Thursday, September 12, 2013

EWU XC Camp, Olympic National Park

Erik was asked to help run the EWU cross country camp this year.  Every year just before the season starts the XC team goes to a scenic area nearby and camps. They do all of their workouts on trails for the week. This year the team headed to Olympic National Park. That is an area of the country we have been dying to see so Tate and I came along. I love Erik's job and how family friendly everyone has been to Tate and I.

We camped at the Heart O the Hills campground, it is just outside of Port Angeles, on the way to Hurricane ridge. It was a perfect location. We were close to town where we went each night to eat dinner and shower at the high school. The typical day for the kids was a morning trail run, then we would go somewhere fun for the day to recreate, then a late afternoon run, followed by showers and dinner, then we would go back to camp for campfire team activities and get to bed early for another big run the next day. This was basically my dream week. Camping + Trail Running = Very Happy Wifey. Tate was amazing the whole trip. She loves camping and was going nonstop. Running around, eating dirt, jumping around the tent. She won over the hearts of all the XC kids with her little bare feet and cute smile.

The first day we drove the 6 hour drive to Port Angeles. We went through Seattle and got to ride a ferry to the Olympic peninsula. It was my first time on a ferry, and it was great to stretch our legs and let Tate run around while we traveled. She was hilarious, seriously she did not stop running the whole time we were on there with the exception of brief pauses to point to seagulls and look over the edge at the water.

The Team on the Ferry
Tate leaning into the wind
Wiggs and I in the car
We stopped in town for our evening run. We ran on a paved bike trail along the coast, it was pretty, you could see across the strait to British Columbia and there were massive cruise ships and cargo ships out on the water. I ran with Coach Zeller and Sean the athletic trainer, we took up the rear and just enjoyed stretching the legs out after the long car ride.

Day two found us hiking up the trail to Lake Angeles. The team ran the treacherous 8 mile trail, Erik and I hiked and brought up the rear. It was a nice trail through dense forest, SO GREEN, but not many views. After the run we all headed up to Hurricane Ridge. This is an incredible scenic mountainous area where you can look over most of Olympic National Park. We all ate lunch at what I would argue is the most scenic picnic area on the planet. Then the kids all lounged around and napped while the coaches hiked up to Hurricane Hill. This is a must do hike in this park with 360 degree views of the mountains, beaches and British Columbia. I heard lots of great stories between Erik, Sean, and Chris. We laughed the entire way up and down the trail and we were attacked by a tiny killer sparrow. (We have no idea why it was so angry with us, but we all squealed like little girls trying to evade the little devil. The runners did another run that evening on a trail to Dawn Lake but we chose to sit that one out, 10 miles of hiking was enough for us that day.

Cute bridge on way to Lake Angeles

The cute runners on their way down

Erik and Wiggs in an eerie burn area

View from Our lunch spot

Not a bad place to eat

Eastern Coaches cruising up to Hurricane Hill

View down to Port Angeles, Strait of Juan De Fuca, and Victoria on the other side.

Happy Hikers, sorry about my BYU shirt!

Day 3 we took the vans up a sketchy single lane dirt road up to a nice trail up above the incredible Elwha Valley. I was so impressed with the Eastern XC team. These kids did trail run after trail run, they were so tough! Some of there trails were intense, they were just so fit! It made me miss the days when I was a young spry collegiate runner in peak fitness. We hiked to Humes Ranch and Micheal's Cabin. These are named for the old cougar hunter who lived in this part of the mountains for many years. When we finished hiking Tate was asleep in the carrier. we didn't want to risk waking her so Erik just took off the pack and let her sleep in the pack while the runners ate breakfast, stretched, and did thier post run thing. She slept that way for 45 min! It's all good, anything for a happy baby. Along the way we also met some backpackers who were about to finish a 60 mile back country trip. We ended up giving them a ride down that treacherous road we drove up. If you know me you know that I love picking up hitch hikers in National Parks, after all, us backpackers have to stick together!

After the run we all spent the day at a former Eastern runner's lake house. The house was on Lake Sutherland. We had a bbq, went boating, and just lounged around. (Actually I chased crazy Tate around and tried to keep her from jumping off the pier). This experience solidified my desire to one day own a lake house up on a secluded mountain lake.

The evening run was on a trail that followed the banks of the famous Lake Crescent. The bluest and clearest water I have ever seen in my life! I joined in with the runners and will always remember the natural high of running along that lake in such perfect weather. I ran with the girls this time and was proud I could still keep up. I stopped briefly to take a few pics, but they really don't do the beauty of the lake justice.

The last day the team had 12 x 800 repeats that the ran on a trail in a park called Robin Hill Farm. I wish Erik and I would have more time to explore this green monster of a park, but we had to do a grocery store run to stock up on supplies while the team was training.

We spent the rest of the day at a park on the coast called Salt Creek Recreation Area near Crescent Bay. This place was sweet. There were old bunkers from WW2, a wonderful beach area, tide pools, and a fun and scenic trail that followed the bluffs. We hiked all around the park. Tate was a trooper, it was sprinkling the whole day and she was happy as a clam in her little hiking backpack, we just put the rain fly up and put her rain gear on and she was dry as can be. After the team finished their evening run in this area we picked up a ton of pizzas and headed out to the Port Angeles "Hook" to eat our meal. The rain finally cleared and we got to watch the clouds roll back over the mountains. It was the perfect place to relax and watch these kids pound the pizza. 

These athletes ate very healthy all week, so on our last night in camp we picked up a bunch of ice cream and brought it back to the campground. But we overestimated how much everyone would eat so we had a ton leftover. Naturally you can't let it melt and go to waste, so we went through the campground giving it all away to our neighbor campers. The whole campground slept happily that night.

All in all it was a fabulous week. I love camping, hiking, trail running, national parks, and track and field. This trip rolled in all together into one Washington special package. I love living here! I love Erik's wonderful job! I love getting to spend time in nature as a family! Since we have been home we have been working hard on getting our kitchen remodeled and done before EWU starts school and Erik gets really busy. Wish us luck!

1 comment:

Rachelle Rauma said...

Wow, Nicole. I'm loving Erik's job too! These views!! Super happy that you guys get to be up there in all that green splendor!