Less than a mile from my house are the now-unused Norfolk-Southern railroad tracks that run for a while alongside the French Broad river as it makes its way through tiny Horse Shoe, NC. There has been some discussion in Henderson County about turning the abandoned and rusting away tracks into a useful all-purpose trail for runners, walkers, hikers, cyclists, etc to promote exercise and non-vehicle based travel to ease traffic congestion as the Rails To Trails program has done elsewhere. Of course, being this county is heavily populated by elderly retirees, sedentary obese people and proudly conservative residents who roll their eyes at any promotion of “fitness” or “environmental” as some kind of hippie, leftist, tree-hugger nonsense that people with common sense have no need for, the idea was not met with a groundswell of public support. The communist-like land sharing aspects of landowners next the current right of way of the tracks having to put up with endless parades of strangers engaging in this frivolity next to their property rubbed a lot the wrong way as well. Therefore, instead of waiting for the implementation of such a pipe dream as a county-wide greenway that would actually take people places they wanted or needed to go (or, horrors, an actual bike path) to spring up in such a setting, I set out to use the tracks myself for such purposes in the here and now.
For at least last year, I’ve been making a weekly run to the “downtown” Horse Shoe business district, under the premise of getting a new Mountain Xpress paper (that comes out each Wednesday) but really it’s just a way to ensure I make at least one attempt at exercise a week. Having a set appointment to do it really seems to work, and unfortunately, in many months it is the only exercise I get until the next Wednesday.
This works great when the weather is nice, but when it rains, I’m not so keen on doing it. When it is freezing cold and there is still 8 inches of snow on the ground, I am even less so. Still, I’ve kept it up, even if I had to layer myself like a wedding lasagna cake and brave through the even-less-shoulder-than usual-(which is none) road conditions to get to the tracks, which are not plowed either and therefore a whole new challenge. This time I took my camera with me and captured most of the trip there on the tracks and the trip back on the road. It would be nice to have an actual path, but it probably would not be passable in the winter either.