The runner’s quiet quest to record every track in Trione-Annadel
It started as a checklist last winter.
Emilie Cates, senior at Santa Rosa High, prevented by the coronavirus pandemic from training with her cross-country teammates, decided to mentally tick off the trails she ran alone in Trione-Annadel State Park as she finished them. Spring stream. Check. Richardson. Check. South Burma. Check.
As the miles went up and the tally increased, she was prompted by her teammates to start taking them down. And then to see if she could run (or hike) on every trail – marked and unmarked – in the 8 square mile park.
It evolved into something of a user manual – poison oak in this area, loose rock on this trail, and notes where trails turned into hikes due to the terrain. She marked notable places – The soldier tree, filled with plastic soldiers until someone took them out; The Couch, a set of stones that offers a nice perch – and she has traced unmarked trails and named others for which she couldn’t come up with any known nicknames.
And as the weeks of the COVID-19 quarantine turned into months, the Cates Trail journal became part diary, part love letter to the park, and part message in a bottle to future runners, hikers. , explorers and adventurers who, according to her, could come to Annadel in search of something but who do not always know where to start.
âSome of these trails were very difficult to access, but it was worth it,â she said.
The book, and its body of knowledge, was a gift for his cross country team. She gave it to her coaches, Carrie Joseph and Doug Courtemarche, at the end of the season.
There are notes on beloved places. Ilsanjo Lake: âA very popular and busy lake in Annadel, a great place to swim when not drained and disgustingâ and Schultz Trail: âA special trail that seems to have been created for the sole purpose of giving you hard, about 1.5 miles, continues from the main Pig Flat trail down the rocky hill, watch out for the snakes! â
But also the obscure, named by Cates: Karen Trail: “Exit the Canyon at the hairpin bend, leads to houses, still a woman who walks quickly in a brightly colored sweater, sunglasses and blue eyes. ‘eagle, looking’ and ‘Sneaky Trail :. .. a shortcut often taken by very tired runners sent to cool down.
As I go through the book, I have a lot of questions about the original names, but let’s start with this: “The Murder Trail”?
Cates explains that she and her fellow runner and senior Santa Rosa High, Eliana Bruce, named him over two years ago. Here are the diary notes: “… cuts from the start of Canyon to a very steep hill, drops you higher on Canyon sparing you about a mile, my favorite shortcut, legend says if you sacrifice someone off the hill it gets a little less steep each time, sorry Leah.
When I asked Cates why Leah, she replied, “She’s a sophomore,” by way of explanation.
And before we go any further, a journalist’s note: I hear what some of you are thinking, because frankly, I can also hear it in my own head. What about those unmarked trails? Should people be on top of them? Should I be on them? Is this rule broken?
When I asked Cates about it, it’s hard not to be won over by his logic or his passion for the park. He is a person who walks with respect.
âIf there are trails out there, they’re almost begging to be explored,â she said. âAnd most of them are a lot more tiring than regular trails, which eliminates people. I am always very careful with wildlife and do not step on plants. You have to be responsible when you go there.
When we hiked together last week to hike some of the marked trails in Cates, we took some clearly worn trails. It wasn’t bushwhacking or anything that looked like trespassing on nature.
In an effort to reach Cates’ favorite spot in the park, we set off on Thursday afternoon. In 2h30 of walking, we checked The Y, Canyon Trail, The Murder Trail and The Outpost. We’ve seen The Ramp, The Belly Button, Full Cleavage, and Break My Stride. But the goal was The Boob.
And there are rules to make it happen. First of all, according to the book, beginners are not allowed to take “The Uncool Trail” to the top: “It is an alternative to go up to The Boob which is not the steep path, not allowed to go from this way your first time. “
So we went up the steep face. Another rule: you are not allowed to look at the view until you reach the top. Forgetting that, I accidentally peeked over my left shoulder and feared for the rest of the way I would be struck by lightning or slip into a crevice.
But I have lived. And good thing, because what a view. The high winds that day made conversation almost impossible, but whatever. The view is the price.
There is Ilsanjo Lake just below, and further on you can see a slice of Spring Lake. Santa Rosa sweeps west. Mount Sainte-HÃ©lÃ¨ne looms in the north. To the east are Hood Mountain and Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Cates tries to bounce an echo off Hood Mountain, but the strong wind makes it impossible.
I remember notes in the trail log that say extra points are awarded if the echoes cause the dogs east of Santa Rosa to howl.
But making it a goal to hike every trail in the park prevented Cates from redoing many of his favorites in the final push to finish. And that also proved to be a lack of time as the cross-country season adjusted for COVID came to an end and Cates had more roads to score. It was his goal to finish the book by the end of the season.
âThe last three weekends in a row I was doing 10 mile runs to get all the tracks because I was running out of time,â she said.
Then there was editing, double checking with social media and air maps. His book contains 103 different trails and spots. She insists that there is no way to count the total number of kilometers she has driven. Suffice to say that it was a lot.
Did she feel sure she had knocked them all out?
âOh, I have. Yeah, she said.
For the last one, at the end of March, she brought in some friends to mark the occasion. It was kind of a celebration.
On March 27, Cates signed. Fittingly, it was an entry on her run, but also a note to future runners, hikers – anyone who will love the park the way she does.
âMarch 27, 2021: Today marks the day I hiked all the trails in Annadel. Lael, Leah, Jasmine and I did a 10 mile run to Schultz. This is our last race this Wednesday when I plan to give this to Carrie and Doug. Over the past four years I have met the greatest people and competed in the greatest sport. I hope this trail book will help many other aspiring adventurers like me. Good luck.”
You can reach Kerry Benefield, Managing Editor, at 707-526-8671 or [email protected] On Twitter @benefield.