Sunday, August 28, 2011

Evergreen Trail Race and Hiking at Mount Rainier

Amy and I spent the last 10 days traversing the Pacific Northwest taking on everything from trail runs to hikes at Mount Rainier to airline negotiations regarding returning home before Hurricane Irene hit the Boston area.  All and all great vacation where we visited and spent time with a bunch of friends.

Amy and I spent the 1st two days down in Portland visiting an old college friend and the family he has created since we were last out here.  We also got in a quick walk at the Rose Garden and a short run in Forest Park while we were there.

Evergreen Trail Runs 

Next we headed out to Bainbridge Island and crashed with some more friends.  We left early Saturday morning for the Evergreen Trail Runs in Black Diamond where I took on a 10 mile race and Amy took on the 5 mile version (we got a pretty early start as our commute to the race included a 40 minute ferry ride).  After arriving at the race I learned the 10 mile version was really 10.3 miles, the course was very technical single track with lots of switch backs, but with little elevation gain.  They warned us that the temps would reach 80 and it would be "really hot out" but also told us, after we asked, that there is no humidity, so we just laughed.

The race was entirely dirt trails with lots of roots.  I went out in 3rd place (out of 50) and felt pretty good, but wasn't moving too fast as there was constant turning.  About 2 miles in the guy in front of me jumped out of the way because we were moving a little fast for his liking and I ran in 2nd for about a mile before I made a slight wrong turn and as I turned around the guy behind me passed.  Around mile 6 or 7 I was reeled in by another and went into 4th.  Around mile 9-10 I caught back up to the 3rd place position and was lining up my sprint to the finish to take 3rd when we took a wrong turn.  About a mile later I made a definitive pass and kept running hard.  I realized I was doing another loop (the final section was a 2.5 mile loop) and the only thing to do was just keep running.  Eventually I came out of the woods at the finish; tired and hungry and a little sad I had lost 3rd place.

1:42:33 - 13 / 50 overall, 5 / 9 age group
8 min / mile (if you count it as a 12.8 mile race)
12th state to complete an event in

Hiking Mount Rainier

Next we headed to Sumner / Puyallup for a few days to attend Mat and Tanya's wedding, the real reason we were out west.  Followed the wedding, we headed to Mount Rainier National Park for some hiking and camping with some more friends who were out to attend the wedding.

The first day we did two hikes totaling to about 8 miles, a short flat one called Grove of the Patriarchs, which has some very large and very old trees, and then about a 3 mile climb via the Cascade Divide / Wonderland trail. There were some decent views along both and it was quite interesting to get different pictures from the many perspectives.

We camped at Ohanapecosh the 1st night and Cougar Rock the 2nd.  $15 / night split 4 ways wasn't too bad. 

On the 2nd day of hiking we went up to the top of Crystal Peak which gave us a nice 360 degree view of the area.  The wild flowers were also in full bloom and we were above the treeline for at least half the hike. The grade was little stiff at times with over 3000 ft of climbing over the 3.8 mile acent.  

Following the hike we met up with some friends at the Paradise Inn and 6 of us plus one kid devoured some left over wedding cake.

On the 3rd day we started up at the Paradise inn (5400 ft) which was the highest starting point of the trip.  We did about another 6 miles on what was called the Skyline trail which had many sections that were still snow covered from the previous winter.  About 1/3 of the way through the hike we hit the high point of the vacation (literally at 7000 ft) at an area known as Panorama Point which yielded a view of Mount Adams, Mount Hood (yes it was so clear we saw a mountain in Oregon), and Mount St Helens on one side with a nice closeup Rainier on the other, towering at 14,411 ft.  We slowly descended over the next hour and a half and then grabbed a quick lunch at the Paradise lodge before leaving the park. 

We spent the remaining days driving out to the Pacific, then back to Seattle and Bainbridge.  Upon our arrival at the Seattle Airport, we learned that our flight from Chicago to Boston was canceled.  After some discussion we were told the earliest available flight was next Thursday (aka 5 days later).  We took a chance and just flew to Chicago with the backup plan of grabbing a rental car and driving the final 1000 miles.  Luckily, we were able to get on an earlier flight via standby and actually got home 2 hours earlier then planned.  Ironic isn't it. 

Special thanks to Tanya and Mat (and congratulations too!) for giving us a reason to come out west,  Mike and his family for putting us up in Portland, Rich and Carolyn for letting us use their guest house on Bainbridge and letting us borrow their camping equipment, Erin and Kevin for taking us to the Zoo, and Sue and Dillon for hiking and camping with us.

Full Set of Pictures:

This post is brought to you by Marathon Sports who nicely used their frequent flier miles to send us across the country (Amy won their winter promotion). Thank you! 

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