I spent the weekend on the Eastern side of the mountains, and although we were only about 180 miles from home—a 3½ hour drive—it was like another world. Over here we are all green and shiny. Evergreen trees and mossy lawns and wet streets and puddles. Eastern Washington is gold and grey and beigey tan. At least this time of year, after the hot summer has burned away all the springtime greens. Golden wheatfields (all shorn at this time of year), great craggy rocks and silver brush, and, if you can imagine, tumbleweed!
My friend has a little cabin on an acre between Waterville and Ephrata. It's powered by solar energy, so our radio and reading lights were completely environmentally friendly. We also used a small propane heater to warm the cabin, which, although less "green," was invaluable as the evening got pretty chilly. The cabin was pretty toasty by the time we went to sleep, which was good because it was a cold night. The heater was off during the night, of course, and by early morning the indoor temperature was probably in the 40's, and the outside was 28.
So that certainly made the prospect of crawling out of a cozy sleeping bag to go running somewhat less than appealing! Although by the time I seriously considered it, around 8:00, the relit heater had warmed the indoors quite nicely. Which made the chilly outside even less tempting.
But I was determined to get a Sunday run in. I ran about 10½ miles on Friday, anticipating that a long run on Sunday would be impractical. For one thing, I didn't want to leave my friend sitting around waiting while I took an extended run. The hour or so it would take to go five or six miles was plenty to expect of him.
So I pulled on running clothes (I had brought long pants anticipating the colder weather) and stepped out onto the porch. Yep, 28 degrees. Nice.
He said, "so you'll be at least 45 minutes?" Uh... yeah... "at least an hour!" I responded. Then, thinking twice, I added an extra 15 minutes, not wanting to raise any alarms in case I was unusually—make that typically—slow. Plus there would be an inevitable potty stop at the clubhouse (real plumbing, hurrah!).
The roads were packed gravel, and I felt pretty sluggish as I headed out. The cold air felt harsh on my lungs, and I think perhaps the elevation added to my labored breathing. While my home turf is only slightly above sea level, we were at least above 1500 feet, maybe more. Add the incline that I started up, and we're talking slooow, baby.
We had measured out above a mile and a half from the cabin to the clubhouse, and initially I thought I would just have to do a double loop, to get my miles without wandering off into uncharted territory. But at the clubhouse I just kept on running on the main gravel road, figuring I would turn around when I got to the highway or 2.5 miles, whichever came first.
I think I was pretty close to the highway when I did turn back, at 2.6 miles, to retrace my steps. I hadn't realized I was climbing gradually on this part of the road, but I certainly noticed the decline on my return, as I picked up the pace to make like Deena Kastor (Deena Kastor in traction, that is).
After the blessed bathroom stop, I continued my return to the cabin. I was a little more nervous here, because I had to make a couple of turns along the way. Although I knew the names of the roads, I was paranoid about missing them and heading off into the wild. I figured if I got to 5.5 miles without finding my road, I would know I'd missed it. But luckily, at 5 miles I spotted the first turn, with the second shortly thereafter. As I neared the cabin and 5.6 miles approached, I decided I couldn't stop without finishing the whole six miles. I still had ten minutes of leeway before I used up my allotted time and raised a "missing" alarm. Four tenths of a mile in ten minutes? I thought I could handle it.
So I just kept running past the cabin for another two tenths, and turned back to finish at 6.01, five minutes before "deadline." By that time either the air had warmed a bit or I had become accustomed to it, because my lungs had stopped burning. Actually that probably happened about two miles in.
Needless to say, the cabin has no indoor shower facilities, but on the other hand, I was hardly sweating in the cold weather, so I quickly changed clothes, made myself some instant oatmeal for breakfast, and we packed up to head out. We had a three to four hour trip home, not including any stops we might want to make along the way.
The first of which was just down the road from the cabin, to view some of the dramatic surrounding scenery.
Then we headed back towards home. In Waterville, we detoured off the main road to check out Badger Mountain Ski Hill. Right now there's not a lick of snow on the ground, but assuming a decent winter snowfall, this small ski area will open in January for skiing (three rope tows). With the roads clear right now, we were able to drive right up to the top and look down the main run into the Waterville farmland area below.
Our final stop on the east side of the mountains was in Cashmere, at the delightful Anjou Bakery, for a bite of lunch (quiche) and a treat (cherry pie for him, which was reportedly scrumptious; and a shortbread brownie for me, which was, yes, a layer of brownie on a layer of shortbread).
Actually that was not quite the last stop. That was at Safeway in Leavenworth, for a fill-up of gas (with an amazing phenomenon, a 20-cent reduction off the posted price, for a net cost of $2.06 per gallon), and for me, a quick trip into that coffee shop inside the store that I apparently mention a lot by name in this blog.
And then we were over the pass, going right by Stevens Pass Ski Area (where we intend to spend a lot of time this winter), and zooming westward toward home, work, and another week.