By: Levi Opsatnic
Throughout the course of my life, I’ve always tried to take up hobbies that include at least some physical exertion. However, it’s not often that my hobbies could be wholly considered as exercise. Instead, I try to lean towards things like hiking, biking, skateboarding, or even the occasional winter sport that all require some physical endurance and strength, but also aren’t largely dominated by the idea of being in tip-top physical condition. But with State College being hit with a random warm wave in the middle of January, I decided to switch things up. I’ve always liked the idea of trail running, but I was honestly a bit concerned about whether or not I could keep my breath and maintain running while also enjoying myself outside. And while I wouldn’t exactly consider myself to be unhealthy, I was a bit worried that I’d spend the entire afternoon panting, sweating, and just being miserable. So with those reservations in mind, I decided to test this out on a balmy afternoon and on what I assumed was an easy and relatively short trail. That trail being from the parking lot at Musser Gap all the way to the start of Frog Hollow Trail. If you aren’t familiar with this trail, it features a gravel bottom that begins with a gradual incline and then offers a decline on the way back; I assume that this is also pretty decent territory for someone just starting out.
Upon arriving to the lot, I decided to do some very standard stretching and then get on my way. I began running at what I assume was a slow pace. Throughout the run, I was able to continue with the same pace that I started, which was a pretty pleasant surprise to me, as I wasn’t even sure I’d make it to my destination without being too winded to even think straight. Another aspect of this adventure that really stood out to me was how easy it was to get lost in the wilderness. Sure, I might have a short attention span, but I found it to be pretty simple to distract myself from most physical exertion simply by gazing into the woods around me. This is one aspect of trail running that really appeals to me, and I’m sure something that fuels a lot of people’s desire to hit the trail. After hopping a couple streams and downed logs, I finally made it to the last leg of this run. The finishing portion really takes an incline, and I found this to be the most difficult part of the run, but it wasn’t unbearable by any means. I finally got to the bridge, at which point I decided to catch my breath and prepare for the journey back to my vehicle.
Thanks to the mild decline, the run back went a bit more smoothly than the run there. Luckily, the scenery was just as attractive on the way back as the way up. As the sun faded and I reached the parking lot, I was able to reflect on a new hobby in a positive manner. While I began with a bit of a pessimism and uncertainty, I can say that this short run offered me a challenge that was rewarding and pretty darn fun.
If you’re thinking about testing a new hobby, I can say that trail running might be the way to go. I’ve found that it’s been offering me a view into the outdoors that provides great exercise and gives a view that’s much more fast-paced than I’m used to, which is refreshing, but it also allows me to appreciate those long, slow hikes that much more. So don’t be intimidated by the sport, because if I was able to do it, I’m sure all of you are too. Also, feel free to stop into the shop and ask questions about local spots and our staff’s favorite gear choices if you’re just getting started.