Have you ever walked down a path and ended up going for so long you start to wonder if it would ever end? That happened to me recently when I decided to take a walk down a local trail I’ve only seen part of. My wife said that since I don’t take the bus I don’t walk as much as I used to I should get out and walk, and while Radnor Lake has been my usual place she suggested the Richland Creek Greenway Trail as something a little closer to home and for a change of pace. She and I had walked about a quarter of a mile down it a couple of years ago and I’d wanted to go back. This time I decided I’d walk the entire thing.
I didn’t stop to check the trail map or even do any research before setting out because, hey, why would I? I drive by it regularly and it’s obviously a popular trail. As many people walk it I thought, how long could it be? It didn’t occur to me that at least some of those people, like my wife and I, walk part of the way down it then turn around and go back.
I will say this: most of it is a beautiful trail. Most of it follows Richland Creek, and there are a few spots where you can step off the trail and walk right down to the creek. A lot of people were down there with their dogs. Because it’s such a nice trail and because it was a beautiful day I passed a lot of people walking their dogs, and almost every dog I passed was either playing in the creek or soaking wet.
When I got to a bridge I was finally into terra incognita. But it wasn’t far and I just thought, well, I’ll see where this goes. It went through a wooded area, up over a hill, around a bend. A couple I’d seen earlier passed me and I thought, oh, I guess the path circles back around not too far up ahead.
Then for a long stretch I walked past part of the McCabe Golf Course, where I’d once tried out for my high school golf team, disastrously, but that’s another story, on one side and the creek on the other. Walkers were protected from errant balls by a tall net. As the path went up and over another hill and past homes I started to think, Wait, just how far does this go? Am I still on the right path? The absence of saguaros was the only thing that kept me from thinking I’d taken a wrong turn and ended up in Albuquerque.
There were plenty of people around so I wasn’t really worried, though. I just kept going, wondering how far I’d gone.
When I saw the Star Bagel Café I finally had at least some idea. The distance from the trailhead where I’d parked to the café is, by road, a little over four miles. I hadn’t walked that far because the trail had its own as-the-crow-flies direction but I still knew I’d gone pretty far. And it was still a beautiful day and there were plenty of people around. I felt fine, but I’d been on the trail long enough that I’d wondered if I should turn back. The café was my sign that really the only thing to do was keep going. I guessed, correctly, that it was approximately halfway and I was far enough in that I should just keep going.
With a wooded area on my right and a rise topped with railroad tracks on my left I laughed, wondering just how much farther it could go, and at that point the trail turned back onto a familiar stretch that led back to the parking lot.
Five miles in all. It was a fun walk and I plan to do it again, this time knowing what I’m in for, although that last part is why I’m glad I didn’t do any research. Part of the fun was knowing where I’d end up but not how I’d get there.