Birthday trail running road trip part deux: it gets better

After I had effectively unleashed myself from the drama and bigotry that so unfortunately unfolded upon my arrival in Washington, I’m happy to say I fell asleep peacefully in the back of my truck with my dog. Snug as a bug in a rug.

My campsite-mates were up partying all night, which reminded me of the month I spent living in a first-story apartment in Brooklyn. I slept on the floor during that time, and would often doze off to the riotous howls of deeply inebriated Puerto Rican men fighting over a poker game right outside my bedroom window.

I’m just kidding, it was nothing like that.

BUT… very much like the scene in bk, a few of them were still going at it when I woke up… at 4:30 a.m.

I didn’t set an alarm, that’s just about the time dawn started to break and I was all about boogying my ass up Umtanum ridge before it go too hot.

I’d studied the Yakima canyon trail a bit before heading out. I knew it was going to start off with 2,600 feet of elevation gain in the first two miles, then mellow out at the top. It’d be completely exposed, and totally dry. I did not want to be up there at noon, with my dog, in the middle of July.

I took my sweet time getting ready, sipping my cold brew coffee as the sky changed shades of blue, but was over the river and into the brush well before 6 a.m.

“You ready to party?” I asked Bruce. He always gets excited when he sees me dress for a run (he knows my trail hat).

He's always ready to party.
He’s always ready to party.

The trail was really beautiful. I missed the smell of Washington. Dry sand and sagebrush.

trail head

I felt really good. I mean, amazingly good. Despite the fact that I’d spent the entire previous day captaining a truck my chiropractor strongly disapproves of, consumed most of my calories in crappy beer and hardly slept four hours, I felt like a fucking diamond. Maybe this is just my natural habitat.

I quickly realized I forgot to pack Bruce’s treats. Guess we’re going to share the Clif bars!? He wasn’t a huge fan of the texture, but he ate them.

The climb up the ridge isn’t too steep until you get all the way to the tippy top. The next time I do this, I’m definitely packing trekking poles for the way back down. IT WAS SCARY. I wanted to scooch on my butt, but I didn’t because who knows what would end up in there. I got poison oak on my bum this spring, and it wasn’t pretty.

Once at the top, you can see EVERYTHING! All the mountains, the windmills, the ridges, the valleys. All of that goddamn beautiful state… and Oregon, too.



And the road up there is a nice, relatively even dirt path that’s pretty easy on the paws.


The ridge is decorated with charming old fences and cute little structures. There’s a fire tower off in the distance, and I even saw an old rusty car parked indefinitely on the side of a ridge. It was well past peak season, but I hear the wildflowers up there are pretty intense in the spring.



I came to one sweet lookout spot that offered a full view of the canyon. You could see the Yakima River, and the train tracks that run alongside it, pop out at two different curves.

I wished I could see a train pass though, and right as I turned to head back to the road, I heard the whistle.

Hell yes. I decided to wait.

After 20 freaking minutes of no action, I decided that either the train had been heading in another direction, or I was hallucinating. Either way, I couldn’t afford to be lingering on the ridge when I had miles to put in and a dog to share my snacks with.

I vowed to return to that spot one day with my DSLR and more provisions. Maybe a two-legged friend to help pass the time, too. I’m sure I will.


What the hell else have I got to do with this wild and crazy life?


[There’s going to be a part three. Stay tuned, or whatever you do.]

3 thoughts on “Birthday trail running road trip part deux: it gets better

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