One of my favorite runs in Austin is both one of the most dangerous, and one of the most calming. I run to the end of my street, down to West 7th St and follow it down to the entrance to the West Bouldin Creek Green belt. I can either then head east for a trail run, or direct west and up onto the railroad tracks, for a track workout with a difference.
Last week, right after the clocks "sprang forward" I headed down the railroad track. It's almost 2-miles straight down the track towards downtown. There really isn't anywhere to go when you get on the bridge, and the sun was setting. Looking back, south, you can easily see if there is a train coming, towards downtown or north, not so much. The building work and lights make it confusing.
However, one of the best things about being on the track, are the memories from my childhood. Just behind the neighbors garden fence was the Nickey Line. It was only used by freight steam trains by the time we moved into Saturn Way, taking ash from coal power plants to be made into Cinder blocks and from the kilns used to bake bricks for the construction of Hemel Hempstead new town. We used to cross the line to escpae from the neighborhood into open fields; later when they were building we'd escape over to the building sites to climb on the half finished buildings; I can remember vividly the first time I used the banks of the railway line to get all the way home from Junior school.
The cut through we created to get down onto, and across the Nickey Line, is now marked on the plan as an official entrance to what is now Hemel Hempsteads' equivalent of a hike-and-bike trail. There is a website with some great pictures that includes the history of the line and its subsequent conversion to a trail.
So running down the track, albeit in Austin Texas still has a special place in my heart. Crossing the bridge as the sun went down to the west, was special, everything had a warm orange glow. It's not an easy run though, you have to focus on the track, and crossing the bridge requires a step up in pace, I wouldn't want to get caught on the bridge as one of the CSX, Union Pacific mile long trains pass.