Monday, May 23, 2011

Forest Park: Portland's Sacred Sanctuary

(Light coming through the trees in Portland, Oregon's Forest Park.--Photo by Ethan Siegel)

I spent some time in the parks today and, for a change, I wasn't running the trails getting ready for my next ultra marathon.  Within minutes of crossing an intersection downtown we were quietly nestled between towering trees and thick foliage in the hillsides of Portland's Forest Park. When you look around and listen you really can't believe you are right next to a city. There is also a certain beauty and "aliveness" that the often damp and dreary climate here gives to the forest. Everywhere you look is the quintessential pacific northwest magazine cover!

Living here in Portland almost two years now I have learned the park pretty well, including the deep and meaningful history of the area. I have volunteered providing trail maintenance, become a member of The Forest Park Conservancy, and just as of late been asked to assist in the revamping process of the park map sets, which is all quite an honor. A few weeks ago an editor from Portland Monthly Magazine came across my blog and discovered that I do a solid bit of running in the park. He contacted me for an interview and we talked on the phone for about 20 minutes about my running and my relationship with the glorious Forest Park. It wasn't until I heard myself passionately answering his questions how obvious it is that I truly cherish this "backyard gem". As a new father I look forward to passing along this sort of respectful and appreciative manner toward the land to my daughter and I hope she can enjoy it half as much as me.

This past week I had some quality runs where I felt super connected and strong.  I ran 76 miles in total.  Six of those miles were run on the waterfront esplanade...the other 70 were spent in the largest urban forest in the nation...steps from my front door.  Despite the sloppy trails in the winter I often remind my running buddies, my wife, and sometimes myself how spoiled we are to have easy access to this expansive park that has been kept so sacred. Forest Park boasts over 5,000 acres and over 70 miles of trails! The Wildwood Trail goes 30 miles from end-to-end and weaves it's way through some breathtaking sections of forest.

Watch this very interesting and informative video on the history and future of our very own Forest Park!

Next weekend (Sun.) starting at Lower Macleay Park there will be the annual Forest Park 50k that I will be racing as part of my training for San Diego 100-miler. 

... and check out this satellite photo of Forest Park (green) next to the city...pretty amazing!

Enjoy the forest....maybe I'll see you there!  

Happy Trails...


Joe Kleffner said...

That Google shot is great...and it doesn't even have a lot of the north end of the park...
Nice to have a place in the city where you can run for hours and not see a soul, and if you do you probably know them:)
We are so lucky!

(I have heard rumor that there is a guy trying to take wildwood all the way to the coast. Now that would be epic...)

Yassine said...

You're absolutely right Joe...We are so lucky! and I hope that rumor is true...I think I vaguely remember hearing something about that too.

Nice race at Mac Forest 50k..I just read your report...Let's run soon!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the Forest Park 50k win. I saw you around 20k (your 30k!) and you looked strong. Way to go.