Walking in a cir­cle tru­ly helped me move forward.

I drove past the grass field at the inter­sec­tion of Colby Road and the Bypass for the bet­ter part of five years with­out pay­ing it much more than a glance. Sure, the aging barn had that great aes­thet­ic you see across Kentucky’s rolling hills, but I real­ly didn’t give the Winchester Traveling Trail a thought.

But to real­ly tell this sto­ry right, I need to loop back to 2020.

We were in the mid­dle of a pan­dem­ic and, as I have shared before, I decid­ed to change careers at a per­son­al inflec­tion point. I was at my low­est on the LYs that mat­ter most in this world: phys­i­cal­ly, men­tal­ly, emo­tion­al­ly, spir­i­tu­al­ly, and financially.

They all fed one anoth­er, but my health was the great­est con­cern and my doc­tor real­ly didn’t have any answers, despite my spend­ing lots of mon­ey chas­ing symp­toms. Insomnia, fatigue, weight gain, dizzi­ness, and just an ever-present sense of blah were all part of the dai­ly routine.

Until I decid­ed it was time for a new doctor.

Everything changed with a sin­gle ques­tion. “Mike, what are you doing to treat your dia­betes?” he asked. My response floored him: “Doc, I didn’t know I had diabetes!”

Well, there may have been some four-let­ter words involved, too. 

With an A1c num­ber of 10.8, near­ly dou­ble the nor­mal range, the prob­lem screamed at him. Why was this not iden­ti­fied before? I still don’t have a good answer for that.

What I did know was diet and exer­cise were going to be key to turn­ing things around. The gym doesn’t do much for me. Our tread­mill was an expen­sive clothes rack. I love to hike but a 30-to-40-minute dri­ve to trails wasn’t feasible.

That brings us full cir­cle back to the Winchester Traveling Trail. It may sound hyper­bol­ic, but I tru­ly believe that near­ly-one-mile patch of grass saved my life.

I saw that field with new eyes.

Being two min­utes from my house made it very acces­si­ble. I chal­lenged myself to walk five miles a day. I enjoyed the ele­va­tion changes and lighter impact than walk­ing on con­crete. The wide-cut grass path, the wildlife, the old tree at its cen­ter, and the aging barn were all part of the charm I was blind to before.

A year and a half lat­er, I feel bet­ter than I have in at least a decade. I still try to make it to the field at least a few times a week.

Now, I can’t wait to see the trail become the best ver­sion of itself, too.

The Greater Clark Foundation owns the prop­er­ty and does an amaz­ing job of main­tain­ing it. Rumor has it some excit­ing things are on the hori­zon! So, I will offer my two cents (like­ly worth even less than that!) on what those could include.

The bench­es are great, but a cou­ple of pic­nic tables would pro­vide a great place for fam­i­ly pic­nics. Could some trees be plant­ed that would pro­vide shade for the next gen­er­a­tion? Is there a way to expand the path into the forest­ed area at the east­ern and south­ern edges?

My under­stand­ing is the sig­nage will soon be replaced. But the big news, and per­haps most excit­ing, is I hear the new barn is about to get a paint job.

The old struc­ture was scary, look­ing like the per­fect set for a hor­ror movie. There were issues with keep­ing peo­ple out of it and I even called the Winchester Police Department once to let them know some­one had bro­ken open a door.

Those warts aside, it also had a giant mur­al pro­claim­ing it the Winchester Traveling Trail! The paint­ed quilt pat­tern you see on barns through­out rur­al Kentucky felt like home.

I have no idea what the new structure’s extreme makeover will look like but draw­ing on the look of the past for this barn’s future would be excit­ing to see.

Hopefully, more peo­ple will start to take advan­tage of this great nat­ur­al beau­ty we have here.

Study after study has shown that green space is inte­gral to a community’s over­all health. Winchester is blessed to have a resource like this that offers a wel­come alter­na­tive to gym mem­ber­ships or school tracks.

The trail may be a giant cir­cle, but it could def­i­nite­ly go some­where excit­ing in the future.

  • Mike Caldwell is an award-win­ning jour­nal­ist with near­ly two decades of expe­ri­ence cre­at­ing con­tent and lead­ing com­mu­ni­ty news orga­ni­za­tions. He and his wife, Rae, live in Winchester with their two teenage daugh­ters. Feel to reach out to him at gmacaldwell@gmail.com.