Percy Warner Park trail run

One of the best places to walk/run/hike in Nashville is Percy Warner Park. And there, a well-known location is “the stairs.” A friend of mine and I met there a few days ago and that’s where our trail run started. Let me just tell you, this is no walk in the park, if you’ll pardon the expression. It’s a rugged, tree-rooted, crops of rock-infused path rising to hundreds of feet from where it starts, then back down again. Here’s a view of the stairs, courtesy of Expedia. The hiking trail starts at the top of the stairs.

Expedia image of PWP stairs

image from Expedia.com

We saw some interesting things: Conan the Barbarian (or Outlander?) huffing it around the same path we were on, then saw him again sprinting up the stairs. He literally looked like a modernized caveman, but hey, he was running hard, so more power to him! We also saw a lot of people out to enjoy the beautiful weather we had that day. Then, the pinnacle of sights, a breathtaking view of downtown Nashville. A picture wouldn’t even do it justice, so you just need to go there yourself to see it. In the pic below, it’s the red peak point to the right of the gray 1 mile marker. It’s stunning.

By the end we both were exhausted. We’d climbed a total of 626.6 feet in elevation! My friend suggested as a way to finish our run, a sprint from the flag pole area up to the first wall (you can kind of see the wall in the picture above). Sooooooooo we went ahead and did that 3 times!

We’re crazy. Running with company is so much better than running alone, if only for the sake of having someone there to suffer with you. But I appreciated our conversation, and how he and I often find ourselves running side by side in the race of life, too. Here’s our course from that day…

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-Out of the Wilderness

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Sniffer’s gonna sniff: a story about my amazing dogs and something important I lost

It’s a beautiful day.

Nashvillians are entering into the time of year that makes cold winters bearable. Days where the sun is bright and warm, and winter ice is a thing of the past. One day not too long ago was one of these days, so I went for a hike at Percy Warner Park in west Nashville, dogs in tow. It was beautiful. The way the sun cut through the towering trees. The sounds of animals foraging through the woods. Small flowers blooming. Runners running. Sniffy dogs sniffing. Our 5-mile walk concluded a few hours later and as I reached into my pocket for the car keys, slight concern. I don’t feel them. Panic. I check other pockets. I check all the pockets. Reality washing over me like any adult man at a Justin Bieber concert. How did it end up like this? What do I do now? Lucky for those adult men, they can just go home. Me? Nope. I might as well not have even had a car there, because without that little piece of carved metal, I wasn’t getting in. I wasn’t going home. Plus, who’s the dummy who’s got two fingers and left his phone in the car? This guy.

And I was like baby, baby, baby.

I said to my babies, we need to walk the trail again. And please keep in mind the farthest either of my dogs have ever gone is 6 miles. We already walked 5 miles, and now I’m taking them for 5 more. I felt terrible, like I was asking too much of them. If you do the math, it was not too far south of a half marathon.

Hello darkness my old friend.

It was completely dark when we completed the trail for the second time and I couldn’t have been more proud of my pups. They seemed to end stronger than they began, pulling towards squirrels, barking at deer, walking with perked ears as we rounded the final curve. We saw lots of wildlife, lots of things that weren’t keys. And now my car is one of the last 2 or 3, and the others are firing up to take their drivers home. I didn’t feel compelled to ask for assistance from the other park patrons, in fact, I felt compelled not to. So there I was sitting by a car I can’t get in, much less drive!

Islands in the stream, that is what we are.

The plan at this point was to befriend a volleyball and hope for a ship to pass by. Wait no, we weren’t that hopeless yet! I approached a house close to the park entrance and the nicest of ladies, Susan, offered so much help. She even brought out a laptop so I could email my friend “Bill.” Yeah, remember how I didn’t have my phone? I also don’t know anyone’s phone number! So email was the next best thing.

Police on the scene, you know what I mean?

After firing off an email, I returned to my car. It was weird sitting there not even knowing if the email was received, and yet, believing that the electronic flare would be seen and rescue was on the way. And it was, in more ways than one. The local police came by to lock up the parking lot, as they do every night, I’m sure, and the officer gave me a ride to police headquarters. My first time in the back of a cop car. It was nice. Very comfortable. I asked about the car and the lady officer informed me it was a Volkswagon Passat. Very cool. Arriving at the station, they were kind, helpful, and were over-the-top with Piper and Asia. They had treats, food, water, and plenty of back scratches that I know Piper and Asia appreciated. They brought me to a computer so I could check my email (to see if “Bill” had responded or anything). That’s when another officer stopped by and handed me a slip of paper. On it was “Bill”‘s phone number! Apppparrrrrentllyyy, nice lady Susan called up the police with this bit of information that was anything but itty bitty! Susan was a life saver! It was a pretty amazing moment. “Bill” arrived about 10 minutes later and took me home.

You live, you learn. You laugh, you learn.

The next day “Bill” and I did one more search without success and then I called to have a key made. From this experience, I learned a few things. Always have a spare key. Having friends is good, having good friends is better. Wear pants with bigger pockets. Sometimes dogs will surprise you. There are a lot of squirrels. As bad as it seems, it could be worse. This will be a landmark time in my life because of the amount of loss that came in a short span. I lost this set of keys on  a Saturday. The following Tuesday, I lost my job. Crazy right?

-Out of the Wilderness

Soaking up the rain and the sun… all in a weekend

Yesterday and today could not be more different. Both amazing in ways I made a point to appreciate. Saturday was rainy and cool. I love running in the rain so I took my running dog Asia to Percy Warner Park in west Nashville. Lots of slipping and sliding (me) and chasing squirrels (her) but we finished the 4.5 mile run safely and exhausted. It was everything I hoped it would be!20150314_175713 20150314_175728 20150314_175738 20150314_175807 20150314_175814 20150314_175827 20150314_175843 20150314_180047 20150314_180106 20150314_180112 20150314_180134Sunday, no clouds. Heat. Cool breeze. Piper’s favorite kind of weather. Mine, too. So we both soaked it in and got some vitamin D in the process. It was everything I hoped it would be!20150315_131313 20150315_135811 20150315_135959 20150315_140140 20150315_140231 20150315_140244 20150315_140308

20150315_140334-Out of the Wilderness