“After all, I don’t see why I am always asking for private, individual, selfish miracles when every year there are miracles like white dogwood.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh
During the 18th and 19th centuries the Wissahickon Valley was home to dozens of mills and factories. Edgar Allen Poe and John Greenleaf Whittier sought solitude along the banks of the Wissahickon Creek while industrialists and their families sought refuge in the splendor of the park. Today it is a playground for outdoorsmen, equestrians, runners, cyclists and lovers. It is where I run most days of the week, and the past several weeks it has been covered with snow and ice.
This time last year I was in the midst of a four-month hiatus from running after injuring my hip from a fall on the ice. It was the longest rehab I’d gone through my entire life–longer than any of my three knee surgeries. Needless to say, these days I am a bit more attentive to my footing while running on the ice.
There are several precautions I take that have been effective in remaining upright when the surface is slick (for the most part anyway.) First, is deliberate footing–keeping my eyes ahead my pace and planning two or three steps in advance. I try to land on the un-iced tips of rocks, stone or even brush. Soft snow is also good for traction, but you have to be careful it’s not covering ice (this takes diligence and time to perfect.) I try to land as soft and flat-footed as possible. I find the more foot that hits the ground the better my chances that part of it will land on a firm surface.
There are times it seems the ice covers the trails, even where it is cleared from the hills and valleys. My running parter and guide, Bella, has the advantage of four paws, yet the Wissashickon has been so treacherous this winter there have been times all four legs have gone in different directions. It’s hysterical to watch, and I would have filmed it had I not been trying to keep from sliding down an embankment and into the creek.
To end our run we took the high trail, crossed the field by the stables and watched the horses out for an afternoon stretch and dinner. This guy was particularly curious.