My first encounter with Umstead as a runner came back in October of 1978. I had been running for about 16 months and racing for about 7 months and now I was looking forward to doing a cross-country race in Tanglewood Park outside of Clemmons NC. My brother, who I had gotten to join in with my running a few months earlier and I decided to go run on a trail at Umstead on the 28th of that October, about a week before the race.
We park on the Reedy Creek side which I think was probably the first time either of us had been on that side of the park and after looking over a map we headed down the Company Mill Trail. Things were going well until just after a mile we came to Crabtree Creek at the old mill site. There we lost the trail and after searching along the bank in both direction following false trails we gave up in frustration and ran back to our car. A quick look at the map and we realized that the trail continued onto the other side of the creek ! At that time there was no bridge over the creek or any other bridges on any of the trails for that matter. If you wanted to get to the other side you waded across.
Later in March of 1979 I returned to the park by myself on the Glenwood side of the park and went for a run on the Sal's Branch trail. Somewhere along the way, probably where the trail comes out at Big Lake, I got confused and couldn't figure out which way to go so I turned around and ran back the same way I had come ending up with about 4 miles.
Over the next few years as I had moved to Fayetteville and Hope Mills I didn't get back to the park but a couple of times. I was focusing more on trying to run fast 5 and 10K's so I was doing most of my running on the roads and track but I had always loved running around in the woods so I would occasionally find a trail to get in some miles. I took a new job in Oct of 1982 which involved driving all over Eastern NC so I began to look for parks and trails to run on close by to where I was working but that's another story.