A radio tower at the top of Suring hill has loomed over my parents house for as long as I can remember. In between the house and the tower flows the Oconto River and about 5 miles of cedar swamp, river bottom, hardwoods, and a few farmer fields. Last week Josh called me up and was excited to try a trail blast straight to the tower. No roads, no trails just running as the crow flies. The thought intrigued me and on Christmas day we decided to put some of our new running gear to a late December test. It was the perfect time of year to make such an attempt. Most of the underbrush was down making the forest floor runnable and the swamp mud frozen and harmless. A quarter mile from the house we darted into the woods like deer and made a beeline towards the cedar swamp. Dodging branches and hurdling down logs as we went the pace was slow and steady.
Several small open water creeks wound through the swamp and slowed us for a moment as we chose the a spot to make the jump across. Finally we popped up on to some higher ground and out of the swamp, the going became much easier. We found a good deer trail, which is about as close to a single track as your going to get in these parts. It lead us across an open field and into the hardwoods. A deer jumped up from his mid Christmas day slumber and darted down the trail in front of us. The deer trail lead into a series of winding four wheel trails that kept us guessing at if we were still going the right direction. It dumped us out on to a gravel road that confused us a bit. We thought we knew every back road in the area like the back of our hand. Josh wanted to go right but I was certain that we needed to go left and that the gravel road probably would lead down to the river. I could not have been more wrong. We ran down it for a mile before deciding to take a four wheel trail that ended going down to the river. We knew going into the run that the river would be our biggest obstacle and when we arrived our predictions proved to be correct. There was no way across unless we wanted to go for a late December swim.
A bald Eagle sat staring at us from the opposite bank seemingly mocking our helplessness. A heavily traveled deer path headed north along the river bank.
We took it keeping peeled eyes for a large down tree or boat to cross the river. A few miles later still no luck and our trail made a drastic turn away from the river. Staying on the trail it ended up leading us back out on to the gravel road. This time we went with Josh’s instincts and a mile or so later we were trotting over the Suring bridge. Now at the base of Suring hill the tower loomed over us. After taking a side road away from the highway we darted back into the woods to climb the ridge line and make our final push to the tower in the sky. Naked blackberry bushes ripped at my bare ankles as we plowed up the hill.
All of the sudden we burst through the tree’s and into the clearing. We had made it to the base of the Suring tower. Thus fulfilling a very small yet satisfying life long ambition. It took an hour and a half, eight miles and whole lot of rambling but we had made it. After making the decent down from the hill we decided to stick to the snowmobile trail and roads on the way home. With a new found runners high we finished out the 13 mile run with back to back 6:30 miles. Well I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and if you got any new running gear get out there and put it to the test!