Off to Litchfield, so the usual opportunity to run someplace different. This time I thought I'd have a go at Zack's Nassahegon Loop
, Zack being Charlie's son and Nassehegon being a state forest between Litchfield and Hartford with lots of mountain bike trails. I figured I had an distinct advantage over Charlie in that I didn't have to drag a bike around the loop, but also a distinct disadvantage as I didn't have Zack waiting for me at junctions to point me the right way. Also, I had the advantage of having a map of the GPS track of the route, but the disadvantage on an overcast afternoon of not having a compass.
Clearly my navigation was far from perfect, since my covering his 4.2-mile loop in only 3.8 miles is not a sign of success. I figure I found, and then lost the trail at least three times, maybe four. Lost it pretty soon after I started, went down a reentrant but it was a little overgrown so I turned back. That might have been the correct one after all. Meandered on a bike trail for a while, possibly back on the correct route again. Maybe lost it again. Definitely found it again, but then lost it again and had to do a bit of bushwhacking to get back to where I needed to be.
But eventually I made it back to my car, despite being quite sure early on that I had no idea where I was. In such circumstances you do the only reasonable thing -- keep moving, preferably at a good pace. :-)
Legs felt pretty good, though there was only one hill of any substance and it wasn't much.
And the highlight, a fine AOWN -- while I was meandering along, quite lost, mostly concentrating on the twisty bike trail which was quite hard to follow, I happened to look up, and there about 20-30 yards in front of me was a fine specimen of the American black bear. It was sideways to me facing downhill, a little left of the trail, and it hadn't seen me or heard me or smelled me yet.
I stopped, had a good look, seemed to be a lone adult, no sign of any others around. Just a perfect sighting. And then I made a move, and it looked my way and then -- well, this bear knew how to move in the woods and a little scruffy vegetation wasn't going to slow it down. It took off, heading downhill at a high rate of speed, quite a noise, branches breaking, small tress swaying. In 5 or 10 seconds I could no longer see it; in 10 or 15 no longer hear it.
Very very cool. And I'm not sure if it a good or a bad thing, but yours truly, normally full of anxiety about everything, wasn't the least bit scared. Though, of course, if it has been a western bear, I would have at the very least peed my pants. :-)
So here are the GPS tracks, Charlie in red that I was trying to duplicate and me in blue. Hmm, not so good. Seem to have lost the trail at least four times. Oh well. The bear, by the way, was on the hillside just south of the State Fish Hatchery.