This was not your average, epic, climb-a-mountain destination run. In fact, it was the opposite. I enjoyed driving out to the hills with no intention of strangling my quads. This time of year is perfect for restful runs and excuses of all kind. Whenever I set out to explore a new trail the ultimate goal is just to enjoy a new surrounding and enjoy a (hopefully) empty trail.
I had not heard of Grand Ridge until I saw it on the race list for Evergreen Trail Runs. Through out high school I ran the trails of Tiger Mountain, adjacent to Grand Ridge, but never gave a thought to veering off my habit of running the same trails.
On this particular day I really could not have cared less where I was running, I just wanted to get out of the city and find some peace in the hills. So I set out by myself and drove into the Issaquah Highlands for a little forest jog. This trail is only 7 miles in total distance (one way) and has a measly ~1100 ft total of elevation gain. It was perfect for a solo venture not far from Seattle. I parked my car in Central Park, which was a little deceiving at first because the "trail" is a concrete path skirting a line of cookie-cutter houses. Less than half a mile down there is a pond that marks the entry to the actual trail. If I hadn't known there was a trail race here I would have turned around thinking some wannabe trail runner called the beginnings of the path a trail.
The Washington Trails Association built a bridge in 2011. When I was reading about this trail online I feel like ALL I could find was the "WTA Bridge." I realized the two were associated so I became intrigued. The WTA website writes that it is "the highlight" of the trail. It's marked loud and clear on the trail map too so I highly anticipated the bridge on the run. Honestly, it was just a bridge... in the forest. There are lots of them on maintained trails in Washington. Yay for one more!
I'll be keeping this trail in mind when I head out for a run on Tiger Mountain and need to add on some extra "fluff" miles.
Grand Ridge: Exit 18 from I-90. Park at "Central Park"
Distance: 14 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1100 ft
Wishing you all the best from my home to yours! Don't forget to take advantage of the trails during your time off for the holidays :).
The North Face 50 always marks the end of the Mountain-Ultra-Trail season. Even if you didn't race TNF you can feel the vibe wind down everywhere in the trail community. Most runners embrace cross training for the winter and give their bodies a healthy break. For us, it was perfect timing to visit our friends in Arizona.
There's no hiding my pride in the Pacific Northwest but it was nice to sneak away during the darker months and embrace the desert momentarily. Justin and I previously worked for US Fish & Wildlife counting desert tortoise density in the Mojave which gave us a special appreciation for the desert. The remoteness, the vast openness, and the unexpected quietness were a few consuming characteristics of the desert. We were training for the Eugene marathon at the time and my fondest memories involved coming back to town from a work week of endless time on our feet and slaking my thirst with 32 oz of horchata from Mariana's Market.
We didn't have horchata during our weekend in Arizona, but we did have wieners at Brat Haus which filled the void. We explored all the best parts of Scottsdale by intertwining our two favorite things: Food and trail running. There's a possibility we may be moving to Arizona (woops, let the cat out of the bag! I had a grad school interview...) so Justin and I knew we had to be confident in a potential residence. Fresh loaves of bread and a bounty of local vegetables at the farmer's market tied the knot for me. Keep in mind that my mentality of moving to Arizona is temporary; my Northwest roots rule my emotions.
The surprising thing about the greater Phoenix area is that it is surrounded by trails in every direction. There is green space in every neighborhood, and I'm not talking about a small playground, there are miles of trails! Big Bonus: They go up! It is no wonder Aravaipa Running has group runs based out of Phoenix. If Justin and I were to make the move I know there would be no problem getting substantial training in for trail races. Weekends would undoubtedly be spent in Flagstaff and Sedona. It would also be nice to be close to friends we don't see enough. Until we make a decision I will be savoring every deep breath I take under the Evergreen trees in Seattle.
I am an outdoor and travel junkie who is currently completing my doctorate in occupational therapy overseas in rural Fiji. On Sweet World Travels you will find stories of my life with my husband, the communities we serve, and the many adventures we take.