An Amazing Race through the Central Cascades

Seeing the finish line AS WE RESTORE Washington's beautiful forests

Written by Mike Stevens, Washington State Director for The Nature Conservancy

One of my personal highlights of the month was running in the Cle Elum 30K Trail Run on the 26th. Our Senior Attorney Brian Todd ran the 50K. The race cuts across the checkerboard country in the Manastash/Taneum Ridge and Taneum Creek area – including The Nature Conservancy’s ownership. Through every bead of sweat and hard work during my run, there were highlights such as the great trails predominantly used by motorcyclists and some gorgeous views out across the forested ridges and up and down the Tandem watershed.

At every long trail run I’ve done, there is a moment where the running becomes real work but the effort brings my mind into sharp focus, which in turn brings the landscape to life. At the Cle Elum run, that moment came along Taneum Creek. The trail crosses over wooden bridges and winds along the creek, making for fun downhill running with short, hard uphill sections.

The sounds of the creek, chickadees and nuthatches, and of yellow fall cottonwood and aspen leaves streaming off the trees. The sunlight streaming through the woods. The sharp crisp scent of fall in the meadows. These were my companions for a last challenging and rewarding hour of running. I came into the finish, my prize a big hug from my wife and a fresh piece of pizza from a wood-fired oven.

Afterwards, Brian and I shared notes on the day and then it was back to the city, feeling sore, yet motivated and even more invested in our work in the Cascades.