Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Eugene: This Is Why Word Limits Exist

Hey guys! So much to tell you! Too much to tell you.

I arrived in Eugene a few days ago and have been on turbo speed ever since. It's been hectic, but really great, actually. In many ways, Eugene could not be more different than I had imagined. Funny story: on the drive down, I kept asking my dad (who got his renewed passport the day before we left so fortunately was able to tag along!), "Does this look like Eugene? How about this? That? Sort of? Getting hotter? Marco?" and whenever he wasn't telling me to shut up, he was saying "No." Apparently nothing we passed looked remotely like Eugene. Finally, while we were driving though what I considered to be the most boring part of the trip, he said, "Now this, this looks like Eugene." Shit.

He was right, in a sense, but from what I can tell Eugene is much more than that (trees on a dry hill). It's a lot like Vermont (where I spent my undergrad years), but not really. It's a lot like Lafayette, California (where my grandparents live), but not really. It's a hard place to pin down. Its beauty doesn't punch you in the gut, but there are still many promising places to explore.

Let me show you some pictures of the drive down to convince you that I'm probably a real person and actually did it. Since 90% of our time was spent driving, I didn't take nearly as many picture as I would have liked, and many were taken through a windshield while moving 65+ miles an hour. None were taken in Alaska because it was gross and ugly the day we left.

If this picture overload bothers you, blame Professor Amy, who claims that people are interested in looking at a blogger's pictures even if that blogger doesn't have time/content to write anything.

I was really into that yellow grass.

This was the only brown bear we saw, but we saw NINE (tiny) black bears within a 20-30 mile stretch on our second day.

Views from the dramatic last miles of the trip, when I first realized that Oregon isn't a rain forest.


Now that we got that over with, let's talk running. Eugene is going to be great for running, especially trail running. Take today, for example.

I tend to feel a bit claustrophobic in places that don't have a high point. I like knowing I can escape to somewhere higher (that sounds religious, but it's not. I literally want to be higher than everything else). It probably doesn't make any sense, but for my sanity I need to be able to climb something, especially when I've got a lot going on.

My dad feels similarly, so before he left we did a quick Google search and stumbled upon Spencer Butte, which I hear is Eugene's Flattop (ie. the most popular hike in the area). The "summit" was only (allegedly) two miles from the trailhead, but we ran out of time before we could make it all the way up. We were pissed that we didn't get a single view, but I promised my dad that I'd head back soon and send him pictures. I did that today.

Behold, my new stomping grounds:

See that? Yellow. Yellow everywhere. Where's the rain forest? Why is it six million degrees here?

The best part about this trail was that it was almost completely runnable, even for someone who's done very little running the past couple of months. There are evidently a lot of different trails that go up the Butte, so I should have a lot of hilly but runnable trail to train on (if I ever sign up for anything, which I totally will).

Excluding the forty-five minutes it took to climb the last rocky bit and get horribly lost down the same rocky bit (the lady I'm living with reminded me that poison oak is a "thing" here and that she stopped climbing Spencer Butte because there's so much of it off-trail. I may have rashes in my future), I covered 4.25 miles, most of it at a jog. Total elevation gain (again, excluding the steepest last quarter-ish mile) was about 1,100 feet. Not bad for two miles.

Even though I miss my mountains, it was kind of cool running through this:


Speaking of mountains, I have to tell you what I did on my last day in Anchorage even though I'm the only one who cares. Last year, I vowed to run up Powerline Pass before my year was done, and I mentioned it more than a few times on the blog. Finally, the week before I left, I was forced to admit that I wasn't going to do it, but then I totally did. Even better, I ran about seven of the twelve miles. I was amazed and overjoyed that Bailey was able to keep up with the faster pace.

[Side note: a few people have asked about Bailey and I realized I never told y'all why she didn't come with me to Eugene. I suppose I abandoned her, but she wasn't actually my dog to take. She belonged to my parents. When I moved home last fall, I lived with them. I exercised her far more than anyone else did and loved her dearly, so they consented to "loan" her to me once I moved out. When I left for Eugene, she just went back to her real home. It's sad for all involved, but for the best. Those assholes keep texting me pictures of her and making me sad.]

Powerline Pass: a perfect way to finish my stint in Anchorage. More importantly, I kept my word!

I could go on and on, but apparently people care about word limits.


  • Are you a freak like me and obsessed with high points?
  • Road or trail: which do you prefer?


  1. AHHHHH!!!! So many amazing things! So much to comment on. Where do I start? One) The bear sightings sound awesome. Two) Glad your dad got to join you on the trip. Three) I guess you can say I like high points. Four) I want to go back to Eugene and explore more than the lowly Pre's Trail. Have you been there yet? Five) As much as I love trails, I love road running in a different way. They are equal to me. Six) Sorry your asshole parents are making you miss the stupid dog. (Best part of the post).

    1. The bear sightings WERE awesome, except for the fact that we ended up camping only 10 miles or so past that stretch of road! Fortunately, it was the busiest campground ever so I don't think we were ever in danger.

      I actually ran on Pre's trail yesterday! I didn't get why people talk about it so much, but then I saw the cedar-chips-whatever-it's-made-out-of and was pretty impressed. I do wish that entire trail system went farther, though; I see a lot of potential for quick burnout.

  2. Yayyyyyy!!! So many beautiful pictures!!!

    I totally get the whole "high point" thing. There are few hills with views here near DC (other than like, my apartment...), so I get some serious lack of that. Now that I'm getting back into higher mileage again (hitting double digits this weekend, fingers crossed), I'm going to venture out further to bag some views.

    Sad about Bailey =( I think you just need to get yourself a dog (because PhD programs don't keep you THAT busy, right? No..?).

    Trails ALL THE WAY. I'm unashamed to say that 90% of the reason Zach and I moved to our new apartment was because it was close to a slew of trails (I ran 3 miles of them on my 5 mile run to work this morning!).

    1. No, I imagine that I COULD well manage owning a dog, but I think I'd have to leave it at home alone a lot, which would make me feel incredibly guilty. I'd also like to be really involved (ie. around it constantly) during the first year of its life, so I think it would make me miss out on other stuff I should be doing while "establishing" myself here. Plus, there's the financial aspect (no funding until year 2). I'm pretty sure year 2 will be the year of the dog, though, if all goes as planned!

      That's awesome that you're right next to trails! As far as I can tell, I have to drive to trails, but at least they're runnable trails and NOT full of terrifying bears.

  3. I want to go higher!

    I hope you don't have to have a weekly- running rash - post!

    I haven't done a trail run, so I can't really say.

    1. Ahaha, your links are ALWAYS so awesome. I don't know how you do it (well, I guess I do-Reddit?).

      Fortunately, I seem to have dodged the poison oak bullet. If I hadn't, you better believe I would have been complaining about it all over the blog.

  4. Gah! So many comments to make. I must resort to lists.

    1. Amy is right. Pictures rock. I should post more of them.
    2. Word limits? BAH! Some of us just posted HALF a race report that was approximately 3,000 words. Ooops?
    3. Awesome farewell-to-AK climb! :)
    4. Glad you're finding plenty to be excited about in your new home!
    5. Don't let poison oak stop you, but...ummm...DO Google it so you at least know what to try to avoid?? And don't re-wear the clothes you wore on that run/hike without washing them first. Just a friendly thought. I know how things like laundry can fall by the wayside when you're traveling/moving.
    6. CONGRATULATIONS on your new place/space/city!! Enjoy the settling-in!

    1. Yes! When in doubt, post more photos! That's my motto.

      I am sort of aware of what poison oak looks like, but it totally slipped my mind while hiking. I think it turns red this time of year so HOPEFULLY it won't be too hard to spot. And yes, my clothes got washed. The second I told my landlord (owner of the place I'm staying who lives there with me?) that I wandered off trail she ordered me to wash my clothes.

  5. Glad you made it to Oregon! Your picture from Spencer Butte is not what I would picture for Eugene. But your pictures from that trail on the way up to it are. Tell the "assholes" (your word, not mine) to stop texting you pictures of Baily and making you sad. That's mean. Pretty awesome run up Powerline Pass!

    All of your pictures from your epic drive are sweet! You should include captions, because I have never been to the PNW area and I have no idea how to tell Alaska from Canada from Washington from Oregon. Hope you're getting settled in to your new city!

    1. Well, it's incredibly cruel of them, BUT I kind of love getting to see her, at least. I suppose "asshole" was a bit unfair.

      You're right, captions would be useful, if I could remember where I took them! I can say that all but the last two were taken in Canada. Alaska was gross the day we left (and we finished that night in Canada), and we blasted straight through Washington in a matter of hours so I didn't get any pictures of it (whoops? There wasn't much to see, really).

  6. Did you do all these trail runs and hikes on your own? Did you often encounter bears? This past summer we went trail running in Whistler ( Hansons plan throughout vacation - people called us crazy) and encountered bears there. It was unnerving to say the least. Did you carry pepper spray>

  7. I did do all of these by myself. Bears really aren't a concern in Eugene (as far as I know, there aren't any bears here), but in Alaska they are a concern. There, I only go places where I'm above tree line so I can see everything within a mile or so. If there were a bear, I would have plenty of time to avoid it. I don't carry pepper spray because I've heard differing views on it. Some people say that pepper spray actually aggravates the bear and makes it swat at you, whereas others say it does little at best. As long as you're smart about avoiding bears in the first place (namely, being above tree line where you're less likely to encounter them), you don't really have to worry about them.

  8. Hmmmmmm - But you had to run a bit to get above tree line, right? I guess that means no early morning runs when you would be likely to surprise momma bear feeding on the trail like we did in Whistler. And I suppose it is helpful to run with a dog - something else besides the pitter patter of your pace gloves making a bit of noise. I love trail running, our savanna trails have no bears - just lots of deer and coyotes! For your consideration:

    1. So the thing about Alaska is that tree line is REALLY low. Like, 1,200 feet. So the place I was running in those pictures starts right below that and doesn't take long to get above it. There are some trees near the beginning, but it's a popular trail so I didn't have to worry about being by myself in that area. I promise I'm safe about it! There are plenty of wooded areas near Anchorage, but I would never run those alone. I will admit that I rarely tell my mom about my escapades because I know they'd scare her half to death!

      That's an interesting article, particularly the part about bear spray! I'll definitely keep that in mind the next time I make it up to Alaska.


    No I'll stop acting like a momma bear :) I won't ever hike or run in the mountains without a spray anymore. And now I carry the stuff when I run here in Illinois to deter any creepers on the trail. Take That you creeper!

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