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.