The Mt. Marathon Runner's Trail is located in Seward, Alaska.
At the trail head, a sign is posted which reads:
“The runners trail is very steep, not well defined, and is not maintained. The trail is braided in parts and can be hard to follow. Beware of loose rock & slippery soil. There is no water available along the runners trail. Be prepared. Carry water, food, extra clothes and a first aid kit. Tell someone where you are going, and when you will return.
Caution: Public use of this non designated trail system is not recommended. Persons requiring rescue may be billed for costs incurred.”
About 20 yards from that is a post with two arrows. One points toward this infamous runner’s trail, while the other points in the opposite direction toward the “waterfall trail.”
What I did next may be a microcosm of a much bigger issue I have, but I didn’t grow up with a mother that entirely warned me from all dangers. Her lectures weren’t so much, “don’t drink and drive!” but “Don’t drink too much and drive!” and “Don’t sleep with strangers.”
I’ll say no more. You know what trail I took.
The mountain is about 3,000+ ft. Along the trail one experiences all kinds of terrain, and it’s all steep. The most difficult places are where it’s muddy toward the bottom, and of course the last third of the hike which is incredible steep and all shale. This is the part that never seems like it’s going to end. It’s like going on a roadtrip to Acapulco, and getting excited when you cross the border to Mexico. Don’t loosen the saddle, kid. The trail is near impossible to see and one is grabbing at anything that looks remotely secured to the ground. Yes, I said “grabbing”. This is not typically a hike done on two’s, rather all fours. Do this hike once a week and you’re going to have the ass of a 12 yr old boy (sorry that was gross). But seriously, you’re doing lunges all the way up the mountain.
Difficult is an understatement, but worth it-most definitely. Take your time, bring lots of water, and don’t panic. It’s only a race if you do it on the 4th of July (which is worth checking out on youtube if you're into blood, and sports that can get you seriously injured). If you get frustrated, tired or sore, just stop, take a deep breath of that fresh cool air, turn around and enjoy the beauty and silence of everything around you. People don’t call this “God’s Country” for nothing, and while I may not be sure who/what ‘God” is, or if it exists, I am certain that this is the country of something bigger and stronger than I. It feels good to be reminded. I take great solace in resigning myself to the volatile landscapes that offer such mystery and beauty.
This was my favorite part of the trip and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
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