Monday, May 27, 2013

Squak Mountain

Granite Mountain Lookout
John and I spent the long weekend in Seattle house sitting for my sister. We hiked in the snow up to the Granite Mountain Lookout  and in the rain to Oyster Dome in the Chuckanut Mountains. Before we headed back to Portland I wanted to get a trail run in. I was hoping to get in a longer running around Wallace Lake and Falls, but we had a little too much fun at Uber Tavern the night before and I didn't get up until 9am. Instead I decided to do a shorter run a little closer to Seattle, Squak Mountain in the "Issaquah Alps".


San Juan Islands on the way up to Oyster Dome


Squak Mountain trail map

John decided to hike while I ran, so we grab all our stuff and headed to the trailhead. When we got to the trailhead and I went to put on my shoes I discovered I had forgotten my socks. Unfortunately I had worn my sandals in the car, so I didn't have any socks, but I decided to just run without socks and deal with the consequences.

Random bridge on my trail run
I tried to follow the loop described in 50 Trail Runs in Washington, but somehow I kept missing my turns, so I gave up and just ran for 90 minutes. I never found the Bullitt fireplace, but I did make it up 2 of the peaks. I took another wrong turn and ended up on a trail full of stinging nettles grabbing at my legs. I amazed myself that I was actually able to find the car. Despite all of this it was a good run, I really enjoyed being able to explore more new trails. And I didn't get any blisters on sockless feet.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cougar Mountain

Wilderness Creek Trailhead
Last summer Susan and I took a day off a work each month to explore trails in the Columbia Gorge and around Mt Hood. Normally on the weekends we stick close to home in Forest Park, so we have more time with friends, family and to take care of other weekend obligations. By taking a day off to do a run in the middle of the week we don't have to worry about any of this, plus there is a lot less traffic on the trails and you feel like you have the whole place to yourself.

Ever since noticing the Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series last year in Seattle at The North Face store, I have been wanting to check out the trails on Cougar Mountain. Luckily my sister lives in Seattle and I visit quite a bit, but she is not a trail runner (yet) and I don't want to go visit and take off for a better part of a day to trail run and not spend time with her. I am not sure why it hasn't occurred to before that I should go up a day early, take the day off and go trail running while she is at work. Well luckily it did occur to me before last weekend, because that is exactly what I did.

I wanted to run at least 15 miles, since I hadn't run more than 13 miles by myself and mentally I needed to prove to myself I can do longer distances solo. I based my run on the 13 mile race route for the Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series, but I started out at the Wilderness Creek trailhead which added about a mile on to the run.  I figured I could add another mile on somewhere.

Bridge over Wilderness Creek

The trail climbed from the parking lot past a creek and through a heavily forested area to the highest point on Cougar Mountain. At this point I somehow took a wrong turn and headed down a very steep and unmaintained trail, I really tried to use my downhill running skills I learned in our running class that week, but it wasn't working. The trail eventually dead ended into a maintained trail, but there weren't any signs so I took an educated guess and turned right. I started to climb uphill again, which I was pretty sure I wasn't supposed to do, but I kept going. I also kept thinking to myself, "I better not be climbing up the same effing mountain again". I finally got to the top, and of course it was the highest point on Cougar Mountain, again. Well there is that extra mile plus I needed.  At that point I pulled out my map and was trying to figure out where I went wrong, when I guy I passed in the parking lot came hiking over and pointed me in the right direction.

"Sign in" book at the top of the hill. I should've signed it twice.

Luckily the rest of the run I stayed on course for the most part. The trails are very well marked, and each of them are pretty short, so you know pretty quickly if you are going the wrong direction. There weren't anymore big climbs after the first two, just a bunch of nice rolling hills. It was typical Seattle/NW weather when I ran, so I don't know if there are any views to speak of, but the trails are really nice and the forest is beautiful.

I am looking forward to taking more days off to explore the trails around Seattle, hopefully Susan will get to join me on a few of them.

Cougar Mountain trail map


Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs...
This is actually pretty neat, King County Fitness Challenge

I forgot my vegan picnic, or this would've made the perfect place to take a break.

More bridges! 

Trail art or a trail cairn?

Well marked trails. 

Beware of shy bears. 



Saturday, May 18, 2013

Solo 15

Ann was away for the weekend, visiting her sister in Seattle, so I did the simplest route possible: Leif (starting at Thurman) to Saltzman to Wildwood to Wild Cherry and back to Leif. Fifteen-plus miles. Boom, done.
A bright orange slug. They come in a rainbow of colors here in the Pacific Northwest.
I saw lots of colorful details in nature around me, even though the route itself was boring.

These starry white wildflowers were everywhere in drifts.
But it felt really tough. I felt sluggish and achy. I thought it was just the late start and running alone, until the next morning it was even worse and my throat hurt. Well no wonder-- I was SICK!

Quite a few hatched robins' eggs caught my eye on the trail.
The moral of the story is that if a run feels tough, cut yourself some slack. There might be a good reason.

Taking home a souvenir-- didn't see this until I got in the car.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Up and down and up and down 20 miler

Wild Iris on Wildwood

Last week Susan and I started the 5 week "Mountain Goat Hill Running Series" taught by Yassine Diboun and Willie McBride of Animal Athletics. The first class focused on uphill running, which I was really looking forward to, not so sure about Susan. We talked about and practiced: 
  • the pelvis bowl concept
  • trying to keep your body as straight as possible 
  • pumping your arms but not so much you are crossing your body 
  • looking uphill but only about 3 feet or so ahead 
  • my favorite, running a zig zag line instead of a straight line to help take some of the steepness out of a hill
New "NO BIKES" sign

So for our long run I wanted to make sure we got enough hills in, so we could practice our new skills. Susan accused me of trying to do extra credit work. 

John dropped us off at the Saltzman trailhead, we ran down to Wildwood and zigzagged between Leif and Wildwood a few times, until we ended up on Maple and back up to Wildwood. We then ran Wildwood all the way to Holman for the grand finale. After running 19+ miles we had to run up an unforgiving Holman to 53rd to finish. This is the first time I have ran up Holman without stopping to walk parts of it. The zig zag technique really helped, luckily Holman in wide enough to do this. I am not sure how well this would work on a narrow single track, I guess that is a question for this week's class. 


It's running skirt weather!

You are here: next to a giant spider


Ann in bright colors and cute outfit on Maple

route:
saltzman - ww : 1.12
ww - ridge (mm 16-20.8) : 4.8
ridge - leif : .34
leif - FL7A : .46
FL7A - ww : .25
ww - wiregate (mm 20-18.2) : 1.8
wiregate - leif : .31
leif - maple : .68
maple - ww : 3.55
ww - keil (mm 12.75-9.20) : 3.55
keil - wild cherry : .17
wild cherry - ww : .31
ww - holman (mm 7.89-5.90) : 1.99
holman - 53rd : .76
total 20.09

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Eighteen and over

This was a nice trip out to the far end of Wildwood from Springville, my favorite trailhead, and then straight back. We built in a shorter option in case we could entice Sally to run with us again, but she injured her foot the day before and skipped out.

A missing shoe at the far end of Wildwood

  • Start at Springville
  • Springville to FL7 to Hardesty-- .08mi Hardesty to LE (9.00)-- .56mi (.64 total)
  • Leif (9.00) to Cannon (le 11.17)-- 2.17mi (2.81 total)
  • Cannon to WW (24.63)-- .32mi (3.13 total)
  • WW (24.63) to Newberry Rd (ww 30.16)-- 5.53mi (10.2 total)
  • Newberry (ww 30.16) to Ridge (ww 20.86)-- 9.3mi (17.96 total)
  • Ridge to FL7-- .4mi (18.36 total)
  • FL7 to car-- .32mi (18.68 total)