Did a great 10 mile run a couple weeks ago to explore Sope Creek and the old Paper Mill ruins at the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area. We started at the Cochran Shoals parking lot and headed into the hills and up toward Sibley Pond to get some extra miles. This was a familiar route, but I had never been past Sibley Pond and to the Paper Mill ruins. For those that want a shorter hike or run, there’s another parking lot at Sope Creek right near Sibley pond. It’s about a half mile from this parking lot to the ruins on the near side of the creek.
We actually went across Sope Creek and explored the Paper Mill ruins on the far bank as well. It was lovely, despite being pretty wet from recent rains. The trail on the far bank is less than a mile, but there’s not a lot of foot traffic and there are some great views of the creek. On the way back we explored the numerous trails near the creek and got some great pictures of greenery starting to poke its head out of the forest floor.
For those of you interested in trail maintenance in the area, the National Park Service is seeking public feedback on what to do about the Sope Creek Dam that has created Sibley Pond. They have monitored erosion issues around the dam for years and would like feedback about trail use around this area so they can decide what restoration projects to conduct. If you want to learn more about the history of the dam or provide feedback, here is a link to the Sope Creek Dam Project.
It was our first event yesterday and everything went swimmingly! We held our 5K at Cochran Shoals, part of the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area. It is a marked 5K course, really flat (remarkably so for Atlanta), with great gravel footing. We started at 8 AM and the parking lot was already crowded. Luckily the trail is really wide all the way throughout and it never felt crowded while running.
It was great seeing how many of our friends decided to show up and spend some time outdoors. Some came out to race, others to test themselves or set PRs, and still others came to enjoy the morning and get some exercise. We had about 14 people show up. It was lovely!
My husband and I decided to make things a bit more interesting. We both set what we figured were realistic goals for the course (both having run here numerous times before) and then I got a time handicap. I started with everyone else and my husband waited several minutes to start. The idea was that if we were both accurate with our estimates, then we would meet at the finish line. It was fun to have someone chasing me and my husband enjoyed having someone to chase. Turns out that my time estimate was better than his because he crushed his estimate by almost a minute and passed me with about 0.1 miles to the finish. I think we will probably try this again for the 10K in a month, but it’ll be a bit harder to get a good estimate because of hilly and less familiar courses. My guess is that it’ll be fun regardless!
While we waited for everyone to finish, I was pleasantly reminded about why I originally decided to organize this endeavor. It was really nice to see friends that I hadn’t seen in months except over a Zoom screen. We stood around chatting in a nice big circle with our masks on, just enjoying each others’ company. At that point it didn’t matter how fast we ran, just being with each other was more than worth the effort of organizing. Looking forward to next time!