I love creating a good running route. And I have a handful of Des Moines routes that I’ve ran a lot and enjoy, but lately I’ve been running from house so that cuts down my options to about three routes. It’s great to be able to get a good run in without driving anywhere and having a chance to explore my neighborhood, but a little change of scenery is always nice.
So last night I stopped at the Saylorville Vistors Center (a favorite birdwatching spot of mine) and hopped on the Neil Smith trail to stretch my legs and lungs a little. In short, it was one of the most enjoyable runs I’ve had in a long time. It was the perfect time of day, late afternoon/early evening, where the sunlight is so warm and golden. It had been cold, wet and gray most of the day so it was so great to get out and soak up a few rays. The leaves are starting to change so there were swaths of yellow, leaves falling as you ran by, and wonderful blood-red sumac (I stopped to gather some leaves for a future project idea). The trail cuts a path through fields of wildflowers, swaying between ponds and Saylorville Lake with just enough undulating hills to be challenging and interesting. Birds were present too. I wish I had my binoculars with but I’ll have to return for a long walk there soon. Brown thrashers, bluejays, a flock of goldfinches in their fall colors, woodpeckers, hawks, herons, and a flock of 60-70 vultures riding thermals slowly along the edge of the lake.
I actually ran further than I was planning on, clocking six miles, and would’ve kept going if I didn’t have places to be. A fantastic escape to nature.