Have you ever found such a place that feels like it makes your soul soar? A place that makes you so happy you literally can’t put it into words? A place that has memory after memory attached to it? I do. It’s a “have to see” place when you come to Chico. For me, my happy place is Upper Bidwell Park. I used to think this park only had the quick jaunt up Monkey Face to offer… little did I know that this was just the easiest place to reach in Upper Park and that there was actually miles beyond to explore. I first truly fell in love with Chico’s Upper Park trails in the spring of 2016 (just last year!)… my love affair with trail running has just begun. The person who made me a trail addict, adventure seeker and outdoors lover? My pops!
I talk about my hero, my dad, in my “about me” section, but this is where he really comes to life. I have never seen such joy on someone’s face except for when my dad is running on his beloved trails. He inspires me on the daily, it literally brings tears to my eyes to see the way he can influence people just with running. He can kick my BUTT in running, but because he is so enthusiastic about sharing his love of the trails, he’ll slow up for me and anyone else who wants to tag along. He coaches for Fleet Feet Chico (they have got a GEM in him) during their trail programs and watching his excitement in showing the 40 some odd runners “his” intense, awe-inspiring, beautiful, tough as heck trails in Upper Bidwell Park (and other trails in Butte County) is something to behold. It’s something that’s contagious and everyone can’t help but be as pumped as he is about these trails. My dad, Terry, is a trail guru; he knows all the ins and outs of running on the trails. Like, what to eat before a run, what to eat during (peanut M&M’s!), how much water to carry, what bear marks look like scratched into a tree and how to follow flagging so you don’t end up running “bonus miles”. His knowledge is endless and like I’ve said, his enthusiasm is contagious. It definitely helps that he’s just an outgoing person in general and, man, he’s got jokes for days! He’s done and run some crazy things…. when he turned 50, he decided to “screw old age” and set off to run a MARATHON PER MONTH for the whole year. (I haven’t run ONE marathon yet!). My dad has run, I believe, over 100 races in the past 10 years (it may be closer to 150 now) one of those 100 or so races was a 50 MILE trail race. He’s addicted, he can’t get enough and I hope to be just like him when I grow up. Now to why I love the trails…
I think the trails bring out something special and new in everyone… you will never be tested like you will be on the trails, you’ll never have epiphanies like you do when you’re running through God’s creation. The trails is the place I feel closest to God. How could you not enjoy something He created? There’s something about running up into these trails that you know most of Chico/the world will never venture onto. It’s like I have this secret to these trails that no one else has. I have never felt as BA as I do when I am on the trails. It’s a feeling that can’t be contained, it dwells up from deep within and threatens to explode. People ask,”Isn’t running on the trails the same as running on the road? It’s all running, right?” My answer is HECK NO! I’ve never truly, truly enjoyed running until I discovered the happiness I experience when I bombing down a good ol’ trail. Have you ever stopped on a regular road run to enjoy the moss on rocks, the babbling of a brook, the smell of trees and flowers, the sensation of soft mud (and occasionally hard rocks) beneath your feet? Have you ever had to leap from rock to rock or wade through creeks to finish a run on the road? Have you ever felt the rush of adrenaline from knowing that a misstep or a tumble could mean sending you over a cliff? Trail running, people; it clears your head, refreshes your lungs, renews your senses and rejuvenates the soul.
Now, I’m sure people think I’m annoying when I am always talking about or posting to social media about trail running, but honestly people, you can’t knock it until you try it. Run with my dad or run with me and I can guarantee that you will fall in love with trail running… it might even become your happy place. And really, you can’t fight the endorphins that come streaming through your system after a great trail run. I think if you have not found your happy place yet, you NEED TO. I personally believe finding this place where your soul is refreshed, your happiness is restored and stress falls away, will add years to your life. It could be as simple as reading a book on your couch, but for me and my dad… it’s the great outdoors, the trails of Upper Bidwell Park.