The Legend of Beaver Pond
It’s a dreary rainy day. There are whisperings among the group as to what will take place at practice today. The veterans know exactly what will go down, as it is a tradition for a rainy day, while the rest of the team is left to guess and imagine. Once everyone is changed, we head out as one group to the Nussdorfer Nature Area. Out in this region there are miles of trails and, most importantly, a few bodies of water. As we enter the area, puddles have accumulated as a result of the day of rain. Those familiar with the proper puddle approach pick up the pace, and with a battle cry, run straight through the largest puddles. The first-timers avoid the puddles at first as they try to comprehend what they got themselves into. Soon enough though, everyone is storming through the muddiest puddles and making a point not to miss a single one.
The speed of the group varies significantly, but this is a run where the team sticks together. It typically involves the front having to wait at a turn for the back to catch up. And while waiting there is nothing better than picking up the mud from the puddle you are splashing about in and hurling it at an unsuspecting teammate. The wisest runners have left their shirts at the school, but the few that kept them on soon regret it. The more mud thrown, the closer the team grows, and we are far from done.
Overall, we did not travel very far, just wove about several trails in the same area. This confused most as to our location, especially because at one point we avoided trails. We darted back and forth, running through bushes and ducking around trees. Pushing branches out of the way and hurdling rocks and stumps. This results in the typical battle scars; scratched legs and raw skin that you won’t notice until you shower the mud off later. As we run about the battle cries get louder. Soon enough it is time.
We duck into the trail that only a few are privy to know the destination of. Less than a minute passes when the team turns a corner to reveal a body of water and a roar of “THE BEAVER” is heard. The running is led by the experienced, and continues into the water without pause. Shoes and all. Others pause a moment, but at this point, what do they have to lose?
The bottom of the pond is slimy with mud. However, the temperature isn’t freezing or disgustingly warm as it has been in the past. The odor is the same though; we try not to think about it. It’s shallow enough to walk across though some swim a bit. Emerging on the other side, the slime from the water clings to any and all body hair. Stomach, leg, back, and arm hair are tingled a dark brown on boys and girls alike. Before heading back, we discover one good sized puddle with smooth mud that most cover their exposed skin in. When we return to the school, it is evident everyone had a good time, and while we can’t do it every day, it is one of my favorite days of the season.