Oregon - California - - The Trail Gives You What You Need

Fires smoked me out of running the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) last summer, and rangers warning of a trail still covered with snowdrifts turned me away from running the state line on the PCT this year. But that didn't keep the party from happening. After meeting up with Travis & Holly in Weed, CA, pausing to catch up, have a coffee and make the requisite jokes about "Weed," we drove north to the last starting line; the last opportunity (on this journey) to find a deserted trail and change into running clothes in the great outdoors. Then Travis and I began a point-to-point run south along a deserted trail. And a great run it was, with ideal weather, conversation, emotions and the general thrill (for me) of sharing a run. About a mile before the finish, Holly joined in on the run. She was full of energy and her adrenaline made her want to push the pace - but I wanted the run to last forever.

Off in the distance, Eva had festively adorned a makeshift finish line at her determined location for the state line. I broke the pink ribbon and we celebrated this run. But hopefully, as the Allman Bros sang: "The Road Goes on Forever." 
Finish Line for last State Line Run - near Klamath Falls, Oregon

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California - Oregon - Fowl Weather on the Penultimate Run

Stream of Consciousness or a dike or a canal or a drainage ditch? Whatever, it was a long body of water at a bird refuge. Eva had mentioned a song & as I ran, it popped into my mind: Red Hot Chili Peppers “With the birds I'll share this lonely view.”

The road was flat and easy to follow & the only possible hazard was possibly stepping on a big rock & bruising my foot. I was all alone again and my thoughts kept flowing out as fast as they popped up. Birds lined the canal: including 10-15 varieties of ducks, cormorants, white pelicans & red-winged blackbirds. They all worked hard to rise from the water a few feet and fly farther down the canal as I approached, until finally after a few short hops they gained a bit more lift and then turned with the wind to fly around me back to where they had rested earlier. Wind? A hard wind was blowing in my face & making me work even harder. It also brought back Bob Seger's old song "Against the wind, We were running against the wind." I hadn't previously thought much about my state line running coming to an end, but today I flashed forwards and backwards and could feel the end coming too soon.

The trail lay down in a basin and rain seemed to be falling on the mountains in every direction. It had not threatened me yet, but then, suddenly and without any other warning, the wind howled, shifting from straight-on to a crosswind with drops of rain. Then, about 7 miles into a 7.5 mile run, "What ... HAIL?" I pulled my second shirt back on, along with a light windbreaker/running jacket, pulled a skull cap and my gloves from the jacket pockets - I was prepared for this unpredictable high altitude weather! - and ran as fast possible (for me & for that moment in time) towards the safety and warmth of the parked car. This particular run couldn't end too soon! As for the ducks, they sought shelter among the weeds along the edge of the canal - seemingly not particularly pleased by the weather or my attempted pun to describe it as fowl.

Note: After the fact, running in the hail was a fun experience that I am glad I had.
A RAVE run!

Dike or Canal or Drainage - For the Birds
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Nevada - Oregon - This IS My First Rodeo

#PRIZEWINNER -  Most difficult state line location to get to. Facts: Next services: 81 miles. About 4 hours from ANY major town. Number of people that I saw on my run: Zero. Number of people that the 50-inch-long Desert Whip Snake that I almost stepped on saw - One. Perhaps its shock at seeing anyone explained why it just lay there rather than moving out of my way. 

During the run, I wore a singlet (shirt) with my name on it in case I bumped into anyone, passed fans looking to randomly cheer a stranger on, or if my body later needed to be identified. Needless to say (which is why I bring it up), none of that happened.

The route was dead simple: follow the wide, flat, smooth dirt road (named Rodeo) on its diagonal through the valley from one empty highway to the state line where it intersected another even-less-traveled highway. It felt good running on another road where I could see forever even as the immense scale of the surrounding mountains confused my ability to accurately estimate distances based on simple visual clues. Great run. I would love to do it again. Now if I can just get back there!

Running in the Nevada Desert
Welcome to Oregon Sign in Denio
Greg is bigger than the mountain when running
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Oregon - Nevada - Running the Extra Mile

♫♫ I took a wrong turn, it was not the right turn. ♫♫ The lyrics might be off and the tune in my head definitely was off, but the song pretty much described my navigation during the run here. Not that it really mattered. Being in running shape means there is more latitude for mistakes in directions and in not following the planned run. It allows for exploring, for checking out interesting sightings and locations, and for just plain old getting lost or taking a wrong turn. That was my run today. 

Like many of my runs in the desert or rural areas, the route was planned using Google Earth and there were NO ROADSIGNS once the run began. I knew that I should ignore early teaser roads and run out about 2 miles before taking a trail with a greater-than-90° turn to the right. The problem was that there were several roads that I didn't remember - or that were not really roads. A lot of the maps on Google are 18 months old or more and the ATVs have added new trails that don't show up and that don't necessarily even have a destination. And so it was today, I had wandered off into the desert on an unmarked trail headed for who knows where. That was not really a problem once I realized the issue. One of the great things about running in the great wide open is that you can see forever. So I just followed a series of trails that eventually connected me with the state line. Let's just call it bonus fun!
The Road to Nevada
Where the Road to Nevada begins

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Oregon - Idaho - Well, It's 8 o'clock in Boise Idaho

I'll find my limo driver. Honey, take me to the run. // Some version of this song by Lynyrd Skynyrd has been on my mind for years & even more acutely since planning for this run started developing. Even though it's actually morning and the run starts 45 minutes west of Boise near Adrian, Oregon, at one of the last bends that the Snake River has as it whips and winds northwesternly, the song's beat matches my rhythm as I run - or is it the other way around?

Back at the hotel, Lord we got such a mess
It seems that one of the crew Had a go with one of the guests, oh yes  (EVA???)

Napton River Road is paved and 2-lane, probably just for my own personal and private use, based on the traffic today. The fields are empty, the birds sleeping, the summer sun is just getting warmed up and it is just a run that only I really care about - because it is a great run. Boise has great greenways by the Boise River downtown, but then I would have to share.

9 o'clock the next day And I'm ready to go
I got six hundred miles to ride To do one more show, oh no.

Well there ain't no shame!
Oregon Idaho State Line - Napton River Road, Adrian, Oregon

Adrian, Oregon - Homedale, Idaho State Line

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Idaho - Oregon - Bureau of Running Management

A YouTube video taken from a helmet-mounted GoPro on a dirt bike (motorcycle) inspired me to seek out this location. The remoteness intrigued me. The hills threatened me. The isolation evoked romanticism. The whole trail on the video represented to me one true version of a rave run. And the run did not disappoint; delivering thoughts and emotions, beauty and exhaustion, and of course, challenges both mental & physical.

Google Earth helped me find a starting point and suggested a route through the farms and the streams and eventually leading to a plethora of gates - most bearing some version of "KEEP OUT". Only one, with a small handpainted "BLM" sign seemed safe to pass & I did. The road immediately had ruts 18 inches and deeper and only narrow paths between them. After a mile or so, the road had smoothed out. But apparently the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administers this land mainly as a playground for ATVs and trails the size of the main road shoot off in every direction. The ATV trails run up steep hills and immediately down the other side. They loop around back to their starting points and they head off multiple directions into the distance. I tried to follow what I considered to be the road and gradually snaked around the larger hills while climbing the smaller ridges. I was exploring and as a very good friend often reminds me: "Not all who explore are lost."

The road went on forever and I knew that I couldn't, so I decided to turn directly into the mountain and go to the top. There was no trail which didn't really matter because I soon slowed to a walking pace. I kept climbing and then pausing to look up. Each time the distance remaining seemed unchanged. But finally, there I was all alone on top of the world with a 360-degree view. All that was left was to reverse my direction and file these thoughts to later rave about. 

Running from the end of State Line Road

South Canal Road
Nice big hills 
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Delaware - Maryland - Running The State of the Community

I am amazed that neighbors can live in different states. It causes them to go to different schools, to root for different teams, to have different license plates and senators and taxes. It also some times results in me running by their houses.

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Idaho - Washington - Last Run on the Lewis & Clark Trail

I have travelled about 50,000 miles over more than 3 years to run state lines. Lewis and Clark travelled over 4,000 miles over 500 days to explore for President Jefferson. I have encountered reminders of their journey over and over again and remain impressed by the sheer immensity of their undertaking. My run today marks the last #CARPe overlap of our journeys and quite fittingly, it is between the towns of Lewiston, Idaho & Clarkston, Oregon - divided only by the Snake River. The 2 towns have added bike trails on both sides of the river and have included pedestrian lanes on both of their shared bridges. There aren't many tourists out here this morning and the locals greet me as a friend with smiles and a nod. The run is easy and casual enough, with only one hill climbing from the river's edge to a bridge. I run across one bridge from Main Street and then run south to Southway Bridge, across the Snake again, and back north to the confluence of the Snake River and the Clearwater River. At their southeast meeting point, there is a small interpretive center whose location appears to have been chosen mainly with runners in mind. While I mainly use Google Maps in my planning, I do want to say thanks to Lewis & Clark for the early mapping they did for all of the awesome places that I have visited.
Lewiston Idaho Running Trail

Clarkston Washinton Bridge
Snake River Idaho, Washington State Line
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Washington - Idaho - Running in a Rush

Am I running really fast or just against the flow? I remember the sensation of running on a cruise ship as it propelled fast and furiously through the sea at the same time as I sprinted - never quite sure if I felt faster running towards the bow or the stern. Today, the spring melt of the winter snow sends water rushing past me in the swollen Spokane River beside the Centennial Trail as I run east on its last 8 miles towards the beginning of its Idaho counterpart/continuation. It is headed towards the Columbia River and then past the hipsters of Portland into the Pacific. That should mean that I am running uphill, even if the incline is so gentle as to be unnoticeable. Farther upstream as my pace steadies, the river widens and slows as well - like a ship approaching its port - in Idaho!!! 
Pedestrian Bridge over Spokane River at state border

Washington - Idaho State Line Marker on Centennial Trail

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Washington - Oregon - Running Running in Walla Walla

And then I found $20. That is a great line to drop into a conversation when it needs some excitement or others don't seem quite interested enough. I started my run north of town & zipped past the Walla Walla Wine Tasting Rooms on both Second Avenue & Main Street. Knowing that I was headed into a rural area, I paused to turn on the location GPS on the phone - and realized that I had already dropped & lost my baggie with tissues & a $10 bill. I kept going though & enjoyed the green of the wheat fields and the alfalfa and some growth in the vineyards. The run finished with a couple of miles on the gravel Stateline Road & a short stretch to the front of a vineyard in Oregon. A fun, enjoyable run AND I helped start a few stories, because somebody out there can say "And then I found $10".  By the way, if you happen to find any money anywhere in Washington, you can send it to me.
Paralleling the border on Stateline Road in Walla Walla

Eat my Wheat(ies) or do a wine tasting - Washington - Oregon

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Oregon - Washington - Running WILD without Reese Witherspoon on the Bridge of the Gods

"Run facing traffic, so you can see the one that kills you." That's what the toll booth operator said to me when I paid my 50 cents for a pedestrian crossing on the Bridge of the Gods.

Cheryl Strayed wrote and Reese Witherspoon said that "you can quit at any time." For Cheryl that is meant to relieve the pressure, but for me it adds to the pressure. There is no prize given for finishing. It is just a matter of do you still want to do it enough to actually do it and will the world let that happen. And so after a 4:30 a.m. EST alarm, a cross-country flight, multiple coffees, a vegan lunch and a great 4-mile RT hike from Eagle Creek to Punchbowl Falls, and with just an hour of daylight remaining, I set out running from the trailhead towards and onto the Historic Columbia River Highway Trail. A stream rushed peacefully along beside me as ran. I paused and looked into a pool at the Salmon Hatchery to see thousands of youngsters awaiting their opportunity to frolic in the Columbia River. The air was fresh and everything was green and flowers were blooming and a feeling of dusk was settling over the trail - great running conditions. I thought "count this as fun and mark one more off the to-do list."

Oh, at least until I ran through a swarm of bugs and swallowed about six - with several more making their way into my mouth but actively refusing to travel any farther into my alimentary canal - or to leave, despite hacking & coughing on my part. Then I ran another 300 yards and a small snake sat in the trail & smiled at me. No real danger other than the extra adrenaline I produced. Then, in another half mile, a caution sign appeared, telling the story of a rock slide that had closed the trail ahead - yet advising me to "proceed with caution". That I did. Then I ran comfortably back in my zone until I reached the toll both operator. But I was wearing a reflective vest & knew this bridge and these adventure-friendly drivers intended me no harm. So I ran facing traffic, and with traffic, heading from side-to-side for the fantastic evening views of the majestic Columbia River, and then I finished dead center in the middle of the road for a photo under the Bridge of the Gods sign. Pretty wild, right?
Oregon stream along the trail

Columbia River from the Bridge of the Gods
 Running across the Bridge of the Gods
Proceed with Caution - Oregon - Washington

#CARPe Crazy Ass Running Plan


Nevada - California - Fear & Loathing near Las Vegas

I was somewhere around the Nevada border on the edge of the desert when the need to run began to take hold. I remember saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded." Or at least that is my version of Hunter Thompson's famous line.  The desert near Sandy Valley, Nevada is dry with soft sand and uncertain roads. Run as far as you want - there is little competition or demand for the these barren trails.

Running the desert in Nevada

#CARPe Crazy Ass Running Plan Map


Arizona - California - Running the Dike

Or "The Coyote is after you!" Wikipedia says that a dike can also be called a levee or a trench or even a ditch. But there is a very low coolness factor in claiming to "Run a Ditch" so I decided to go with the name on the map. Even though the name of the body of water appears to be the Colorado River. So I jumped out of the car on a dirt road that blended in with the freshly plowed, but dry & dusty fields in Mohave Valley (spelling correct) and ran towards the dike. Just as I got near the river, I saw signs saying that I was entering the Fort Mojave Reservation and agreeing to different laws, rules and regulations. My response was to keep on running to the river & then to turn South.

My reward was to see a road runner. It flushed out about 20 feet in front of me and proceeded to race in a straight line ahead of me. Over the next minute it ran continuously in front of me, increasing the gap by 40-50 yards before speeding off among the brush without even a "Beep Beep!" (or "Meep Meep?) While I am no Wile E. Coyote, I understand why he would would be hard to catch.

The run finished with a stretch through a neighborhood of nice vacation houses and a jaunt on the bridge into Needles, California.
Plowed fields in Arizona

Dike Road near the Colorado River

Welcome to Needles, California
Crazy Ass Running Plan, #CARPe  Map


California - Arizona - Stopped by the Man

Rejected. During this Crazy Ass Running Plan #CARPe, I have encountered many obstacles and run around or through them: dams, traffic, no trespassing, federal projects, private property, hunting areas, rivers, fields, animals, bridges, Federal Defense areas, graveyards, police detours.... But today, after what I thought was a thorough research showing this road as a viable option, I was shut down. After a detour to walk across the London Bridge, we had driven down to Parker Dam. As we do many times when it is possible, we decided to drive the run route to understand where to start, the actual location of the border and to measure the distances and to plan the final logistics. Everything looked fine as we drove to the dam until I saw an armed security guard on each side of the dam and a large sign forbidding pedestrians. Nevertheless, I donned an orange reflective vest and walked up to a guard, acknowledged the obvious sign and sought his permission or accompaniment or ideas. I got the boot.

So we headed south past the wild burros in the road and 20 more munching on the green golf course - prompting jokes about the ... near the dam ..... The next possible spot downstream involved a good run through the desert before leading to dead end at a chain-linked fence and a run back to the road. Oh well, on to Earp, Ca & a run across the Highway 95 bridge there to Parker, Arizona. Still better than the I-40 near Memphis!
Earp to Parker Bridge on Highway 95

Welcome to Arizona, Parker AZ


California - Nevada - La, la, la, la, la, la

"I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain
La, la,  la, la, la, la.
After two days in the desert sun
My skin began to turn red."

I don't often listen to music during my runs, but for some reason this tune by America popped into my head & would not leave. So I pulled out my phone (also usually not with me) and used that intermittent bar of connection to intermittently play the song on YouTube 4 times consecutively - before jumping to Old Crow Medicine Show's version of Wagon Wheel.

The desert was dry and full of rocks & things. I watched my step for rattlers that might be taking advantage of the warm spring sunshine to warm their bodies.

California Nevada Border

Ivanpah Dry Lake
#CARPe Crazy Ass Running Plan Map


Montana - North Dakota - A Great Fracking Run

The Bakken Formation and fracking has changed the landscape in northwestern North Dakota and northeastern Montana. An area of badlands and grasslands and remoteness still has all of that, but it now has pumps spread all around and people in nearby towns that have relocated to follow the jobs. It also has some better maintained dirt roads that I took advantage of to explore this once booming industry. But mostly I just ran and enjoyed the solitude and the grasslands and interesting hills. I also benefitted because I heard it was the warmest temperature recorded here for this day in March - 68 degrees. So the Bakken beckons.
Montana North Dakota border run

Little Missouri National Grassland -Sidney, Montana at North Dakota border
Bakken Formation Oil Pump

#CARPe Crazy Ass Running Plan Map


Montana - Wyoming 2 - An extra run in Big Sky Country.

Sometimes you get a chance to run in a beautiful spot and you just can't pass it up. Even if your Crazy Ass Running Plan #CARPe already has that spot checked off. The area south of Billings and east of Yellowstone's currently closed because of snow entrance issued me such an invitation. Remote? Yes. Solitude? Yes, couldn't even see the highway. A trail? Yes - more like a single lane dirt road. Nice weather? You betcha. Blue sky? It was a "Big Sky" and it was blue with those great white clouds that seem so close. Scenery? Yes, snow covered mountains off to the side.
Snow-covered scenery - Montana - Wyoming border

Big Sky running - Montana - Wyoming border

North Dakota - Montana - Running for the Title

This run had too many possible titles. It was in a rural area but the map called the townships Beach, North Dakota & Beach, Montana - so obviously I was running from Beach to Beach which sounds like fun. Teddy Roosevelt owned land  near here and really put this area of North Dakota on the map and he is a famed "Rough Rider". So maybe a line about being a "Rough Runner"? And of course I scared up several pheasants including 2 roosters that photobombed me - so a "Pleasant Pheasant Run"?
North Dakota Montana border run

Pheasants at North Dakota Montana border 

This was a great run: one of those that you only find in this part of the world. A straight dirt road, between 2 fields, that just seems to go on forever. It is always just the runner running for whatever reason, with nobody watching or judging. Go as far as you want or don't run, it is always up to you.

Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying: "I have always said I would not have been President had it not been for my experience in North Dakota." Well I might add that "Had it not been for the Dakotas, my Crazy Ass Running Plan wouldn't have been as crazy." #CARPe Map

Wyoming - Montana Again - Making Up New Rules

When I started my Crazy Ass Running Plan #CARPe, I said that I could make up the rules. Well last October when I was running in cool, fall weather in a really remote location from Utah to Wyoming, I decided that the rules should include at least 1 NAKED run. That would lend some street cred to the concept of "crazy". And so I ran that border naked. Sorry, no photos. It is a strange feeling to run without any clothes on, even when you know that no one else is within miles of where you are. Afterwards, the rush of adrenaline had been so strong that I couldn't recall certain details - so I thought that maybe I should do it again & pay attention. And since Wyoming had welcomed me without clothes, I felt it appropriate to exit there the same way.

While running I remembered a silly story about nudity. One was by the noted runner/writer Bart Yasso who talked about how running a particular race naked was not a problem for him since he was at the front until he reached the turn-around point and had to pass by everyone on the way back in. 
Big Sky Running
Note to law enforcement officials, please consider this to be fiction & not an admission of anything. To the rest of you, maybe you will dress differently on a future run.