I’m not a fan of cold weather at all, but I’m a big fan of being outside.
That makes the winters a little difficult for me. I tend to spend my time inside or avoiding the great outdoors out of the desire for warmth.
I have deemed the cold times of the year as “bulking season.” It’s too cold to go running outside without getting the terrible sting in your lungs with every breath, and treadmills are a way to simply taunt the people that like to run outside and take in the views, namely: Me. So instead of going out doors to do cardio, I just don’t do cardio. This allows me to gain some blubber for the winter to help myself maintain a comfortable body temperature for the horrible times when I have to be outside in the cold.
The worst part of the cold months is New Year’s Eve. I, like most people, spend some time planning out my New Year’s Resolutions. Also like most people, I commonly add some variation of physical fitness that will require cardio training. This is an issue every year because not only do I dislike the cold for cardio, I don’t particularly like cardio at all.
My idea of cardio is to lift weights faster.
But every year I have something happen that makes me take up running outside. Somehow, I always enjoy running outside too!
This year, my wife was the “something” that got me into going outside. She said, “Now that the weather’s warm we can actually mark off our healthy New Year’s Resolutions!”
My wife is very eloquent and knows how to talk to me to get me motivated, so the next sentence sounded similar to: “You got yourself a dad bod and we don’t even have kids. Let’s fix that.”
I’ve always prided myself on my health and fitness, and I always talked trash about the ‘dad bod’ trend because it spread through the college community while I was in college. It also showed that you can just lift weights and drink a ton of beer. It was the classic example of Millennials rebranding. The ‘beer belly’ has become the ‘dad bod’ and skipping breakfast is now ‘intermittent fasting.’
We’re a clever generation, but that doesn’t always relate to healthy.
To fight this, my wife and I decided we would start taking frequent walks on the Clearfork Loop portion of the Trinity River Trail.
History of Clearfork
Clearfork came to be because of Lemuel Edwards moving from Missouri to the Clearfork Valley in 1846 with the goal of starting a cattle operation. Just a couple years later, in 1848 the newest state of the United States, Texas, gave Lemuel Edwards a 640-acre land grant. The very next year, the United States set up a military fort. This birthed Fort Worth.
That means the Edwards Ranch was officially established in 1848, before Fort Worth became a city.
In a cruelly ironic way, Lemuel Edwards, one of Fort Worth’s first residents became one of Fort Worth’s first murder victims.
According to hometownhandlebar.com, Lemuel’s disgruntled son-in-law, James Creswell was irritated by being owed $30. On October 8, 1869 Creswell rode out to Edwards Ranch, found Lemuel and shot him in the back of the head before high tailing it out of there.
It took 13 years for Creswell to be caught, but he, ultimately was apprehended. This marked the standard of crimes in Fort Worth – if you break the law, you will be caught. Fort Worth is now known for being one of the safer cities in the entire United States.
As for Edwards Ranch, it is now being developed further through the oversight of the sixth generation of the Edwards family. They are building the Clearfork vision while respecting the Edwards Ranch legacy.
The Clearfork Loop
I recently read…well, listened to…A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. It’s about his experience hiking the Appalachian Trail. In it he goes on a random thought tangent, as he often does, about how the beauty of nature can be enhanced by urbanization when done correctly. Although he was talking about how the Appalachian Trail can be monotonous and difficult due to the lack of human contact, I think something he was envisioning would be something similar to the Clearfork Look of the Trinity River Trail.
The best way to go about the Clearfork Loop is to start at the trailhead. There are two mainstays at the trailhead: Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop and Press Cafe. The bike shop is home to many bike group meetups. So if you want to join, there is plenty of opportunity there. Press Cafe is and indoor/outdoor dining venue that has two floors to enjoy the views from.
Press Cafe tends to be bustling, but the food is high quality. The level of crowd there, even with COVID restrictions, makes sense.
As my wife and I walk out onto the trail from the trailhead, it’s almost instinctual to go right. That’s to the south for you directionally advanced individuals.
One of my favorite features of the Trinity Trail is that it is pet friendly, and horse friendly because: Texas.
To make this loop even better, we saw a couple of people riding their horses on the bank of the river!
This of course, leads me to wonder about when the horses poop. I know at Disney World they have things attached to the horses to catch the poop and at the stock yards there are often people walking being the animals to sweep up the poop. The Trinity Trail also has the rules of picking up animal poop, so how do you handle it when the horse you’re riding poops?
Do you have to get dismount, scoop the poop into some back you have attached to the saddle, mount your steed and continue?
But if that’s what’s expected, what if you’re riding bareback? Do you just have to hold the bag of poop?
As these questions were going through my mind, my wife called out for me to keep up. I guess day dreaming and wondering can get you left behind.
There are two main path options for the Clearfork loop: A gravel path that runs parallel to a sidewalk. The sidewalk is typically used by people with wheels, such as bicycles, roller skates, or skateboards. The gravel is for walkers or runners. It’s not against the rules to be on the “wrong path,” but it makes it a lot easier to stick to the right one.
Plus, gravel offers just a bit more give than the concrete, making it easier on your joints. I mean, I’m a young guy, but even I notice the difference between a week of running on the concrete versus the gravel.
It’s an even more pronounced difference if you move over to the grass…but watch out for unclaimed dog poop. Voice of experience chiming in with this one.
The path offers some pretty views, and the river seems to always be bustling with life. There are ducks, swans, turtles and dogs that managed to pull their leash from their owner’s hand to go for a swim. Just be careful because I have seen a snake go into the water. I was told it wasn’t venomous, but I’m of the opinion the only good snake is a dead one.
The path nearest the trailhead is shadier, so it’s perfect any time of day. Once you cross the river, either via the rock path or bicycle concrete path, there is very little shade.
There is one corner spot that has a sitting area with excellent views and trash cans.
After the sitting corner, the path turns into only a concrete path. It diverges to cross one of the forks that gives Clearfork its name. This crossing helps bring you to a purely gravel path with very little shade.
This gravel path leads to a bridge that is shaded by the car bridge of Hulen Street. The walking bridge has six sitting spots throughout to give some pretty views of the Trinity River. I’ve even seen some college age…or high school age…or even younger, I really can never tell someone’s age…people taking fun pictures here.
One time, when the pandemic was only like three months in, my wife and I saw someone with a really cool DJ setup practicing for people on the trail! We listened for a short while; he was playing some EDM style music. My wife has the strangest taste in music and absolutely LOVED it. I just like music and had a good time for that reason.
But after the bridge, we made our way back to the trailhead.
Because my wife and I are kind of childish, we decided to hike down the bank of the river to try and skip rocks. This is where I learned what happens with the horse poop. I stomped down right in a big pile of horse droppings.
Devastated and hurt by the majesty of the steeds that had ridden by only minutes ago, I made my way to the water to use the flowing river to clean off my shoe. There was no way my wife would have let me in her car with poop on my shoe.
The combination of river and grassy bank made my shoe perfectly fine…to hold out the window on the short drive back to our apartment. Nonetheless, the Clearfork Loop has become a regular activity for us. It’s made even better by the farmer’s market that comes every Saturday. The warm weather is perfectly complimented by the nice and easy loop we make through the Clearfork area.