Cowiche Birthday Party

My friend, Will Run for Whisky (aka Ana), and I have birthdays that are one day apart, so we decided to invite a bunch of friends to join us for a birthday run. Since pretty much everybody is tired of wet feet and rain, we decided to head to Yakima—on the east side of the Cascades—and Cowiche Canyon for some desert landscape and dry trails.

Fortunately, we have really cool and awfully nice friends, and despite the 2-1/2 hour drive (each way) a big crew ended up showing up for the party.

Kelly W., who is a master at making all occasions festive, gave And and me sombrerito headbands and sombrero-sparkle-bead necklaces since we were the birthday girls. We had a couple of mountain bikers and then folks wanting everything from 6–8 to 16 miles and after trying to figure out a route, we just decided to run. Once again I forgot my Garmin—seems to be a trend since Black Canyon—and we set out.

It was a joy to run on dry trails and to even see spring flowers polka-dotting the grasses and sage brush.

One problem/benefit of deciding to “just run” is that I promptly got us semi-lost. As I took out my map and tried to figure out how to get down into Cowiche Canyon itself, Kelly announced another feature of our party: it was piñata time! Ana and I tried punching it and hitting it with a rock, but that little guy was tough! We resorted to tearing off its legs, and everyone scrambled for the candy.

We found our way down into the canyon and headed our way upstream. The canyon itself is just a few miles long, but has ancient basalt columns on one side and some kind of andesite formations on the other. (We actually did stop and read an information sign that had pictures and everything.) At the end of the canyon, we decided to explore some more and we headed back up and found another trail system that wound around and around and around. We put Tim of Boldly Went Adventures in front to get us back to the canyon, and sure enough we got to have an adventure as he picked up a deer trail (or something similarly unmaintained and fairly indistinct). He had a good sense of direction, though, and we eventually got back to the trail we had come up. From there, it was back downstream, and then back up to where we started.

Oh—and why the sombrero theme? Because after our run we headed to Yakima proper and feasted on James Beard award-winning tamales. Yum!!

I’m still loving these little adventure “jaunts,” but I’ve got a training plan that will kick into gear after my kids’ spring break and will be logging more time on longer trails soon. And I’m happy to report that I’m looking forward to it.

Post script and pretty much totally unrelated except it happened on this trip: On my way home, I stopped at a McDonalds to use the restroom. Sadly, this guy was hanging out at the door begging for food. I’ve never seen a duck do that before, aside from at duck ponds where people throw them bread. It was kind of surprising to have him just walk up to my feet and stare at me when I walked outside.


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