I was debating about doing this loop. From what I read, it seemed long, but runnable. It was this loop or the Loowit Trail around Mt St Helens. But in the end, I wanted to do something new and so this was it! Running solo, in a new place, isn't that big of deal to me. I actually enjoy running solo. If I had to have a running partner on these longer, mountain runs I wouldn't get out much.....Forest Park doesn't fulfill the adventurous/youthful spirit in me.
I left the Pole Creek TH right about 6:45am after driving from my in-laws house in Salem (they were watching the kids as Christy was in Hood River spending the weekend with friends).
The trail was in great shape all the way till Green Lakes. I run much of the way albeit some short, steep sections gaining the "col" between S. Sister and Broken Top. Yes, some sections were sandy, but still runnable for the most part. There were many streams flowing due to the high snow pack this year so I periodically filled my 2 handheld water bottles in the numerous streams (not knowing the availability of water on the west side of these mountains).
I made it quickly around Green Lakes and down the trail before cutting west over to Moraine Lake. Once around Moraine Lake (on the south side) I came upon a 4-way junction. I looked at the map I had brought (which didn't have the 4-way junction). I opted to go further south towards Devils Lake - trying to head over to the trail that would drop me down to the PCT and the Wickiup Plan. I ended up picking the right trail as I crossed the trail that leads to the summit of S. Sister and soon found myself descending to the Wickiup Plan.
In a nutshell, the west side of this loop is incredible --plains, meadows, streams, pumice fields, forests, etc. A few more people but the scenery is much more enjoyable but definitely more exposed running through the plains and lava fields.
The weather had been perfect all day but the mercury started to rise. The hot, exposed rays of the big bright star eventually took its toll on me as I was nearing the area of Scott Spring/Camp Scott on the N/NW side of the N. Sister. This stupor lasted till I reached Alder Creek (below). This part of the trail was most striking and different from all other aspects of this adventure but I wasn't in any mood to savor the beauty of the landscape and enjoy it. I was just trying to stay cool by spraying water on my face and down my back. Water was scarce on this section from Scott Spring to Alder Creek (the water at Sawyer's Bar looked like it was infested with some protozoan/bacteria). I came upon 2 hikers on Scott Pass who were clearly in need of water. They asked if a water source was close and I mentioned it was over 3.5 miles away. They seemed a little surprised. I didn't stay long to contemplate their decision (or fate), so I dropped down the east side of Scott Pass. I had noticed on the map that Alder Creek was 4.1 miles away...hoping and praying that the creek was still flowing.
I made relatively quick time on the descent from Scott Pass. I came upon a fork in the trail about a mile (good thing for my Garmin) down from Scott Pass. I grabbed my map again. The trail I was needing to take was supposed to be 1.8miles from Scott Pass. I decided to trust my Garmin and map so I kept moving straight ahead. Sure enough, about 1.8miles from Scott Pass there was the trail that would lead to my car.
NOTE: That other trail wasn't on my map.
I was now running low on water. Once I got onto this new trail, I was 2.3 miles from Alder Creek. Again, I was hoping there was water still flowing. Those few miles seemed to drag on forever. A lone hiker and I crossed paths saying a brief hello. Any how, I made it to the creek, walking right into it. The ice cold water was refreshing. The 5 minute break was great!
I set off from Alder Creek (5 miles to the car) with a power-hike...hiking all the uphills as the trail was no different than walking on the beach. I ran the last 2.5 miles to the car as soon as I crested the last ridge.
Feels good to have done it. Hardest solo run ever. Time of 9hrs 40mins. Total 46 miles (Garmin captured 40 of it).
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Nelson and I cruised up Mt Adams Friday evening. With a few stops going up and down, our time: 4hrs 13mins (car-to-car). Is this the fastest known time (FKT)?? Not sure. Anyone else know?? Data below.
Posted by Trevor at 1:44 PM