Embracing the best of a wet day

The forecast for today called for high avalanche danger and rain everywhere. No need to drive far if it is wet in the mountains, wet in town, and wet east of the Cascades. Better to stick closer to home. Reduce the carbon footprint. Embrace the luxury of sleeping in. Enjoy the signs of spring in a close to home forest. Run on a close to home beach.

And so, Gabriel and I opted for a trail run through beloved Discovery Park. No long distances or significant elevation gain, just 5 or so miles and about a thousand feet of up along fantastic muddy trails, beaches with seals and forests tinged with spring green!

We timed things perfectly and arrived in the park just as the rains really started coming down, hammering the car like the proverbial rainfall on a tin roof. A flash stream was flooding the parking lot and other drenched runners were returning to their cars and wading in the “stream” to remove mud from their shoes. We were soaked within a few minutes of leaving the parking lot as we headed up the wooded trails.

The wet, wet, wet afternoon meant that only a few people were walking about. A rare Saturday where one feels as if they have Discovery Park to themselves. Instead of having to pay attention to navigating around other runners and walkers on the trail, I could focus more fully on our forest surroundings. What fun to run and notice signs of spring with every turn: Indian plum leafing out, the first hint of pink on the flowering current, bleeding heart leaves and oxalis emerging from the duff. Robins hopping about the forest floor. Albeit at a running pace, it was ample time to clear the mind and observe all that was present, not unlike the state of being while  on a good long hike.

Indian plum at dusk (a few days after the wet trail run).

Indian plum at dusk (a few days after the wet trail run).

The lanterns of skunk cabbage cheered up the wet forest and promised spring was rounding the corner.

The lanterns of skunk cabbage cheered up the wet forest and promised spring was rounding the corner.

As we ran down to the beach and touched the waters of Puget Sound we saw a seal swimming along, watching us and one other lone  beachcomber along the shore. A reminder of just how special it is to live in Puget Country, able to enjoy shore and forest within minutes of one another. And even for me, it’s not every day that I go for a run and see a seal (though the potential is there and that’s delight in its own right).

Back up on the edge of the forest path with views down to the water, we watched the great blue herons balance on rocks and strike the water with their bills catching fish. They don’t seem disturbed by our presence-as we are a good distance a way-and it is satisfying to observe these fascinating birds in action. Whenever I am able to watch wildlife seemingly unaware of my presence, I now think of the times on the PCT when I watched black bears forage for berries and break apart logs rooting for grubs. A rare gift to enjoy animals do what they do.

Uplifted by the signs of spring, beach, seal, and herons, we climbed up the steep track back to the forested uplands and sloshed are feet in wet slippy mud. So fun to scramble slopes, then plunge into the wet gooey trail, and embrace the conditions at foot. To embrace the rain. To revel in being soaked and mud splattered. Such a terrific run!

And then I remembered Drop-N-Roll’s sopping wet day of hiking into East Glacier. The trail was a creek and they were cold, soaked, muddy and had they needed to spend another night out, it would have been in not-so-sustainable conditions.

Gulp. Mental note: cold, wet, rain can be a suffer fest as much as it can be exhilarating.

After thinking about DnR and friends, I was no longer sure if I should be looking forward to the hot shower at the end of this run. Instead, should I focus on something other than being warm and dry? Because sometimes a wet day ends in a wet night with a damp sleeping bag and you need to be able to deal with that. If you’re always focused on the reward of being warm and dry after the run or the big meal after a big day, and that reward has to be deferred, well… that can be disproportionately discouraging. I don’t have an answer I’m satisfied with yet, but I’m working on one.

This contemplation didn’t take away from the joy of the run. But it gave me pause to think. And then thinking signaled that I was hungry and ready for a post-run treat. Thankfully just as we rounded the corner to the car. Exchanged the wet shoes for the dry ones in the car. Stopped off at the store for some chocolate milk then headed home. This time around, I embraced the luxury of a hot shower because I could.