|Who wouldn't want to be following this trail on a morning in June?|
Slyfield is working his way through a fun project this year: paralleling the Norwegian Birkebeiner trifecta of a classic ski race in March, a trail run in June, and a mountain bike ride in August. It's a fitting match, given our club's Norwegian heritage and interest in year-round fitness, plus it's a fun challenge to keep moving outside of the ski season!
Alas, he ended up doing the classic ski race all alone, just him and the rain, but this weekend, for the trail run, he had Victor and me along to share in the adventure. And people, it was a perfect day for a jaunt in the woods, all cool and gray and damp, with just enough wetness in the trails to make the steep downhills grippy and not slippy, and just enough moisture in the air, including several bouts of rainy sprinkles, to keep the temperatures enjoyable.
The "race" was very free-form; Jim suggested that each of us decide on the course that would provide us our own personal best challenge. So I hiked two times the Berg/Viking/Ozbaldy/PK loop, Victor hiked it once, and Jim jogged the same loop plus the road on his first lap, then skipped the road and shortened the lap a little on the second lap in the interests of time. He had a prior engagement that afternoon, so he and Victor jetted out of there shortly after we all finished (thanks for waiting for me before you left, in case I was eaten by cougars out there by myself!).
|Jim in the distance, working his way up the hill.|
Flowers? It's still early, but there were some baby trillium and Tiny Purple Flowers and Tiny Yellow Flowers and lots of bear grass. Wildlife? Hundreds of birds singing their little hearts out, frogs, chipmunks, one large deer crashing through the underbrush, and, a couple of times, the sound of something largish and possibly carnivorous rustling in the bushes on the side of the trail. I sang my "I'm not afraid of cougars!" song at the top of my lungs and whatever was rustling decided I was something to stay far away from.
|Who needs an actual trail when you have a sweet meadow to wander through?|
For me, the route I chose was sufficiently challenging; I should have known this, I suppose, but guess what? Hiking steep rocky ski trails is A LOT harder than kicking and gliding on them over a lovely bed of snow! And as Victor pointed out, there are a lot of small but noticeable ups and downs in the trails that are smoothed out by snow in the winter. Hiking it is much slower, obvs, and several times I was actually slightly disoriented, as I arrived at intersections much later than I would have on skis and wasn't totally sure where I was. That was pretty interesting, and I was embarrassed that I had scoffed at the skiers who got lost on our trails this winter. Also, there is a maze of trails on the top of Ozbaldy that you might not know about if you're only up there in the winter when Nick has set a track. I had to stop for a minute on my first lap and think about the right way down. It was part of the adventure!
|Hello, Ozbaldy, my old friend!|
Jim and Victor had to leave shortly after I got back, but lucky for me, Pat and Paul had come up to the cabin ... with meatballs!! So after a delicious shower, I got to spend a lazy afternoon with them, eating my recovery lunch and chatting about all kinds of fun things. And talk about recovery lunch! Besides the meatballs, there was an absolutely divine borscht-type beet/carrot/onion/ELK! soup that Jim had made, plus incredible apple fritters from a bakery in North Bend, plus watermelon ... everything your tired muscles need after a good hard workout on the ski trails. Finally, Pat and Paul headed out for a hike and I headed home, happy as a tired puppy with the training I had stored in my legs and lungs and the forest's beauty I had stored in my eyes.
|Recovery lunch of champions!|
Many thanks, Jim, for such a fun day, and such delicious food, and especially for thinking up the idea and making it happen.