Traveling up I-5 from Portland was ok… There’s not much to see and eventually pulled off to rest, and combat the drowsiness that started to kick in. I ended up on smaller highway running parallel to 1-5 and then eventually found myself on Highway 12. This scenic highway ran parallel to the Riffe River, and created some much needed variation in the drive. After some pit stops at the Mossy Point Dam and other scenic sites, I eventually found myself off a forest road for some dispersed camping about 40 miles from Mt. Rainier. After battling the tetris game of belonging in my car, and the large termite which tormented me after sneaking in through a crack in the window, I drifted off to sleep.
Being in the mountains, when I woke up I had no cell service, I went back to the highway and found the library of Packtown, WA, where I jumped on the wifi in the parking lot and then made my way up to Mt. Rainier.
First National Park!
It was a nice drive up through the North Cascade Mountain Range, and eventually I crested through the fog and clouds into the visitor parking lot in Paradise. As a note for future endeavors, just because a sign says parking, doesn’t mean you have to park there, in fact there may even be parking a half mile closer right at the visitor center, which could be a better option…
It was weird hiking up steep asphalt for the first part of the trail, I mean this was supposed to be a scenic adventure into the wilderness, but then transformed into more rugged terrain as I got closer. The mountain top was just peeking out through the clouds every once and a while, and although the views of Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens were blocked by a hazy fog, every once and a while you got glimpses of meadows and glaciated terrain.
Hiking and taking in the cold, foggy, and thin atmosphere of the alpine scenery is something breathtaking; I’ve grown to appreciate the foggy redwoods or ocean bluffs of Santa Cruz, but this was something else, although sometimes with less life than sea level, still beautiful.
Portland is a weird city. Not just in those stereotypical hipster vibes; but in its geographical shaping between two rivers and its rapid urbanization and spilling out into the suburbs. It felt like driving around Santa Cruz…except you had to drive 30 minutes to get into town then what feels like another 30 minutes to get to where you’re going.
But I digress…
I was lucky enough to stay with Max and have him show me around the city.
After my run downtown in the morning, we went out to Harlow. Great vegetarian food with the exact cultural feeling I expected from Portland. Just walking down the street to get there it seemed like there were more places to eat and variety than all of Santa Cruz with food trucks, a wide range of variety of different cuisines, and all within a 3 block span.
I met up with Kyle downtown at the Timber’s stadium. A walk back down towards the Willamette revealed a mass of tents comprising the Portland Dragon Boat Festival, which was a huge event of dragon boat races. This was highlighted, not by the odd rowing and and drumming of the sport in the 43 heat of the races, but the announcers proclamation for “Had anyone seen an 85 year old man named Bob, with a black baseball cap and black loafers. Or Bob if you hear this please report to the information tent.” We were relieved to hear Bob made it back shortly after.
Max and I regrouped and he took me to Great Notion Brewery which won for best IPA. With all the options, the pick 5 flight was the only choice. Now I’m no beer connoisseur and the pangs of hunger from a long run paired with a light breakfast that morning may given me some rose colored glasses—but they were all fantastic.
Staying in a city after 800 miles on the road was a wonderful break, now it’s time for the ventures towards the national parks.
To continue on my running adventures, some quick googling of “running groups portland,” led me to find Portland Running Company—which hosts running events almost every day of the week.
The splattering of rain I woke to and the sprinkles on my windshield made me hopeful for a run in the rain, but those hopes were evaporated away as I made my way closer to downtown Portland and clearer skies.
After being defeated by some one-way roads, I pulled in and joined the crew milling about before the run. This is where trail running in my mind might differ from the general public—I expect nice dirt pathways tucked into meadows or trees— the asphalt path running parallel to the flowingWillamette River was nice, just different.
We did hit some trails about 3 miles in, then crossed one of the many bridges in Portland, and made our way back on the other bank.
It seemed like half the running group had completed a some sort of road trip, it made for good conversation as we went. There was a couple from Missouri (Jess and Julie maybe? 80% of the group had J names for come weird coincidence) who had just moved out here last April; I learned about their troubles with cars breaking down and extra stays around the grand canyon.
Then there was Maria who had done several road trips, and had the opportunity to work on the road it seems.
Then there was the stoic Joshua…all the when we were almost back, he mentioned his quietness, was more from looking towards the strategically placed portapotty and water at the turn around point, than from some lingering dislike for the rest of us.
It was great to run with a crew and I hope for some equally fun running experience as I travel along.
My 2nd night on the road paired with a long overdue visit with my grandpa and his property up in Monmouth, Oregon. Arriving right after stopping through Corvallis—the cool, breezy evening was a pleasant surprise for what I was expecting from Oregon weather and the drive up I-5. I got treated to a wonderful dinner and a real bed to sleep in, much better than the awkward rest stop experience the night before.
The morning was greeted by a beautiful, sunny, morning, with perfect temperatures as the sun crested the hills.
I got to walk the farm with Grandpa Ron for the first time in over a decade and see it as an adult. Quite a neat property—I guess I was lucky it wasn’t the boiling heat of summer or the snowy cold of winter. He spoiled me with a tasty omelette and potatoes for breakfast. And then stocked me up for my trip with apples off the trees, cabbage straight off the ground, and a variety of other useful bits and pieces (can opener, atlas, leatherman—items normal people would have packed…).
Then back on the road for Salem, Silver Falls, and Portland!
I’ve been pretty spoiled growing up running in Santa Cruz—from the ocean to redwood forest within 5 minutes of each other. Part of this trip is finding other amazing places to run and people to run with. For my first stop (on day 2 on the road) I got swing by Oregon State and run Peavy Arboretum with outstanding athlete coming out of Santa Cruz County— Mari Friedman. We went up to Peavy Arboretum, Oregon State’s property, and ran through these green lush, forests and filled understory. I foolishly didn’t take any pictures, but it was good to catch up with Mari and see what an amazing program she’s at up here.
After spending the night out in Monmouth with my grandpa, I headed out to Salem and on a recommendation from Justen, I made my way out to Silver Falls. I made full use of the Alltrails to download some maps. It was a little bit of a trek and climb and slow moving highway, and arrived at pretty full parking lot.
The trail started from the visitor kiosk and wormed its way as a paved trail, parallel to the road—a little off putting for what’s supposed to be this beautiful path. But once you get away from that it was gorgeous; almost all single track, a pretty big loop, with plenty of waterfalls. (The first one I made sure to adjust for the slight altitude and heat (high 70s, so warm compared to Santa Cruz mornings) by taking quick dip in the lagoon below the North Falls to cool off.
There’s a reason this place is Oregon’s most visited state park, I’d highly recommend for hiking, running, site seeing or whatever else might bring you out to the trails.