March 2015 (Olympic NP, Balcones Canyonlands, and Bastrop SP)

March 2015 (Olympic NP, Balcones Canyonlands, and Bastrop SP)
Apryle & Zach on Pacific Coast

The month of March had a fleeting glimpse of freedoms and restrictions as well as successes and failures, but was ultimately overshadowed by an unrelenting feeling of fatigue. On February 28th, I completed the Nueces 50 mile race in a less than impressive 8:07. After having run almost two hours faster three moths earlier, my mind could not help but jump to the conclusion that JFK was simply a fluke. However, I had little time to concentrate any more energy on the thought of running or racing. I had several practical exams, written exams, presentations, and research papers to write for the classes encompassing my nineteen credit hours. I took Sunday off from running, did a 3.4 mile shake out run with Steve on Monday and was forced to take the next two days off of running due to the pressures of finishing assignments before I hopped on a plane bound for Seattle on March fourth.

Upon reaching the airport I found that my flight was delayed, meaning I would miss my connector flight in Denver. This was devastating news, because that meant that my short reunion with Apryle could be cut as short as two days. I arrived in Denver as the plane was pulling away from the terminal, why Frontier did not wait the additional 30 seconds to allow five passengers to board I am unsure. At any rate they rolled out the red carpet for us, providing food vouchers and posting us up in a hotel in downtown Denver. I could not sleep because of my concern for making the early flight on standby in addition to my excitement to see Apryle the next day. So I decided to hit the gym at 2 a.m., I ran on a treadmill that actually had a video of hiking trails on a small screen conveniently positioned in my visual field. This actually decreased my distain for treadmills because in my state of insomnia, I actually believed I was running on a forested trail in New Zealand (well played “LifeFitness” for making me actually enjoy an experience on a treadmill; P.S. If you need a spokesman, I am available).

I got lucky and caught the early flight on standby and made it in to Seattle by 9:30 a.m. PST. So began Apryle and I’s short lived but memorable journey around the Olympic Peninsula. Our first hike/run was on the Lake Angeles Trail in Olympic National Park, where we turned back at some arbitrary point due to impending darkness. It was a pleasant little hike, but I could certainly feel the soreness in my distal quadriceps on the downhill jog portions. We then made the winding drive up to Hurricane Ridge, and enjoyed some spectacular views, however, I could not help but think of it as the poor mans Trail Ridge Road (Forever loyal to RMNP). We enjoyed some of the nightlife Port Angeles had to offer, and by night life I mean we slept in a parking lot.

Concrib Creek Cascade at Balcones Canyonlands

We awoke early and enjoyed some five-star dining, consisting of cereal and almond milk at the local Safeway. Then we made our way to the Pacific coast and the Cape Alava Loop near Ozette. The trail was half boardwalk half gravel and was shaded by beautiful Western Hemlock and Sitka Spruce draped with epiphytes and the ground was blanketed with green and Yellow Skunk Cabbage. We reached the Pacific and peered off to the distant tree covered islands and jetting rock formations and observed a Bald Eagle perched on prominent outcropping. It was such a picturesque and idealist setting that we would have been remised to not lounge on the beach for the rest of the day. Once the tidewaters receded, we wondered out into rock strewn tide pool and observed anemone, crustaceans, mollusks, and porifera in action.

We then hiked the beach to Sand Point and took an unintended side trip to Lake Ozette. It was an awesome hike through very thick rainforest, however, when we made it back to the beach the sun was nearly beneath the horizon. On the plus side, we witnessed a spectacular sky painted with red, orange, yellow, purple and blue. But on the negative side of things, we were forced to pick our way through the dense rainforest in the pitch black without a headlamp. It was a brilliant display of teamwork and we made it back to the car after about an hour of stumbling along the trail. We slept out on a little cliff facing the Pacific and in the morning made the trek to the Hoh Rainforest. We decided to take it easy and do some short loops around the rainforest. After Apryle once again showed off her ability to cook gourmet meals with a gas stove on a picnic table, we departed for Kalaloch to visit some of her friends from Estes Park.

On March eighth, we had to make the depressing trip to the airport, but not before stopping to circle around the worlds largest Sitka Spruce at 59 feet in circumference. I boarded, landed in Phoenix, boarded again then landed in Austin at 2 a.m., a special thanks to Eddie Stevenson for picking me up at such an hour! Then I awoke at 6 a.m. to get in some last minute studying for the neuromuscular practical exam I would ironically be taking with Eddie at 10 a.m. After acing the exam, I headed back to the airport to pick up Apryle who was able to score ten days off to come and visit me down in Texas! I don’t need to be reminded of the ridiculousness of this odd flight scheduling, really all that matters is that Apryle and I had some extra time for a few more adventures.

The days that Apryle was in Texas were busy, I still had research papers, written exams and practical exams, but we made the best of it and still had time for running, hiking, swing dancing and exploring new places. On March fourteenth we made the last minute call to travel up to Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. This was a beautiful place with some rocky, undulating, typical-to-Texas hill country trails. My only criticism is that the location is so scenic that it could use more than just 7.5 miles of trails. The hiking was concluded with a plunge under the waterfall in Corncrib Creek.

After Apryle headed back up to Seattle, I buried myself in studying and school work, which paid off because I finally passed my Musculoskeletal III practical and have been keeping a pretty solid streak off grades in the A range. In the latter days of March I also started bumping up my mileage and knocking down my pace. There are no races slated yet, but I would like to be prepared to run a race in late April when I visit Apryle during my two-week break. The month ended on a high-note when Victor Carrasco, Rufus Palomero and myself made the voyage down to Bastrop State Park. It was quite interesting to hike the fire scared landscape. To my knowledge the 2011 Bastrop fire was the most devastating fires in modern Texas history. At any rate, it was exciting to see several saplings filling out the fire scorched treeless earth. It was also rewarding to see where all the tree conetainers that I helped package up at Lady Bird Wildflower Center were headed.

March was fast-paced, exciting, relaxing, and stressful at various points, and looking back I realize how fortunate I am to have supportive parents, an amazing fiancé, and great friends to help me through my struggles and appreciate the good times with. I am looking forward to what the month of April has to offer!

Most importantly keep your ears to the street.

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