of living tissues that are
constantly rebuilding themselves. Not only that, but living tissue
actually grows stronger when it is used. Use is better than abuse,
which includes both sedentary living and running when you're
injured, which is why you shouldn't do either.
The strongest evidence that running won't condemn you to a life of
pain and arthritis comes from an ongoing study of the Fifty Plus
Runners Association. The study was launched in 1984 when all the
runners were at least 50, and it has been updated every five years
or so. Many of the runners are now in their 60s, 70s, and beyond.
The newest update was published last September in Arthritis
Research & Therapy, under the title "Aerobic exercise and its
impact on musculoskeletal pain in older adults: a 14-year
prospective, longitudinal study." It compared the runners, who
averaged about 26 miles a week, to a matched set of controls, who
averaged about two miles a week. The authors noted that many
observers would predict a sad outcome for the aging runners. "If
running creates damage through accumulated trauma," they wrote,
"then runners with about ten-fold the exposure to such trauma
should have increased pain over time."

Yup, that's it all right: the Aunt Marian argument in a nutshell.
Only the argument appears to be unfounded, probably for some of the
biomechanical reasons I've already mentioned. The study's major
conclusion: The runners experienced "about 25 percent less
musculoskeletal pain" than the controls.
Dr. Bonnie Bruce, the principal investigator, is a doctor of public
health as well as a registered dietitian and a marathoner. I call
her to find out why she chose to measure a subjective feeling like
pain rather than a more objective, physical one like joint-space
narrowing. "Think about it," she says. "When you're in pain, you
can't move about the way you'd like, you can't work effectively,
and you can't enjoy a good social life. Pain is important, because
it affects every aspect of our lives."

Before long, we're discussing the widely held misperception that
vigorous exercise, especially running, will inevitably lead to
joint problems. Bruce thinks it comes from the way that running has
so often been used as punishment. "It was what your gym teacher
made you do when you weren't behaving," she says.
It would help immensely if medical investigators could explain why
running and other vigorous exercise don't lead to joint pain.
Unfortunately, few docs are willing to make this leap, and Bruce
certainly isn't one of them. She makes it clear that her research
only uncovered pain trends--and not the pathways behind them. She
does, however, list some possible explanations: endorphins, fewer
muscular injuries, and the high pain threshold that runners might
develop. An Arthritis Foundation paper called "Exercise and Your
Arthritis" offers a more direct answer. "The stronger the muscles
and tissues around your joints, the better they will be able to
support and protect those joints," it says. "If you don't exercise,
your muscles become smaller and weaker."

Joint Resolution
It's exciting to find a long-term study that supports the
connection between running and good joint health, but I wonder how
many other docs and medical organizations are ready to take up the
cause. To check up, I call Patience White, M.D., the chief public
health officer of the Arthritis Foundation. I tell her about the
Fifty Plus runners, and ask if she's surprised by the results.
"That study makes complete sense to me," Dr. White says. "People
with pain in their joints imagine that runners must have even more
pain, but we have lots of good data to show that running doesn't
cause arthritis."

She goes on to say that obesity is a major culprit in the onset of
arthritis, and that runners do themselves a lot of good simply by
keeping the pounds off. Also, "Runners keep their muscles strong
and well-balanced, which helps the joints."
Music to my ears. Of course, it will be a long time before we
runners convince skeptical friends that we aren't headed for a
hellish destiny with pain and arthritis. But keep the faith; the
tide is turning. The medical community is slowly coming to accept
that running is good for your joints, as well as your heart. And
the evidence is growing. This doesn't give you license to pound out
long runs while swallowing a handful of ibuprofen. But regular,
moderate, pain-free running? Get out there and enjoy it, no matter
what your auntie says.

Run Away Pain
As we age, we naturally experience more aches and pains. However, a
long-term study of runners over 50 showed that the runners had a
smaller pain increase than a nonrunning control group. The women
runners benefited the most.
Percent Pain Increase Age 60-80
Female Runners 11.8%
Female Control 70.6%
Male Runners 17.6%
Male Control 41.4%

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Little Thoreau Is Never a Bad Thing...

The Wizard of Walden on the concept of solitude. Gotta love him:

I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.
-- Walden

By my intimacy with nature I find myself withdrawn from man. My interest in the sun and the moon, in the morning and the evening, compels me to solitude.
-- Journal

I thrive best on solitude. If I have had a companion only one day in a week, unless it were one or two I could name, I find that the value of the week to me has been seriously affected. It dissipates my days, and often it takes me another week to get over it.
-- Journal

I feel the necessity of deepening the stream of my life: I must cultivate privacy. It is very dissipating to be with people too much.
-- Journal

I do not know if I am singular when I say that I believe there is no man with whom I can associate who will not, comparatively speaking, spoil my afternoon.
--- Journal

Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.
-- Walden

Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment; that background which the painter may not daub, be he master or bungler, and which, however awkward a figure we may have made in the foreground, remains ever our inviolable asylum, where no indignity can assail, no personality disturb us.
-- A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

The man I meet with is not often so instructive as the silence he breaks. -- Journal

I am tired of frivolous society, in which silence is forever the most natural and the best manners. I would fain walk on the deep waters, but my companions will only walk on shallows and puddles.
-- Journal

Why will you waste so many regards on me, and not I of my silence? Infer from it what you might from the pine wood. It is its natural condition, except when the winds blow, and the jays scream, and the chickadee winds up his clock. My silence is just as inhuman as that, and no more.
-- Familiar Letters

You think that I am impoverishing myself by withdrawing from men, but in my solitude I have woven for myself a silken web or chrysalis, and, nymph-like, shall ere long burst forth a more perfect creature, fitted for a higher society.
-- Journal

Scott Jurek on Enduranceplanet

Scott Jurek, maybe the best ultrarunner ever from the U.S. and recent winner of the Hardrock 100, did a great audio interview for endurance planet. If you have heard it yet, check it out.

scroll down to July 30th.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Aches and Pains

I know I am starting to get real training in when I ache the morning after a good workout. The twinges and soreness are part of what I love about running. They offer a barometer of effort that signify real effort.

On a three hour trail run, a real run, not a slog, the hip will twinge an hour in, then mysteriously the ache wanes a few miles later, ditto some slight pain, then gone until the next long run. You learn to gauge your bodies signals. To me, and I would guess to most who run, this is a normal part of the process, the breaking down, adapting, then growing stronger. A recovery day in between, maybe a slow three miler, will invariably get the legs right again.

Part of the fun of running is pushing training, seeing what you can handle, how to take care of the body in such a way that normal aches and pains don't push into injury. I've had several injuries in 6 years of running, I won't list them, but I can trace most of them to stupidity in terms of overuse, doing too much after a hard effort, or just plain not training enough for the effort I was putting out.

I've learned a few lessons. Not to say you become bulletproof, but over time balance is sought, and if you listen to the signals, you can run harder and longer, then build off those efforts. For me this has been the case. Mind you, I am a middle to back of the packer, but it's the process, the act of running that is important. The training leading up the event rather than the end result of my place in the final standings are what keep me motivated to get out there.

Training has been going pretty well. The goal has been to lay base for more mileage and longer runs, and the plan has been working out well this summer. A couple weekends ago I had the pleasure of doing an 8 miler out at Farmdale with ultrarunner Lynnor Matheny from Texas. Nice lady and a fun run. This past weekend was an estimated 16 miles at Farmdale in 2:56.

Next up is the Eureka Lake 5k on the 18th. I know every root and bump of the course, which will probably offer ZERO advantage.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Of Rus and Corn Fields

I've always had an affinity for the Russian writers. Maybe it's the spirit of my grandfather, germanic in heritage, but born along the waters of the Black Sea coast in Bessarabia. He knew the Russian language, and I suspect, the Russian soul. Perhaps some of that genetic code found its way to my being.

While Tolstoy and Dostoevksy are the most celebrated, for me, Turgenev, to an even larger extent Nikolai Gogol symbolized what it means to be Russian, to be connected to the land in some almost undefinable way. This from his 1842 novel, Dead Souls:

"Everything in you is open, empty and flat; your low towns peep out like dots or marks from the plains; there is nothing to seduce and capture one's gaze. But what is the incomprehensible, mysterious force that draws me to you? Why does your mournful song, carried along your whole length and breadth from sea to sea, echo and re-echo incessantly in my ears?

What is there in this song, what is it?...Rus! What do you want of me? What is that mysterious, hidden bond between us? What do those immense, wide, far-flung open spaces prophesy? Is it not here, is it not in you that some boundless thought will be born, since you are yourself without end?...Oh, what a glittering, wondrous infinity of space the world knows nothing of Rus!"

To see that daily in my runs through the countryside. My good friend Jake is back from England, we were on the Mackinaw a few days past. I know Gogol there also. These are my plains, but the nature of the soul is the same.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Racing the Antelope

In his book, Bernd Heinrich delves into the evolutionary components of endurance of both animals and humans. Framed over the backdrop of the story of his own 100km record training and race in 1981, his is a story that offers inspiration. And maybe, some insight into why, in his view, we have literally evolved to be runners. All of us.

"My suspicion is that the effects of running are quite ordinary. It is the other states, all other feelings, that are peculiar, for they are an abnegation of the way you and I are intended to feel. As runners, I think we reach directly back along the endless chain of history. We experience what we would have felt had we lived ten thousand years ago, eating fruits, nuts and vegetables, and keeping our hearts and lungs and muscles fit by constant movement. We are reasserting as modern man seldom does, our kinship with ancient man, and even with the wild beasts that preceded him."

On the notion that "vision" is what separates from other predators and informs our running.

"A quick pounce-and-kill requires no dream. Dreams are the beacons that carry us far ahead into the hunt, into the future, and into a marathon. We can visualize far ahead. We see our quarry even as it recedes over the hills and into the mists.

It is still in our mind's eye, still a target, and imagination becomes the main motivator. It is the pull that allows us to reach into the future, whether it is to kill a mammoth or an antelope, or to write a book, or to achieve record time in a race.

Other things being equal, those hunters who had the most love of nature would be the ones who sought out all its allures. They were the ones who persisted the longest on the trail. They derived pleasure from being out, exploring, and traveling afar. When they felt fatigue and pain, they did not stop, because their dream carried them still forward. They were our ancestors."

"I believe our common hunter's heart is the ability to impart value far in excess of what seems practical. That's dreaming. That's a large part of what makes us human. If modern runners were drawn around a campfire in a warm African night, they would, like any Bushmen, poke the embers and relive the run all the way to the finish line and beyond. "

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Jubilee Trail Race

Saturday morning saw the innagural Jubilee Trail Race 6 miler at Jubliee State Park. This is the first of a series of trail races put on by the new trail running group, CITRA. This was a fun race, double loop with aid at the halfway point, a few hills sprinkled in for good measure.

Ended up with a 52:19 or 32nd out of 73 finishers. Tim Broe ran this race and blazed it in 33 minutes. My idea to put up a couple of steeplechase obstacles to slow him didn't go over well (funny joke if you remember his Olympic trials).

Hardrock was this past weekend in the San Juans. Scott Jurek blazed it in record time. Keep in mind "blazed" is a relative term, translating into 15:00 miles. And that is the all-time course record. Someday, someday.

Interesting interview with Jurek found here:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Steamboat and More

Ran Steamboat a few weeks back. The 15k version. Fun race that loops twice up some nice hills through Glen Oak Park and finishes at the 4 mile finish. First time running it since 2003. As is typical, race morning was hot, humid, didn't carry a bottle but drank at every aid station.

Had for me what was a good race. 1:23:14, 8:57 pace, that's good for uh....347th out of 591 total runners.

My 2002 time was 1:18:16 in cooler conditions.

2003 was 1:18:36.

This indicates I'm not quite back to the kind of shape I want to be in, but progressing nicely.

I'm planning on running the Jubillee Trail 6 mile this weekend, the first in a series of trail runs organized by Dave Tapp.

Goals after that are up in the air. Maybe a fall marathon or 50k as yet to be determined. Moose Mtn. isn't happening in lieu of a trip to Tennessee. And then, all efforts go towards McNaughton Park 50 in the spring.

More Colorado: Pics are forthcoming. I'm lazy.

I will add that our slower hikes up into the park were productive, and we were actually able to identify lots of wildflowers in the foothills around Boulder and Highlands Ranch, the Montane environment of the trails at Grand Lake, and the higher subalpine and alpine of RMNP and Evans.

Here is what we saw: Lanceleaf Chiming Bells (like the bluebells of spring in Illinois), Wild Blue Flax (abundant), Blue Columbine, Showy Daisy (one of my favorites, member of the Aster family), Wild Geranium, Purple Fringe, Scarlet Paintbrush, Fairy Primrose (vibrant pink, another favorite), Wild Rose, Porter Aster, Pussytoes, Yarrow, Rocky Mountain Loco, Heartlead Arnica, Old Man of the Mountain (sunflower), Snow Buttercup, Alpine Avens, and Yellow Stonecrop.

I'm sure there were more, but those are the positive ID's.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Colorado 2007

Flew into Denver on Wed., and immeadiately hit the trail above Highlands Ranch. From Highlands Point you have a great view of Pike's, Evans, and Long's Peaks, not to mention pretty all of the metro Denver area from about 6,500 feet. Did five miles and felt the altitude a bit.

On Saturday we went up into Boulder Creek Canyon and tried some fishing, then on to Nederland for a look around. Ended up running that afternoon down in Golden on the bike path along Clear Creek, 4 miles in 90 degree heat.

Headed up to Grand Lake on Sunday, driving up Mt. Evans on the way, the world's highest paved road (?). Keegan and I did the extra 200 foot climb to the summit. Remarkable. I didn't get the time to do Bierstadt to Evans, next year, I guess. I handled 14,000 very well this time, and even Keegan was running above treeline with not much effort. Kids.

Grand Lake was awesome. Did 8 miles on the North Inlet trail, saw a huge elk herd grazing and on the return passed two giant moose not more than 20 feet off the trail. We put in some great hikes, wildflowers were in bloom, I'll put a list of all that we positively identified soon.

The one thing that shocked me was all the beetle-kill lodgepole pines. I mean, there were sections of Grand Lake where it looked like 75-90 percent were dead. Brown trees everywhere. The forest will look much different in 10 to 20 years. Huge fire hazard, too. On Monday a forest fire broke out near Granby but was contained.

Drove back on Wednesday over trailridge road back to Highlands. My first time crossing completely through RMNP, pass was snowed shut last time out.

So, didn't get to do Bierstadt or the Slacker half, but got in 35-40 miles on trails and felt solid every time out. Great trip. Pics to follow.

Finished reading McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men," which is a great book. Probably his most accessible book by a long shot. Anton Chigurh is a chilling character. Started readin "The Road" on the plane. As much as I detest Oprah, I'm all for this being a bestseller. Damn good read from, I still maintain, our greatest living writer.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Recovery from Berryman has gone well. I was surprised by the lack of muscle soreness and damage, and was back running three miles just two days later. Last weekend I did back-to-back 9 mile tempo runs on pavement. Have three hours planned this weekend at Farmdale.

Racing plans are a bit tentative at this point. I've signed up for the Steamboat 15k, a race I haven't done in three years. The Colorado trip starts the 20th, and I'm hoping to do the 4 mile version of the Slacker Half in Georgetown, CO at 10,000+ feet.

Also hoping to bag Bierstadt and Evans, two relatively "easy" 14ers.

Pam mentioned doing the Berryman Adventure Race in Sept. and I'd still like to run the Moose Mtn. Marathon, although that may get subsumed by a trip the the Smokies/Blue Ridge.

Perphaps a 50k thrown in for fun. Dances with Dirt?

Just finished reading Richard Preston's "The Wild Trees" about the recent discovery and study of the world's largest organisms, the Redwoods of California, many hidden in groves only discovered in recent years by a few eccentric (i.e. interesting) souls. The book is their story and is the expansion of Preston's excellent New Yorker piece:

It's worth reading, although does get bogged down at times by personal backstory.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Day in the Hills

Ran the Berryman Trail Marathon last Saturday down in Missouri. The race started early Saturday morning at the remote Berryman Campground in the Ozark hills.

Air temperature was chilly at the start, mid 40's, but would warm to the 70's by noon. Berryman is a 25 mile loop out into the Mark Twain National Forest. We started on a 1.2 mile out and back on a dirt road, then onto single track trail.

The trail itself is beautiful--rolling hills, lots of switchback climbs and creek crossings. And rocks, lots of rocks. I'd compare it to the Glacial Trail in North Kettle Moraine, WI. but with MORE rocks and bigger and more frequent hills. Similar feel.

My plan was to start conservatively, mixing walking into my customary slow running of the flats and downs. The trail is very runnable, despite the hills. My hydration strategy was to finish both of my 1/2 gatorade, 1/2 water mixed bottles between each aid station, refueling at the each one. I did this, and supplemented with table salt, fig newtons, and bananas at most stops.

This overall strategy worked well for me on this day. I had zero cramping issues, something that almost always surfaces on a long run. Berryman was as perfect a run as I've ever had. I felt like I ran a smart race and the usual leg-weariness never came, in fact, I got stronger as the day wore on, even completely ran the mostly uphill final two miles at a hard pace and passing 7 or 8 folks.

In short, everything went right. I feel like I could have done the 50.

Finishing time was 6:11, a time that I think could have been a half hour faster if not for the conservative early pace and stopping to stretch every half hour. But, I'm happy with the time and ran negative splits for the half marathons. The hips didn't hurt, no injuries peeked out from under those dark rocks.

The RD's do an outstanding job with this one. Home brew and brats at the finish, a nice finisher's medal, great stocked aid stations. Well worth the awesome drive.

Lessons Learned:

-Conservative starts are good. I was reeling people in by the end, and felt like trail experience helped with just being mentally focused and aware of myself. Continue to hone these skills.

-I really need to run these things at a lower weight. Dropping 20 pounds in three months has done wonders. Drop 10 more pounds and maintain until next ultra is the goal.

-I'm being a bit smarter about fueling. Continue to learn. Table salt is my friend.

-Tempo runs on pavement count. Doing them back-to-back on non-long run weekends was huge for me.

-Under Armour bike shorts prevent chafing. It took me four years to learn this one. Crucial.