I’ve learned a lot in 2020, and one gleaming lesson is that I need to get lost to get found.

As literally every event, race and get-together was furloughed this year I realized I looked to these dates as motivation, especially in my pursuit of physical fitness. I learned it was necessary to have an objective that included a hard date to prepare for as some of my motivation was based upon fear. Fear I wouldn’t be ready for the big day which is ultimately, fear of failure. It was this realization my immediate group of running buddies decided to set our own virtual event complete with an event date, location and objective.

Understanding Covid travel restrictions and the risk involved we thought long and hard what we could do that would provide a challenge, tap into some adventure and provide the escape we yearned for this year of cancelations, yet provide the safest get-away possible.

Finally settled upon Duluth, MN and attacking some trail sections along the Superior Hiking Trail/North Country Trail we have yet to endure. Objective set: 20 miles on two sections two days back to back.

Having Duluth as the hub could work in a pandemic as the city is large enough to grab food to-go, keep distanced with safe, clean, comfortable lodging an option.

Date set for early October.

Thank you to the fine staff at Pier B Resort for going great lengths to make our stay comfortable during a scary and crazy pandemic.

Knowing the room was sanitized thoroughly before arrival helped ease the worry. This venture was one of my first stays away from home during the pandemic for pleasure travel.

R-L = Brad – our guide, event coordinator, motivator and transporter, Mark – youthful pacesetter, Skip our navigator and myself taking the selfie. Our first section of single track is about a mile or so down this paved trail over our shoulders.

Skip attacks the first section of trail which rolls alongside a beautiful bustling creek.

Mark sets that pace and crosses the stream.

Brad printed us maps understanding trails maybe a bit confusing. The fact we had created a unique to us route, jumping from trail to trail, navigation could/would be interesting.

Intersecting trails, roads, creeks, streams and railroad tracks, occasionally we were a bit confused. Understatement. Good news is that we only took the wrong turn a few times…and ran a few miles out of our way, but that’s the fun part.

The vast majority of the run was along large open trails such as this or single track in the woods. Timing of this run was the towards the end of the fall colors with crisp air and crunchy leaves underfoot, one of my personal favorite times of year to trial run.

Topographically the area is quite diverse with numerous drainages providing challenging terrain. Volunteers maintain both the Superior Hiking Trail and the North Country Trail, small bridges, rock steps and erosion mitigation all help preserve the path for all to enjoy.

Towards the end of day 1 and well aware of our navigation mis-haps we come to a trail crossing and find Brad and a personalized rest stop, complete with water and energy bars. He’s enjoying nature, hanging out, drinking coffee in his hammock and wanted to insure we didn’t miss a turn. Good thing too as we probably would have missed it. That’s a friend.

There is a peacefulness that comes over me as I trail run, it’s hard to describe. An assembly of memories that are unique to me and my experience on the trial, I so cherish the experience as much as the physical challenge. It’s just plain cool finding and running across an old, weathered, rickety hand-crafted wood bridge miles from anywhere.

Day two had us elevated above the city more in an area we call the Grand Traverse. No description necessary, it’s pretty stellar with amazing views.

The pandemic has had me a bit lost in many ways. At times lost in my work or lost without enough work or lost without direction, lost in my head thinking too much or lost because I’m not thinking things thru, physically lost on this trail run or virtually lost before I even got there. Being lost actually leads me to understand where I’m supposed to be headed. The fact, I got off course with my physical fitness or get off course in any sector of my life is the tool that I need to find my way. Embracing the wrong way and learning from it, that’s a course of action worth pursuing

In photo above you can see the reward of a trail run completed, wrong route embraced and goal accomplished.

I’m so grateful that we found a way to execute a physical challenge, stay distanced, safe and having created memories that are unique to themselves.

Thank you Brad, Skip, Mark for embracing the challenge.