I woke up this morning even earlier than I had planned (like before the alarm went off early) with a big smile on my face – a great feat considering it’s Monday. I am feeling sore pretty much everywhere, but yet still managed to bounce out of bed; I think partially because I was starving, partially because I slept so hard the night before, and partially because my body is just so damn pleased with me. It’s basically saying, hey thanks for working me so hard. I feel accomplished. Challenged. And amazing. Let’s get up and rock this day…and eat all the things.
As I sit here and reflect on my amazing weekend, I realize that adventure is truly food for my soul. Challenging my body, my strength, and even my fears is what makes me tick, what makes me whole. It’s the very thing that makes me feel like the strong, capable woman that I am and reminds me of how important it is to live inspired and cements my dedication and commitment to empowering and inspiring other women to reach for the stars.
On Saturday, Mt. Hood chewed me up and spit me back out. My attempt to run the 40 mile Timberline Trail with my good friend, badass lady ultra runner, and adventure partner, CJ, didn’t go quite as planned.
We woke up at 4:30 am and sleepily readied ourselves with hydration packs stuffed to the brim with peanut butter and jelly sandos, lemon cookies, cold weather gear, headlamps and rain jackets before meeting up with our friends, Vanessa and Andrew (around 5:30 am) to caravan to the Timberline Lodge where we would start our epic adventure. Vanessa and Andrew were planning to run the first 16 miles and hitch a ride back with our crew (Casey, Travis and the dogs) while CJ and I planned to run the full 40 miles – meeting Travis and Casey at 16 and 27, respectively for food, gear, and water reinforcements.
Because of construction, it took us nearly two hours to get to the lodge or so I was told (I slept most of the way there). We made our way to the trailhead around 7:45 am. It was cold and the skies were gray and dark but excitement was high. We took some quick photos, did a quick map check and then said goodbye to Casey, Travis and the dogs.
The first few miles felt good; we were keeping a good pace and our bodies were starting to get warm despite the chilly morning temps and the light rain.
Despite the rain, we shed our rain jackets and gloves as we started to climb (somewhere around ZigZag Overlook) and collectively agreed that we felt warm and good…and that the rain felt…..refreshing.
We didn’t even seem to mind that it had started a full three hours earlier than it was forecasted, maybe secretly hoping that the entire forecast would be wrong and maybe it would end sooner.
While up on the ridge, the views were spectacular. And the vertigo was real, real. We joked that we better not get too close to the edge just for the sake of photos…
Around mile 3.5 we had our first river crossing – the ZigZag River Crossing – but it was no big deal. We crossed over easily and managed to avoid any wet feet or worse yet, swimming runners. We waited until all four runners had crossed, took a mini cookie break and then kept on running. Around 4 miles or so in we had yet another, no big deal water crossing (it was a small stream at best) and we were feeling good and confident with the time we were making and how manageable and runnable the trail had been thus far. That said, the rain had started to pick up a bit and once again, we were back in jackets, doing our best to keep our under layers as dry as possible.
Around mile 5, we came to a stream and saw a couple of hikers filling up water. We made our way around and about a mile later were on a very steep, very overgrown descent – we were whacking our way through thick plants and bushes, doing our best to stay on the trail…and questioning whether we were in fact even on a trail. Thankfully, the trail started to look like trail again and even offered up some beautiful, albeit rainy/foggy views.
Another 3 or so miles brought us to our first real river crossing – the Sandy River (around mile 9) – there was a pile of slightly suspect logs that we successfully used to make our way over.
We were feeling good and confident about the river crossings at this point and felt like we had little to worry about other than attempting to stay warm and dry. The rain really started to pick up at this point but nobody seemed to mind as our next stop was Ramona Falls (around mile 10) – where we stopped to take in the scenery and fuel up.
The next few miles were on buttery, beautiful trails. We cruised through the next three miles, smiling, laughing, chattering away until we came into a slight descent into the Muddy Fork. We ran into some hikers coming the opposite direction who alerted us that they had tried to mark where they had just crossed over and gave us some loose directions. Once on the bank, we walked up and down over slippery rocks and loose dirt to try and find a safe place to cross. We saw several markers but each time we attempted to cross, it seemed unsafe. At one point, I stood out in the middle of an attempted cross and contemplated leaping. Thankfully, I realized what a stupid idea that was and retreated back to the group to walk further up the rocky bank.
We eventually found what seemed to us, the safest place to cross. We had to get down on our butts and slide our feet over to a second slippery rock and then use branches and support from one another to steady ourselves and find footing on the other side. Andrew was the last to cross and because he is quite a bit taller and heavier than us three ladies, we all hunkered down together like an anchor to pull him safely across.
And then we all sort of celebrated our river crossing victory. Only, celebration was a bit too early. We then realized we would have to make our way back to the trail but were surrounded by a steep, rocky bank. We walked back towards where the trail had descended into the Muddy Fork only to find that there was a big boulder dipping into the middle of the river and preventing us from getting around. We were looking at a steep, vertical bank as a way to get up and around the boulder and started spiderman’ing our way to the top. The rocks were slippery and the dirt was loose making it near impossible to find any footing or grip. We were muddy and sliding all over the place but kept on trying to climb our way out.
It took us what could have been a bad accident to realize we weren’t making the best decision. While rooted to a big rock, CJ was climbing up the bank just above and beside me when she lost footing and started to slide down the bank, belly first. Thankfully my instincts took over and I reached out and grabbed her by her hydration pack, holding on to her until she could steady herself and find footing and grip. Her leg was bleeding and her hands were achey from the slide down. And I think we were both a little shaken. We helped each other navigate back out the way we had come towards Vanessa and Andrew and realized that they had found their way to higher ground. We climbed up the side of the bank – more manageable than the one closer to the trail – and then tried to find our way back towards the trail. It was raining pretty hard at this point and we were all shivering and soaked to the bone.
Still in good spirits, we worked together through the dense forest – ducking under branches, rubbing up on plants and trees and trying to make our way out into a clearing (and hopefully the trail). When we finally found the trail again, there was yet another water crossing – to cross safely we had to again go off trail, cross over and then make our way back through bushes and trees.
We laughed it off and were back on real, beautiful, runnable trails. At this point, all we could see was dense fog and heavier rain. Our shorts felt like diapers – hugging our legs and sagging down all at the same time – and our rain jackets were drenched as were our under layers.
We kept our minds off the cold and wet by running and talking for the next several miles. I was getting pretty hungry and was fantasizing about the sandwich I would eat when we saw Casey and Travis. I had also imagined dry gear and a warm, dryer place to eat said sandwich. When we finally saw Casey, he looked a little flustered and….sopping wet.
He had been standing in the rain for nearly 3 hours, just sopping wet, waiting for us and worrying about us. And we felt really bad. He had sent Travis back to drive to Timberline Lodge to see if we had turned around and went back because it had taken us so long to get to this point. Damn river crossings….
As we waited in the now pouring rain with him for Andrew and Vanessa, he said, you’re done, right? CJ and I looked at each other and said, no, we’ll at least get to mile 27 and reassess then. Casey reminded us how long it had taken us to get to him, how wet it was and how much he did not want us to continue on. Vanessa arrived shortly after, followed by Andrew. Standing under the trees, eating sandwiches and trying to make a decision, we were all shivering cold. The rain just seemed to be getting worse and worse.
Finally we made the decision to call it quits – what I consider now to be – the best decision. We made our way down to the car and found Travis towards the bottom of the trail with the dogs. We piled in to the backseat, wet, dirty and cold and made our way back to Timberline Lodge – telling the story of our river crossing and 16 mile adventure on the Timberline Trail.
While we didn’t run the full 40 or come even close to running the full 40 this time around, I still feel really proud of what we accomplished this weekend. We worked together as a team to navigate and cross rivers, we remained positive and supportive of each other and made decisions that were best for us in the moment. And I know it just means we’ll have to go back….on a drier day.
Sunday was another early morning for a seriously sweaty 7 am HIIT Yoga workout, followed by power yoga and then teaching a power yoga yoga class after that. Getting a 15 minute break after teaching before participating in an hour and a half backbend workshop and then two hour break for lunch and back to teaching at 4:15. Flex & Flow always helps me keep it real, real. No slacking.
Having two badass women (CJ and Vanessa) and a seriously badass dude (Andrew) by my side during this 16 mile journey, reminded me why I’m so excited to be participating in If Girls Ran the World this October. While doing something I love (running!), I also get to fundraise for a charity devoted to empowering women, promoting peace, and gender equality.
With this adventure underfoot, I’m confident that I’ll stay committed to tracking my miles, sharing my experiences on social media and fundraising to help empower women all over the globe.
If you want to help me (and thousands of women!) RUN this world, here’s how you can participate:
- Connect your fitness app so that all of your individual miles will add to the collective progress around the world. And don’t forget to share your journey on social media using @Ifgirlsranworld #IfGirlsRanTheWorld #SweatPink
- Update your fundraising page and share it with your friends, family, and social media audience. Remember, the funds you raise will empower and impact women all over the globe!
- And the most fun part, RUN! From October 1 – 31, get out and run. Run daily to win cool prizes and unlock fun rewards. Share your runs on social media channels and inspire others to join in on the movement.
Who inspires you to RUN your world? Or what run / adventure have you completed lately that inspired you? Comment and share your story!
Stay sweaty friends!