Rails to (Snow) Trails

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.┬áTherefore, 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.

Crossing the French Broad River

Bottom lands by river.

I get on the tracks here, where they cross Banner Farm Road.

This and another dog, struggle against their chains to try and kill me each time I run past.

closer view

Cool, old crumbling structure next to tracks.

Me, next to it.

Past the dogs, coming up on the crossing with highway 64 west

Usually, I have to wait for traffic, but not long.

Across the road, two trestles, one over a creek, the shorter one later, crosses just a rut.

The smaller trestle on train tracks

crossing the snowy trestle (usually, I run, but I didn't want a blurry photo)

rear of Horse Shoe strip mall

Where the tracks cross an entrance road.

I leave the tracks at Hunter's Glen housing development entrance, near the post office.

Horse Shoe Post Office

Mailed letter I brought with me.

No new Mountain Xpress delivery today, guess I ran all the way up here for nuthin'!

Parking lot of Horse Shoe "grocery" (actually a convenience store/gas station/Subway)

Back towards home on 64 through the downtown traffic rush.

Old Horse Shoe Hardware store, turned into restaurant/furniture store/Tea Party meeting hall.

Going past new Horse Shoe Hardware store and Brigg's Garden Center.

Past the Horse Shoe Guns and Ammo store and Cummings Methodist Church (across the street, not the same place.)

Past the tracks I took earlier and abandoned landscaping business building by river.

Over the French Broad again.

If I see my shadow does that mean two more weeks of winter?