On the trail with distractions

I have recently started trail running, and spend at least 3 days a week on the local trails.  Fortunately, I'm usually there during lunch and don't come across many other people on the trails. 

When I used to walk or run on the street or sidewalk, I would often take my iPod with me.  I felt ok wearing them in that setting because the sidewalks were wide enough where if anyone needed to pass, they could easily do so.  If I was on the street, I would generally be facing oncoming traffic and would see any vehicles coming at me, giving me plenty of time to avoid them.  

My first time on the trail, I brought my iPod along, but quickly realized that the trail was very narrow and oncoming traffic was obstructed by the vegetation and growth along the trail.  Additionally, I would not be able to hear anyone coming from behind me, and they would probably not see me until they were right on top of me.  Because this is a multi-use trail, hiking and biking, I felt very uncomfortable wearing my iPod and not being atuned to my surroundings.  

Why write this?  I've seen a lot of posts on this topic.  Most deal more with the eco reasons for not wearing an iPod.  Don't you want to hear wildlife on the trail?  Do you want to miss out on the peacefulness of being one with nature?  I, too, feel that while in nature, you should avoid wearing the iPod.  But trail running in the city doesn't hold the same aesthetically pleasing surroundings that the Grand Tetons do, so I'm ok with it from that perspective.  

My issue is more a safety issue.  Since my first run, I've left the iPod at home when going on the mixed-use trails for my safety and the safety of others on the trail.  Today, on my run, I quickly came around a bend and came nearly face-to-face with a person talking on their cell phone.  They were totally oblivious to me coming.  I heard them, but they didn't hear me.  I thought they were going to have a heart attack.  

This didn't have much of a chance of causing much damage to myself or the other person, but had one, or both of us been on a bike and not heard the other one coming, it could have been extremely dangerous.  So, for safety sake, please leave the distractions at home when on any narrow, mixed use trails.  Always be on the look out and listen for others coming.


  1. I stumbled across your blog - great site. Heck, I want to join your family - LOL. Do you have any recommendations on a 4-5 day total hiking trip, preferably something with a summit. I live in Denton and I am looking at Nov. 21 - 24 or 25th. This would be a few buddies on this trip, no kids this time. Not sure a 16 hr drive is doable.

  2. Well, first, I have to understand what you mean by summit. My idea of a summit is something taller than 12,000 feet. Some people consider Clingman's Dome, at 6600 feet, in the Smokey Mountains a summit.

    So, if you are like me, and you like BIG mountains, there's only a few choices. First, you can only go West. You can get to Santa Fe, NM in around 9 hours. The Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide run right through New Mexico. The Santa Fe National Forest and the Sangre de Cristos are beautiful and are not crowded at all. Santa Fe also has Bandelier National Monument with some excellent ancient Indian cliff dwellings and artifacts as well as the Valles Caldera a dormant volcanic crater. I highly recommend the Santa Fe area.

    Another option is the Guadalupe Mountains, near El Paso. I've never been there, but it's on the list. Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas, over 9,000 feet. It's supposed to be a great area. You've also got Carlsbad Caverns nearby, so you can see a lot of things right there. Be prepared to carry all your water though. There's no reliable water anywhere in the Guadalupe Mountains.

    If you are looking for late November, getting to that elevation is going to be dicey.

    On the other hand if you don't mind some smaller mountains, you're just a hop-skip and a jump from the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, just north of Lawton, OK. The mountains are tiny, Mt. Scott is around 1900 feet. The scenery and wildlife is amazing and the rock climbing and bouldering is excellent.

    Or, you can head to Eastern Oklahoma into the Ouachita National Forest or up into Arkansas / Missouri to the Ozark National Forest. You can see my post on the Buffalo National River, which is in the Southern part of the Ozark Mountains. It's about 7 hours from Denton and is gorgeous. There's a great trail system there, caving and some great paddling adventures to be had. Still, the Mountains are small.

    Apart from that, you're in for a haul. It's worth it though. For summits, I highly recommend the Rocky Mountains. I haven't spent much time in the Sierra Nevadas (west coast), but the Rockies are hard to beat. I've been in them in New Mexico, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming. They are always spectacular.

  3. Thanks for the response. I have been rock climbing at WMWR and it was great. We thought about doing the back country there but I really want to do a big mountain but end of Nov. maybe a risky option for the Rockies. Thanks for the suggestions, we will kick them around along with the ones we have come up with. I look forward to reading about your next adventure.


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