Monday, August 27, 2012

RAAoT Final Wrap-up - Part 2

Day 9 - 44 miles of road, 0 miles of trail
I wrote following day 8 that "in a matter of mere moments it seems our group transitioned from the wet dark forest to the dry open high desert - from hand warmers to sunblock - from sea to shining sea (ok - that last part will take 80 days)". The evidence proves I spoke too quickly as once again on day 9 the rain chilled us to the bone when it hit Jen and I at mile 11. We couldn't get to the Roadrunner fast enough to start warming up and donning additional clothes and using more hand warmers. 
Day 9 was highlighted by the crossing of the Columbia River on the I-90 Vantage Bridge. I swiveled my head left and right as much as I dared to in order to take in the scenery at the slow pace we were running - knowing full well I wouldn't have the chance to run across the bridge again in the future. Sometimes I think back that maybe we ran across the bridge too quickly since Jen was having right quad issues, but it is what it is. After the rain and overcast were replaced in the late afternoon by sun, Karen came out and walked with Jen and I while talking to AT&T. Jen was having issues using her "go" phone to connect with folks back home with text messages. We walked several miles with Jen on one phone and Karen on the "go" phone trying to work out the phone issue with AT&T. It took several calls and more than an hour - maybe even two hours - to correct the issue. Finally, one last cold rain shower had to hit as we were walking the last mile of the day. Nobody said the Run would be easy as day 9 turned out to be the longest day for Jen and I in terms of time spent on the route - 14 hours and 29 minutes. Day 9 was also the longest day of the route (44.74 miles) until day 37.

Day 10 - 13 miles of road, 28 miles of trail
Well, the portion of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail (JWPT) east of the Columbia River isn't well developed. There are not many users of this section of trail due to the numerous railroad rocks and the trail gates that one must go through or over to remain on the trail. Additionally, all users must request permission from the Washington State Park to use the trail. If I ran or cycled across the country in the future I wouldn't choose to utilize the JWPT east of the Columbia River. 

Day 11 - 5 miles of gravel road, 33 miles of trail
Great thanks to Jake and Joan Harder who allowed Jennifer, Justin, and I to cross their property on day 11! The day was a super one, but one could say more of the same - same rain, same hand warmers, and same rocky trail. At mile 28 we crossed a bridge that was under repair. No complaints by me that no one was around to question our safe crossing since it was a Saturday. At mile 32 we passed a pair of dead animals. Jen noted the animals were most likely killed by a person since the pair were basically laying side-by-side - definitely not a natural occurrence. I couldn't tell you what animals we saw lying there on the trail because I am simply not very good at animal identification - something Jen poked me about a number of times on the Run. At mile 36, we crossed a bridge/trestle that was not removed/demolished like other trestles on the rail line were after the state of Washington took control of the abandoned rail line. I believe the bridge was allowed to remain in place due to this portion of trail also acting as a road for a local rancher or two, but that is only an assumption.

Day 12 - 20 miles of road, 14 miles of trail
Day 12 was shorter than originally planned since I decided to remove portions of the JWPT in this area from the route due to too many rocks and missing trestles. It was tough once again to remove trail from the route, but it was the correct decision to make. We said goodbye to Marty and Corky before starting out this morning - sad to see the super duo depart, but good to have Justin's brother Adam on board to take over driving the Scooby Van (note: I believe I called the Scooby Van a Dodge in my last post, but I now confidently believe the van to be a Chevy Astro van due to my sighting of a Chevy Astro today). As reported in the blogs, the wheat fields were fantastic, the weather was great (only the second day with no rain), and all three of us ran fairly well - although the rocky trail slowed us. My memory has faded, but did we see a cougar on the trail behind us at mile 28???
Additionally, what happened to the sign? The end point on day 12 was to be "Cross Fairbanks-Seabury Rd and stop at the red and white "Old Milwaukee Road" sign." This end point seemed pretty clear to me as virtually every time the trail crossed the road there was a red and white sign which stated "Trail Closed to Motorized Traffic", and "No Hunting", etc. What I hadn't noted was that some of these signs said "John Wayne Pioneer Trail" and some said "Old Milwaukee Road". The facts are the facts, the "finish" sign was right there - right after crossing the road the red and white sign was posted on the right side of the trail. Nevertheless, Heidi reports to me when Jen and I reach the Roadrunner at mile 28 that Justin couldn't find the end point sign so he stopped in the middle of the road (I note this is a rural road, so there was no problem with Justin stopping in the middle of it.) So all I can think of the last six miles of the day is is the sign gone, was it never there in the first place, did someone remove it in the last three weeks? We finish and there is the red and white sign just where I had seen it three weeks prior - but it says John Wayne Pioneer Trail vice Old Milwaukee Road. Ahhh - can't win for losing I guess as Jen didn't think the red and white sign was the finish point either since it didn't say Old Milwaukee Road. The other incident to report from day 12 is that Adam wasn't at the 23 mile crewing location/turn point for Justin when Justin reached the 23 mile turn point back onto the JWPT from the road. To rectify the situation, Justin didn't turn onto the trail rather he continued on road into the small town of Rosalia, found Adam, received aid, and then returned to the Run route. I believe this added two miles to Justin's day - just another "stuff happens".

Day 13 - 20 miles of road, 18 miles of trail
We ran some great trail to complete the RAAoT!!! The Trail of the Coeur d' Alenes was probably the best - although the George S. Mickelson Trail in South Dakota is just as super! However, due to the Montana fires we were only able to run 5 miles of the Mickelson Trail vice 90 miles - bummer. I note that the GAP/C&O Canal trail is a close second to the Coeur d' Alenes and Mickelson Trails. The first two miles of the route on day 12 was our last two miles on the JWPT. This included a nice trestle crossing - which I note had no handrails(?!) Justin - and later Jen and I - had our pictures taken at an Idaho State Line sign, but I note that the sign was actually for a different road than the road we actually ran when we entered Idaho. Improvisation. The last 16 miles of the day were on The Trail of the Coeur d' Alenes and it was fantastic!!! This was followed by one of our best hotels for the trip - the Lakeview Lodge in Harrison, ID. On a sad note we said goodbye to outstanding Karen earlier that morning as it was her time to head back to Illinois.

Day 14 - 0 miles on road, 43 miles on trail
Looking back on it, day 14 was probably the best day of the Run - at least for me. Super trail, great weather, fantastic scenery, and the three of us ran well. Day 14 is only one of the five or six days of the Run I averaged a pace faster than 12 minutes a mile. After we finished, we headed to the Stardust Motel in Wallace which I note was a very nice place. We had a good pizza/calzone dinner and discussed our plans for maintaining two crews. I called my Aunt Margaret and was very happy to hear that she was good for flying into Helena to take over crewing duties from Adam in just six short days.

Day 15 - 17 miles of road, 25 miles of trail
Not much I can add to what the blogs states, but miles 29-34 on this on-and-off rainy day were run on a dirt I-90 frontage road. I don't think a single car drove by us these five miles during which we did get a little colder than desired during a short spell of hard rain - and we had to dodge numerous puddles on the road. During the pre-Run when I had biked these 5 miles four weeks earlier, I didn't properly fasten my GPS watch to my bike bag. I was 2-3 miles down the road when I passed a car (the only car I saw that day on that dirt road) and noted that my watch was not where it was supposed to be. I turned around and headed back up the road hoping I would find the $300 watch, and also wondering if the car I had just passed would find it before me. Lots of potholes on the road - which probably was an old rail line by the way - kept the car moving slowly. I had backtracked about a mile when I noted the car appeared to have slowed down somewhat before speeding up again. HMMM, could they have seen my orange watch against the background of the dirt? I don't know, but my watch was indeed in the roadway near there. It was nice to recover it.

Day 16 - 38 miles of road, 2 miles of trail
A great day as Jen took my picture at the ABBA Ln sign in St. Regis! If only I had gone to see ABBA in person as a teenager when I had the chance. Additionally, we ran two miles on the dirt Old Mullan Rd from miles 11-13. These two miles of jeep road might have been part of the original alignment of the Mullan Rd. According to Wikipedia, "Mullan Road was the first wagon road to cross the Rocky Mountains to the Inland of the Pacific Northwest. It was built by US Army Lieut. John Mullan between the spring of 1859 and summer 1860." The super scenery continued!!!

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