Sunday, December 10, 2006

Eagle Creek Trail Run

I capped off a week of lower mileage with an epic trail run. Steven and I headed to the Eagle Creek Trail in the Columbia Gorge at 7am for a run. The weather wasn't favorable for a run (pouring rain) but not much you can do about that in these parts. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a bit concerned about the exposed nature of certain parts of this trail. The trail is cut right into the side of a cliff in certain parts without any railing.

Hmmm...rain = mud = slick footing.

I was deferring to Steven though since he has done this run multiple times and if he said it was a was a go. We started out and no surprise that there weren't any other cars in the lot with the nasty weather. We were expecting rain but we were both caught off guard by the amount of snow / ice on the trail. It definitely slowed our pace as it was hard to get any solid footing on the hilly 6.5 mile run to the turnaround point. Since the out was mostly uphill, it didn't help matters either. We even encountered several stream crossings and after mis-timing a hop and stepping up to my shin in one, it canceled out the benefits of my goretex running shoes! It woke me up though....pretty darn chilly.

Can you take a guess at which one of us is the Oregon native? Yeah, that would be Steven rocking the shorts in some pretty cold temps. I wasn't having any part of that and busted out the tights! We both ended up ok although we did curse our gloves- cold, wet hands are no fun. The snow slush on the bridge is pretty typical of what we encountered throughout the run. In some places it was a lot deeper and slowed our "run" to a crawl but we weren't taking any chances on the exposed trail.

They grow them a bit tougher up here in Oregon

Brrrrrrrrrrrrr.........this Cali boy was cold!

We passed by several beautiful falls on the way out to the big one: Tunnel Falls. The run was beautiful the whole way out as we climbed up and down the valley. It was really hard at times to enjoy the scenery when you were faced with some snowy conditions and exposed trail with over a 100+ foot drop to the floor below.

As I mentioned, the conditions slowed us down quite a bit and we didn't hit Tunnel Falls until about 1:15'sh into the run (6.5 miles). I could hear it much sooner then I could see it. It was amazing to come around a corner and get hit by this HUGE mass of water thundering over this cliff. The trailhead is cut right into the side of the cliff about 1/2 way up the side of the wall and has a very cool tunnel that is bored right through the rock behind the waterfall. Pretty sketchy when you took a glance over the drop but there was a steel cable attached to the side of the cliff to hang on to as you made your way around this section.

Steven heading toward Tunnel Falls. This pic gives you an idea of how narrow the trail is- you don't want to lose concentration in this section, trust me.

A shot of me right after exiting the tunnel on the other side of the falls. It was pretty amazing standing there while the falls were thundering down the cliff. A ton of energy there and so beautiful.

Another pic giving a bit more scale- you can barely make out the steel cable handrail. I have a deathgrip on it!

This shot was obviously taken on another day but it provides a complete pic of the falls with the tunnel clearly visible about 1/2 way down. Check out the drop to the bottom- YIKES!!

Just a bit beyond Tunnel Falls we hit the turnaround at Twister Falls. Aptly named as several sections of the creek converged from different sections to twist itself into the final section as it finally dropped into the valley below.

Steven mesmerized by the beauty at Twister. Actually, he's probably wondering how to warm up his freezing hands at this point.

We then turned around and headed back down the valley for the 6.5 mile trek back to the truck. At that point we were chilled to the bone so Steven's truck was a very welcome sight after spending 2.5 hours and 13 miles running. BIG THANKS to Steven for including me in his annual Eagle Creek Run- definitely pencil me in for next year!

Hope the holiday season is going well for everyone.

No stress

Sometimes all it takes is the simple act of lacing up a pair of your favorite running shoes and getting out there. Breathe deep and enjoy Mother Nature's many beautiful and amazing gifts to get you in the right mindset! Isn't it great that some of the best gifts out there are free?



Blogger robtherunner said...

Wow great pics Mike. That looks like an awesome run and chilly indeed. I would have had the tights on as well. Steven is probably a bit tougher than us both.

9:13 PM  
Blogger BuckeyeRunner said...

Those are some awesome pics. Beautiful. I have a theory that those workouts in really crappy weather are the one that make you stronger....and I use it to convince/guilt me to get out there.

5:09 AM  
Blogger BuckeyeRunner said...

That was from Mr. Buckeye..that from reading my post

5:10 AM  
Blogger Cliff said...


Steve is nuts....

Those were great pics.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa! That trail look tretchorous. Terrific pics as well. You guys are bad ass!

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what a magnificant place to run! I agree with you - it looked like tights weather to me.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an awesome trail! But yes, it gets very treterous on rainy days, wow, you still ran it - it is kind of "naked" and narrow to the drop on your side. Gorgeous though, great pictures! Why did you go to the falls again? To feel more cold? :) Miss the Gorge...

12:35 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

Oh man, I'm so jealous. Very beautiful- that's gotta be therapy for the ol' soul.

Just wanted to don my chapeau to you RE: your previous post. Recognize a need, then have the courage and fortitude to act. Good stuff, Mike.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Comm's said...

man o man I have instant trail running envy. I used to be the biggest trail runner in the winter. So much to see and feel. Never will get that in Phoenix.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice work, Mike. Makes me feel a little guilty for sleeping in this morning, as I woke up to a torretntial downpour in SF and decided to forgo my run to the bridge. There's always tomorrow!

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

omg - what a beautiful place to run and enjoy the world. great pics!

9:42 AM  
Blogger JeffM said...

I've done that trail in the summer as a hike- it's crowded then. Beautiful trail.
Good work with the food bank.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the run and pics, Mike. It was awesome as usual. I'm already looking forward to next year.

And in 2007 you run it in SHORTS, my friend. Snow or no snow!

1:01 PM  
Blogger bbieberitz said...

All I can say is WOW on those pics. Any you even ran there too...

8:05 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Beautiful pics. I don't think I would have braved the ice (or the cold). Especially not in shorts.

I love how all you have to do is put on your shoes and go out the door to live life at the fullest. That's definitely an underrated gift.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

Looks like an awesome run, is once a year really enough? I think its funny that you got Eagle Creek while I was out doing Otter Creek. Eagle just sounds a little more impressive, more majestic.

11:29 AM  
Blogger jgirl said...

You are rockin' Mike! Thanks for sharing a bit of the North Country for those of us who cannot get there for now! LOVE the falls! ~j

3:38 PM  

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