A dance with joy: Trail running on the Spruce Railroad Trail

Today was Day 5 of our New Year’s activity streak — a Saturday morning with no rain in the immediate forecast! CFL and I decided we’d do the Spruce Railroad Trail, which winds along the north side of Lake Crescent. We’ve hiked this trail a couple of times; I wrote about my first time on this trail here.

Our plan for today was that I would run and CFL would ride his bike. This is the only trail in Olympic National Park (possibly in any national park) on which bicycles are allowed. Unfortunately CFL discovered that he’d left his bike helmet at his friend’s house after their ride the other day — so he decided to hike the trail while I ran.

We agreed that we’d each go out for about 45 minutes and then turn around, which would theoretically result in our arriving back at the car at the same time.

The trail starts with a moderate downhill down to lake level, and then hugs the lake shore with slight ups, downs, and detours around old landslides. The surface today was varied: muddy, rocky, rooty, leafy, and all combinations thereof. Once I found my rhythm and got comfortable with the terrain, it was an utter dance with joy. I can hardly remember when I’ve had so much fun!

People sometimes ask why anyone would be in a hurry on a trail as beautiful as this. Why not slow down and enjoy the view? Let me tell you, I didn’t miss a thing! My eyes and mind took in every detail, every rock and root, every ridiculously green tree, shrub, and patch of moss in my surroundings. When I startled a duck and it flew just offshore beside me, quacking and whooshing its wings, I was right there flying along with it. I was in a flow state; I was in running nirvana.

I did have to slow down in a few places and pick my way through the really rocky parts. Can YOU find the trail in this photo?

It’s not as scary as it looks in this photo, but it does make me very, very aware of my surroundings! And very appreciative of the balance and strength that I’ve developed, enabling me to navigate this type of terrain “at speed.”

I was 3.21 miles out when I turned around. On my way back I caught this interesting view, which hadn’t been visible from the trail in the other direction:

They don’t call this the Spruce Railroad Trail for nothing! The reason this trail is so flat is that it generally follows an old railroad bed. The “Spruce Railroad” was a logging train and yes, they did take some gigantic old-growth spruce, cedar, and Douglas fir out of this area in the old, pre-National Park days. This is a partially collapsed tunnel. The current trail takes a detour around the tunnel. In this photo you can see the trail, curving around to the right of the tunnel.

I passed CFL on the way back (he confessed to turning around a bit late), which gave me time to stretch and devour a Clif Bar before he arrived. I ended up running 6.43 miles while he clocked 4.11 on his hike. We both had a really awesome time on the trail.

One thing that was especially fun for me was meeting hikers on the trail. I wasn’t sure how well hikers would take to someone running by — creating this high-energy disturbance in the middle of their wilderness experience. To my great relief, every single person I saw today greeted me with friendliness and… a look of respect… which totally blew my mind. That was ME out there dancing on the trail, bounding from step to step, feeling the lightness in every cell of my body. I can’t adequately describe how the experience felt to me — it was simply pure joy in motion.

Many hours later, I’m still high.

I can’t wait to find out what I’m going to do tomorrow. One step at a time!

One response to “A dance with joy: Trail running on the Spruce Railroad Trail

  1. Reblogged this on Slow Happy Runner and commented:

    I’m totally in love with trail running….Who’d have thought?

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