"...In the end, people either have excuses or experiences; reasons or results; buts or
brilliance. They either have what they wanted or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not."

~ Anonymous
(taken from Matt Erbele's, It Takes Time to Get Good)

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Humble Apologies to the Washingtonians

This past week hubby and I went on our annual journey to Puyallup, WA to visit the in-laws.  Now, if you have been reading for a while you know that these trips have not been so FAB in the past. And on our last trip I said some not-so-nice things about the Washington State Park System, their questionable trail sign polices, and the general fucked-upness of their maps (Ok, 'fucked-upness' is not a world, but it should be)

On this trip, we decided to mix business, in the form of familial obligation, with pleasure, in the form of a trip to the Quinault Rainforest that is a part of the Olympic National Forest in western Washington. It is "one of only three coniferous rainforests in the Western Hemisphere" according to the website and only about 2 hours from the in laws.

 So nice to have a talented hubby :)

We stayed at The Lake Quinault Lodge (whose claim to fame is the fact that Franklin Roosevelt stayed there, like, a billion years ago and all the of towns children dressed up as "Indians" - meaning Native Americans not people indigenous to India- very few of whom were actually Native Americans 'cuz that is how we rolled in the non-PC 1930's, BUT nine months after his visit he did sign a bill that created the Olympic National Forest and saved this area from falling prey to overlogging, so maybe I should not be so snarky) which was as beautiful and relaxing as I could have hope for.

Frankie D and the little indians, circa 1937

The main lodge. FYI - We stayed in the Lakeside rooms. I am not so much of a 'share a bathroom with total strangers' girl.

View of the Lake Quinault from the back of the lodge. 

Driving around serene beauty of Lake Quinault surrounded by the dense greenery of an old world rainforest, I could not help but think, ...

"What a great place to dump a body!"

The 'unwanted organic material' would be reclaimed by this natural wonder in a week, tops. Just saying....

What? That is not your first reaction when faced with the staggering natural beauty of a dense, moss covered rainforest? Whatevs.


I decided to run my long run (on the schedule was 6-8 miles) on Thursday, so I could run it in the rainforest all mystical woodnymph style, so I asked the gal at check in for a trail map.

 Is this not the most Mickey Mouse piece of shit map you have ever seen?

Christ, even our local Happy Hollow Zoo has a more descriptive map and, unlike Olympic National Park, you can not wander for days in Happy Hollow Zoo without finding another warmblooded life form (other than cougars apparently, for which there were signs warning of  "many recent sightings" and helpful tips how to 'scare' off the predator. Sadly, one of those tips is not to  "piss your pants and cry like a little girl", since I am certain that would be my reaction upon 'sighting' a real live cougar )

 The list of what to do was below. Sadly, an hour later when alone and hearing "strange noises" from the forest this is all I remembered of the sign. Something about ... "looking big, and fighting back"

I was convinced that I would be hopelessly lost in the rainforest and found years later living amongst the ferns, eating beetles, and braiding my leg hair to pass the time.  But, in true RBR style I headed out on the run anyway.

Beginning of the Run: Cautiously (or foolishly) optimistic

The trail started out running along the edge of the lake

 and then headed inland to wind along through the forest.... (scenes from the trail)

Single track through paradise

The sun came out at a rare clearing in the forest overstory. I experienced both springlike sun and heavy rain in this 2 hour run. It was really the perfect run. 

 Please note GIGANTO tree, please ignore GIGANTO ass

There were many bridges and waterfalls along the way. I was having such a great time I was 3 miles in and 2000 ft up before I realized I forgot my iPod. Yeah, it was THAT beautiful and fun out there.

They even had a wooden pathway over a bog. I always forget the difference between a marsh, a swamp, and a bog, so now you have to learn it again too! 
In a nutshell, they are all poorly drained depressions with a think growth of water plants where the water level remains above or at the soil line. Swamps and bogs have trees, whereas marshes do not. Bogs are found in coniferous forests, but swamps are characterized by deciduous trees.

My bog picture, which sucks because you can not see the coniferous trees that tell you it is a bog. Whatevs. I looked it up after the run. Sue me.

I had planned to run 6 to 7 miles depending on how I felt, but I was having such a good time that I did not want it to end and I ended up running just over 8 miles. I am not in good enough shape for an 8+ mile trail run, so it was beyond slow, but totally worth it.

5 miles in, channeling my inner wood nymph. Just call me Hamadryades

 Ok, so the real Hamadryades was a tad hotter and a shitload scarier. 
There were signs that contained the full map at every junction that clearly marked where you were on the trail (yes, like you see at the mall)
 Note that they had to amend the "You are here" marker, but still very helpful once that slight confusion was cleared up.

As I was finishing up my run, I started to remark to myself, (Shut up. I was the only one there, who else would I remark to?) "There is virtually NO WAY to get lost on this trail. Only a fucking MORON would get lost on this trail!"

So you can imagine what happened next...

Yep. I am the fucking moron that could get lost on the only single track that ran through the rainforest. 

Here is how it happened. I ran along until I spied a rest room at a camp ground that I was certain I had seen before, I briefly left the trail to use the facilities. When I came out and could not for the life of me figure out where to go. After a few false starts that dead ended or had me heading back out to the rainforest instead of toward the lake, I stood in the center of the camp ground parking lot, slowly spinning in a circle trying to figure out which way went back to the trail. Until a kid at the wordly age of 9 came up and asked me what I was doing:

Know-it-all 9 yo: What are you doing?

RBR: I am trying to find the trail back to the lake

Know-it-all 9 yo: *snickers* There is only one trail [I think the little bastard rolled his eyes too, but I am not certain]

RBR: *weak smile* I know, but that one goes back to the rainforest.

Know-it-all 9 yo: Ummm... what if you go that way?

*points to the ground behind the restroom where, to my horror, I see this....*

RRR: *mumbles inappropriate things for 9 year old ears* Ummm.... thanks  

*snickering from smug, nine year old continues as I run down the trail*

So there you have it. I can no longer blame Washington, nor it's fresh-from-Walt-Disney-school-of-cartography map makers. It is me. I can truly get lost anywhere.

But it was a great run :)

* Photo credits (that are painfully obvious, but need to be pointed out anyway) - The over or under exposed, blurry, or just generally crappy photos are mine. The pretty, professional looking photos are hubby's. Here is a link to his photos of Lake Quinault: http://erader.zenfolio.com/p726862123 if you are interested in seeing more of the area. The painting of Hamadryades is from some weird ass LARPer site that may or may not have a virus, so I am not linking to it, but it was my favorite wood nymph picture.


Still Running said...

You're braver than I am. All that green stuff looks like poison ivy to me.

Tricia said...


Reese said...

What a beautiful run. I'd forgotten how "colorful" your blog was.

SteveQ said...

There's hundreds of square miles of bog in Minnesota. I went past some once and saw moose prints and squealed (well as close to squealing as this guy gets) "Ohh a moose is nearby!" only to be told that the prints were hundreds if not thousands of years old - not much happens up there!

I ALWAYS think "what a great place to dump a body." When I first heard that the Devil's Kettle Falls here has no known outlet, my companions quickly pointed out that it would be really hard to drag a body to it.

I love washington when it doesn't rain. Both days.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Winston Churchill once used the word "fucked-upness" in his radio ("wireless") address to the People Of Britain when he was trying to buck them up during the darkest days of Teh Blitz. An officious BBC producer had the audacity to tell him "Fucked-upness" wasn't a word. To which he replied: "This is the type of fuckedness up with which I will not put."

True story.

(It's a genuine wonder those Fucking Brits weren't wiped out during the Blitz, what with their fucked-upness and whatnot.)

You can take some PC comfort from the fact that all of those Faux Indian children back in the 1930s greeted FDR with the words, "How! You Big Fucking Gimp!"

(As I understand it, one instance of unPC-edness cancels out another, so it's all good. Talk about fucked-upness!)

Welcome back, Big Ass!

Hahahahahaha! Telling me not to notice it just guarantees that I WILL!1!

The CilleyGirl said...

So, as a Pacific Northwest native I have to ask: What then does a real map look like? Because those are the only kind of ones I've ever seen. Let me tell you, you develop a great sense of direction when hiking and driving to hiking spots out here. My favorite is when the map in the middle of the park is on a different orientation than the actual park. So you're turning your head upside down in order to figure out which way is north.

Jo Lynn said...

Very beautiful pictures of the single track trails. Makes me want to RUN!
I lost all my phone numbers in my phone. Can you please text me yours?
Also, can we set up a trail date or are you on a strict training schedule now and cannot stray from it? ;)

Aka Alice said...

I completely think about body dumping when I am in a woody area. There's a path along the San Diego river (which I used to call a marsh, but there are trees, so it must be a swamp...or do I have that backwards...GAH!), but I always wonder if the local law enforcement ever just randomly sweeps the area looking for bodies. My guess is that they'd come up with something. Maybe Jimmy Hoffa...

Beautiful pix girl...even the blurry ones.

LOL...I'd miss the trail sign on the pavement too!

Maryland Girl aka Michelle said...

Gorgeous place. I miss the pacific northwest, so lush and green. Your hubby does have talent. As do you with your on the trail shots. Good stuff!

SteveQ said...

In the few minutes since you visited my blog, I added a photo (not of me!), elevation chart and video for Afton... I have the time, now that I'm retired.

Herself, the GeekGirl said...

I missed this post, somehow. I wanted to make some snarky comment about cougars (the middle-aged female variety) but I'm tired, it's late, and I got nothin'.