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.