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No Real Hiking to Be Had

I've been a fan of being in nature since before COVID made it cool. Hiking has continued to be a great hobby during COVID, especially since I've been spending time in states where people don't really hike, at least, not like they do in Colorado. It's nice to have the trails almost entirely to myself, and really nice not to get the stink eye from obnoxious people who think you should still wear a mask outside even when you can easily maintain your distance from others. But when people don't hike, the trail systems aren't that built up or cared for, or are sometimes almost non-existent. 

In coastal Mississippi, the deficit of forests makes hiking especially challenging. Down here, state parks feature water parks, playgrounds, and activity buildings rather than trail systems. However, given that my ancient dog can't hike any more, the short and sweet nature walks I've found have been perfect for us. The rough part has been how many trails have debris, fallen limbs, and whole downed trees from Hurricane Zeta blocking the path. Some trails are still closed and other are impassable.

dog lying down near lake

dog on a broken wooden bridge

                    caution tape in forest

What I'm really here for, anyway, isn't the hiking. I'm here to escape winter and start my running season eight weeks earlier than last year. I started running some distance four years ago, started running some distance at crazy high altitude two years ago, and ran my first ultramarathon last year. This year, I'm signed up for two half marathons, one high-altitude 50k, and one high altitude 60k, and thinking of adding a 50 miler to end the season in October.

As nuts as that sounds, running isn't life. When race season is over, I just about completely stop running and switch to the gym. I'm not trying to win any races, so I don't need to run year round. And I think it's important to give my body (my poor knees!) a little rest, which I did September through December. Now, it's time to get moving. And look at where I'm doing it! 

beach and long bridge over the water

That bridge is over two miles each direction. The running path is wide and the guardrail is up to my collarbone, but looking down 150 feet at the summit to the water below weirds me out. Not the same way that thinking about mountain lions on my trail runs in Colorado does, but a little nervousness all the same.

If you are terrified of heights or just not a runner but are thinking about Coastal Mississippi as an escape from winter, there are other great outdoor activities here as well, like kite surfing and swamp kayaking. And the weather is absolutely perfect.