Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dosewallips River Trail

Last weekend my buddy Jens and I ran 20 miles on the Dosewallips River Trail. Great run for sure, enjoyed the 60 minutes driving there and back just as much. Nice to catch up with Jens...needed some laugh time and Jens is ALWAYS good for that.

The Dosewallips River Trail is located in the Olympic National Park. It is one of many trails in a mountain system filled with trail running possibilities. The downside of the Dosewallips River Trail  is that the road is washed out 5.5 miles from the Dose Ranger Station. We parked about 6 miles from the ranger station and ran along the forest service road the first part of our run.

The run to the ranger station is beautiful with many reminders of the stark ruggedness of the Olympic National Forest. At one point we ran through the remnants of the Lake Constance fire that was started by a lightning strike last July. As we neared the ranger station we started to run through a bit of snow, this was a harbinger of things to come.

Once we hit the main trailhead, we stayed on the main fork toward Gray Wolf Pass. We ran as far as we could until the snow was so deep that we couldn't call it trail running anymore. At that point we turned around, ran back to the fork, and checked out the west fork trail.

All in all we were on our feet about 4.5 hours or so. This was our last long run before the 50 mile trail race we are running together a week from now. I am fortunate I am running with Jens, as he has many ultra type endurance events under his belt.

CHECK OUT THIS MAP: Olympic Mountain Trail Map This will give you a great overview of the trails in Olympic National Park. I plan on checking them off one by one!

How to get to Dosewallips River Trail: Take Highway 101 South to Brinnon, WA.  Take a right at milepost 306 and follow the road.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mix it Up

After a few months of only running on the trails at a pedestrian pace, I ran out my front door today and hit the road. I only had about 30 minutes this morning so I figured I could get a steady 4 miles in or so.

Our home is situated at about 500 ft. with a beautiful view of the Olympic Mountains. The run down to the main road is about a mile with the first half mile down a steep hill. Once I hit the main road this morning, I headed back up another mile long hill before I turned around for home.So basically, I ran a mile down, then a mile up, then a mile down, then a mile back up. I focussed on a healthy leg turnover rate and a steady pace. I have to admit, it felt good to mix it up today. It was a great reminder of the need to keep things varied in training.

One thing was apparent today on the road. The gait pattern of road running is certainly different than the trails. I usually run trails that have lots of twists and turns. I am used to subtly shifting my weight and changing directions. This engages different muscles in my core, legs, and feet. Road running engages the larger, primary muscles. While I believe a balanced approach to training is good, I am still a big believer that trail running will be healthier for my body and spirit in the long run.

Looking forward to a mountain run tomorrow with my friend Jens. We plan on hitting 20 miles or so in the Olympic Mountains. Back to the trails!

View of Olympic Mountains from our driveway:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

White Tank Mountain Regional Park

I’m back! Our family spent a week driving 3300 miles through Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, and Idaho. A great time had by all and one of the highlights was trail running in sunny Arizona. I spent two mornings running at White Tank Mountain Regional Park.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park as described by the Maricopa County Parks Department: Nearly 30,000 acres makes this the largest regional park in Maricopa County. Most of the park is made up of the rugged and beautiful White Tank Mountains on the Valleys west side. The range, deeply serrated with ridges and canyons, rises sharply from its base to peak at over 4,000 feet. Infrequent heavy rains cause flash floodwaters to plunge through the canyons and pour onto the plain. These torrential flows, pouring down chutes and dropping off ledges, have scoured out a series of depressions, or tanks, in the white granite rock below, thus giving the mountains their name.

The first day at the park I ran on the Sonoran Loop Competitive Track. While my wife was out cycling, my sister-in-law Susan and I headed for the trails. The loop was mostly flat with a steep rise after about three miles. At that point there is a climb up and around a ridge and a drop into a small canyon. After climbing out of the canyon it is easy sailing back to the trail head. The run was approximately 7 miles with gorgeous spring desert views. It was a certainly a unique feeling running near cactus instead of towering pine, hemlock, fir and cedar trees. I think I could get used to running in the desert. However, I was thankful the temperatures were on the cool side for Arizona. It was fun catching up with Susan for sure. We were lost in conversation so the ride back to Sun City West took an extra 30 minutes due to the fact I missed the turn not once, but twice.

Day 2 Michelle and I ran down into Ford Canyon, which is also part of White Tank Mountain Regional Park. The run was approximately 9 miles. This trail has more elevation gain and loss than the Sonoran Loop. The path is really well developed and easier at the beginning, but becomes quite a scramble once you actually get into the canyon area. The canyon itself is filled with boulders, sand, and pools of water. At about three miles there is an old stone masonry dam, well worth the run just checking that out. The trail gets a bit murky as far as where to go at that point, but we just kept following the footprints and signs when we could. At one point we almost climbed down a treacherous segment thinking it was the trail. Thankfully I worked my way back up and found a more established path. We would probably still be working our way out of there had we not switched back! There are some spectacular views of the Phoenix Valley, the Superstition Mountains, and Four Peaks Mountain at several points on the trail.

If you are ever in the Phoenix area, I would highly recommend this park for some sweet desert trail running!

How to get to White Tank Mountains Regional Park: From central Phoenix, take I -10 west 18 miles to Hwy 303. North on Hwy 303 to Olive. West 4 miles on Olive to the White Tank Mountain Regional Park entrance.