Amazing sights along the trail

Today I ran the last 7.5 miles I needed to comfortably meet my running goal of 600 miles for 2012. For the last run of the year, I chose to revisit my most-traveled section of the Olympic Discovery Trail — the part that runs along the waterfront toward downtown. This section has been fully or partially closed since mid-November for a cleanup and wastewater treatment project at a closed mill site. The part of the trail that directly skirts the mill has never been particularly attractive (they keep telling us it will be better once the cleanup project is finally done). But I was amazed at what it looked like today!

In case you’ve gotten the impression that I run in pristine wilderness all the time, let me assure you — not here, not now!┬áThe trail, which used to run in a broad horseshoe around the perimeter of the mill site, now cuts directly through the middle of the parking lot — it’s 4/10s of a mile shorter! Weaving through the heavy equipment inside a narrow chute, I couldn’t help but recall the times I’ve been paced by deer through this area. I don’t think the deer would find it to their liking right now! I can only hope that when the project is completed next spring sometime, it will again be a beautiful place where I’ll run again with deer.

Back out along the waterfront, however, it looked and felt more like the waterfront trail that I love. I heard eagles but couldn’t spot them today. Various species of grebes and other water birds were there in abundance — as were “flocks” of birders with their spotting scopes. I think the local Audubon Society may have been on a field trip to enjoy this section of the trail, which has been newly recognized as one of the prime birding areas in the state.

Yet even with all of this excitement, there was something even more amazing along the waterfront trail today: seaweed! The high tides of the past several days brought a colorful array of pink seaweed to both sides of the trail. Bear in mind that the trail is normally 6-10 feet above the water line. I saw scattered seaweed halfway up the bank on the inland side of the trail — a good 20 feet up and in from the normal waterfront. It must have been a crazy sight when those waves were crashing so high up over the trail.

In other areas the power of the tides to shape the land was even more evident. Here there must have been a tidal river heaving gravel across the trail (I suspect some of this debris has been swept to and piled at this spot by our intrepid trail maintenance crew).

In this photo you can see the grass all lying over on its side, flattened by the force of the waves.

Sights like these make it very clear that this piece of land is on loan to us from nature, and that the sea will take it back eventually. I greatly respect the power of water and I know I’m only a visitor here. Still, I’m very glad that I get to enjoy this place while I can!

I hope you had a chance to get outside and enjoy some of your favorite places on this last weekend of 2012. Happy New Year!

2 responses to “Amazing sights along the trail

  1. Does it feel like you are running down a cattle chute for the first part of the run?

    • Yvonne, this section was actually near my turnaround point (hence about halfway through my run) but yes, it did have that cattle chute feel. Or like the finish line chute at a race, but without the smiling volunteers handing me a medal and a cool drink!

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