Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is Trespassing OK For The Sake OF A Good Run

Okay, the obvious answer is NO, and I know that. But aren't there shades of trespassing, and maybe some aren't so bad?

For example, the city of Salem owns a dirt road that parallels the railroad track and one of the busiest streets in town. The road goes just under a mile and a half from downtown to Minto Brown Park, which is by far the best place in Salem to run. The first time I ran with the Governor's Cup group, I just blindly followed the guys onto this road and was delighted. This is pretty much part of the standard Saturday route. We aren't the only ones using it, as we usually see several other groups of runners on that stretch each weekend.

But if you were to pause for a minute as you run around the car barrier, you'd notice a posted sign: No Trespassing. I guess all the runners choose not to notice. The word around town is "The city doesn't care," which I take to mean "People don't ever get busted for being here." But really, what harm are we doing?? This is municipal property and we are citizens. We aren't tromping through somebody's private holdings. And we are otherwise a very law abiding group: we don't cause trouble, we don't litter, we don't even impact the flora and fauna!

With the attitude of "I am not hurting anything" I have added other trespasses to my running repertoire. One is another city dirt road, which is only about 200 yards long, by the city water station. Likely the No Trespassing edict is there to keep people away from the water supply, but I am not there to contaminate any water. That little stretch is the only way to get from the east side of Croissan Mountain to the west, which is good for making a long loop.

Another place I regularly go is a little trail, maybe only 3/8ths of a mile, that travels down a steep hill and also leads to Minto Brown. This doesn't exactly say No Trespassing, in fact, it used to be a public trail, but now a sign a both ends says "Trail Closed. Trecherous conditions." At the bottom there is a little part of the trail that has eroded and so is quite narrow, but I think it is a little bit over-dramatic to call it "trecherous." I have certainly never feared for my safety while running here.

And then there is the City View Cemetery. The cemetery is open to the public starting at 6am (summer) or 7am (winter), even on holidays. But sometimes (especially in the winter) our pre-dawn Tuesday/Thursday group gets there before the automobile gate is officially open. Of course, we stay on the roads. And so far, we haven't gotten any complaints from the residents. ;)

And what about private roads?? I've been wondering if those are okay to run on. If there are multiple houses on the road, how private is it really? Wouldn't it be ok to run on them?

As I said, I respect an individual's property. My trespasses seem so justifiable. I am just a harrier looking for a good run within the city; I am not a hooligan or a I got busted on private property!

We live in a housing devolpment on the top of a hill. The south side of the hill is almost all forest. My neighbor owns many acres (25? 30? more?- not really sure) and has said we can walk on it. More than 100 acres is owned by a guy a couple of blocks away, who was the selling agent for our house, and who we know fairly well. Last weekend I got bold and jumped a gate into the forest. Right there - a quarter mile from my house! - was one of the best places to run in this city. The forest opens onto a poorly tended Christmas tree farm, with a road around the perimeter. The scenery is nice, it is very isolated, and there are fantastic views to the valley below (sadly it's just over a mile, but that is a lot of trail for Salem). That run was so nice, I went for a repeat today. Only this time I ran into a guy about my age in a truck. So I put on a cute smile, innocent look and dumbly say,"Hi. Is this your property?"

It was (well, actually his dad's, the real estate agent). I apologize, say I was looking for my neighbor's property because I had permission to be there. Well, he knows my neighbors and then we get to chatting for like 15 minutes because we have all these small world connections (because, duh, this is Salem) and everything ends fine and he says go ahead and run here today.

I plan to contact his dad and get official permission before heading out there again. And if he really says no, I won't do any more trespassing. Well, except for all the other places I need to trespass for good runs. ;)

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