Monday, May 23, 2011

Spokane River Long Run

The Saturday night before I flew to Spokane WA (May 7th), Maggie, Felix and I enjoyed an impromptu dinner and party (I brought a pinata!) at our friends Brian and Renee's house.  Along with awesome food, fun and Pinatas, there was a lot of alchohol... thanks Brian!  After a 3.5hr nap Saturday night, I was up and on a shuttle at 5AM.  Once in Spokane, I decided to spend the day running on trails (go figure).
Matt Lowe pointed me to Riverside State Park for my long run, which is just outside of Spokane. The park runs along the Spokane river on both banks.   After a little back and forth guessing on a good starting point I found the ranger station.  Both rangers at the ranger station had no idea trail lengths and furthermore even wehre the unpaved trails were.  Luckily the trails were litterally just behind the ranger station not a half mile away and their lengths were impressively long (I never ran out of trail).  Maybe I just had bad luck, but later, while running, I'd ask two more people basic questions (where does this trail go, distance, etc...) about the trails, the trail they were actually on, to find they were fully clueless like the rangers.  It finally sunk in that I was no longer in Boulder.

Despite the discouraging start with regards to recon, the run turned out to be unbelievably awesome. 

Delicious spring single track along the Spokane river
Right away I was running on smooth singletrack that was covered by a bed of pine needles ontop of dark spongy dirt.  The trail would have been a barefoot runners dream come true.  The surounding wilderness I was running through was just as wonderful as the trail.  Spring was a few weeks ahead of Boulder along the Spokane river with small plants a few weeks out of the ground, trees with developed leafs, flowers and wildlife out and about. 
Shooting Star Flowers
I started running up-river but accidently looped back to my start, but the trail was so awesome that I didn't mind covering my tracks for a while.  On my initial loop I did a nice climb up to ledges where I could see Spokane, some lakes and beyond. 
Overlook.  Ended up running through the fields/forest in this valley
Initially, a few days before I left, I planned on running in Spokane for as long as possible, sort of as therapy for the loss of my summer of running in the mountains.  Unfortunatley an all out massive long run wasn't very realistic Sunday with a throughly stressfull week prior, bad sleep and only a nap the evening before I traveled.  In the rush to get the run going, I aslo forgot to get enough water for my new Gregory water backpack and had a little less than 20oz for the hand water bottle.  I did have plenty of 1st Endurance EFS though, which was a good thing.  Once running I decided I'd go for a goal distance of 20 miles.
Cool rock towers (columnar basalt?)

Deep Creek.  The trail actually went across and up this cool gorge
Along the Spokane river was some really unique rock formations.  The closest thing I have seen to this formation is in Hyalite canyon(MT) and driving through Idaho where there used to be some serious volcanic activity.  I know the formation in MT was Columnar Basalt and the rock looked much the same along the spokane river in a few places. 

Spring high water on the Spokane

Cool wooden bridge
      The foliage, rock and sweet single track wasn't the only attractions on this run, the river was flowing fast and high.  There was one rapid in particular that had a solid Class III+ wave train on one side and a stout IV- pour over on the other.  I had a lot of stops on this run looking at great scenery.

The mighty Spokane
I couldn't resist continuing on further up the trail.  Well past my 20 mile total run plan, I kept running enjoying diverse sights, forest and landscapes.   

The turnaround point on my last western long run this year!
I needed to really turn around.  I only had 5oz of EFS, eighteen ounces of H2O and my legs were starting to really scream.  Ironically I ran into this sign off the side of the tral right at my turn around... fitting for my last real long run in the west!

Perfect.  On the way home.
I was so happy to be out running this amazing trail.  Earlier on I realized I had acutlaly run on this trail (Trail "25") once before at my Best Man's wedding, Matt Lowe, years before.  The nostalgia was both cool and a little bit sad, as I wish the rest of the "Bros", 8-12 of them, were with me again on the trail... a lonely moment. 
I was really hitting the wall the last 10K with my stride constricting, my hamstrings threatining to cramp and some serious dehydration kicking in as well.  In the end I ran 27.4 miles with 2,600ft of climbing in 3:45.

An awesome day on the trails. 


  1. Can you comment on where you are (if not, I get that)? and when you get back?

  2. Hey GZ!

    I'm still in NJ for a little while for training then off to Tikrit Iraq until earlty December.

  3. I would like to take a bath in that river but I bet that it would be hard because of the river rapids. The solution to be relaxed with my pph free trial