Saturday, August 2, 2014

Girls Gone Rogue: 2 days & 40 miles on the Rogue River Trail - Part 1

A few weeks ago, my friends Heather & Leslie and I had the opportunity to go on a great adventure... we spent 2 days running 40 miles along the scenic Rogue River Trail.  It was an amazing time!  With summer in full swing however, I'm just getting around to blogging about it.  Better late than never though, right?!

Earlier this year, Heather had one of those milestone birthdays (40) which definitely needed celebrating.  On her actual birthday, we went for a lovely trail run along the Ridgeline Trail System, that was complete with birthday crowns and randomly placed wood chip hearts (which were a total surprise to all of us, but a nice birthday touch nonetheless)...
the birthday girl (caught slightly unaware)
Heather, Leslie, Marci
Heather & me
It was a great run, but didn't come close to scratching the surface of what it should mean to celebrate 40 years of life, so after a little planning and a whole lot of scheming, we decided we needed to run the Rogue River Trail.  We wanted to be able to enjoy it and take our time, so running all 40 miles in one day wasn't really an option.  Ultimately, we decided to break the trip into 2 days.  Here is how it all went down...

Thursday, July 10th, Leslie picked us up when she got off work, brought us some Cafe Yumm! (mmm, yummy!) for fuel and we headed south.  Our first stop was in Merlin at Orange Torpedo Trips, where we dropped off an extra key to Leslie's car.  (During our planning deliberations, we had decided that having the rafting company shuttle our car from the start of our run to the finish was our best option.)  Then we went a little further down the road to Galice where we spent the night before our trip began in a cute little cottage at Galice Resort.


There was even this adorable little stuffed squirrel that was literally begging to come along on our adventure...
it took some pretty strong will power on our part, but we ultimately convinced it that its home was at the lodge and that the resort owners might miss it if we helped it to escape.  Even to this moment though, I think about that happy little squirrel that could've had such an exciting adventure secured to the top of my pack and wonder if we really made the right decision.  Ha!

Anyway, we spent some time Thursday night getting everything laid out for Friday's running, tweaked our fueling plan a bit, discussed our plans for departure and turned out the lights.  I don't remember sleeping, but I'm sure I did.  Before we knew it though, it was time to be up and heading out the door.  The excitement and nervous energy was almost palpable.

Friday, July 11th... Day 1 Plan:  Grave Creek to Paradise Lodge 27+ miles

 A short 6 mile drive from our cabin and we were at the beginning, Grave Creek Trailhead.
 A quick bathroom visit, a few pics of the surroundings (and ourselves) and we were on our way...
blurry pic of the blurry eyed runners, Heather, Leslie, Me
 up, up, up...
 A quick look back at what we left behind...
 and our first official sighting of poison oak.  
We only had 2 big fears on this adventure... poison oak and bears.  We saw lots of poison oak, but luckily no bears.  (Heather did have bear spray just in case.)
It was such a beautiful morning with the sun just coming up into the canyon. We got a little bit later start than we had planned and the heat was a slight concern.  July isn't probably the smartest time of the year to run the trail as daily highs can top out over 100 but our first day's run was going to be fairly tree covered so we were hoping and praying for the best.  Our prayers were completely answered because shortly after the sun was up, the clouds started rolling in.

 The Whisky Creek Cabin was a short distance off the trail and very much worth the trek.  There wasn't a whole lot to see, but it was still awesome to look at and think about what it would've been like to live there.  
 The cloud cover was amazing.  The temperatures stayed low and we even got a few sprinkles.  We couldn't have asked for better conditions so far into the summer.  Every turn and climb we took brought new and amazing sights.  It was impossible to think about being tired or how far we had gone/had left to go with so much amazing stuff to look at.
Most of the run we were pretty high above the river but there were lots of creek crossings...all of which were beautiful and serene.  
 The only real incident we had was a wayward water bottle that chose this nice high bridge to attempt its escape.  It jumped right out of Leslie's pack and rolled down, down, down into the creek. Luckily, it didn't take too much effort for Leslie to retrieve it while Heather observed from above and I made sure to get photo documentation.
"Ditch Creek" had been slightly altered.
Can you see the face?

With a little over half of our first day's mileage completed and nice river access, we decided it was a good time to get up close and personal with the Rogue River.  Heather chose to soak her legs on the shore, but Leslie did end up joining me for a swim...it felt amazing!
this picture was taken before any skinny dipping might have occurred...it was 'girls gone rogue' after all
After a short while near the water, we saw a few sets of rafters go by and decided we should be on our way as well.  We dried off and headed back towards the trail and eventually back up, up, up above the river.  Before long, we headed more inland and came to our first big resting spot, the Rogue River Ranch at about mile 23 of our adventure.  At the ranch, we were met by a lovely lady and her husband (who's names I have since forgotten) who were spending their second summer as caretakers of the ranch.  They were amazingly nice and generously (although it's a secret, they don't usually do it so don't tell anyone or plan on it for yourself) refilled our water bottles with cold, fresh water (awesome!!!) and even gave us some poison oak lotion and wash, "just in case".  We hung out at the ranch for quite a while, making use of the "facilities", relaxing in the rocking chairs, chilling in the shade, exploring the museum and taking selfies (of course).  This was lovely, because as you can tell from the pictures, the clouds had gone away and we had a lot of sun to deal with.
It felt so good to have our packs off and not be moving but while we were there, the caretakers started baking something that smelled delicious and it reminded us of how hungry we were for some real food and the longer we stalled the longer it would be until we got some.  With a little over 4 miles to go, the end of day 1 was in sight so we finally got up and going.  Although the long break felt amazing, it took a bit for our legs to warm back up and the long climb from the ranch up to the trail (which was actually a dirt road for a few miles) seemed to take forever.  Pretty soon, though, we got back into the groove and were on our way.

We passed Marial Lodge, which was were we had originally planned to stay and I have to say that it wasn't very impressive.  Although I would've been happy to be done running for the day, I was even happier to go a few more miles and have less distance to cover on day 2.

The last couple of miles before we got to Paradise Lodge were quite exposed and very hot but also breathtaking.  Every turn we took had us wanting to stop and take more pictures.  It was amazing!
A few more creek crossings, where we gratefully cooled off in the cold water and rinsed out our cooling towels, which were a much welcomed gift from Heather's husband, Doug...
 and then we were there, paradise...more technically, Paradise Lodge...
 where there was some of the most refreshing lemonade I've ever had.  :)
After we were showed to our cabin, which ended up being two complete rooms with two full bathrooms and a total of 5 beds, we returned to the lodge to buy some ice cream treats and then headed down to the river to soak for a bit before dinner.  While we were soaking several of the rafting groups that we kept seeing on the river while we were running, floated by.  They all shouted encouraging remarks at us and we kind of felt like celebrities.  After our soak we took nice long showers, put on clean clothes and headed to the main lodge for more relaxing and dinner.
Appetizers were chips, salsa and guacamole along with more of the the yummy lemonade and ice water...
 followed by dinner that consisted of chicken and ribs, broccoli, rice, salad and delicious bread and butter.
We were so hungry that it could've been a less appealing dinner and still been incredibly tasty.  They also gave us some sort of fruit cobbler dessert that was pretty good as well.  After dinner we headed back to our cabin were we briefly contemplated playing a game or something but instead talked for a bit before completely passing out. 

Day 1 Stats: 
27.19 miles
5:49:20 total time
12:51 avg pace
6,987 feet elevation gain
7,328 feet elevation loss

To be continued...