Day #1: Lexington to Nashville
After months of planning, I finally launched Brad’s U.S. Trail Adventure.
I awoke at 6:30 a.m., grabbed my gear, had a quick bite of breakfast with the Mom and Dad, and his the road. I had a 2-hour drive to Lexington, Kentucky where I was slated to run 6-8 miles on the Legacy Trail, a paved trail that begins at the YMCA and winds it way to the Kentucky Horse Park.
I didn’t quite get out as early as I’d hoped, a bad sign for things to come. There’s a heat wave rolling across the Midwest and South, and along with that heat comes a series of thunderous storms.
I reached the Legacy Trail head at 9:23. Much of the trail winds along the roads, hardly an interesting run. I asked some cyclists if there was a different trail head. There was, in fact, but they forgot one important direction and I chickened out after 15 minutes of searching.
I circled back to the YMCA and took off just as temperatures reached 90 degrees.
I bonked around mile 2 – the morning’s breakfast now gone and the Cliff bar not holding – so I gobbled another bar and some Gu, drank half my water and bolted off. I was dismayed around mile 3 when I came upon the second trail head, the one that would have taken me out to the Kentucky Horse Farm. Short on water, I decided to turn back.
When I arrived, I chatted briefly with some other cyclists and then hopped in my car. I had a three hour drive to Nashville (although I lose an hour in the time zone change). I’d hoped to reach the KOA campground before the storms came.
The radar showed intermittent showers in the region.
As it turned out, the torrential downpour – not shower – hit the KOA just as I pulled in. I was about two minutes into setting up my camp when the heavens opened.
It’s important to note two particulars here:
- growing up, we camped regularly and it always – always – rained; and
- I’d never set up a camp by myself, and now I was going to get to do that in the stormy rain.
What I love about this trip is that there’s nobody else around me to help out. Whatever befalls me, befalls me. I didn’t have time to read the instructions for the the footprint, the tent, and the rain fly. Fortunately, I’d done a few run-throughs in my apartment so I was mostly ready.
I slid the rain fly inside out, which turned the vents out instead of in. (It’s too hard to describe, and I don’t care enough to explain. Here’s what you need to know: it allowed some water into two areas of the tent.)
I quickly tossed my camp town inside the tent, and at least I was set up.
I was also drenched.
I popped the hatch on the Pontiac Vibe, which created an umbrella of sorts. I emptied by Day Pack, threw in some hiking gear (no towel, that was in the tent) and sprinted to the check-in, where a room full of people met me with a few gasps, a few claps, and some laughter.
One of the reservation guys actually followed me to the shower with a mop, if you were wondering how wet I was.
Once the rain stopped, I decided to take a break. I drove to REI, about 25 minutes away, bought some waterproof bags for my computer gear, a new camp town, some Gu, and kitchen cleaning equipment. I also decided to eat at Ruby Tuesdays because the rains were slated to come until 2 a.m.
After refueling, I felt much better. I grabbed a coffee and decided to set the tent up properly since the rain had stopped. It didn’t take long, just a few adjustments to the tent poles – in my haste, I’’d staked everything down instead of just staking the tent – and flipped the rain fly. Within 3 minutes, everything was proper fixed.
While I was making adjustments, the couple camped next to me asked me how I’d done that during the rain. Apparently, word got around that I’d thrown that up during the storm.
I need to throw down my base camp at KOA more often. Apparently, I’m Super Camper.
Now I’m relaxing in the main area, writing up my day before I head back to base camp to read. There’s no way I’m spending my first night camping playing on the Internet. Plus, I have a long run tomorrow at Percy Warner Park to prepare for.