Sunday, April 22, 2007

Back to the gorge!

Sunday I finally made it out to the gorge for a run this year. I have to admit that I was a little gun shy. The last time I ran in the gorge (almost a year ago!), I fell and gashed my eyebrow, which required about 9 stitches. This time there were no falls, and the only blood shed was from the few scratches on my legs from running through the prickly oregon grape and climbing over downed logs.

I picked up Sharon at 6:30 and we drove out to the Herman Creek trail head. We planned to run the Herman Creek Trail
and hoped to make it to the Mud Lake turnoff, at least, and maybe go on farther to Wahtum Lake, another 2+ miles up the trail. I have never been on this trail, but it looked like a good challenge, with moderate elevation gain but nothing too terribly steep. (Talk about steep: last weekend, while we were in central Oregon, Sharon ran the Nesmith Point trail, aka Nessie. Go Sharon!) It turned out to be a great trail-running trail, with a few steep sections, but mostly very runnable.

I had my bigger hydration pack with me which holds something like 120 oz. I didn't fill it all the way, but nevertheless, it was heavy! So I decided to not carry my camera. In hindsight, I really wish I had taken the extra weight because it was quite a picture worthy adventure. The first four miles were fairly uneventful, but after that we encountered a lot of stream crossings and quite a few downed trees. Many of the crossings were super easy and just required an extra wide step. But at least four presented bigger challenges. At one of the crossings we must have spent 15 minutes pondering the best route. I was starting to think it might be the turnaround for our run, but Sharon's bold lead got us across. That is one of the things I love about hanging with and running with Sharon. She's always up for a challenge and she encourages my adventurous side.

Route finding was relatively easy since we were staying on the same trail and then just planned to retrace our steps. However there wasn't a lot of signage along the way to give us an idea of our location. Our last known landmark was at about mile 7.5. We kept moving along and eventually hit some spotty snow on the trail. After a few steep switchbacks, we reached a snow covered bowl-like clearing. At this point we lost our trail and decided to return. Where were we? How far did we run/hike? I have no idea and we spent much of the return trip pondering these questions. Unfortunately none of the topos I have are detailed enough to give some clarity. We never did see the turnoff to Mud Lake. But that doesn't mean we hadn't passed it. Or we may have been close to reaching it.

I would like to know our exact mileage. I finally decided to count it as 18, but when all is said and done it doesn't really matter. Breathing the fresh air, crossing the streams, moving through the forest, enjoying the company of friends, feeling alive. Those are the important things.


Bob Gentile said...

SARAH Said:I fell and gashed my eyebrow, which required about 9 stitches.
OUCH, just another thing for me to look forward to--thanks--lol

Well sounds like quite an adventure you ladies had, and the words you said at the end says it all :-) Way to GO & enjoy that Gorge! Stitch FREE!

OK THREE hard words to figure out is that a friggin J or an I (sigh)))still not posted yet.... OK fourth attempt!!-- hope I don't have to NOT leave a comment due to my frustration--lol

Bob Gentile said...


olga said...

I LOVE Herman Creek trail! Sarah, I use "Hiking the Columbia river Gorge" book (I'll check on author at home) for figuring out miles and elevation change for the most part. There are a couple more I have and use to check if it's correct, but this one is really good. It is very easy to loose a trail up there in the snow, no surprise, I had done it a few times:) Smart to turn around. As for creek crossing - c'mon, wade it! We did yesterday. Less time to hassle, and if shoes are good, they drain fast. It makes it more fun and tough!
Good run, girls.

Ginger Breadman said...

Those really ARE the important things! I love reading about your running adventures - and they truly are adventures. It helps me remember to appreciate the fun and beauty I experience and see out on a run, and never to take it for granted. Thanks.

Backofpack said...

Sounds like a great day out there. I hope that crossing didn't involve balancing on a log - I find that too scary for me. I'd rather wade like Olga suggested!

See you this weekend!

Joe said...

The Gorge is so beautiful...we have a photo on our fridge of our two sons standing at the observatory overlooking the south edge of it. I can imagine it...but this flatlander from Indiana is in envy of such a weekend run!!

Glad you avoided stitches...that could have not been enjoyable to have happen out on the trail. Did you stick in some lightweight first aid items, just in case??

Sarah said...

Olga - Yes, on the way back we were much more bold and hardly hesitated.

Michelle - There was one balancing log crossing when we had to cross Herman Creek.

Joe - Absolutely! Now I nearly always carry my adventure medical kit, when on trail...especially in wilderness, where we were.

Addy said...

Sounds like a beautiful run and glad you didn't have any accidents this time around :) Being out in nature is really such an amazing thing!

maniac hippo said...

SO glad you had a good run, and having met Sharon I can understand how fantastic it is to have her along. In my brief meeting it was easy to tell that she is a good partner (as are you, m'dear.)

I wanted to give you extra encouragement as you get ready for Eugene (you are running, right?) I'm still not sure I'll be able to get down there to watch, but wanted you to know I'm one of the many people that will have you in my hopes and prayers.

See you soon!

Darrell said...

It is easier to step outside our own comfort zone when we've got a friend along for encouragement. Sounds like the two of you had a great adventure. How will you ever make it through all that flat pavement next weekend in Eugene? LOL!

rick said...

Yup sometimes the miles don't matter as much as time on your feet. Besides that Camelback, worth a mile carrying that thing right?:) One of these days I'd love to run that Gorge, I keep reading about it from you, Olga and Rob. Sounds like a place you dream about running.

Jessica Deline said...

120oz - holy crap! I'm glad you had an injury free run this time out!