On Our Way to The Palouse
in November 2002, We Went for A Little Run…
learned that one needs to be ready for anything when going for
a run with Bruce. This is especially true if you have earned the
privilege of accompanying him and his lovely wife on a guided
tour of his old haunts in Eastern Washington, including being
invited into the home of his gracious in-laws, Dee and Barbara.
was a serious road trip. Our excuse for traveling so far for this
particular run was my 11 year old son Shawn and I's first trip
to "The Palouse." Not that either of us are rabid fans, Shawn
was off on Friday from school and I asked if he wanted to see
the University of Oregon Ducks take on the Washington State Cougars
in Pullman, which is about an eight hour drive from Eugene. Next
thing you know, I call Bruce, Bruce calls his nephew Ben and the
WSU freshman scored us some tickets. We'd be staying over in Ellensburg
at the Eberhart home, which is still about two and a half hours
into their driveway and the sun had already sunk behind the hills.
was fidgety. In a few minutes, I was about to find out why.
just outside of Ellensburg, where the Eberhart family produces
the best apples on the planet (www.fruitfromwashington.com),
Bruce and I would be running up the hill behind Cory's mom and
dad's house, within minutes of completing our five hour drive.
Undoubtedly being no strangers to Bruce's addiction, there was
no time for chit-chat, especially when the sun goes down in this
part of the world on a moon-less night. In fact, I even detected
an omniscient trace of "you'd better get going if you know what's
good for you" after learning I was about to join a short list
of visitors who would be making this particular back orchard ascent.
his running gear on before me. I left Shawn in good hands and
we were out the door.
Bruce immediately heads up hill and I tuck in behind him. For
about a half a mile, we actually had a discernable road on which
to run!…a rare treat on most inaugural runs I have been on with
Bruce. I have learned not to ask too much about where we're going.
While I have struggled all my life putting way too much trust
into authority figures, as long as I don't have to swim on one
of our runs, I have complete confidence in Bruce. However, I have
been known to balk at his requests for tick inspections a little
on the too thorough side or participate in his beloved and highly
effective elk mating call ritual. I have my limits.
rapidly running out of road heading up in the general direction
of some serious steep hill action up ahead. Of course, Bruce picks
the only hill with a microwave station on top of it. Gee. Only
a runner heading in that general direction would wonder why they
put it on a particular hill. Not only is this thing waaaaay up
there, I don't see any signs of a switchback trail cut into the
face of this bad boy and Bruce still has his head down heading
straight at the steepest part and is really starting to pump his
arms. We are not going to take this thing head on, are we?…
we are in the sage brush following some game trail. After popping
through a drainage tunnel running under the highway, it appears
we have changed course and won't be taking on the north face after
all, and we head west. I finally sense Bruce is planning on doubling
back from the west and following the ridgeline to the summit.
A Northwest Late Evening View - Photograph by
go…and up…and up. Magnificent view in every direction…especially
to the southwest. While we took a moment to stop and catch our
breath at the summit, we didn't take much time to take it all
in. We had a decision to make. It would be dark soon. It had taken
about 30 minutes to get to the top and we briefly considered heading
straight down, but quickly ruled it out. Too steep and dangerous
to do in the dark. We decided to keep following the ridgeline,
which would be longer, but safer. Bruce pointed out the lights
of the Eberhart home. I took his word for it.
way down, I couldn't help but feel like we were heading in the
opposite direction from where we needed to go. We pressed on,
only to find ourselves now trespassing on military property, and
finally found another drainage tunnel from which to get back under
the highway. Well, at least we are back on the side of the road
we started on and in the worst-case scenario, the chow's always
hot at Guantanamo Bay.
it's really dark and we are consciously high stepping through
the sage brush to avoid catching a toe on a root and becoming
human tumbleweeds. Keeping our knees up to this extent after an
hour and a half was an added bonus to the quality of this workout.
We come upon a barbed wire fence and carefully step over it and
continue to zig-zag our way in the general direction of the house.
We stop, and Bruce points out the lights. I see them this time,
and we start working toward them, then zig-zag back and something
faint seems to be emerging from the dark….FENCE!…Bruce puts on
the brakes just in time. I don't know how the heck we saw it.
time we got back, we'd been out for about an hour and a half.
Amazingly, neither of us hit the deck at anytime running in the
dark through the sage brush with no moon.
Bruce will take me on it again. I had the advantage of following.
Leading must have been real difficult…and waiting for us to show
back up at the house must have generated a comment or two in the
weren't scared, Shawn. Oh, well. Your dad's a runner and he has
a friend named Bruce who married very well, so everything has
a way of working out.