Olympic National Park Adventure

Since mid-August I have been running trails on the weekends with Karen. Our husband’s know each other and they reconnected at the Broken Goat race we did mid-July. That’s when Karen and I met and last weekend she asked if I would be interested in running trails in the Olympic National Park in Port Angeles, Washington. I was excited right away at the idea and said yes. I had never been to Hurricane Ridge or the park but had heard about it from Warren and other friends who have been.

We started our adventure on Saturday morning by meeting at 5:30am to catch the 6:10am Coho Ferry. There were ten of us in our group and to my surprise there were many other cyclist and hikers who had the same idea as we did. There was a line up for foot passengers to board the ferry. As we all gathered on board a few of us were introduced to others who were meeting for the first time. Once we arrived in Port Angeles we had to wait for the rental car company to open so we grabbed a second breakfast to make sure we were ready for our adventure ahead.  

There were seven of us who were going to be running from Obstruction Point to Deer Park. Alysha and Dave were riding their bikes up Hurricane Ridge and the meeting Aki and Barb who were in the rental car with us. Once the riders reached the top they were going to hike Grand Ridge Trail together.

The rest of us drove on a narrow dirt road for about 8 miles to the trail head Obstruction Point. The run we did was was an out and back that was roughly 24km. Ed said it would be roughly three hours of running and I felt a bit uncertain if I would be able to run for that long. I was prepared though with enough food and water to be out there that long because I really wanted to make it from one end to the other.

It was about 6 degrees when we started our run but we warmed up quickly because the first bit of the trail was a slow climb. Once we regrouped we removed our jackets and stuffed them in our packs. I kept my arm warmers on though because from the looks of the clouds I figured I would need them again. The trail was single track and at some points scary to be running along.

The beginning of our adventure. Sunrise, trailhead and the start of our run.
The beginning of our adventure. Sunrise, trailhead and the start of our run.

I was in awe along the way of the beauty around me. The landscape and trail was always changing. I was happy for the moments when we would regroup so I could catch my breath just to have it taken away by looking at the mountains in front of me. I didn’t dare look to the right while running because I have a tendency to go in the direction I look. One misplaced foot to the right on the way out and you could go sliding down the “hill”. It was crazy.

Breathtaking views
Breathtaking views
Hill side running
Hill side running

I was doing my best to keep up with the group but at the same time I was aware that I still had to return on the same trail. I didn’t want to tire myself out too quickly. Peter and I ran together for some of the run before he turned back and then I ran the last 5-6km on my own to Deer Park. I was OK with that and enjoyed the run but did wish I had my iPod to keep me motivated. Once we gathered at Deer Park we had some food before making our way back. We had decided that we wouldn’t regroup and that everyone would just meet at the car. I knew that there was only one trail back so I felt good with that decision.

Top: Unforgettable views. Bottom: Peter running behind me.
Top: Unforgettable views. Bottom: Peter running behind me.

 

On the return James was a little bit in front of me for awhile and then I was running solo. I was starting to feel tired so I grabbed a bit more food in hopes it would help. I had packed dates, apricots and some Cliff Block chews that were easy to grab from the front pocket of my pack. Then as I turned a corner I saw James. He is a fellow road runner who runs crazy fast marathons. So, on our way back I asked him questions about his training. Both of us were mentally and physically struggling so it was good that we were together. We were also getting cold because the weather had changed but the thoughts of stopping to get our jackets out was more than we both wanted to do.

Clouds rolling in and you could see them moving.
Clouds rolling in and you could see them moving.

When you tell a road runner, who is used to running distance, that the run out will be about 12km out we think ‘That isn’t hard.’ But when you add elevation and undulating terrain, it is tougher both mentally and physically. I was wishing for music to help me but since I didn’t have it I kept asking James questions as we climbed the steep parts of the trail. I figured it would be a good way for us to be distracted. And if he wished I would stop asking questions he was nice and never said anything. 🙂 We came to the top of a peak and we could both see the parking lot. It was still about 4km away but it was in sight. I then gave myself a new motivation for getting back to the car and it was an Orange Cranberry muffin that I had bought earlier in morning. 

Roadie runners
Roadie runners

As we neared the end we met up with Ed who was headed out for more running. He was going for a total running time of three hours. James and I were making the last climb and we saw Jason. He was along the side of the trail and gave us high five’s and encouraged us along. It was awesome and just what I needed. I said to him “I think I might have bitten off more than I can chew but I did it.” James then said to me “Let’s finish this together.” We ran to the end and as soon as we hit the Obstruction Point trail head sign we stopped ourselves and our watches. I said “Thank you for getting me to the end.” James hugged me and I started to walk. I started to get tears in my eyes and couldn’t catch my breath. I felt so overwhelmed with what I had just done and I was so thankful. I had just got to run in a new area that was so beautiful and had spent the day with some great people. I felt so lucky. I look forward to more exploring and more adventures with these guys and gals.

 

Top: Regroup on the way out.  Bottom: The single track trail on the way back to the car.
Top: Regroup on the way out.
Bottom: The single track trail on the way back to the car.

 

Are you a trail runner or a road runner? Do you notice a difference between the two? What is your favorite? 

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