Staircase to First Divide – 33 miles

since i was already in the olympic national park i had to stay an extra day and run another big one. that is the luxury of the vw eurovan, i can sleep anywhere with very little effort. the drive from graves creek to staircase sucked however. i was stressed. the van had lost it’s muffler the day before, and it just wasn’t driving right, no acceleration.. less than normal.

as i mentioned in my previous post i had planned a 65 mile loop. since we ran the biggest section of it the day before (see previous blog post) i was out to run the other big section – staircase to first divide, and possibly to duckabush and back, for anywhere from 29-38 miles.

i allowed myself 8hrs of sleep after the stress of the nigh before (not to mention the 37 mile run). i woke up, had a red bull (forgot to bring the french press), some oatmeal, a banana and hit the trail. starting at staircase campground i ran up the north fork skokomish river trail. this was great beautiful trail along the river and a gradual climb to the nine stream camp ground (very cool place to camp). from there it climbed up to first pass. when i arrived i met my 3rd park ranger of the day. i had one of those conversations that happen to ultra runners all the time. “you are doing what?”. he had never heard of anyone making it to first divide in 3hrs apparently. i wasn’t moving that fast truth be told. my heart rate never exceeded my anaerobic threshold all day.

after first divide i dropped down to the home sweet home campground and then started the decent before the climb to duckabush. it was obvious that if i attempted duckabush i would be another 4-5,000 feet of climbing and a lot more time. that combined with the fact that there were “37 downed trees on the trail up duckabush” made me turn around after just a short decent.

map of both routes (this one is the eastern most marked in red)
the entire olympic national park map

on the return trip i stopped to refill my water bottle. the great thing about running with nathan quickdraw handheld bottles on an adventure run is how easy they are to fill and treat with iodine. i then used my lemon lime nuun as the nutralizer and was good for the rest of the run – a match made in heaven. i felt really good on the return trip.. it’s always a lot easier to run downhill of course. i was in my zone running up a small knoll incline when i saw the head of a black bear on the other side of this knoll! she was standing right in the middle of my trail back! the bear saw me at the same time. i stopped in my tracks and started to sing.. “black bear, black bear go away”. since i couldn’t see where the bear was i wasn’t sure if it had moved at all. i walked slowly up the little knoll. as i arrived at the top i saw the bear was another 30 feet down the trail standing on it’s hind legs looking at me, a cub right next to her. i sang my song and hoped the bear would move. they watched me, then moved up slope, off trail, but then stopped, still very close to the trail. after a minute of my song they both got bored and moved on deeper in to the woods – i’m not a very good singer. i ran past that section at lightning speed! i had to check the watch and it read 4:12/min miles! man.

i arrived at the car and had to just over 3 more miles to get 70 for the two days so i headed down a spur trail along the river. then i soaked the legs in the north fork of the skokomish river for a few minutes and headed back to seattle. amazing weekend, amazing park.. and i’m now ready to put that loop together for one big run. actually i’m torn. run the big 65 mile loop or run a different trail in the park? hmm..