Some adventures in road and trail running.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Running around Smith Rocks

For the May long weekend we were happy to sign up for a cool ultra running camping trip with Ronda and family and Micheal and family and Steve.

The trip was centered around (and over) Smith Rock and as such we stayed at Crooked River RV Park.
As I mentioned in the previous post the campground is great for exploring the area with trails that were challenging, scenic and fun!

Ronda, Micheal and Steve did a hard day of hill repeats on Gray Butte along with some other great Oregon runners: Sean, Rod and Jeff. At 5100 ft, this hill has some steep climbs that these guys pounded away on.

Trisha and my main running event was Sunday: 4-5 hours out on some serious trails!
Jeff was kind enough to set us up with an amazing map and text instructions that ensured that even our crew could not get lost :-) . In this picture you can see Gray Butte on the left and the start of Smith Rock on the right...we covered it all!

We all started together around 7:30 am at the Skull Hollow campground. Ronda, Micheal and Steve were heading out for longer (7-8 hrs) and faster (Ronda's report is here) so after about 45 minutes they were out of sight. This was right about the time the serious climbing started. They were amazing with marking the trail so as to make doubly sure we did not get lost.

The nasty double track up Gray Butte was tough and a slog in the mist and wind...but we made it.

The views at the summit of Gray Butte...were um, less than stunning with the mist and fog. So we schnarfed down our PB & J sandwiches in the lee of the radio tower buildings and headed down the south side access road.
This connected us up to Cole's trail...a nice single track named the same as our son :-)

We cruised along well until we started to hit the clay/ash mud that stuck to our shoes until it was about 3 inches thick. Weight training while running...interesting!

We wove our way down into Cougar Canyon, part of Sherwood Canyon, from the recent cow kill that occurred. Straight out of a Wild West movie. Once out of the cougar's liar we marched on up to Burma Ridge via a BLM road. More great trail arrows to keep us from getting lost and some great scenery even in the fog. The run continued as we wound our way down to the Crooked River and our first real view of the backside of Smith Rock, Monkey Face and Misery Ridge. Yep, we need to get up and over that beast to get to the car...ouch! (the picture at the top of the post).

Some power hiking mixed with running and soon we were at the 3900 ft summit of Smith Rock and starting to hit tourists. Sore quads did not like the descent to the bridge over the river and then back up to the car but all the pain was worth it when we hit stop on the old watch.

All told Trisha and I did about 20 miles with about 5000 ft of climbing...nice! Helps me on my way to the PCT 50 miler and Trisha for the SOB 50km.

On Monday morning I met up with Jeff B and Krissy M for a nice ~13 mile, 1600 ft climbing, cruiser run around Smith Rock. With this run I got to see the Monkey Face, the infamous Scar (phew glad I dodged running that!), hear lots of great central Oregon running stories, hang with more strong, experienced trail runners and learn not to get Jeff thinkin' about breakfast as you near the end of the run. That boy can giddy up when he starts smelling the omelets :-) Thanks for taking me out and sharing your trails.

The rest of Monday was spent hiking in the canyon around the campground, swimming in the pool, eating a great large breakfast at the Black Bear Diner in Madras, and checking out the Museum at Warm Springs and driving home to do the smelly running laundry.

We all agreed this is a trip we need to repeat to hit these trails again...and possibly see the great central Oregon views.

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