Sunday, October 24, 2010

Deception Pass

The forecast wasn’t particularly good for Saturday, and so I tried to dream up some place new and interesting but snowfree for a long run. I came up with Deception Pass State Park, on Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands.

I’ve driven over the famous Deception Pass bridge many many times, but I’ve never truly explored the park. The State’s website says it gets 2 million visitors per year, and my neighbors and other friends have told me of camping trips there. It’s only a half hour away from home, and so it's kind of been on my list of to dos.

Turns out Deception Pass is a really good trail running location. And just an amazing place. There are a whole lot more trails than I realized, with trails circling little peninsulas on the sea, ridge runs on high bluffs, sand dunes and beach runs, old growth. Lots of ecological variety—a good example of “succession,” as one sign said.

I found green tiger slugs, a big garter snake, a bald eagle, a lot of mushrooms. Tidepools. Running on a cliff above the sea, the Whidbey Island wind spirit stole my Udo's Oil hat. One second it was there, the next it was over the cliff and into the ocean. Goodbye Udo's Oil hat!

Part of the reason I chose to go to Deception Pass was that I heard the North Cascades Institute is leading a mushroom class there in a couple weeks. This made me curious. I wanted to compare a seaside zone to the high country we were in last weekend.  There weren't as many as in deep in the old growth of the Fischer Creek Valley, but still quite the variety.

I enjoyed reading some of the naturalist signs--lots of great quotes from Emerson, Thoreau, Chief Seattle, and others. One by Gary Snyder struck a chord:  "Nature is not a place to visit. It is home."

Years ago, I read a terrific book on Whidbey Island's environmental history--it's slow and science oriented, sort of, but I recommend it:  "Land Use, Environment, and Social Change: The Shaping of Island County, Washington." Author Richard White, a University of Washington professor, later was awarded the MacArthur Award (aka genius grant), presumably for his work in developing the field of environmental history studies.

Despite all my stops, I got a good run in. About four hours on the trail, with plenty of running time. Not the most disciplined of workouts, but sufficient to leave me tired by the time I got back to the rig. There is plenty of up and down in the Park, and so if you want it, you can get some. All the promontories, and up to the bridge, and back down to the beaches a few times--it all adds up. Also, the footing is not all that safe sometimes--you are literally hiking and running along cliffs and steep ridges.

Saturday ended up being a long day. In the evening, I checked out the band Deer Tick with Erik, Steve, and other friends. I don’t really like their name—in general I’m not a fan of deer ticks, because they have lyme disease--but it was good times with friends, and they were a really fun live act. Sort of an alt-country band, with a Jayhawks/Son Volt/The Band type sound. They kind of look like Stillwater from Almost Famous, with the lead singer looking like that blond stoner dude in Dazed and Confused.

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