Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pacific Crest Trail 13.5 miles

Current Mile total: 82.5 miles

I didn't think I was going to get this run in today. Yesterday Jenn and I were scheduled to pick up her first sampling of fish. Originally the barge was supposed to get to the Dalles at about 4 pm on Friday but it didn't arrive until 7. After a very stressful race to get there on time due to a closed road and then having to wait for a bridge closure we arrive within minutes of the barge entering the lock. We got our equipment on the barge and the waiting began. The barge traveled at a frightening 8mph pace so the trip back to the Bonneville Dam took about 6 and a half hours. We got off the barge at 1:30, delivered her fish to the research facility and headed home. Because we had been in a rush we hadn't managed to get dinner before we left. We ended up eating at 3 in the morning. I had determined then that I would not be running the next day.

But as this go, we slept in and when I awoke I felt good. We then drove back to the Dalles to retrieve Jenn's car. On the way back I stopped at Shortt Supply, a running store in Hood River, and bought myself some recovery formula and some GU Chomps(I would discover later that these chomps are not good, at least not the strawberry flavor, bleck).

I got back about 1:30 and had a good meal of eggs and harshbrowns, my favorite pre-run meal. I know my stomach can handle this when running so I've not tried other meals as of yet. I hit the trail head at just a few minutes past 2 oclock. It was a little late in the day to be starting but I felt good and hit the trail. The PCT starts on the Oregon side of the Columbia River right at the Bridge of the Gods. Hikers who want to continue north must walk across this bridge with the traffic. Once you enter the trail head at the bridge it takes you underneath the I-84 highway and up a road a hundred meters or so before the real trail begins.

The trail starts out remarkable easy with nothing but rolling hills with a gentle incline. My breathing is easy and I begin to think the this PCT is made for novices. There's nearly no one on the trail as I go up. I only see a father and daughter right in the begining and then a couple ladies a mile further up. Aside from that the trail is mine until I return to the bottom with about a mile to go. As I said, the trail was easy to begin with and it just gradually climbed up. I came upon some rock formations that were pretty interesting and diverged from the trail for a few minutes. Up I continued until I reached a small falls. It would really be the only other interesting thing to photograph for the rest of the way. For a tourist/sutterbug, this trail is LACKING. I mean it's beautiful, but compared to the other scenic trails in the area this trail is a real bore. Which would easily explain why I had the trail to myself.

But for a runner, the trail was perfect. Dispite its lack of comparitive scenery I'm sure I'l return to this trail. In so many waays its a great trail for running. The ease of the beginning allows you to warm up while still making upward progress. The trail is clear of debri and has little rocks which makes for a soft pine/dirt trail. It is not dry and dusty nor is it wet and mudy, but rather the pefect medium that allows for swift running without mess.

Within about 45 minutes I started getting out of the tree line to an exposed area with a great view of the Columbia River.

So far it seemed to me this trail was going to be a cake walk but I knew it had to get harder eventually as I could see above me what I needed to climb. It was right about the time that I passed through these creepy trees that the real climb began. Almost as if the trees were a warning to novice hikers/runners.
From here on up the trail never relented. Up and up and up. The grade was really tough and eventually I did break so I had to hike instead of run. From below I had seen lots of snow and had wondered if I would come across any. I did finally come across some but it didn't effect the running. Yet. At this point I was checking my camera's clock (Jenn had taken my watch for research) because I had wanted to turn around at about 2 and fifteen minutes. Right about 2 hours in to the run I finally came to the crest of the mountain. From here on out the trail stays on the crest for many miles. It got a lot colder once I did even though I was still within the trees. It also was the end of the really tough climb although I could see there was still some more climb just up ahead. So I pressed on with the intent of running for just fifteen more minutes. And I got maybe ten. End of the road for me. The snow, which had mad its appearance here and there finally arrived and stopped my progress. I probably could have continued if I was carefull but I would ahve to move very slow and with just minutes before I turned around it didn't seem worth it to risk getting wet, slipping and falling(far) just to make up 5 minutes. So I turned around.

The way back down of course was simple, but instead of running down like a jackass, as I normally do, I decided to go relatively slow. My longest run this season has been about 2:15 and this run would be at least 3 hours. It was a big jump and on a tough trail. I was glad I did take it easy because the run ended up being about 3:20 minutes long and I was completely spent by the time I finished.

I'm hoping that the snow melts soon off the top as this was the perfect trail run. This trail goes until Mexico so can get as many miles as I need with it but until the snow melts I'm left with only 13.5 available to me.

On a side note; I had to run without Penny today because Jenn was working and Cody doesn't do Alone. It was a bummer to run without her but maybe next week.

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