Troy Rail Trail

Headed out to Troy yesterday to visit with grandkids, but took an hour off to run the Troy Rail Trail. I've run the length of it from Troy to Kendrick once each way. About eight or nine miles is on private land (I have permission from the owners) and I'll put that stretch up the next time I run it - probably next summer. 

This jaunt was just to the chainlink gate about three miles down the trail. The chainlink is new; I think the old rusted barbed wire didn't suffice anymore beaten nearly flat and easy to step over.

 Early part of the trail, just past the gate at the trailhead.

Early part of the trail, just past the gate at the trailhead.

Driving directions: follow Highway 8 east from Moscow to Troy. Pass through Troy, go past the turn-off for Highway 99, and continue another 200 yards or so to the next right hand turn. Turn in there. You'll see the water treatment plant there. That is the trail head. Parking is limited.

The powers that be paved the first bit of trail but the gravel picks up just before the gate. If you were to head back to Moscow, you could do the entirety of it on pavement. I suspect that eventually, if the disputes with the private owners can be smoothed over, they'll pave all the way to Kendrick. Nothing says communing with nature like an asphalt trail through the woods.

The trail is slightly downhill the whole way out and there is no hill, not even a hint of one. From the open meadow were the trail starts, to the gate, the I enjoyed smooth sailing. I did have to switch from side to side occasionally on the trail to stay out of the deeper gravel. Once clear of the meadow, I followed next to the creek as it wound its way to Kendrick and the Little Palouse River. 

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The steel bones of the old trestles over the creek still stand but the wood rotted way long ago. On this stretch, concrete, cold and gray, overlays the surface of the trestles, a modern interruption into a trail good for reminiscing. Between trestles, it's easy to let the mind wander and the eyes to drift to the sides, picturing the hillsides of the creek 

I took a time out to walk out on a fallen tree so I could take a picture of the creek as it quietly burbled past. The bark was slick with morning dew and mosses. The banks of the waterway were overgrown with grasses on the east bank and shaded by trees on the west. 

About two miles down trail, a wild apple tree grows at the verge on the east side, fruit well formed, and turning red. I've run this trails a half dozen times before but never that this time of year. Fresh, ripe apples are a pleasant surprise. There was another tree, closer to the trailhead but the fruit looked small and hard. Since I'm making a return trip this way, I decided I'd snag an apple on the way back. 

Tuned back into the easy lope that carries me out to the turnaround, I note another pair of producing fruit trees. It's easy to imagine an engineer standing in the locomotive, finishing the apple from his meager lunch - a hard boiled egg, maybe, with a hard biscuit. A bit of cheese if he was lucky. The coffee would be hot and black. Done with the apple, he'd fling it out the window. 

And some of those thrown away cores took root and grew. 

A half mile from the turnaround, I met three ladies out hiking, then another three, and, at the turn, a group of seven waiting for their friends. A baker's dozen ladies, all into their fifties and most well beyond, out for a six or seven mile hike. Very cool ladies and we chatted and shared a laugh, a small joke at my expense,  before I turned back.

All the downhill becomes uphill obviously. The grade is not steep but the change in effort is noticeable. The change in direction altered the perspective in lighting. It helped with the pictures, limiting some of the washing out of colors. 

The sun started to heat the air. When I rolled out at the top, temps hovered in the mid-forties. By the time I reached the halfway point, it was into the mid-fifties. Now I built a good sweat though I kept the pace down. 

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As planned, I stopped at the apple tree. Windfall apples scattered across the trail, and I noticed a branch broken that I hadn't before. An impatient bear had broken a branch, not waiting for the normal release. She gorged and then marked the location as hers. I didn't think that she would miss a singleton apple, so I found one that looked tasty. 

I didn't want to eat it and try to run, so I carried it in one hand and the camera in the other. 

The only excitement arrived with a loud crack as something quite large moved in the woods next to me. I stopped to search for the animal that broke the limb. Nothing, but given I knew a bear lived nearby, kept scanning while I walked.

My best guess would be white-tail deer as my experience with bears has always involved much cracking of branches and deadfall, not a single large crack. Bears appear disinclined to dodge things. Likewise, moose tend to go through rather than around. It may have been an elk as I saw signs of them. In the end, it was something big and mysterious, a reminder that trailrunners should stay alert. 

Round-trip was a smidge over an hour but I wasn't hustling and I didn't stop my watch when I took pictures. 

I'll try to get the whole trail done next year as I mentioned and I'll GPS it as well.

Until then, run gently.

Ps. The apple tasted delicious, a bit of sweet and a touch of tart with very crisp flesh.