Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Aging Up: A Birthday Run Through The Primeval Coastal Forest

 What do you want for your birthday? A dreaded question from someone who doesn't really need anymore stuff in her life. Fortunately, my hubby doesn't take offense if I have no interest in some bauble or another (I'm convinced that he married me because I hate the mall). He knows how to treat a birthday girl right, which in my case means packing the kids and the dogs over to the coast for the day. And apparently God knew that after so many unending days of rain, I needed a clear sky over my head. So though it was not exactly warm or sunny, it was not raining, and that's all that mattered.

After some pleasant hours spent racing sticks down a creek, exploring tidepools, flying kites, and chasing the dogs around, I got to pull on my favorite Five Finger toe shoes and go for a run up this fabulous trail. It starts at the beach, winds up and over this big promontory, climbing high above the lighthouse, and down the other side to a wide stretch of largely inaccessible and empty beach. The forests are lusciously green and primeval, with gigantic wind-twisted trees and beautiful ferny mossy floors. I really can't say much more about it with mere words, other than that it was perfect in every way. And I would've run faster if I could've stopped myself from taking all of these photos with my cell phone. 

So here's a visual tour of my beautiful birthday run.
You go up and over this big ridge. The lighthouse makes sure the ships don't hit it in the fog.

 The trail is so steep that it's full of switchbacks. At some point, the trail builders just gave up on switchbacks and installed some rough stairs. Great for training those glutes, hamstrings, and quads! My dog Sophie takes it all in stride.

Trees grow out of "nurse logs", old fallen trees that have since disintegrated, providing food for the new young trees to grow up on.

Spectacular views of the rugged Oregon coastline are a trail runner's best reward. In this photo, you can see how much elevation the trail gains, since I started running down on the beach!

 The forest is unbelievably green and lovely. Here, the valley falls away beneath me in a sea of ferns, moss, salal,  and evergreens.

Eventually, the trail pops you out onto a windswept beach, where you feel like the only human alive on the planet, dwarfed by the massive Pacific Ocean, and soothed by its roar.

 If you pay attention, you find beautiful little Zen moments all around you. I could meditate on this tableau of a stick and a rock for hours.

Sandstone cliffs to the right of the beach are carved by wind and waves into intricate patterns

In some places, the soft sandstone has been carved out from under the very roots of the trees, leaving them suspended in space.

Seaweed tangles adorn the beach with the woven netting of a former kelp forest

Everywhere along the beach, you must leap across small streams. Each is patterned with beautiful swirls of different colored sand. Every one of these creek bottoms could be considered a work of art.

 I arrive at the end of my run tired but ecstatic. In a state of bliss unparalleled in modern existence. How often do you get to feel like the only person on earth? To run alone and silent through an ancient forest. To look across the expanse of miles of beach and see no one, hear nothing but wind and surf. My spirit is renewed.

We drive to Mo's, a staple of our coast trips. The best chowder house on the Oregon coast. Our friendly waitress snaps a pic of the family for us. I am so blessed to have this wonderful family around me on my birthday.

I have this marvelous Paleo feast of blackened salmon and steamed and seasoned green beans. Double yum! Plus some of Mo's awesome clam chowder.

Okay, so it's not Paleo, but I top it off with Mo's homemade marionberry cobbler with some local vanilla ice cream. Heaven on earth. A perfect way to age up and turn 45. My day could not be any better. I am so thankful to have a family who gave me what I really wanted for my birthday, a beautiful home state with gorgeous parks and trails, and a body that can do amazing things like running up and over mountains. 
I am truly blessed.


Dena said...

ah, this is beautiful in every way that a post can be beautiful! just lovely. happiest of happy birthdays to you (albeit a bit late). may all of your wishes come true on your birthday & always.


Ironmom (Julie) said...

Sounds heavenly!

Beth said...

I love the ocean. Happy birthday! You make me excited to see 45 with your perspective. thanks for that.

Megan said...

Happy Birthday! Your run reminded me of my recent run on the beach of my youth. Love what it does for the soul. Sounds like you had a pretty perfect birthday. :)

danny said...

Your dog is looking at you and saying, "Mommy, why are you so slow?" :) I've fought the temptation for a four-legged running partner for awhile, but my will is slowly eroding!

Cobbler and ice cream, please!


Happy Birthday!

juliejulie said...

Yum for the eyes, all of it! Congrats on reaching 45. It's a good year.

Trail Smitten Mom said...

Looks and sounds wonderful. Love the pictures. Lighthouse and trail look familiar... Newport, Yachats? Happy birthday!

Robin said...

Thanks all for the birthday wishes. Danny, I know dogs are a lot of work, but I sure love running with Sophie. She brings an extra measure of enjoyment to my runs. And she is just pure joy when she knows we're hitting the trail. If I get out my Five Finger shoes, she goes crazy!

Marv said...

I don't need to WISH you a Happy Birthday but I can be glad you had one and shared it so vividly with us.

tinaparker87 said...

Happy Birthday! Beautiful Family and pics!