Last weekend's runs in Joyce Kilmer were of stark contrast to each other. We arrived late on Saturday afternoon and after setting up camp in the peaceful Horse Cove campground Duma and I headed into the forest for a run. At the trail head we were greeted by throngs of other forest users who seemed oblivious to anyone except themselves. Out on the trails it wasn't much better. What I imagined would be a serene run through a grove of towering trees on a ribbon of pristine single track was instead a crowded romp through the woods trying to dodge dogs and unattended screaming children. That was hardly the wilderness experience we were after and while it was good to see so many people out enjoying the trees that had been spared the devastation of the last century of human impact we headed back to the campground more than a little disappointed.
After a very peaceful night Duma and I awoke early on Sunday and were running into the forest just after sunrise. Instead of going to the big trees in the memorial forest we took the first trail we came to and headed for the heart of the wilderness. This run proved to be what we were after: very lightly used rugged single track. We climbed steadily and often steeply. Once we gained the top of the first ridge we were able to look down and see the stand of old growth trees far below us on the valley floor. Dead Hemlocks looked like toothpicks standing on end. We had been hoping to climb up to the top of the mountain and make a nice loop but after several hours of climbing we were still 750 feet short of the top and with Terri waiting in the campground for us decided to do the smart and considerate thing and turned around and headed back the way we had come.
Later that afternoon we went back into the memorial forest to show Terri the big trees. The trail head was still quite crowded but we had the trail almost to ourselves and were able to enjoy the trees. Duma was quite tired from the morning run and took a little coaxing to go up anymore hills but he rallied and we enjoyed a nice Sunday afternoon family stroll.